By Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter ‘One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful’. Sigmund Freud These days, strategic considerations for political organization no longer bother with mediation, representation and identity politics. Instead, the key question revolves around the design of new (sustainable) organizational forms. What is the […]
Category Archives: Institutions
By Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter
Sloganism for late 2013: “I feel protected by unpublished Suite A algorithms.” (J. Sjerpstra) – “I am on an angry squirrel’s shitlist.” – Join the Object Oriented People – “When philosophy sucks, but you don’t.” – “See you in the Sinkhole of Stupid, at 5 pm.” – “I got my dating site profile rewritten by a ghost writer.” – “Meet the co-editor of the Idiocracy Constitution” – The Military-Entrepreneurial Complex: “They are bad enough to do it, but are they mad enough?” – “There really should be something like Anti-Kickstarter for the things you’d be willing to pay to have not happen.” (Gerry Canavan) – Waning of the Social Media: Ruin Aesthetics in Peer-to-Peer Enterprises (dissertation) – “Forget the Data Scientist, I need a Data Janitor.” (Big Data Borat)
By and large the digital humanities has been notable for its adherence to traditional research objects and rehashing of old methods. There is a concept-free zeal about the capacity for digital methods to verify some kind of hitherto unobtainable empirical truth. Historical literary texts are digitized to revise assumed economic patterns and social forces. Geographers scan topographic maps to produce information layers and digital elevations that reveal new frontiers for research. Google earth is traversed to uncover obscure archaeological curiosities in a dirt free manner. Even cutting edge research in the field of digital media cultures tends to transpose established humanities and social science methods to conduct ethnographies of Facebook, complex visualisations of networks and content analyses of the Twittersphere.
Tomorrow the world. ‘Whoever sets the standard has the power’. Strangely enough, this view has few disciples. If we talk about power, and dare to think that we can take over and be in charge, we rarely take Voltaire’s advice to focus all our attention on victory and instead indulge ourselves in self-criticism over how time and again we fail. Mention the word power and we will almost intuitively think of the political class and our revulsion for this profession. We prefer to believe media-savvy opinion makers control the political agenda. It is tempting to think that content, and not form, determines our lives. Those of us who publicly discuss protocols are easily dismissed as cynical techno-determinists or boring bureaucrats. The standard height of a computer table is 72 cm. But who gets bothered about that? Isn’t the quality of the work that comes out of the computer on that very table which counts? An easy-on-the-eye font for a novel is nice enough, but what really counts is the writer’s gift to entertain us.
Boarding Gate C10, Suvarnabhumi Airport: midnight approaches at the end of the concourse, beyond the malls and gates collecting passengers for Singapore and Hong Kong. A long line of young Indian men wait to weigh their hand luggage before boarding the Kolkata flight. These are kuruvis, low-level ‘hand-carriers’ employed by shadowy bosses to transport consumer goods like electronics and garments between Thailand and India. Not surprisingly their pre-weighed luggage comes in exactly at the maximum weight allowance. But it is also carefully apportioned according to value, each carrier transporting just enough to stay under the Rs 5 Lakh limit that attracts prosecution for smuggling electronic goods into India. When the laden flight docks in Kolkata, the baggage hall is resplendent with commodities: plasma televisions, hi-fi systems, musical keyboards, not to mention the iPods, mobile phones, digital cameras and computer circuit boards stowed in makeshift bundles of shabby cloth. This is a full-scale logistical operation – a single link in the many networks of formal and informal labour that distribute consumer goods manufactured in China to markets around the globe.
With the rise of ubiquitous computing and the informatization of labour and life, it’s clear that the current conjuncture is defined by the networked condition. No matter what social milieu, geocultural situation or mode of production the individual today is always connected to circuits of capital. This is no more evident than in the banality of users logged-on to the Internet with their mobile phones and laptops. Always clicking, moving from one site to the next, the distracted mind of the user multiplies the money for the monopoly providers of idle curiosity. Google, Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, Tudou, YouTube, Twitter. Such engines of entry into the ‘experience economy’ of social networks can certainly be diagnosed with a political economy of data-mining and the aggregation of taste. But one wonders what the implications are here for the production of knowledge when users engage in the social production of value and network corporations devise new business models for the extraction of rent from the work of the common. What sort of effects does this networked condition have on institutional settings associated with knowledge production? And what kind of social-technical relations emerge to comprise new diagrams of the political? This essay addresses these questions with reference to the global logistics industries that govern the movement of people, finance and things.
By Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter
‘What does it reverse or flip into when pushed to the limits of its potential?’
Marshall McLuhan, Laws of Media, 1988
‘I have seen the future – and it’s not visual’.
During the first decade of the 21st century the academic discipline of media studies failed to develop a compelling agenda. Media turned out to be an empty container that individualizes people rather than imagining collective agendas. The growth of ‘media’ could lead to its ultimate implosion. If ‘media’ have gone digital and become the network glue between devices, there is a danger of defining the boundaries of media studies purely for the sake of the discipline itself. Media studies then becomes self-referential, defined solely in terms of its self-defense against predatory competitors.
In his book Nice Work If You Can Get It, Andrew Ross opens the final chapter on ‘The Rise of the Global University’ with the following assessment: ‘Higher education has not been immune to the impact of economic globalization. Indeed, its institutions are now on the brink of channeling some of the most dynamic, and […]
[Forthcoming in Mark Deuze (ed.) Managing Media Work, Sage, 2010] By Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter (The OrgMen) Four Stages of Web 2.0 Culture: Use. Modify. Distribute. Ignore. – Johan Sjerpstra In between the blog posting and the tweet there is the aphorism, a centuries old literary form that should do well amongst creative media […]
By Gabriella Coleman, Geert Lovink, Ned Rossiter and Soenke Zehle Winter Camp 09 Visions Wherever we look, there is a Will to Network. In most areas of the (post-)industrial world, networks are becoming a ubiquitous feature – of life, work and play. If they can – and are allowed to – teenagers spend hours texting, […]
Tagsalgorithmic anonymity biopolitics cartographies China cities collaboration concept production creative industries design digital humanities e-waste edu-factory Fordism geocultures information informationalism infrastructure Institutions knowledge production Kolkata labour logistical media logistical media theory logistics media studies media theory neoliberalism network cultures organization politics post-Fordism precarity protocols race seriality software sovereignty standards sustainability the common time Translation university urbanism