On Addressability, or What Even Is Computation?

Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal

This article argues against the conflation of digital and computational  that ails contemporary critical discourse. Searching for a common logic among the three modes of computing (namely analog, digital, and quantum), it ends up finding an answer in the individuating backbone that runs through histories of postal, civic, and technological addresses. Borrowing the concept of addressability from computer science and adapting it to explain procedures of identificatory mapping at large, the article theorizes addressability as a cultural technique that can be traced back to the origins of the modern disciplinary state. In doing so, it not only posits addressability as one of the core operational logics for all computation and an alternative analytic to the digital but also suggests a longer arc of computation that considers the ubiquitous digitality as a mere subset of modern state apparatuses and their urban infrastructures. The article concludes by reflecting on this computational addressability and its relationship with ideological interpellation, proposing computation as a multiscalar assemblage of political techniken.

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