Infrastructures, Piracy, and Breakdown

I’ve recently taken to Prezi less as a presentation software and more as a space for creating visualizations -concept maps, timelines, etc – that help me work through my readings and research material. This particular visualization is inspired from a seminar presentation I prepared on Brian Larkin’s Signal and Noise: Media, Infrastructure, and Urban Life in Nigeria, a book I have encountered multiple times in the course of my grad career so far, and whose themes and methodologies speak to my own research interests quite a lot.


The visualization in full Prezi mode can be accessed here. I hope to keep developing this visualization, and adding concepts and theorists that speak to the same interconnectedness of infrastructure, piracy, and breakdown/repair. Comments and suggestions are most welcome.


The horizontal funnel created by the two thick blue lines represents the space of technological possibilities created by the development of infrastructure. Moving from left to right represents the passage of time, and the funnel becomes bigger to illustrate the notion of mediation “enhancement” (Graham and Marvin 1996), how new technologies do not simply destroy older forms of communication but, by bringing in new ones, they may in fact intensify older forms as well.

The downward sloping lines represent accelerations of time, or experiences of time at a faster rate. With the passing of time and the enhancement of more infrastructures, the acceleration of time increases — i.e. we experience time as going faster.

The area of breakdown under the funnel shows when technologies fail: these instances fall outside the realm of infrastructural possibilities since the technologies are no longer useful, and represent a deceleration in the experience of time since the lag created by a failed technology increases the difference between potential acceleration and actual acceleration.

Finally, the yellow lines of repair enable us to come back to the forms of acceleration we were once in before technologies broke down, and may even move past these, depending on the extent of innovation in this repair.


Graham, Stephen, and Simon Marvin. Telecommunications and the City: Electronic Spaces, Urban Places. London: Routledge, 1996.

Larkin, Brian. Signal and Noise: Media, Infrastructure, and Urban Life in Nigeria. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008.

Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Trans. D. N. Smith. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.

Sundaram, Ravi. Pirate Modernity: Delhi’s Media Urbanism. New York: Routledge, 2010.

Virilio, Paul. The Information Bomb. London: Verso, 2000.

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