felix's blog

Book Out: Digital Condition (Polity Press)

I'm very happy my new book (a translation of Kultur der Digitalität) has just been published by Polity Press.

In the book I argue that referentiality, communality, and algorithmicity have become the characteristic cultural forms of the digital condition because more and more people – in more and more segments of life and by means of increasingly complex technologies – are actively (voluntarily and/or compulsorily) participating in the negotiation of social meaning. They are thus reacting to the demands of a chaotic, overwhelming sphere of information and thereby contributing to its greater expansion. It is the ubiquity of these cultural forms that makes it possible to speak of the digital condition in the singular.

The goals pursued in these cultural forms, however, are as diverse, contradictory, and conflicted as society itself. It would, therefore, be equally false to assume uniformity or an absence of alternatives in the unfolding of social and political developments. On the contrary, the idea of a lack of alternatives is an ideological assertion that is itself part of a specific political agenda. Indeed, advanced democracies are faced with a profound choice, to continue their long slide towards post-democratic authoritarianism or reinvent democracy for the digital condition.

You can get it from the publisher (UK, US), from Amazon (UK, US), or you local bookseller (UK, US).

The great cover image is by the Dutch artist Bernaut Smilde, from the series Nimbus, Probe #6, 2010.


Mapping "Kultur der Digitalität"

Zwei sehr schöne Maps meines Buches "Kultur der Digitalität sind mir zu Gesicht gekommen!

Die erste von Adriano Montefusco, via miro.com. Die zweite von Vinzenz Rast, handgezeichnet!


24/7. Algorithmic sovereignty. Anxiety. Artificial intelligence. Automation. Crowdfunding. Data extraction. Entreprecariat. Exploitation. Free labour. Free time. Gig working. Human-in-the-loop. Logistics. Machine vision. Man-machine complexity. Micro-labour. No future. Outsourcing. Peripheral work. Platform economy. Post-capitalism. Post-work. Procrastination. Quantification. Self-improvement. Social media fatigue. Time management. Unemployment. These are arguably just a few of the many keywords required to navigate our fragile, troubled, scattered present, in which the borders between life and work, home and office, sleep and wake, private and public, human and machine have faded, and in which the personal is not just political but economic.

Edited by Domenico Quaranta and Janez Janša, featuring words by !Mediengruppe Bitnik (Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo) and Felix Stalder, Silvio Lorusso, Luciana Parisi, and Domenico Quaranta and works by !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Danilo Correale, Elisa Giardina Papa, Sanela Jahić, Silvio Lorusso, Jonas Lund, Michael Mandiberg, Eva and Franco Mattes, Anna Ridler, Sebastian Schmieg, Sašo Sedlaček, and Guido Segni, Hyperemployment – Post-work, Online Labour and Automation is an attempt to scrutinise and explore some of these issues. A catchphrase borrowed from media theorist Ian Bogost, describing “the Exhausting Work of the Technology User,” hyperemployment allows us to grasp a situation which the current pandemic has turned endemic, to analyse the present and discuss possible futures.

The book is co-published by NERO and Aksioma

Format: 11 x 17 cm
Pages: 160
Language: EN
Year: 2020
ISBN: 978-88-8056-112-5

BUY IT HERE, 18,00€

Review: Re-enchanting the world: feminism and the politics of the commons by Silvia Federici

Federici, Silvia (2018): Re-enchanting the world: feminism and the politics of the commons (foreword by Peter Linebaugh), Kairos, Oakland, CA: PM Press.

federici book

This book is a collection of essays by Federici, with a new forward by Linebaugh. The majority of the essays is from the last 10 years, but a few date back to the early 1990s. The early essays have a new introduction to provide context and perspective.

In the following, I will not to review the essays per se, but read them with a focus on the definition of the commons itself and the role digital technology plays in creating new commons. This is slightly unfair because both of these issues are not really her concerns, but coming to terms with the role of technology strikes me as critical in any discussion of contemporary issues.

10 Theses on Assemblage Culture

These are notes for a talk I gave a few years ago (can't remember the exact occasion). I came across them now, and I think they are still valid and relevant.

Hannah Höch. Untitled (From an Ethnographic Museum), 1930 (detail)

Assemblage culture is based on the use of (parts of) pre-existing (material or informational) cultural objects in the creation of new cultural objects. Assemblage culture is an umbrella term incorporating numerous media-specific practices such as quoting, sampling, (re)mixing, montage, collage, editing.

  1. Assemblage culture emerges when a society becomes saturated by media objects. Saturation means that these objects become widely and easily available to a wide range of users.
    Historical sequence:
    printed text (quotations in scientific culture, 17th century)
    printed images (early collages, late 19th century)
    recorded audio (musique concrète, mid 20th century)
    moving images (found footage film, mid 20th century)
    computer code (free/open source software, 1980s)
    modifiable genes (?) (early 21th century)
  2. Every cultural work contains elements taken from other works. Digitization makes the processes of assemblage – mostly implicit (by way of reference) in analog media – explicit (by way of insertion and transformation), putting it at the center of cultural production. Quoting and referencing in (scientific) texts made this practice explicit already in pre-digital form, reflecting the ease of separating content from its carrier in print culture.
  3. The meta-medium networked computer brings all media to the point of saturation, thus creating the material basis for the expansion of assemblage culture.

Breakdown 2.0? Systemic blockages in late-stage statism and late-stage liberal capitalism

This is the short (I know!) version of a paper, written for the "25 Years of Network Society" Workshop, organized by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

I want to return to Castells’s analysis of the breakdown of Soviet statism. Today, the question of systemic breakdown is worth revisiting because from the theoretical structure of Castells’s account, a sharper perspective on our contemporary crisis, this time of liberal democracy, might be developed.

This might be counter-intuitive as the late Soviet Union seems far away from our current techno-capitalist world. One was a sclerotic system, closed, rigid, opaque and inflexible to the point of crumbling when attempting to reform itself, the other one prides itself of its transparency and its innovation capacity. Indeed, supposedly radical innovation, “disruption”, has become a ubiquitous and largely positive term in the business literature, a mantra in the popular, Silicon Valley-inspired discourse on the relation between technology and society, and a trope even in critical activist cultures. But underneath these obvious differences, there are systemic blockages that share certain similarities.

Limits to complexity: systemic blockages in the Soviet ‘statism’

03-30.11. 25 Years "Network Society"

2021 will mark the 25th anniversary of the publication of the first volume of Manuel Castells’ Trilogy. It is time to revisit the trilogy and explore the relevance of Castells’ pioneering work in the light of the current state of the network society and of the ways to research about it.

The aim of this workshop is to gather together scholars from a wide range of disciplines to engage with the Trilogy and debate on its contributions, legacies but as well shortcomings and new developments not envisioned at the time of its launch to try to develop a critical perspective on future trajectories of the network society and the information age.

I participated in panel 3: "The Geopolitics of the Network Society" with a paper entitled "Breakdown 2.0? Systemic blockages in late-stage statism and late-stage liberal capitalism".

Micro Review: What Tech Calls Thinking

You can read the entire thread here .

Micro Review: Blockchain Chicken Farm

Read the full thread here.

Micro Review: Machtmaschinen

Den ganzen Twitter Thread kann man hier lesen.

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