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Re: <nettime> Will your insurance company subsidize your quantified
James Barrett on Mon, 21 Apr 2014 20:39:27 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Will your insurance company subsidize your quantified


I have been watching the back and forward around the concept/meme of netocracy and I had started replying to earlier posts, but decided not to send it, as it seems to be less of a discussion and more of a back-and-forward exchange. However, I am finding it interesting so I now paste in my words on the few mails previous to the last one from Florian;

For one insight into alternative ways of inventing the future I recommend Peter Lang, "The Lost Continents of Utopia": http://www.petertlang.net/urban-culture/the-lost-continents-of-utopia-visions-2009/ (Alexander may remember Peter from the Normalcy Project - https://www.facebook.com/normalcyproject-  here in Stockholm, where Alexander spoke on Netocracy, there is a video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqbwGHr9s8k)

Just thinking about what makes the present cultures and societies different, if indeed they are, from earlier similar formations, is the speed of digital media that can result in what has been termed 'Virtual':

“In the virtual, we are no longer dealing with value; we are merely dealing with a turning-into-data, a turning-into-calculations, a generalized computation in which reality-effects disappear. The virtual might be said to be truly the reality-horizon, just as we talk about the event-horizon in physics. But it is also possible to think that all this is merely a roundabout route towards an as yet indiscernible aim.”- Jean Baudrillard. Passwords. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso. 2003: 40-41.

Contrary to the anything that can be termed 'revolutionary' in the idea of Netocracy, it seems that others see the concept as simple digital production supplying markets, such as these entrepreneurs in Serbia:  http://youtu.be/l_Nves1EO3U (no Silicon Valley, no Williamsberg). To extend Baudrillar'd idea, this is just an example of labor and focus turning-into-brand. Here the web is not separate from life but needs the 'need' to be created as "The virtual might be said to be truly the reality-horizon".

Alexander's equation "15% superclass of the United States ruling over the 85% underclass of consumtarians" closely resembles the older breakdown of:

5% - bourgeoisie
15% - petit bourgeoisie
80% - proletariat

with these defined categories, so:

bourgeoisie - 
1. owns/controls large productive property (banks, factories, shipping, transport, chain stores, etc.)
2. employs labour
3. does not have to work (might choose to, but this is immaterial)

petit bourgeoisie - 
1. owns small productive property (corner shop, crafts, market stall,etc.)
2. employs labour
3. has to work (labouring or supervising, but compelled by lack of resources)

proletarian - 
1. owns no productive property
2. cannot employ labour
3. must sell own labour to bourgeoisie (of either type)

(taken from: Attempts to calculate US proletariat https://libcom.org/forums/theory/what-percentage-population-us-proletarian-07092011)

Keeping this similarity in mind I would venture to say that while money is now electronic and pan-global and national currencies may wither, the enforcement of Power through capital ratios associated with money will remain. Bitcoin is just the first wave of a symbolic value experience that will be run as a program, but I believe it will maintain the same dependencies and prohibitions that money has done for centuries.

In relation to the earlier mentioned free-ness of Gmail, Facebook etc. 'Free' is here defined by what we are prepared to exchange for a service - a single point in a demographic network or time, or advertising space or data. But Gmail and all the others are creating value for everyone. Traditional sharecropping is managed a similar way (no sociogram needed). Again, an ancient future.

Finally I would go as far as to say the future is exhausted and this is reflected across those cultures that are adapting to the power that comes with the Virtual. This idea is posited on the fact that the future as a concept was invented -  born out of a desire for progress, a belief in historical change, an abandonment of tradition and so on. The future just may not be a sustainable concept in a virtual sense. One example of this I think about a lot is the rampant nostalgia of today in the economies that support abstract levels of symbolic exchange. Examples include retro, hipster, evangelical, right wing extremist-  all have nostalgia at their core, often for a time that never really existed. In the future we will live the time we have the means to afford to live. Meanwhile pre-Virtual economies continue to negotiate the encroachment of the virtual via the national, tribal and religious systems of power and economy. Colonial powers take advantage of these systems and exploit them.

*Insert a nice way to say goodbye*

James Barrett
PhD Candidate/Adjunct
Department of Language Studies/HUMlab
Umeå University


From: nettime-l-bounces {AT} mail.kein.org [nettime-l-bounces {AT} mail.kein.org] On Behalf Of Florian Cramer [fcramer {AT} pleintekst.nl]
Sent: 21 April 2014 00:41
To: nettime-l {AT} kein.org
Subject: Re: <nettime> Will your insurance company subsidize your quantified    self?

Hello Alexander,

As for the meaning of the concept "netocracy" we could of course also speak
> of a "digerati" (to me though that term sounds like banal marketing speech)
> but why not of the "net aristocracy" Tyler Cowen portrays in his 2013
> dystopian bestseller "Average Is Over"?

Then we're stuck with a linguistic problem from the very beginning since
the suffix "-cracy" doesn't necessarily relate to aristocracy, but
generally signifies rule or power; like in the words "democracy" (rule of
the people) and "meritocracy" (rule of those who gained merit). "Netocracy"
can either mean "rule of the net" or "rule over the (Inter)net". Seems that
I misread your initial statement as one about who has the rule over the
Internet . Apologies for the misunderstanding.

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