Beautiful Data: An Interview

The second half of the twentieth century saw a radical transformation in approaches to recording and displaying information. Orit Halpern’s new book traces the emergence of the “communicative objectivity” that resulted from this shift and produced new forms of observation, rationality, and economy. Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason since 1945 (Duke University Press, 2014) beautifully accomplishes this by creating a dialogue between fields that don’t often speak to one another in our scholarship: the history of science and knowledge, and the study of design, planning, and aesthetics. The result is a fascinating history of the construction of vision and cognition after WWII that looks carefully at the impact of early cybernetics on American design, urban planning, psychology, political science, management, and governmentality. To listen to us talking about it for the New Books in STS podcast, head over to this link!