Time-Critical: Contesting the Measure of the Now

Wiley, Daniel

It is increasingly well understood that transformations in the concept of time, as well as techniques of time measurement and distribution, around the turn to the twentieth century contributed to the formation of entrenched divisions between the Sciences and the Humanities. In general, where the Sciences conceived of time as a function of conventionally defined, quantitative measure, the Humanities have consistently regarded human experience as an essential element in any adequate view of time.

Using Media Studies as an example, this paper reflects on the status of these divisions amidst the post-War rise in Interdisciplinarity. From its beginnings, Media Studies has been concerned with the how scientific and technological objects and processes impact individual and collective temporal experiences and behaviors, as well as formal and everyday epistemologies of time. Despite these broadened horizons, however, Media Studies remains largely mired in the Science-Humanities divide. I argue that this is due, in large part, to a over-reliance on philosophical concepts and positions that are foundational to this divide and a consequent reluctance not to subordinate the scientific view, from the outset, as derived from the "real" human experience of time. I propose that this imposition of hierarchy is misguided and that measurement is fundamental to the human experience of time. In conclusion, I draw on recent resources from the History and Philosophy of Science and Media Studies to suggest how a more fruitful cross-pollination of knowledge from the Sciences and Humanities might be approach and applied to our understanding of media.

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