technology as territory - a cursory reading list
I posted a write up of my talk from theorizingtheweb on medium recently.
I’ve collected together a list pieces below that are either directly connected or highly relevant to the themes i was attempting to explore.
The Internet Of Kings
Google’s acquisition of DeepMind, Nest and Dropcam felt like a quiet announcement of such kind of presence in the realm. Kings have armies, but really wise Kings invest in long-term education, they hire tutors. Video games, temperature and sight are important concepts for a young, distributed and knowledge-hungry learning machine - for that kind of being, companies are the equivalent of books. The truth is that some of the mutant forest creatures grow under the severe or benign tutelage of the global internet stacks and Larry Page, Gothic high-tech mogul, capable of arguing in a concise and prescient manner about the necessity of redistributing labor, able to call the bluff on the European Austerity, believer in Calfornian Abundance, turns out to be quite specific on the political importance of long-term strategic thinking. He is not alone.
The Black Stack
“Seeing like a State” takes leave of that initial territorial nest—both with and against the demands of planetary-scale computation3—we wrestle with the irregular abstractions of information, time, and territory, and the chaotic de-lamination of (practical) sovereignty from the occupation of place. For this, a nomos of the Cloud would, for example, draw jurisdiction not only according to the horizontal subdivision of physical sites by and for states, but also according to the vertical stacking of interdependent layers on top of one another: two geometries sometimes in cahoots, sometimes completely diagonal and unrecognizable to one another.4
Valley Of The Meatpuppets
Together, these entities become the key constituents of the valley of the meatpuppets. A new ethereal habitat where people, agents, thingbots, action heroes, dolls, big dogs and —- many more —- cohabit.
This new habitat brings big questions about our sense of freedom and our capacity to act under constraints. With an increase in monitoring, surveillance, AI and big data, this ambiguity, this sense of uncertainty and unconnectedness will become more pronounced. Invisible wars over autonomy will become a recurring leitmotif of the 21st century. And if we are to understand and equip ourselves better to decipher and decode the intricate nature of these mediated social fictions, we will need to find new conceptual tools and vocabularies.
Facebook for Space?: Airbnb’s Weird Corporate Nationhood
But what’s interesting about Airbnb’s announcement is that Airbnb is not content to stop with the idea of “belonging” as a stay that provides a bit more local access than a hotel. Rather, the real force of “belonging” for Airbnb is to belong not to a particular neighborhood but to Airbnb itself (via a “shared brand identity” that “cannot be separate from all of you”), which is imagined as a rich, welcoming nation that spans the world, complete with its own flag/logo to symbolize that the inhabitants of a house are allegiant to the culture of Airbnb. In this way it is not at all dissimilar to Facebook’s vision of the world as a set of interconnected nodes that Facebook hosts under its own, square F logo.
Stress FM “Micro Sovereignties” Tag
“what appears to be replacing the national is not the “global” political identity that “cosmopolitical” dreamers have long aspired to, but rather a return to localized identities rooted in clan, sect, ethnicity, corporation, and gang.”
Designed Conflict Territories - designedconflictterritories
To re-word a great Dylan Moran gag: While we were talking, Google very, very gradually built a future around us. (Please replace Google with whatever or whoever you like to satisfy your own biases.) The point stands that the entities constructing and steering our futures, or what they often like to call the future - with all the baggage of powerlessness and inevitability that that wording brings - aren’t states, and they work on a completely different geopolitical strata: There is no town square for Google
How can someone “be tumblr”?
At that talk, Jay Springett gives the best explanation so far to “being tumblr”. Stacks, like Facebook and Google, turning more and more into states and we’re getting used to it. Being tumblr turns exactly into “being citizen of a country”. Every country has images in our minds (may call stereotypes if you wish) and when you say “she’s tumblr”, our brains gets this signal similar as “she’s Turkish”.
About the difference between “a tumblr user” and “tumblr”. It definitely fits in that idea too. You can take, for example someone from England goes Italy as a tourist or starts to live there. She never can be “Italian”, she’ll be just a “tourist from England” or “Italy citizen”.
Colonising the Clouds :: Infrastructure Territory and The Geopolitics of The Stacks
The Stacks know vastly more categorised information about you than the state has ever done. Following Scott’s “Seeing Like A State”, perhaps their is now a need to “See Like A Stack” in order for us to better understand the approaches of these entities towards data collection (Nest,#IOT, etc), knowledge creation, and territorial definition
World population - Ranked by County and Social Media Ecosystem - Added 24.July.14
Would love to read more. Pls reblog with links.