Review: Re-enchanting the world: feminism and the politics of the commons by Silvia Federici17 December, 2020 - 16:28 by felix
Federici, Silvia (2018): Re-enchanting the world: feminism and the politics of the commons (foreword by Peter Linebaugh), Kairos, Oakland, CA: PM Press.
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 Culture17 December, 2020 - 11:00 by felix
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.
- 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.
- 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)
- printed text (quotations in scientific culture, 17th century)
- 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.
- The meta-medium networked computer brings all media to the point of saturation, thus creating the material basis for the expansion of assemblage culture.
4 December, 2020 - 19:32 by felix
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. href="https://doi.org/10.1177/000276422210927">Official Version published in American Behavioral Scientist, May 2022
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’
Micro Review: What Tech Calls Thinking28 November, 2020 - 14:11 by felix
1/ So, I read @adriandaub “What Tech Calls Thinking”, a book I was predisposed to like, not just because I’m interesting in the topic (a cultural critique of tech), but also it caters directly to people like me who believe in the value of higher eduction and critical thinking pic.twitter.com/zJ4F6Bzrs3
Micro Review: Blockchain Chicken Farm23 November, 2020 - 15:24 by felix
1/ So, I read “Blockchain Chicken Farm" by @xrw . It’s one of the best books I read this year, not just because its starting point (the countryside) is counter-intuitive for a “metronormative” person like me, but also because it’s much more than simply a book about tech. pic.twitter.com/nMciWDOR6S
Micro Review: Machtmaschinen15 November, 2020 - 14:40 by felix
So, ich habe das neue Buch von @Viktor_MS gelesen. In a nutshell: Nicht Rechenleistung, nicht Algorithmen, nicht Data Scientists, nicht Risikokapital sind knapp, sondern der Zugang zu Daten. Die grossen Firmen (in USA und China) haben alle Modelle entwickelt, (1/5) pic.twitter.com/q2NMgaahwS
The Pandemic as Smart City Laboratory21 June, 2020 - 10:37 by felix
I really think anyone who makes predictions now is a fool.
It's a little bit like trying to predict the future of foreign policy in October 2001.
Evgeny Morozov, interviewed by Holly Herndon & Matt Dryhurst, May 11, 2020.
The Covid-19 pandemic is both an urban and technological phenomenon. 95% of all diseases have so far been registered in cities. From the starting point in Wuhan, via the metropolitan region of Lombardy, Paris, Madrid, New York, Rio de Janeiro to Moscow, the virus spreads mainly within large cities. This is hardly surprising, since not only does the higher density favor the local spread of the virus from person to person, but the virus also arrives first in the large cities. They are the central nodes of the hypermobility of people and goods that characterizes the neoliberal phase of globalization. From this perspective, tourist hotspots like Ischgl are temporary cities in the mountains. Whether the hypermobility, which has been largely brought to a standstill at the moment, will be fully revived is not yet clear. That the global trend towards urbanization will be broken is very unlikely. So much can be confidently predicted.
Map of all the 5384 people whose Covid-19 infection could be traced back to the ski resort of Ischgl, Austria. (Source)
Tracking People and Modelling Society. COVID-19 and the politics of big data24 May, 2020 - 15:23 by felix
At the moment, many people are sensing how the tectonic plates under their feet are moving. It is hard to get one’s bearing on such shifting grounds. Beginning with the virus itself, which is assumed to have jumped from animals to humans (“zoonotic spillover”) sometime last fall, there are simply too many actors in the complex dynamic system of a planetary civilization whose paths have been altered in hard-to-understand ways. This makes it impossible to plot the cumulative effects of their interaction.
While a lot of things are fairly chaotic and improvised reactions to fast-changing events, there is a certain structure to it, simply because people and institutions draw on that material, political and cultural resources which they have available. But which resources to draw on, how to mobilize them, and how to create new ones in the process is the key question. While there is path-dependency and continuity, even in the way actors can change paths, there is also a moment of extraordinary openness. It is therefore important not only to be vigilant against the authoritarian forces that are exploiting this crisis, i.e. to defend democracy as it exists, but also to think about ways of strengthening and expanding it right now.
Überwachen und Anstecken (LMD)16 May, 2020 - 13:20 by felix
Die Welt verändert sich vor unseren Augen in rasendem Tempo. Keine drei Monate nachdem die Behörden von Wuhan erstmals die Weltgesundheitsorganisation (WHO) über ein neuartiges Coronavirus informiert haben, sind mehr als 3 Milliarden Menschen mit schweren Einschränkungen ihrer Bewegungsfreiheit konfrontiert, die mindestens mehrere Wochen dauern sollen.Dieses Regime der erzwungenen Immobilität ist nur der sichtbarste Teil einer tektonischen Verschiebung der politischen Landschaft, in der Maßnahmen durchgesetzt werden, die bis vor Kurzem noch undenkbar waren. Gleichzeitig radikalisieren sich bestehende Entwicklungen.
Bei der Nutzung digitaler Daten im Kampf gegen die Ausbreitung des Virus kommt beides in problematischer Weise zusammen. Es ist naheliegend, auf „die Daten“ der großen Firmen der Mobilfunk- und Social-Media-Branche zurückzugreifen, um die Ausbreitung des Virus zu bekämpfen. Seit Jahren betonen diese Firmen gern, wie genau sie uns kennen, wie detailliert sie über unsere Handlungen, Sorgen und Wünsche Bescheid wüssten und dass sie unser künftiges Verhalten aus unserem bisherigen ableiten könnten.Mehr noch, die digitale Netzwerktheorie, etwa Facebooks „social graph“, der die Beziehungen zwischen allen Nutzern der Plattform darstellt, und die Netzwerktheorie der Epidemiologie sind in ihren Grundlagen sehr ähnlich.