David garcia on Sun, 16 Sep 2007 13:51:09 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Cybernetics and the Control Society

Brian?s fascinating essay reminded me of the voice of the excellent
Wendy Chun to , just by way of nuance. In her book, Control and
Freedom. Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics, she takes
a few paragraphs in the introduction to warn against the danger of
inadvertently aiding the agencies of control by ascribing a power to
them that may be potential but are not yet actual. She describes this
tendency of hinting at an all powerful cybernetic eye as perpetuating
a myth and so ?uninitentionally fulfills the aims of control by
imaginatively ascribing to control power that it does not have
by erasing its many failures.? (including Weiner's early gunnery

The implication is that a meaningful part of our resistance must
insist on the *failures*. She argues that ?The enormous ever
increasing amounts of unanalyzed data belies the computer?s analytic
promise and demarcates the constituative boundaries of an ?information
society?? and later ?Further more the myth contradicts people?s
everyday experience with computers by concealing the ephemerality
of information (computer memory is an oxymoron) and the regular
importance of software and local conditions. Computer?s crash on a
regular basis, portable storage devices become unreadable, and e-mail
messages dissapear into a netherworld of the global network, and yet
many people believe in a worldwide surveillance network in which no
piece of data is ever lost.?

Ms Chun argues that ?in order to understand control-freedom we need to
insist on the failures and the actual operations of technology.?



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