labyrinthine in Thylstrup 2019

with mass
digitization. How are organizational practices conceived of as meaningful
today? As we shall see, this question not only relates to technical
characteristics but is also informed by a strong spatial imaginary that often
takes the shape of labyrinthine infrastructures and often orients itself
toward the figure of the user. Indeed, the role of the organizer of knowledge,
and therefore the accompanying responsibility of making sense of collections,
has been conferred from knowledge professionals to i

haps desirable).

The limitations of the figure of the flaneur raise questions not only about
the metaphor itself, but also about the topography of knowledge production it
invokes. As already noted, Walter Benjamin placed the flaneur within a larger
labyrinthine topology of knowledge production, where the flaneur could read
the spectacle in front of him without being read himself. Walter Benjamin
himself put the flaneur to rest with an analysis of an Edgar Allen Poe story,
where he analyzed the demise of the

usion of the infrastructural imaginaries of knowledge production will help
us understand the complex politics of mass digitization as it metamorphoses
from analog buildings, shelves, and cabinets to the circulatory networks of
digital platforms.

## Labyrinthine Imaginaries: Infrastructural Perspectives of Power and
Knowledge Production

If the flaneur is a central early figure in the cultural imaginary of the
observer of cultural texts, the labyrinth has long served as a cultural
imaginary of the library, a

e of the Rose,_ who notes
that: “the library is a great labyrinth, sign of the labyrinth of the world.
You enter and you do not know whether you will come out” 46; or consider the
haunting images of being lost in Jose Luis Borges’s tales about labyrinthine
libraries.47 This section therefore turns to the infrastructural space of the
labyrinth, to show that this spatial imaginary, much like the flaneur, is
loaded with cultural ambivalence, and to explore the ways in which the
labyrinthine infrastructural imaginary emphasizes and crystallizes the
infrapolitical tension in mass digitization projects between power and
perspective, agency and environment, playful innovation and digital labor.

The labyrinth is a prevalent literary trope,

erstanding our relationship to mass
digitization projects as sites of both knowledge production and experience.
Indeed, one shadow library is even named _Aleph_ , which refers to the ancient
Hebrew letter and likely also nods at Jose Luis Borges’s labyrinthine short
story, _Aleph,_ on infinite labyrinthine architectures. Yet, what kind of
infrastructure is a labyrinth, and how does it relate to the potentials and
perils of mass digitization?

In her rich historical study of labyrinths, Penelope Doob argues that the
labyrinth possesses a dual potentiali

unhappy within it.”50 Envisioning the labyrinth from within links to a
claustrophobic sense of ignorance, while also implying the possibility of
progress if you just turn the next corner. What better way to describe one’s
experience in the labyrinthine infrastructures of mass digitization projects
such as Google Books with its infrastructural conditions and contexts of
experience and agency? On the one hand, Google Books appears to provide the
view from above, lending itself as a logistical aid in

el solitary in their digital
wanderings, their digital footsteps are in fact obsessively traced and tracked
by mass digitization platforms and often also by numerous third parties.

Today, then, the user is indeed at work as she makes her way in the
labyrinthine infrastructures of mass digitization by scrolling, clicking,
downloading, connecting, and clearing and creating new paths. And while
“search” has become a keyword in digital knowledge environments, digital
infrastructures in mass digitization projects in fact distract as much as they
orient. This new economy of cultural memory begs the question: if mass
digitization projects, as labyrinthine infrastructures, invariably disorient
the wanderer as much as they aid her, how might we understand their
infrapolitics? After all, as the previous chapters have shown, mass
digitization projects often present a wide array of motivations for why

should and could be organized and navigated.

The question of the spatial imaginaries of knowledge production and
imagination has a long philosophic history. As historian David Bates notes,
knowledge in the Enlightenment era was often imagined as a labyrinthine
journey. A classic illustration of how this journey was imagined is provided
by Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Louis Castilhon, whose frustration is
palpable in this exclamation: “How cruel and painful is the situation of a
Traveller who has imprud

d lack of a compass. As the previous sections show, the labyrinth
as a form of knowledge production in relation to truth and error persists as
an infrastructural trope in the digital. Yet, it has also metamorphosed
significantly since Castilhon. The labyrinthine infrastructural imaginaries we
find in digital environments thus differ significantly from more classical
images, not least under the influence of the rhizomatic metaphors of
labyrinths developed by Deleuze and Guattari and Eco. If the labyrinth of the
Renaissance had an endpoint and a truth, these new labyrinthine
infrastructures, as Kristin Veel points out, had a much more complex
relationship to the spatial organization of the truth. Eco and Deleuze and
Guattari thus conceived of their labyrinths as networks “in which all points
can be connected with one a

job insecurity and territorial concerns. Yet, the fear of knowledge
infrastructures without a center may also run deeper. As Penelope Doob reminds
us, the center of the labyrinth historically played a central moral and
epistemological role in the labyrinthine topos, as the site that held the
epiphanous key to unravel whatever evils or secrets the labyrinth contained.
With no center, there is no key, no epiphany.61 From this perspective, then,
it is not only a job that is lost. It is also the meaning of knowledge

What, then, can we take from these labyrinthine wanderings as we pursue a
greater understanding of the infrapolitics of mass digitization? Certainly, as
this section shows, the politics of mass digitization is entangled in
spatialized imaginaries that have a long and complex cultural and affective

ign, is sometimes referred
to as “serendipity search.” Europeana’s users need the platform to be
structured and predictable—but not entirely so.76

To achieve serendipity, mass digitization projects have often sought to take
advantage of the labyrinthine infrastructures of digitization, relying not
only on their own virtual bookshelves, but also on the algorithmic highways
and back alleys of social media. Twitter, in particular, before it adopted
personalization methods, became a preferred infrastruc

itization projects rely upon spatial
metaphors to convey ideas about, and ideals of, cultural memory
infrastructures, their knowledge production, and their serendipitous
potential. Thus, for mass digitization projects, the ideal scenario is that
the labyrinthine errings of the user result in serendipitous finds that in
turn bring about new forms of cultural value. From the point of the user,
however, being caught up in the labyrinth might just as easily give rise to an
experience of being confronted with a sense of lack of oversight and
alienation in the alleyways of commodified infrastructures. These two
scenarios co-exist because of what Penelope Doob (as noted in the section on
labyrinthine imaginaries) refers to as the dual potentiality of the labyrinth,
which when experienced from within can be become a sign of confusion, and when
viewed from above becomes a sign of complex order.91

In this final section, I will turn to a new spatial

hnical meaning in computation, Europeana’s discourse goes beyond mere
computational logic. It instead signifies an infrapolitics that carries with
it an assumption about the political dynamics of software, standing in for the
freedom to act in the labyrinthine infrastructures of digital collections.

Yet, what is a platform, and how might we understand its infrapolitics? As
Tarleton Gillespie points out, the oldest definition of platform is
architectural, as a level or near-level surface, often elevated.99

such subversive platforms and evidence of Srnicek’s
reminder that not _all_ social interactions are co-opted into systems of
profit generation. 112 Yet, as the territorial, legal, and social
infrastructures of mass digitization become increasingly labyrinthine, it
takes a lot of critical consciousness to properly interpret and understand its
infrapolitics. Engage with the shadow library Library Genesis on Facebook, for
instance, and you submit to platform capitalism.

A significant trait of platform-based

the user has visited and when, user data, and possibly user login details with
auto-fill features, user IP address, Internet service provider, device
hardware details, operating system and browser version, cookies, and cached
data from websites. The labyrinthine infrastructure of the mass digitization
ecosystem also means that if you access one platform through another, your
data will be collected in different ways. Thus, if you visit Europeana through
Facebook, it will be Facebook that collects your data, i

ore nebulous.

Europeana’s reminder illustrates the assemblatic infrastructural set-up of
mass digitization projects and how they operate with multiple entry points,
each of which may attach its own infrapolitical dynamics. It also illustrates
the labyrinthine infrastructures of privacy settings, over which a mapping is
increasingly difficult to attain because of constant changes and
reconfigurations. It furthermore illustrates the changing legal order from the
relatively stable sovereign order of human ri

to refer to a complex branching (multicursal) puzzle with choices of path
and direction, and using labyrinth for a single, non-branching (unicursal)
path, which leads to a center. This book, however, uses the concept of the
labyrinth to describe all labyrinthine infrastructures. 49. Doob 1994. 50.
Bloom 2009, xvii. 51. Might this be the labyrinthine logic detected by
Foucault, which unfolds only “within a hidden landscape,” revealing “nothing
that can be seen” and partaking in the “order of the enigma”; see Foucault
2004, 98. 52. Doob 1994, 97. Doob also finds this perspective in t

8. Veel
2003, 154. 59. Deleuze 2013, 56. 60. Interview with professor of library and
information science working with Europeana, Berlin, Germany, 2011. 61. Borges
mused upon the possible horrendous implications of such a lack, recounting two
labyrinthine scenarios he once imagined: “In the first, a man is supposed to
be making his way through the dusty and stony corridors, and he hears a
distant bellowing in the night. And then he makes out footprints in the sand
and he knows that they belong to th

enjoy the new cultural freedoms we have
been given to roam the archives, collecting and exploring oddities along the
way, and making new connections between works that would previously have been
held separate by taxonomy, geography, and time in the labyrinthine material
and social infrastructures of cultural memory.

A special attraction of mass digitization no doubt lies in its unfathomable
scale and linked nature, and the fantasy and “spectacle of collecting.”8 The
new cultural environment allows the

are yet to be interpreted. Within these
turbulent processes, the familiar narratives of empowered users collecting and
connecting works and ideas in new and transgressive ways all too often leave
out the simultaneous and integrated story of how the labyrinthine
infrastructures of mass digitization also writes itself on the back of the
users, collecting them and their thoughts in the process, and subjecting them
to new economic logics and political regimes. As Lisa Nakamura reminds us, “by
availing ourselv


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