Preprint Open Access
Filters are at the very center of many current processes of our transformational age. But what common concepts underlie this multitude of filtering phenomena? We understand filtering as a scalable environing technique that differentiates and maintains symbolic and material environments alike. Because of its scalability, human as well as non-human actors can employ filtering techniques to engage their environs. Filtering is an activity that matters in a twofold way: It is a material process, but it is also a process of fundamental importance to its users, thus rendering it always a symbolic activity. Starting from this basic concept, we examine different properties of filtering techniques and propose a research program that examines cultural, molecular, and digital filtering techniques.