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<nettime> Ippolita Collective, In the Facebook Aquarium, part III, secti
Patrice Riemens on Sun, 24 Aug 2014 18:22:25 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Ippolita Collective, In the Facebook Aquarium, part III, section 6 (continued)

Ippolita Collective, In the Facebook Aquarium Part III

The Freedoms of the Net

Beyond technophobia: let's build convivial technologies together!
(section 6, continued)

Our social dimension is not necessarily defined by current technologies.
Mobile phones have become almost compulsory, and the same is slowly
happening with mass social media. But it is not unavoidable. We /could/
decide that we do not want to become Facebook's offshoots, nor Google+ 's
children, or of any other sociality platforms managed 'for our own good';
we could try to find out together something better to nurture our social
life, just as some people do with respect to what they eat. Our
communication life could then become a deeply satisfying feast instead of
a void that gets steadily more difficult to fill.

A convivial information (regime) is possible, one which favours the
realisation of individual freedom and empowerment within a society
adequately equipped with efficient tools. The logical outcome of this
critique of  domination-oriented information is inevitably /"small is
beautiful"/. Because size matters. Beyond certain numbers, a fixed
hierarchy becomes a requirement to manage the relationships between human
beings, and actually between all beings in general, and even with and
between things. This because everything is 'relative': everything is 'in
relationship with'. If, instead of (having to do with) ten people, in a
circumscribed space, maintaining truly unique relationships between each
other, we have to do with thousands, nay, millions  of people, relativity
gives way to homology. To have one thousand friends does not make any
sense at all since we do not have the time and energy to maintain all
these so-called 'friendships'. Significant relationships need time,
attention and competence and cannot be satisfied, neither with
/attention-distraction/, nor with indifference. Human beings can only keep
'affective track' (meaning to keep abreast of where people are, what they
do there, etc.) of a few dozens of people at the same time [43]. In a
project with a too large number participants, one starts with dividing
people into categories (by gender, 'race', wealth and resources, age,
expertise, etc.). These categories are then rigidly ranked, with no
possibility to get out of the frame. Classed 'Male, white, standard
language' (skills) leaves no room for evolution other than by way of a
radical breach, with attenant shocks, violences and disruptions which
inescapably bring one back to square one, or to the (in)famous "What is to
be done?" of Leninist heritage, bereft ab initio of any
(anarchist-)libertarian response, and ensuring without fail the induction
of yet another totalitarian revolution, whether from the left or from the

Megamachines entail by definition causal links of a capitalist or despotic
They create dependency, exploitation, and powerlessness of humans reduced
to the function of enslaved consumers. And this has nothing to do with
property issues, since:

"/The collective ownership of the means of production/ does not alter
anything in this state of affairs, and merely sustains a Stalinist
despotic organization. Accordingly, Illich puts forward the  alternative
of /everyone's right to make use of the means of production/, in a
"convivial society", which is to say, a desiring and non-Oedipal society.
This would mean the most extensive utilization of machines by the greatest
number of people, the proliferation of small machines and the adaptation
of the large machines to small units, the exclusive sale of machinic
components which would have to be assembled by the users-producers
themselves, and the destruction of the specialization of knowledge and of
the professional monopoly." [44]

The issue is then really, how to do it? What kind of desires do we harbour
with regard to technologies? What kind of online social networks,
appropriate to our desires, would we like to build? With which tools?
Which modes of participation and of exchange would we like to draw upon?

The need of the hour is to reverse the logic of radical transparency and
apply it to the technologies we use, and to those social media promising
immediate satisfaction whereas they are in fact non-transparent
intermediaries. It is absolutely essential for an individual to keep
spheres that are private, and to nurture a secret, personal inner world
which is not profiled and cannot be profiled. It is vital to learn to
spend time with oneself, alone, in silence, and to learn to love oneself,
by confronting the fear (we all have) for the void, this inner /horror
vacui/ (angst) the social media try, in vain, to dampen. Only individuals
with self-esteem and happy enough with themselves, despite their weak
points, will have the energy to build up sensible spaces of communication
where they can meet other people. Only individuals having acquired a know
who ? as opposed to a know-who-to-talk-to, which means competences beyond
mere self-promotion skills, have something interesting to communicate and
to share. Effective communication demands from one to be able to listen to
oneself, even before being able to listen to others. Yet algo(rithmic)
logic is both inadequate and humiliating. It is not to the individual to
be transparent to technology, it is technology mediation itself that
should be made as transparent and intelligible as possible to the (largest
number of) people. The build-up process of shared worlds must be

To express desires is not an automatic process. And neither is the
transmission of competences a spontaneous one. To formulate desires is not
without risks. Relationships are based on trust and on the risk that this
trust might be broken or betrayed. Layering and depth are essential
elements in a relationship. All forms of authentic communication are
complex deeds of sharing personal imagination (with others). Failure of
understanding (misinterpretation) always looms large, and so-called
radical transparency will definitely not (be able to) avoid conflicts from
erupting. It does not make sense to split up these processes in logical
cycles and to submit them to the perfect algorithm. The automatic
satisfaction of desires merely means to outsource everything to
technology, including the imagination. Welcome then in the desert of the
automatic, induced desires, where there is nothing left to imagine.

Thus, there is a need to give an account of the communicative processes
(we make use of) and of the technologies that implement them. We need to
explore them with the help of texts and practices enabling us to extend,
re-trace, and re-assemble the social, by making visible the mesh of
connections between the /social actors/ who are its protagonists [45].
This way it should be possible to cross-cut the now blocked instituted
imaginary, and to put it on the rails again. The /net/ is the /trace/ left
by the flow of the social fluid, made visible by the incessant
/translations/ done by /actors/. To track and follow these /actors/ is of
course slower and more difficult than to look for all-embracing,
globalizing answers and main-streamed, standardising theories, but it is a
risk that must be taken in order to capture the complexity of the real.
This book's ambition was to start sketching out the map of yet only
partially explored territories, by going after the connections between
/actors/ and their respective 'translations' and 'betrayals' [#***]. There
are a lot of empty spaces left, which might well give rise to yet unheard
of associations [46].

An actor carries out actions, meaning sHe is doing something [!]. She is
much more than a simple intermediary, since sHe is neither an neutral
support nor an anonymous channel meant for an external (to her/him)
communication that does not  incite any reaction nor provokes any change
(from/with her/him). Quite on the contrary, an /actor/ is a mediator who
takes care to translate and modify, and this in accordance with her/his
own characteristics (peculiarities), and (hence) is able to transmit
(messages) in an efficacious way. Thus, when two friends have a banal
conversation on Facebook's chat, not only the linguistic competences of
two people are at work, but also the ideology that underpins Facebook, its
communication protocols layered in extremely complex networks, the
respective expectations of those who interact on the network, and many
other things, all not entirely subsumable under the catch-all word

It might appear strange to jumble neurons, individuals, emotions,
membranes and circuits, the macro(scopic) social world with the
microscopic one of molecules, but all these elements are in association
within reality. What is really weird, is the will to dissociate them,
strictly limiting individual(s) (human beings) to the domain of sociology
and anthropology, neurons to brain science, emotions to psychology,
membranes to biology, and circuits to engineering or computer sciences. At
this juncture (at that stage) it becomes impossible to identify the
linkages between all these different elements, unless one has recourse to
an ubiquitous 'spirit' (quintessence), information indeed, the /deus ex
machina/ of the social bond in the paradigm of informationalism, or either
to call on rather spooky 'social forces', or unidentified psychic objects
(UPOs?), or to  history's 'manifest destiny', which is a bit hard to
establish, and so forth. Communication, however, does not relay
information, but requires, at the same time as it makes it possible, the
creation of spaces of interaction, in which variegated actors are summoned

(to be continued ? and concluded)
Next time: in guise of conclusion: collective and individual spaces
revisited, group processes restated.


[43] See Robin Dunbar, "Coevolution of neocortical groupsize and languages
in humans", /Behavioral and Brain Sciences/ 16 (1993) pp 681-735:
[44] Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari 'Balance Sheet-Program for Desiring
Machines", Anti-Oedipus, Appendix, in: /Semiotexte/ VolII no3 (1977)
Scanned by generation online, pdf (some pages missing) at:
[45] And this is (precisely) what we have attempted to do in this book,
broadly following  the approach of the sociological /Actor-Network
Theory/. See Bruno Latour: /Changer la société, refaire de la sociologie/,
Paris, La Decouverte, (2006). To 'give an account of' (in French: rendre
compte) refers to what Latour calls 'accountability' (in English).
[#***] Actually in Latin ? and hence probably in Italian too the words are
much closer than in English (cf 'traduttore traditore'). I'll check with
the autors.
[46] Rosi Braidotti, Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in
Contemporary Feminist Theory, 2nd Edition 2011: NYC, Columbia University
Press (First edition, in Italian, 2002)
see also:


Translated by Patrice Riemens
This translation project is supported and facilitated by:
The Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
The Antenna Foundation, Nijmegen
(http://www.antenna.nl - Dutch site)
(http://www.antenna.nl/indexeng.html - english site under construction)
Casa Nostra, Vogogna-Ossola, Italy

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