Re: <nettime> The Ghost in the Network

Posted by Geert Dekkers | Tue May 17th 2005 12:53 a.m.

Allan Kaprow saw this. http://nznl.com/geert/pop.php?dag 050516
We "see" this -- this is "internet intelligence"

Geert
http://nznl.com

On 16-mei-05, at 18:56, Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker wrote:

> Aristotle's famous formulation of "man as a political animal" takes on
> new meanings in light of contemporary studies of biological
> self-organization. For Aristotle, the human being was first a living
> being, with the additional capacity for political being. In this sense,
> biology becomes the presupposition for politics, just as the human
> being's animal being serves as the basis for its political being. But
> not all animals are alike. Deleuze distinguishes three types of
> animals:
> domestic pets (Freudian, anthropomorphized Wolf-Man), animals in nature
> (the isolated species, the lone wolf), and packs (multiplicities). It
> is
> this last type of animal--the pack--which provides the most direct
> counter-point to Aristotle's formulation, and which leads us to pose a
> question: If the human being is a political animal, are there also
> animal politics? Ethnologists and entymologists would think so. The ant
> colony and insect swarm has long been used in science fiction and
> horror
> as the metaphor for the opposite of Western, liberal democracies. Even
> the language used in biology still retains the remnants of sovereignty:
> the queen bee, the drone. What, then, do we make of theories of
> biocomplexity and swarm intelligence, which suggest that there is no
> "queen" but only a set of localized interactions which self-organize
> into a whole swarm or colony? Is the "multitude" a type of animal
> multiplicity? Such probes seem to suggest that Aristotle based his
> formulation on the wrong kinds of animals. "You can't be one wolf," of
> course. "You're always eight or nine, six or seven" [5].
  • Geert Dekkers | Tue May 17th 2005 4:36 a.m.
    The last post wasabout something on nettime, not rhizome. So to correct
    myself -- here's the piece to which I referred...

    Cheers
    Geert
    http:/nznl.com

    Begin forwarded message:

    > From: Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker <galloway@nyu.edu>
    > Date: 16 mei 2005 18:56:01 GMT+02:00
    > To: nettime-l@bbs.thing.net
    > Subject: <nettime> The Ghost in the Network
    > Reply-To: Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker <galloway@nyu.edu>
    >
    > The Ghost in the Network
    >
    > In discussing the difference between the living and the nonliving,
    > Aristotle points to the phenomena of self-organized animation and
    > motility as the key aspects of a living thing. For Aristotle the
    > "form-giving Soul" enables inanimate matter to become a living
    > organism.
    > If life is animation, then animation is driven by a final cause. But
    > the
    > cause is internal to the organism, not imposed from without as with
    > machines. Network science takes up this idea on the mathematical plane,
    > so that geometry is the soul of the network. Network science proposes
    > that heterogeneous network phenomena can be understood through the
    > geometry of graph theory, the mathematics of dots and lines. An
    > interesting outcome of this is that seemingly incongruous network
    > phenomena can be grouped according to their similar geometries. For
    > instance the networks of AIDS, terrorist groups, or the economy can be
    > understood as having in common a particular pattern, a particular set
    > of
    > relations between dots (nodes) and lines (edges). A given topological
    > pattern is what cultivates and sculpts information within networks. To
    > in-form is thus to give shape to matter (via organization or
    > self-organization) through the instantiation of form--a network
    > hylomorphism.
    >
    > But further, the actualized being of the living network is also defined
    > in political terms. "No central node sits in the middle of the spider
    > web, controlling and monitoring every link and node. There is no single
    > node whose removal could break the web. A scale-free network is a web
    > without a spider" [1]. Having-no-spider is an observation about
    > predatory hierarchy, or the supposed lack thereof, and is therefore a
    > deeply political observation. In order to make this unnerving
    > jump--from
    > math (graph theory), to technology (the Internet), to politics ("a web
    > without a spider")--politics needs to be seen as following the
    > necessary
    > and "natural" laws of mathematics; that is, networks need to be
    > understood as "an unavoidable consequence of their evolution" [2]. In
    > network science, the "unavoidable consequence" of networks often
    > resembles something like neoliberal democracy, but a democracy which
    > naturally emerges according to the "power law" of decentralized
    > networks. Like so, their fates are twisted together.
    >
    > Rhetorics of Freedom
    >
    > While tactically valuable in the fight against proprietary software,
    > open source is ultimately flawed as a political program. Open source
    > focuses on code in isolation. It fetishizes all the wrong things:
    > language, originality, source, the past, status. To focus on inert,
    > isolated code is to ignore code in its context, in its social relation,
    > in its real experience, or actual dynamic relations with other code and
    > other machines. Debugging never happens through reading the source
    > code,
    > only through running the program. Better than open source would be open
    > runtime which would prize all the opposites: open articulation, open
    > iterability, open practice, open becoming.
    >
    > But this is also misleading and based in a rhetoric around the relative
    > openness and closedness of a technological system. The rhetoric goes
    > something like this: technological systems can either be closed or
    > open.
    > Closed systems are generally created by either commercial or state
    > interests-courts regulate technology, companies control their
    > proprietary technologies in the market place, and so on. Open systems,
    > on the other hand, are generally associated with the public and with
    > freedom and political transparency. Geert Lovink contrasts "closed
    > systems based on profit through control and scarcity" with "open,
    > innovative standards situated in the public domain" [3]. Later, in his
    > elucidation of Castells, he writes of the opposite, a "freedom
    > hardwired
    > into code" [4]. This gets to the heart of the freedom rhetoric. If it's
    > hardwired is it still freedom? Instead of guaranteeing freedom, the act
    > of "hardwiring" suggests a limitation on freedom. And in fact that is
    > precisely the case on the Internet where strict universal standards of
    > communication have been rolled out more widely and more quickly than in
    > any other medium throughout history. Lessig and many others rely
    > heavily
    > on this rhetoric of freedom.
    >
    > We suggest that this opposition between closed and open is flawed. It
    > unwittingly perpetuates one of today's most insidious political myths,
    > that the state and capital are the two sole instigators of control.
    > Instead of the open/closed opposition we suggest the pairing
    > physical/social. The so-called open logics of control, those associated
    > with (non proprietary) computer code or with the Internet protocols,
    > operate primarily using a physical model of control. For example,
    > protocols interact with each other by physically altering and amending
    > lower protocological objects (IP prefixes its header onto a TCP data
    > object, which prefixes its header onto an HTTP object, and so on). But
    > on the other hand, the so-called closed logics of state and commercial
    > control operate primarily using a social model of control. For,
    > example,
    > Microsoft's commercial prowess is renewed via the social activity of
    > market exchange. Or, using another example, Digital Rights Management
    > licenses establish a social relationship between producers and
    > consumers, a social relationship backed up by specific legal realities
    > (DMCA). Viewed in this way, we find it self evident that physical
    > control (i.e. protocol) is equally powerful if not more so than social
    > control. Thus, we hope to show that if the topic at hand is one of
    > control, then the monikers of "open" and "closed" simply further
    > confuse
    > the issue. Instead we would like to speak in terms of "alternatives of
    > control" whereby the controlling logic of both "open" and "closed"
    > systems is brought out into the light of day.
    >
    > Political Animals
    >
    > Aristotle's famous formulation of "man as a political animal" takes on
    > new meanings in light of contemporary studies of biological
    > self-organization. For Aristotle, the human being was first a living
    > being, with the additional capacity for political being. In this sense,
    > biology becomes the presupposition for politics, just as the human
    > being's animal being serves as the basis for its political being. But
    > not all animals are alike. Deleuze distinguishes three types of
    > animals:
    > domestic pets (Freudian, anthropomorphized Wolf-Man), animals in nature
    > (the isolated species, the lone wolf), and packs (multiplicities). It
    > is
    > this last type of animal--the pack--which provides the most direct
    > counter-point to Aristotle's formulation, and which leads us to pose a
    > question: If the human being is a political animal, are there also
    > animal politics? Ethnologists and entymologists would think so. The ant
    > colony and insect swarm has long been used in science fiction and
    > horror
    > as the metaphor for the opposite of Western, liberal democracies. Even
    > the language used in biology still retains the remnants of sovereignty:
    > the queen bee, the drone. What, then, do we make of theories of
    > biocomplexity and swarm intelligence, which suggest that there is no
    > "queen" but only a set of localized interactions which self-organize
    > into a whole swarm or colony? Is the "multitude" a type of animal
    > multiplicity? Such probes seem to suggest that Aristotle based his
    > formulation on the wrong kinds of animals. "You can't be one wolf," of
    > course. "You're always eight or nine, six or seven" [5].
    >
    > Ad Hoc
    >
    > Unplug from the grid. Plug into your friends. Adhocracy will rule.
    > Autonomy and security will only happen when telecommunications operate
    > around ad hoc networking. Syndicate yourself to the locality.
    >
    > Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker
    >
    > + + +
    >
    > [1] Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Linked (Cambridge: Perseus Publishing,
    > 2002), p. 221.
    >
    > [2] Ibid.
    >
    > [3] Geert Lovink, My First Recession (Rotterdam: V2, 2003), p. 14.
    >
    > [4] Ibid., p. 47.
    >
    > [5] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
    > (Minneapolis:
    > University of Minnesota Press, 1987), p. 29.
    >
    >
    > # distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
    > # <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
    > # collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
    > # more info: majordomo@bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg
    > body
    > # archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime@bbs.thing.net
    >
  • Ian Clothier | Tue May 17th 2005 9:12 p.m.
    What, then, do we make of theories of biocomplexity and swarm intelligence, which suggest that there is no 'queen' but only a set of localized interactions which self-organize into a whole swarm or colony?"

    I suppose this may have been intended to be a rhetorical question, however there there is no tension between a relatively centralised (though not rigidly fixed) 'core' and self organization in complex systems for the simple reason that complex systems often require both.

    Another way of expressing this is to say that linearity and nonlinearity are not mutally exclusive but rather both are required in multiplicities.

    This point is significant because there is a need to address issues of internet intelligence (among other and wider issues) with multiplcities in mind - and that changes the model of discourse on points of contention from one where right and wrong are discerned, to one where right/wrong, wrong/right, right right and wrong wrong are parameters for discussion.

    I don't think Aristotle had the wrong kind of animals, but rather that his position is in counterpoint to Deleuze, just as the authors said. This is a weaker point but one closer to the multiplicity.
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