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<nettime> Urgent Aphorisms: Notes on Organized Networks for the Connecte
Ned Rossiter on Wed, 21 Oct 2009 22:47:46 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Urgent Aphorisms: Notes on Organized Networks for the Connected Multitudes


Urgent Aphorisms: Notes on Organized Networks for the Connected  
Multitudes

[Forthcoming in Mark Deuze (ed.) Managing Media Work, Sage]

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 workers. Zipped knowledge of the 21st century.

*

Already for 18th century German experimental physicist and man of  
letters, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, there was an impossibility for  
knowledge to capture the totality of things. ?It is a question in  
arts and sciences whether a best is possible beyond which our  
understanding cannot go? (Lichtenberg). The answer to Twittermania is  
not the thousand page magnum opus. Today, in a techno-culture where  
the link never ends, there is a need to give pause to thought. This  
is the work of the aphorism. Karl Kraus: ?An aphorism doesn?t have to  
be true. The aphorism should outstrip the truth, surpassing it in one  
sentence?. This text is dedicated to the creative workers, migrants,  
vagabonds, activists, intellectuals of this world: Abandon the state,  
create multiple expressive forms, engage in transborder relations  
(affective, intellectual, social, political), invent new  
institutional forms!

*

Where to situate the study of network cultures? It hovers between a  
public form of ?mass informality? and hardcore techno-determinism.  
The social noise we see scrolling down our screens is a waste product  
of techno-settings in which our sweet entries are situated. Interface  
is King, with the consequence that real techno-aesthetic intervention  
increasingly becomes a lost archive in the history of network cultures.

*

In retrospect Friedrich Kittler?s techno-determinism remained an  
unfinished project. Kittler?s post-1968 German media theory has not  
gone through many alterations since the early 1990s. The once bold  
statement ?media determine our situation? doesn?t shock anyone and  
has become an empty phrase. The media a priori is so obvious that it  
seems to have drifted into the realm of the collective unconscious.  
Henceforth no Kittler school. The grownup Kittler-Jugend are  
dedicated to scattered projects on the margins of academia. People  
once again obsess over their small careers and seem to have forgotten  
the primal energy that collective imagination can unleash. New  
generations read German media theory with interest but simply no  
longer have the time to read the necessary libraries to fully enjoy  
the details. Kittler himself abandoned contemporary techno-analysis  
and retired in imaginary Old Greece. How can there be a critique when  
such a position itself is still obscure and on the brink of  
disappearing? You start to sympathize with the programmer geeks when  
techno-determinism is sublimated by the highly attractive commercial  
sheen of Web 2.0.

*

Why network? We ought to ask this question. Why is the network, this  
empty signifier, the emerging-becoming-dominant paradigm of our age?  
Most of us will grow into network(ing) like children grow in and out  
of clothes. It takes some time to realize that we dedicate fixed  
periods of the day to the social-technical networks that are out  
there without factoring it in. Networking and communicating through  
email, chats, Twitter and social networking sites are technological  
forms of day dreaming, a sphere you enter into and then come out of.  
The dreamtime in the techno-cloud could be compared to the siesta at  
the village square or chats in the local bar. It is time dedicated to  
the social. What we get out of it is diffuse and impossible to quantify.

*

Why organize(d) networks? Ever since we launched this concept in 2005  
we have seen organized networks (or orgnets) as just one of many  
possibilities. But if the tendency that networks, over time, will  
simply have to become more structured, then why bother? Long live  
techno-social determinism. The org.net question should be precluded  
with: Why do we still talk about organization in an era that seems to  
celebrate looseness and non-commitment? The Organization Man (William  
H. Whyte, 1956) is alive and well to this day. He did not disappear  
with the so-called end of industrialism. In fact, his powers have  
multiplied even if his ?mind and soul? is no longer exclusively  
beholden to the demands of The Organization. Today, Organization Man  
has moved beyond that institutional terrain and penetrated the life  
of networks. Everyone is Organizing. Such was the great masterplan of  
the ?organizational complex? (Reinhold Martin). Cooked up as a Cold  
War dream to extend the military-industrial complex into the realms  
of aesthetics and technology, the organizational complex fused the  
modulation of patterns from the Bauhaus School with the cybernetic  
programming of control. ?Media organize?. This McLuhan-inspired maxim  
by Reinhold Martin truncates even further Friedrich Kittler?s earlier  
?media determine our situation?. The key difference being the  
organizing capacity of communications media, which carry with it the  
organization man updated. This leaves us with the question: are we  
The Org Men? Wouldn?t it be great to deconstruct the very .org  
concept to pieces in order to get rid of it, once and for all? Isn?t  
there behind any call to organize a desire to restore the ?ber org- 
anism once called tribe, church, society, nation state?

*

Not all online group initiatives work. Many fail. So can orgnets. The  
failure of a network, is however, not entirely without some work.  
There is a labour involved with failure. So we are using the notion  
of work in a different sense. We wish to invoke the idea of  
sustainability as a core feature of the work of networks. Failure is  
all too often the common of fragile conditions and the fragments of  
demands placed upon those involved in building and guiding the  
network. Social dust is a necessary precondition of the will to scale.

*

?We are here to stay?. The sustainability issue is a highly political  
one. Once a network becomes sustainable it addresses the problem of  
time, which tends not to be the default of networks. More often  
networks are about the dimension of space ? quite frequently, they  
are transnational in orientation. The material property of spatially  
distributed social-technical relations that are forever being remade  
through the logic of connection and speed provides sufficient grounds  
for distraction from the problem of time understood as the  
experiential condition of duration. This was the analysis of Canadian  
communications theorist and political economist Harold Innis, whose  
writings in the late 1940s and early fifties sought to address how it  
was that ancient civilizations rise and fall due to the spatial or  
temporal bias of their communications media and transport systems.  
The biases of our time are known to all, but ignored by even more.

*

?There ain?t no time, only over time?. The political aspect of  
networks is closely associated with sustainability of time. The  
annoying network is the one that lasts the test of time and refuses  
to disappear. Networks as technoversity are connected to develop a  
diverse range of standards, practices, modes of governance, techno- 
social relations. They collectively produce their own idioms of  
knowledge, one platform or system distinct from the next, all  
predicated on the will to communicate. The technoversity of networks  
is not simply about distribution over space but about maintaining  
lines of differentiation over time.

*

The realization of the social is no longer possible outside an  
understanding of the constitutive power of technologies. There is no  
pure social realm. The social is inseparable from the technology. We  
speak of healthy bodies and populations, but what is the healthy  
techno-social body? Why are fluidity and transformation such  
celebrated values these days? How can we design the care of the self  
for a social-technical network?

*

With so much real concern around ecological futures, how come there  
is so little concern within networks of techno-social futures? The  
net-cultural preoccupation with immediacy works against both the  
histories of the present as well as present conditions of the future.  
Network cultures have their own distinct apparatus of capture:  
respond, now! To cleave out time from the work of networks requires a  
certain act of refusal through the practice of delay or, if you  
happen to be a member of the techno-economic elite, you simply log  
off. But these are not options for the networked masses. How, then,  
to reinvent a politics of autonomy in the time of networks? Such work  
requires new modalities of organization whose ambition is singular:  
conspire to invent new institutional forms.

*

Networks are not renowned for their managerial efficiency. Indeed,  
the very term ?management? is one that makes many within networks  
actively hostile and they recoil with deep distaste. Networks are  
more inclined toward anti-authoritarian tendencies. They ?unmanage?  
their cultural formation with little interest in purpose-driven,  
performance indicators and procedural guidelines. And it?s no wonder  
they do this. Such practices are embedded in the highly dysfunctional  
audit cultures of dominant institutions. Networks are not goal  
driven. They are galvanized around shared issues and the production  
of passions and the cultivation of clouds. The network blurs all  
purpose. That?s why we wish to raise the question of management in  
terms of organization. There can be no successful managerial science  
for networks. Please listen, once and for all, you brothers and  
sisters in consultancy land. Shy away from top-down decisions and  
impulses driven by regulatory ressentiment. IT-administrators belong  
in that category ? their burning ambition is to ensure that networks  
never work.

*

Organized networks are best understood as new institutional forms  
whose social-technical dynamics are immanent to the culture of  
networks. Orgnets are partly conditioned by the crisis and, in many  
instances, failure of primary institutions of modernity (unions,  
firms, universities, the state) to address contemporary social,  
political and economic problems in a post-broadcast era of digital  
culture and society. In this sense, organized networks belong to the  
era and prevailing conditions associated with post-modernity.  
Organized networks emphasize horizontal, mobile, distributed and  
decentralized modes of relation. A culture of openness, sharing and  
project-based forms of activity are key characteristics of organized  
networks. In this respect, organized networks are informed by the  
rise of open source software movements. Relationships among the  
majority of participants in organized networks are frequently  
experienced as fragmented and ephemeral. Often without formal rules,  
membership fees, or stable sources of income, many participants have  
loose ties with a range of networks.

*

The above characteristics inevitably lead to the challenge of  
governance and sustainability for networks. It?s at this point that  
networks start to become organized. With a focus on the strategic  
dimension of governance, organized networks signal a point of  
departure from the short-termism and temporary political  
interventions of tactical media. At first glance orgnets are a  
natural, almost inevitable development of the ?network society? as  
described by Manuel Castells. Yet nothing is ?natural? in virtual  
environments. Everything needs to be constructed. And if so, under  
whose guidance? Who sets the very terms under which networks will  
grow their roots into society? Will this process of  
institutionalization have a (built-in) financial component?

*

As a political concept, organized networks provide what urban  
theorist Saskia Sassen calls an ?analytical tool? with which to  
describe ?the political? as it manifests within network societies and  
information economies. The social-technical antagonisms that  
underscore ?the political? of organized networks are instantiated in  
the conflicts network cultures have with vertical systems of control:  
intellectual property regimes, system administrators, alpha-males,  
tendency toward non-transparency and a general lack of accountability.

*

How to rebuild labour organizations in the network society? This was  
one of the many unrealized ambitions of the anti- and later alter- 
globalization movements. And, for the most part, the unions never  
quite realized that life and labour within a digital paradigm had  
become the norm. Let us sketch out some of the current conditions  
challenging political organization within network societies. First,  
we need to problematise labour as some kind of coherent, distinct  
entity. We know well that labour in fact is internally contradictory  
and holds multiple, differential registers that refuse easy  
connection (gender, class, ethnicity, age, mode of work, etc.). This  
is the problem of organization. How to ?organize the  
unorganizables??, to borrow from the title of Florian Schneider?s  
documentary film. Second, we need to question the border between  
labour and life ? contemporary biopolitics has rendered this border  
indistinct. Techniques of governance now interpenetrate all aspects  
of life as it is put to work and made productive. The result? No  
longer can we separate public from private, and this has massive  
implications for how we consider political organization today. What,  
in other words, is the space of political organization? Paolo Virno,  
for instance, speaks of a ?non-state public sphere?. But where,  
precisely is this sphere? All too often it seems networked, and  
nowhere. This is the trap of ?virtuality?, understood in its general  
sense. Of course there can be fantastic instances of political  
organization that remain exclusively at the level of the virtual,  
which is the territory of today?s ?info-wars?. Here, we find the  
continued fight over the society of the spectacle. Yet the problem of  
materiality nonetheless persists, and indeed becomes more urgent, as  
the ecological crisis makes all too clear (although this too is a  
contest of political agendas played out within the symbolic sphere).

*

Slogans ?R? Us * T-shirt label: Made for Asia * Today Your Friend,  
Tomorrow the World * Book title: ?Stimulus and Indifference? * Praise  
Exodus ? Blast Decay * Support My Exit * ?Children of the  
Deconstruction? * The Institution is the Message * Project: Deleting  
Europe * I Joined the barcamp on anticyclic resistance and all I got  
is this lousy USB stick * ethics is moral punk * Romantic Mobility *  
Silicon Friends? * The Art of Attack (3 days intensive) * Post- 
Exotic: The Boring Other as Kulturideal * Buy More Consume Less *  
?Networking is Great to Waste Time Before Dying? * Rejected EU  
proposal: ?Dialectics of Innovation ? Creative Warfare in the Age of  
the Relaxed Crisis? *

*

There are benefits in adopting a combinatory analytical and  
methodological approach that brings the virtual dimension of  
organization together with a material situation. This may take the  
form of an event or meeting, workshops, publishing activities, field  
research, urban experiments, migrant support centres, media  
laboratories ... there are many possibilities. In Italy, uninomade  
and the media-activist network and social centre ESC are good  
examples of what we are talking about here. Sarai media lab in Dehli  
would be another. In the instance of bringing many capacities  
together around a common problem or field of interest we begin to see  
the development of a new institutional form. These institutions are  
networked, certainly, and far from the static culture and normative  
regimes of the bricks and mortar institutions of the modern era ?  
unions, firms, universities, state. Their mobile, ephemeral nature is  
both a strength and a weakness. The invention of new institutional  
forms that emerge within the process of organizing networks is  
absolutely central to the rebuilding of labour organizations within  
contemporary settings. Such developments should not be seen as a  
burden or something that closes down the spontaneity, freedom and  
culture of sharing and participation that we enjoy so much within  
social networks. As translation devices, these new institutions  
facilitate trans-institutional connections. In this connection we  
find multiple antagonisms, indeed such connections make visible new  
territories of ?the political?.

*

Reading Russell Jacoby?s The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in  
the Age of Academe (1987), two decades later, makes you wonder how  
such an independent study would look like, post-Cold War, post-9/11,  
in the age of the Internet and globalization. Jacoby?s description of  
the ?impoverishment of public culture? has not come to a halt. No  
dialectical turn here. As predicted, the figure of the ?public  
intellectual? has disappeared. ?Intellectuals no longer need or want  
a larger audience; they are almost exclusively professors who situate  
themselves within fields and disciplines?. The nonacademic  
intellectuals, an endangered species in the 1980s, have vanished for  
good. The academics who replaced the general intellectuals created  
?insular societies?. There is a widespread fear here of the ?single- 
minded men?. But are we really living in the Age of the Expert? It is  
not the expert knowledge that has become the dominant voice in the  
media age. Instead, we have witnessed the rise of the celebrity, and  
the ?celebrification? of all spheres of (mediated) life. The  
professional is hiding inside the walls of the office culture.  
Instead of a Triumph of the Professional we witness the Cult of the  
Amateur (Andrew Keen), neither of them claiming any of the virtues of  
the General Intellectual. Nothing in Jacoby?s study points at the  
appearance of ?citizen journalism?, ?participatory culture? (Henry  
Jenkins) and the decline of professional work due to the rise of free  
content found in free newspapers and through the Internet.  
Yesterday?s public intellectuals of mass media were not exactly  
unpaid fellow travellers. What would Jacoby?s strategy be after the  
?de-monetarization? of the media markets?

*

Communication conditions the possibility of the new political  
organization. We could say that ?the political? of network societies  
is comprised of the tension between horizontal modes of communication  
and vertical regimes of control. Just think of the ongoing battles  
between Internet and intellectual property regulators such as WIPO  
(World Intellectual Property Organization) and pirate networks of  
software, music or film distribution. Collaborative constitution  
emerges precisely in the instance of confrontation. In this sense,  
the horizontal and vertical axes of communication are not separate or  
opposed but mutually constitutive. How to manage or deal with these  
two axes of communication is often a source of tension within  
networks. Here, we are talking about models of governance, without  
universal ideals to draw on. More often than not, networks adopt a  
trial-and-error approach to governance. It is better to recognize  
that governance is not a dirty word, but one that is internal to the  
logic and protocols of self-organization.

*

The ?participation economy? of Web 2.0 is underscored by a great  
tension between the ?free labour? (Tiziana Terranova) of cooperation  
that defines social networks and its appropriation by firms and  
companies. How is the ?wealth of networks? (Yochai Benkler) to be  
protected from exploitation? Unions, in their industrial form,  
functioned to protect workers against exploitation and represent  
their right to fair and decent working conditions. But what happens  
when leisure activity becomes a form of profit generation for  
companies? Popular social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace,  
Bebo, del.icio.us and the data trails we leave with Google function  
as informational gold mines for the owners of these sites.  
Advertising space and, more importantly, the sale of aggregated data  
are the staples of the participation economy. No longer can the union  
appeal to the subjugated, oppressed experience of workers when users  
voluntarily submit information and make no demands for a share of  
profits. Although we are starting to see some changes on this front,  
as users become increasingly aware of their productive capacities and  
can quickly abandon a social networking site in the same manner in  
which they initially swarmed toward it. Companies, then, are  
vulnerable to the roaming tastes of the networked masses whose  
cooperative labour determines their wealth. This cooperative labour  
constitutes a form of power that has the potential to be mobilized in  
political ways, yet so rarely is. Perhaps that will change before too  
long. Certainly, the production of this type of political  
subjectivity is preferable to the pretty revolting culture of  
?shareholder democracy? that has come to define political expression  
for the neoliberal citizen.

*

The precarity debate was, correctly, about the material conditions of  
labour and life. Mistakenly, the precarity discourse remained fixated  
on the rear-view mirror of Fordist production and the welfare state.  
But there is more than this. Judith Butler wished to extend the term  
to include emotional states and affective relations. Yet somehow  
precarity doesn?t satisfactorily capture the intensity ? and dullness  
? of the contemporary soul. What comes closer is the image of the  
nervous, electric body in the late nineteenth and early twentieth  
century as diagnosed in sociological accounts of urban  
transformation. Think Georg Simmel, Gabriel Tarde, Walter Benjamin.  
The image of digital disembodiment was perhaps a 1990s attempt to  
update the electric body, but nowadays such a notion just looks sadly  
comical and misplaced, which brings us back to the materiality of  
communication vis-?-vis Kittler. Today we have not so much digital  
disembodiment but the violence of code that penetrates the brain and  
the body. It is the normality of difference, sending out constant  
semiotic vibrations that numbs us. What the precarity meme doesn?t  
catch is the cool frenzy. There is an aesthetics of uncertainty at  
work. An impulse to Just Do It! Extreme Sports. Risk Societies.  
Financial Derivatives. Creative Classes. Porn Stars. Game Cultures.  
Today, it seems impossible to escape the network paradigm that is  
always economically productive, even if it never returns the user a  
buck. The non-remunerated body remains a body in labour. And it?s  
increasingly exhausted. The brain encounters the limits of the day  
and everything that is left uncompleted. The endless task of chores  
ticked off slide over from one day to the next. One becomes tired by  
looking at the ?to-do? list, which reproduces like a nasty virus.  
Bring on the remix.

*

The shift from Fordist modes of assembly production to post-Fordist  
modes of flexibilization cannot be accounted for by reference alone  
to capital?s demands for enhanced efficiency through restructuring  
and rescaling. The 1970s in Italy saw the rise of operaismo  
(autonomist workerism) who refused the erosion of life by the demands  
of wage labour. Importantly, their unique ?refusal of labour?  
demonstrates, in theory, a clear capacity of workers to change the  
practices of capital, for better and worse. The Italian collective  
strike is a one-off concept workshop, blending the radical with the  
general. It is in this power of transformation that ?the common? is  
created (unlike so many other struggles and forms of dissent in  
Europe). The ongoing challenge remains how to organize that  
potentiality in ways that produce subjectivities that can open a  
better life ? in Italy, and beyond.

*

Workfare, flexicurity or ?commonfare? ? all of these options are  
variations on the theme of state intervention that is able to supply  
a relative security to the otherwise uncertainty of labour and life.  
Such calls are misguided. They presuppose that somehow the state  
resides outside of market fluctuations and the precarity of capital.  
The state is coextensive with capital. The 2008 credit crisis has  
shown the state has little command over the uncertainties of finance  
capital. How, then, can the state guarantee stability? Furthermore,  
to whom does the state offer security? Certainly not to undocumented  
migrants. The call for flexicurity is a regressive, nostalgic move  
that holds dangerous implications vis-?-vis the formation of zones of  
exclusion. There is no pleasure principle in being underpaid. The  
price of freedom is a high one and it is only a handful of lucky  
outsiders in the Rest of the West who can afford to work for free,  
enjoying unemployment while living off a small income. It is a secret  
lifestyle choice for a diminishing elite of cultural conceptualists  
and their outsourced army of semiotic producers. This is not what the  
dreams of the multitudes aspire to realize. There is much political  
value in targeting not the state but the companies ? especially those  
engaged in the Web 2.0 economy ? and insisting on a distribution of  
income commensurate with the collective labour that defines the  
participation economy. This may be a more effective strategy for  
broadening the constitutive range of labour organizations.

*

If social movements are serious about addressing the economic  
conditions of workers and engaging the complexities of the political  
they would put an end to the mistaken faith in the state as the  
source of guarantees. Moreover, the logic of the state as a provider  
of welfare is special to Europe ? it does not translate to the  
situations of workers in many Asian countries, for example. So what  
are the borders of connection among workers? Does the movement simply  
reproduce the borders of the EU? Or does it engage in the much harder  
but no less necessary work of transnational connection? If so, then  
targeting the state does not especially help facilitate a common  
territory of organization. The global circuits of capital are where  
radical politics should focus their attention. But global capital is  
in no way uniform in its effects, techniques of management or  
accumulative regimes. Political intervention, in other words, must  
always be situated while traversing a range of scales: social- 
subjective, institutional, geocultural. The movement of relations  
(social, political, economic) across and within this complex field of  
forces comprises the practical work of translation. Translation is  
the art of differential connection and constitutes the common from  
which new institutional forms may arise.

*

Practices of collaborative constitution are defined by struggle.  
There is no escape from struggle and the tensions that accompany  
collaborative relations. This is the territory of the political ? a  
space of antagonism that in our view is much more complicated than  
the Schmittian friend/enemy distinction. Again, it is the work of  
translation that reveals the multiplicity of tensions. As Naoki Sakai  
and Jon Solomon have written, translation is not about linguistic  
equivalence or co-figuration, but rather about the production of  
singularities through relational encounters. But let?s get more  
concrete here. What is a relational encounter? It occurs through the  
instance of working or being with others. Of sharing, producing,  
creating, listening. Sustaining a range of idioms of experience is a  
struggle in itself ? one that is rarely continuous, but rather  
continually remade and reassembled. This in turn is the recombinatory  
space and time of new institutions.

*

Let?s unpack the idea of new institutions and their relation to  
precarity. If we say that precarity and flexibility is the common  
condition ? one that traverses class and geocultural scales ? then we  
can ask: what is the situation within which precarity expresses  
itself? The situation (concept + problem) will define the emergence  
of a new institution. Situation, here, consists of virtual/networked,  
material, affective, linguistic and social registers. We are of  
course always in a situation, but how to connect with others? The  
point of connection brings about tensions ? the space of the  
political ? and the ensemble of relations furnishes expression with  
its contours. Real power lies not in the spectacle of the event, but  
rather subsists within the resonance of experience and the minor  
connections and practices that occur before and after the event. That  
is the time and space of institution formation. The rest is a public  
declaration of existence.

*

The question of organization persists: Who does it? How is  
organization organized? For Keller Easterling, this is the role of  
the orgmen: ?Different from the deliberately authored building  
envelope, spatial products substitute spin, logistics, and management  
styles for considerations of location, geometry, or enclosure. The  
architect and salesman of such things as golf resorts or container  
ports is a new orgman. He designs the software for new games of  
spatial production to be played the same way whether in Texas or  
Taiwan. The coordinates of this software are measured not in latitude  
and longitude but in the orgman argot of acronyms and stats ? in  
annual days of sunshine, ocean temperatures, flight distances, runway  
noise restrictions, the time needed for a round of golf, time needed  
for a shopping spree, TEUs, layovers, number of passengers,  
bandwidth, time zones, and labor costs. Data streams are the levers  
of spatial manipulation, and the orgman has a frontier enthusiasm for  
this abstract territory. He derives a pioneering sense of creation  
from matching a labor cost, a time zone, and a desire to generate  
distinct forms of urban space, even distinct species of global city?.

*

The OrgMen of networks, then, share something with the alpha-males  
and sysops (system operators). Both administer behaviours in symbolic  
or technical ways, shaping patterns of relation. Indeed, the software  
architecture used by any network is its own orgman. Organized  
networks would do well to diversify their platforms of communication,  
adopting a range of software options to enable the multiplication of  
expression and distribute as much as possible the delegation of  
network governance. If one platform starts to fall flat ? say a  
mailing list ? then perhaps the collective blog is going to appeal to  
more. Whenever the collective labour of a network can be galvanized  
around forms of coproduction (making an online journal, organizing an  
event, setting up a file-distribution system, producing a  
documentary, identifying future directions, staging a hack, designing  
slogans) then the life of the network finds that it has a life. Such  
techniques of collaborative constitution keep in check the proto- 
fascistic tendencies of the orgman that lurks within every network.  
The tension between these two registers of network sociality is a  
necessary dynamic. The challenge is to keep the game in play,  
gradually shifting the limits of the network disposition.

*

If we were to reinvent cybernetics (as an organizing logic of  
recombination, feedback, noise, etc), outside the military-industrial  
context of the Cold War, what would it be? First of all, it would no  
longer be obsessed with biology and bio metaphors. The aim of  
computer networks is not to mimic the human by copying or improving  
human features such as brain, memory, senses and extensions. The  
question of agency and the relation between humans and non-humans, as  
thematized by for example Bruno Latour and the actor-network theory  
crowd, is a typical remainder of the cybernetics 1.0 era. In the past  
cybernetics tried to figure out how to connect the individual (human)  
body to the machine. It presumes we still have an issue with  
?intelligent machines?. The cybernetic 1.0 age was both worried and  
drawn to the idea that the human can(not) be replaced by thinking  
machines. The result of this was a decades long irrelevant debate  
over artificial intelligence (AI). These days no one is concerned if  
and when the machines take over. Have you ever been scared by the  
idea that a computer can and will beat you at chess? Sure it can, but  
so what? We know Big Brother is storing all the information in the  
world. AI is here to stay but is no longer a key project in  
technology research. Whereas cybernetics 1.0 tried to schematize  
human behaviour in order to simulate it through models, cybernetics  
2.0 is concerned with the truly messy, all too human, social  
complexity. We are not ants. We are more and behave as less. Our  
understanding has to go beyond the boring mirror dynamic of man and  
machine. Computer science will have to make the leap into inter-human  
relations in the same way as human are adapting to the limits set by  
computer interfaces and architectures. Stop the mimicry procedures,  
and restart computer science itself.

*

Reinhold Martin: ?Norbert Wiener argues that what counts is not the  
size of the basic components (such as neurons, which are similar in  
humans and ants) but their organization, which determines the  
'absolute size' of the organization's nervous system ? its upper  
limit of growth and index of social advancement. An organism's social  
potential, conceived in terms of its ability to organize into complex  
communication networks, is thus measured as a function of the size of  
its internal circulatory and communications system, which is a  
function, in turn, of their own organizational complexity. The  
original analogy between the social and biological organism is thus  
collapsed, as the two become directly linked as part of the same  
network.... A relational logic of flexible connection replaces a  
mechanical logic of rigid compartmentalization, and the decisive  
organizational factor is no longer the vertical subordination of  
parts to the whole but rather the degree to which the connections  
permit, regulate, and respond to the informational flows in all  
directions?.

*

What are the limits of potentiality for the organized network? While  
impossible to answer in terms of content (every network has its own  
special attributes), we can say something here about form. Form  
furnishes the contours of expression as it subsists within the social- 
technical dynamics of digital media. How these relations coalesce as  
distinct networks situated within and against broader geopolitical  
forces becomes a primary challenge for networks desiring scalar  
transformation ? a movement that also consists of trans- 
institutional, disciplinary, subjective and corporeal relations whose  
antagonisms define the multiple registers of ?the political?. The  
question of limits takes us to the transcalar practice of  
transversality ? the production of multiple connections that move  
across a range of social, geocultural and institutional settings.  
There are also strategic questions: Who do you collaborate with? How  
local are you? Are you willing to deal with the cynical professionals  
of traditional media? Do you believe in Meme Power, viral marketing  
and subliminal dissemination with the chance of hitting the Zeitgeist  
lottery, or in the hard work of political campaigning?

*

Collaboration is always accompanied by conflict and struggle. This is  
a matter of degree. And there?ll be plenty of exhilaration that keeps  
the momentum going. But tensions will always be present. Better to  
work out an approach to deal with this, otherwise you?ll find your  
projects go kaptuz!




References

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Political Masquerades, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2005.

Innis, Harold A. The Bias of Communication, Toronto: University of  
Toronto Press, 1951.

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Lovink, Geert and Rossiter, Ned. ?Dawn of the Organised Networks?,  
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Martin, Rheinhold. The Organizational Complex: Architecture, Media  
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Neilson, Brett and Rossiter, Ned. ?Precarity as a Political Concept,  
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Rossiter, Ned. Organized Networks: Media Theory, Creative Labour, New  
Institutions, Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2006.

Sakai, Naoki. Translation and Subjectivity: On ?Japan? and Cultural  
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Sakai, Naoki (2006) ?Translation?, Theory, Culture & Society 23.2/3:  
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Sassen, Saskia (2006) Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to  
Global Assemblages, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Schneider, Florian. Organizing the Unorganizables (2002), http:// 
wastun.org/v2v/Organizing_the_Unorganizable

Solomon, Jon (2007) ?Translation, Violence and the Heterolingual  
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Terranova, Tiziana. Network Culture: Politics for the Information  
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Whyte, William H. The Organization Man, New York: Simon & Schuster,  
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