nettime's_para_normalist on Thu, 19 May 2005 05:29:35 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> boo!(bigsite!foovax!barbox!) digest [onto, hugofolk, caetano]

onto <>
     Re: <nettime> The Ghost in the Network
"hugofolk" <>
     The Myth of Freedom - Protocol of War
Miguel Caetano <>
     Re: <nettime> The Ghost in the Network

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Date: Wed, 18 May 2005 14:08:55 -0500
From: onto <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> The Ghost in the Network

> I wasn't sure until the end if these guys were on Aristotle's side or
> not. But their resounding call to "stop the world, I want to get off"
> makes it clear that they share his reactionary conservatism. It is worth
> recalling that the great philosopher was tutor to the leader of those
> Macedonian thugs who finally pulled the plug on the first millennium
> BC's drive towards urban commercial civilisation and was the godfather
> of catholic apologists for the military agrarian complex like Aquinas.
> European socialism has long been in thrall to their anti-market ideology
> and this repudiation of an open source approach to network society is no
> different.

This is a conservative piece? Arguing against the two dominant strands
of political critiques, the open and the closed, the free and the
repressed, or, in cold war terms, the West and the East, does not seem
to be conservative, but rather, to reemphasize how little political
analysis has managed to leave behind its neoliberal democratic
anti-communist baggage.

Its nice to read a piece that goes further than denouncing repression
and control and praising freedom and openess without questioning the
common discursive formations that each structure arises within.

I'm not sure that a critique of bodies and networks will be able to
escape such dominant historical inheritances though, but at least it 
recognizes it.

Yet, anyone who looks to military advisers and political consultants
(even if they are philosophers as well) for advice on how to free
ourselves from 'control' is a bit misguided. There are countless
examples of communities in the past and present which articulate 
different  methods of community, freedom, and safety through their 
cultural practices. However, it usually takes knowledge of at least one
indigenous language, much humility, and much time.

caminar preguntando

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From: "hugofolk" <>
Subject: The Myth of Freedom - Protocol of War
Date: Thu, 19 May 2005 00:28:46 +0200

"To be or not to be, this i s the problem"
 Autonomy, security, control, freedom
 The so called comunication network is an artefact, it's an artificial
reality. Reality is a construction, a techno-social, info-sexual cosmos
formed- informed from chaos, our supreme king and sovereign.
 There is no freedom in this artificial cosmos, because we, the
reators, are slaves, to the rhythm, of flesh and blood. To the rhythm of
stars and planets, of the eternal return.
The so called Internet Governance is, at the same way of pseudo-democratic
governance, only a chimera, it's just an illusion. No way to control.
 What rules is chaos, destruction, madness, alienation, death. The death of
art. The perfect crime.
 The history of mankind is a history of madness, a history of violence. The
history of the art is the history of a perfect murder.
 What we can do?
 Only to die, like heroes.
hugofolk is a "info-platonic" researcher, a collective intellectual
"info-hacktivist", a social-artificial mind, a spiritual body, a ghost in
the shell of the global village. A memetic warrior, fighting the law of the
man-beast, the eaters of souls and satanic side of science.
 a protocol of war
 the time has come

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Date: Thu, 19 May 2005 02:47:33 +0100
From: Miguel Caetano <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> The Ghost in the Network

Felix Stalder wrote:

> I think this equation of "protocol = control", which is also the core of
>Galloway's stimulating book [1], is fundamentally flawed, because it mixes 
>terms in ways that is not helpful to a critical political analysis.
>A protocol, technical or social, is a series of standards which regulate 
>how different entities can interact without the establishment of a formal 

I read Galloway's "Protocol" and also find it very interesting, despite 
of its main thesis that Protocol is equal to control. In fact, the part 
I most liked was the second one, called "Protocol Futures", which refers 
to practices like tactical media, hacking and cyberfeminism. Contrary to 
Galloway, I think that these practices, which he sees "as phenomena that 
are able to exploit flaws in protological and proprietary command and 
control (in order) to sculpt protocol and make it better suited to 
people's real desires" (p. 176), are a contradiction of his own thesis, 
a proof that protocol doesn't restricts freedom, since they're intrinsic 
to protocol and not external. They originate in it, because and not 
despite of it.

What happens is that Galloway is overemphasizing the power/meaning of a
technological concept such as "protocol", for
academical/theoretical/rhetorical purposes or whatever. When doing this,
one runs the risk of excessive theorization or of ending up adopting a
neo-luddite type of technological determinism, like some new Neil
Postman or Heidegger. Maybe before we do something so drastically such
as "unplug from the grid" only to reach the conclusion that all our
friends are online "out there" and be depressed about it ;-), we should
be more pragmatic and read what the Cluetrain Manifesto guys, Doc Searls
and David Weinberger, say about protocol in "A World of Ends - What the
Internet is and How to Stop Mistaking it for Something Else"

In the second point of the text, named "The Internet isn't a thing. It's 
an agreement", they write

"The Internet is a way for all the things that call themselves networks 
to coexist and work together. It's an _inter-net_work. Literally.
What makes the Net /inter/ is the fact that it's just a protocol -- the 
Internet Protocol, to be exact. A protocol is an agreement about how 
things work together
This protocol doesn't specify what people can do with the network, what 
they can build on its edges, what they can say, who gets to talk. The 
protocol simply says: If you want to swap bits with others, here's how. 
If you want to put a computer --or a cell phone or a refrigerator --on 
the network, you have to agree to the agreement that is the Internet."

So, it is "because the Internet is an agreement", they state in seventh 
point, "that it doesn't belong to any one person or group. Of course, 
their thinking is excessively optimistic, even utopic, if not downright 
naive and illusory, when they write that "to connect to the Internet is 
to agree to grow value on its edges. And then something really 
interesting happens. We are all connected equally. Distance doesn't 
matter. The obstacles fall away and for the first time the human need to 
connect can be realized without artificial barriers.

More ahead, in the point 8.c they argue that there are two ways to make 
the Net better:

"First, you can build a service on the edge of the Net that's available 
to anyone who wants. Make it free, make people pay for it, put out a tin 
cup, whatever.Second, you can do something more important: enable a 
whole new set of end-of-Net services by coming up with a new agreement. 
That's how email was created. And newsgroups. And even the Web. The 
creators of these services didn't simply come up with end-based 
applications, and they sure didn't tinker with the Internet protocol 
itself. Instead, they came up with new protocols that use the Internet 
as it exists, the way the agreement about how to encode images on paper 
enabled fax machines to use telephone lines without requiring any 
changes to the phone system itself. Remember, though, that if you come 
up with a new agreement, for it to generate value as quickly as the 
Internet itself did, it needs to be open, unowned, and for everyone."

We can conclude, in a critical mood, that this is an example of the 
typical Californian Ideology discourse: anarcho-capitalistic, 
ultra-liberal and defender of free markets. But looking pragmatically 
into it, we can also say that this type of procedure has been at the 
root of the Internet and has been the philosophy behind its exponential 
growth in less than four decades. Still today, the Internet and its 
protocol(s) embodies much of the hacker culture and ethic which gave 
birth to the free software and open source movements. to the P2P 
networks and to wikis and other practices of resistance against the 
command & control logic of the States and Big Business

Miguel Afonso Caetano
Odivelas - Portugal
M.A. Student in Communication, Culture and Information Technology
iSCTE - Higher Institute for Labour and Business Studies


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