Grey Media: Digitization and the Infrastructures of Administration

Still from The Office (UK 2001-2003), Season 1, Episode 2, timecode 19:03

The term “grey media” denotes those tools and carrier media that are involved in practices of administration. They range from paper to files to their digital successors like SAP systems. We are constantly surrounded by grey media. Yet, they tend to withdraw themselves from attention. They are “rarely recognized or explored as media in their own right” (Fuller/Goffey 2012: 1). Maybe this is because they are anything but “sexy”. Words like “enterprise resource planning system” or sceneries like those presented in the BBC-series The Office mostly elicit aversion. They are a reminder of the complexities and struggles of administration: of the failed attempts to create order through categories and the tedious work needed to reach coordinated action.

I follow the hypotheses that grey media exist within a heterogeneous infrastructure. It disposes of different layers each attributable to certain media technological periods. New media applications have to be compatible with older layers of infrastructure. This framing allows to develop an understanding for the complexities of grown media infrastructures by disclosing bridges between "non-digital" and "digital" practices. It also allows to contradict the myth of encompassing and seamless information systems and instead to amplify other narratives of the way digital technologies settle in with the world of organization.

Fuller, Matthew; Goffey, Andrew (2012): Evil Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Contact
Dr. Lisa Conrad
Universitätsallee 1, C5.207
21335 Lüneburg
Fon +49.4131.608-1661
lisa.conrad@leuphana.de