This presentation will critically engage with the role time plays in shaping the neo-liberal knowledge economy. I will pay particular attention to how the temporality of ‘innovation’, which is central to the dynamic of late (anglo-american) capitalism, propels cultural logics premised on ever increasing levels of speed. Such intensity and the need for generative, creative models, is further underpinned by an imagined ‘need’ for continuous improvement. While such a culture has been a motivating force in product development – and it is worth mentioning here that product design is equally structured by the temporal logic of inbuilt obsolescence too - these discourses and practices have also become influential in shaping the knowledge economy too, leading to a not so subtle restructuring of higher education in the UK, its aims, marketing rhetoric, recruitment strategies and pedagogical practices. This paper then will aim to reside within the temporal logic of innovation, focusing on the role technology plays in shaping it. Drawing on the work of Bernard Steigler, I will suggest that one way to counter the no future orientated drive of technological ‘progress’ is to create alternative pedagogical projects that nurtures a different relationship to technology, time, the idea and practice of ‘innovation.’ Suggesting that the knowledge economy needs not to forget other forms of technological ‘innovation’ that have served it well in the past, such as paper, pencils, books and face to face discussions, I want to imagine a time for innovation that is slowed down, not-for-profit and has low ecological impact.
Deborah Withers is a writer, researcher, curator and publisher who lives in Bristol. She is the founder of HammerOn Press, which has published a creative re-interpretation of her PhD thesis called Adventures in Kate Bush and Theory. Her academic research has been published in the International Journal of Heritage Studies, Women: A Cultural Review and the European Journal of Women's Studies. Most recently she contributed a chapter to the book Women Make Noise, based on her research from the online Women's Liberation Music Archive, and its subsequent touring exhibition Music & Liberation. Deborah also works part time at the University of the West of England, and plays drums in the punk post-pop band, bellies!
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from our workshop on Power, Time and Agency held in Manchester, January 2013