Formulating Deformation: The Flows of Formless Information

J. Scott Brennen


If misinformation is information without truth, this article recognizes deformation as a set of processes through which information loses its organization. Deformation grants audiences and intermediaries the agency and the burden to refashion bits, pieces, and fragments of information into coherent and meaningful formulations. Though not necessarily problematic, deformation functions as a pervasive precondition of information disorder. After deductively deriving the concept of deformation, this article presents a case study involving the public communication of physics that describes some of the forces that can facilitate deformation, including challenges of organizational coordination, economic incentives, and technical affordances. This article argues that studies of misinformation should attend better to the informational environment while recognizing that the continuity of information across time and space should be regarded as an achievement.


disinformation, misinformation, information flow, science communication, information theory, information disorder, journalism studies

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