Assembly Codes examines how media and logistics set the conditions for the circulation of information and culture, documenting how logistics—the techniques of organizing and coordinating the movement of materials, bodies, and information—has substantially impacted the production, distribution, and consumption of media. At the same time, physical media, such as paperwork, along with media technologies ranging from phone systems to software are central to the operations of logistics. In charting the specific points of contact, dependence, and friction between media and logistics, Assembly Codes demonstrates that media and logistics cannot be understood apart from each other.
This article examines the origins not only of the media that underlie logistical operation, but the techniques that have shaped and structured them. To do so, I focus on the logistical technique of assembly. Not just of parts, but of places and people. Assembly, here, becomes an ur-mediative technique, one produced both before and beside the attendant media functions of storage and transmission. Long before its instantiation in the operations of contemporary software systems, I examine how this logistical technique emerged in the confines of sites like the ancient storehouse. As I do, I consider how the abstract forms of mediation developed there made warehouses accessible as a new kind of virtual assembly, precipitating the instrumental order critical to the operation of the global supply chain.