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<nettime> Will your insurance company subsidize your quantified self?
Alexander Bard on Tue, 22 Apr 2014 03:40:09 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Will your insurance company subsidize your quantified self?

2014-04-21 0:41 GMT+02:00 Florian Cramer <fcramer {AT} pleintekst.nl>:

> 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.

???Apology completely accepted. The terror of new concepts - no matter how
much we need them to understand the world better (the purpose of
philosophy) - is that they are bound to be misunderstood. As a matter fact,
the better the philosophy, the wider seems to be the misunderstanding
(check Zoroaster, Spinoza, Hegel and Nietzsche, the four by far most
misunderstood thinkers of all time???, and ironically my four favorite
thinkers of all time).

The 'netocracy' seems to be a rather speculative notion of class. I don't
> want to sound dismissive in any way, but it's hard to discuss such concepts
> if they're based on simplifications and generalization. (Thinking of
> classes as binary categories is the kind of generalization that also taints
> Marxism - at least before the advent of post-marxism.)

???We stopped thinking binary eons ago, Florian! Simplifications and
generalizations are of course only used to pave the way for more detailed,
advanced and correct thinking and analyzing. But we have to start somewhere
(like Zizek starts with void vs existence from Schelling). Once we realize
that all people on this planet are soon online we realize that the digital
divide was a smokescreen. The real new difference between "the have's" and
"the have-not's" is of couse all online. Therefore, netocracy vs
consumtariat. Starting with this new "binary" we can for example begin to
explain why the online world has created the monster called "The European
Extreme Right", its core supporter being a small town unemployed middle
aged man in Flanders, Hungary and northern France who jerks to porn, plays
net poker, and hates Muslims because they are offered for him to hate
(online). Just as an example of why our tools are sooo useful to understand
the social map of the 2010s. Capital flow analysis does not do this. It
just ends up with a Somali cab driver in Germany at the bottom (while he
sends his multi-lingual daughter to U.S. colleges). We need new tools, a
new sociology, based on digital reality!

> His "net aristocracy" is the
>> forthcoming 15% superclass of the United States ruling over the 85%
>> underclass of consumtarians following the full onslaught of digital
>> technologies and production processes over the next two decades.
> See above. These are scenarios based on techno prophecies, rather the kind
> of stuff 'futurists' like Ray Kurzweil write, only that this is obviously
> written from a more critical point of view. It's hard to discuss the
> validity of these kinds of scenarios in general. As speculative claims,
> they're difficult to reasonably deal with on a list that focuses on the
> present realities of Internet culture.

???Well, my fellow economist Cowen can speak for himself, I just speak for
Bard & S??derqvist.??? I don't support his luddite theories, I just wanted to
give you a widely used example of the "netocracy" concept even if not
identical to ours. Since you claimed "netocracy" was not used by anybody
but us. Hardly the case.

The "net
>> aristocracy" is driven both by attentionalist information flows and
>> capitalist money flows and is perhaps the interim hybrid we should look
>> out
>> for first.
> If you look at how stock markets work - from high frequency trading to the
> economy of venture capital investment before IPOs, then it's often the
> opposite of attentionalism that creates economic power: insider knowledge
> and privileged access to markets. The same is true, for example, for
> natural resource markets (oil, gas, metals, food). I'm not claiming that
> the exact opposite of what you say is true, but that reality is more
> complicated.

???No. First of all, frequency trading is a scam even for frequency traders.
Index funds are were profits are allocated these days. But more
importantly, the ultimate evidence that even the economy is becoming
attentionalist is hedge fonds. Hedge fonds are 100% attentionalist
phenomena: A closed circle of friends with an information advantage trade
with enormous profits using their common closed information advantage
(imploit rather than exploit their resources). 100% attentionalism (if you
have actually read our books). Once hedge fonds swell in size and become
mutual fonds the attentionalist advantage evaporates quickly. Again,
empirical evidence shows our prophecies 14 years ago were completely
correct. But then again, we are economists.

> Cowen finds its roots not only in Silicon Valley but also at
>> locations like Williamsburg, places which lack the financial muscle of
>> Silicon Valley but are already rich in attentionalist power.
> With Williamsburg thrown in, this makes no sense to me except as an
> extreme riff on the late 1990s/early 2000s meme of the "attention economy",
> and an unbroken belief in material economies being superseded by
> information economy.

???No, we represent a third alternative. Again, please don't throw me into
the bin with internet hallelujah marketing people. Guilt by association is
not a valid argument.

> My point, again, is to try to see the picture in a slightly more complex
>> manner, than classic Marxist analysis would take us, as to actually hit it
>> right. Power is more than money these days,
> Neither me, nor anybody else here that I'm aware of has claimed that power
> is money. You seem to imply that power, these days, is post-materialist and
> discursive; so that old elites are being replaced by new elites consisting
> of digitally networked opinion leaders. In that scenario, someone like Ray
> Kurzweil (to stick to the above example) would be more powerful than the
> extreme opposite of an anti-attention seeker such as, let's say, an
> ex-Soviet oligarch, a member of the Saud family or the U.S. Secretary of
> Defense.
> I would follow you to the point that Kurzweil is influential, and
> ultimately powerful, as the guiding spirit of Google's 'Singularity
> University', with the handwriting of his ideas being visible in Google
> Glass and the company's recent acquisitions of robot and drone technology.
> It's a similar kind of power that Rasputin had on the Russian Czarist
> family, the Church of Scientology over some parts of Hollywood, or - to
> choose less weird examples - Hegel on the 19th century Prussian state and
> Leo Strauss on the American neo-cons. These examples also demonstrate
> limitations of this model (because the influence worked never one way and
> the opinion leaders were not the ones in executive power), and, as others
> have remarked here before, some question marks behind the idea that the
> Internet would create a fundamentally new state of affairs. (I.e. would
> Hegel have been the most powerful person in the 19th century if he had had
> Twitter?)

???No, wrong again, you have apparently not read our books. We are speaking
of the future, literally. Not 2014. Attentionalism will take over. But
capitalism still rules the planet. For a long time to come. Your
comparisons above are therefore completely out of place. Twitter followers
is just banal quantity. We never even write about Twitter in our books
(although we do write extensively about cybernetics, sociograms and network
dynamics). Again, guilt by wild association is not a valid argument. It
would help a discussion (if we are even going to have one here at otherwise
valuable Nettime space) if you actually read our works rather than widely
assumed what we write about. OK?

> Another problem: The economy at large is neither just the Internet nor a
> pure information economy. Even the Internet itself, with its consumption of
> hardware and energy isn't. A world inhabited by seven and soon ten billion
> people will continue (and likely even increase) to focus the largest part
> of its economy on natural resources and manufacturing. These parts of the
> economy are and will not simply be driven by the "attentionalist power" of
> a "netocracy".

???And who said attentionalism equals economy to begin with? It is a whole
new beast of its own.??? Attentionalist economics is just one tiny piece of
the attentionalist hydra.

Aside from that, there is a problem of recursion - namely that the very
> people who claim that this shift in power is happening are very often those
> who belong (or picture themselves belonging) to these alleged new elites.

???And was Karl Marx not bourgeois, you mean???? Seriously? What does the
messenger have to do with the message in this case? Can the message not be
judged on its own? Why this constant search in argumentation for a "link of
guilt" to begin with? It does not seem very productive to me. OK?

In any way, the concept of a "netocracy" as a class of opinion leaders that
> will be in power in the future does not so much sound like a concept taken
> from Foucault or Zizek, but straightforwardly from Plato's "Republic". This
> is what I meant with my previous remark that you seem to advocate an
> idealist notion of power.

???No. Slavoj Zizek calls Bard & S??derqvist the ultimate Deleuzians in
"Organs Without Bodies". Correctly.???

especially as money
>> increasingly flows where the attention already exists rather than the
>> other
>> way round.
> If Nettime is part of the "netocracy", as you wrote in the beginning, then
> we have a living proof to the contrary...

???There are always exceptions to the rule... But there's hope. Brin and Page
had no money either when I met them 12 years ago.??? They ignored and still
ignore money and have billions. But they love power. And nurture their

Everybody's, sincerely
Alexander Bard

PS: Who loves James Barrett's comment on this thread but has no immediate
comment to make to James' brilliant posting

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