Eric Kluitenberg on Thu, 24 Jul 2014 18:51:49 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: <nettime> More Crisis in the Information Society.

Hi Mark,

I was not suggesting that 'society' can be designed - a rather absurd
idea indeed, but that we can 'design' democratic politics, which in my
understanding means things like decision making procedures, oversight
and control structures, protocols, both social and technological
ones, forms and modes of assembly, deliberation spaces, communication
modalities (alternative social media platforms for instance) and much
much more.

All these kinds of 'interventions' can certainly be designed, just as
current institutional structures have been designed, and if they do
not function properly they should be re-designed.

But there is a much more serious flaw in your argument - it is overly
techno-deterministic. Your claims imply that democracy would be a
by-product of television and other mass-media. Maybe McLuhan and
Kittler would like that idea, but it is way too crude. Democratic
forms of governance evolved out of much deeper lineages, over much
longer periods of time, mostly connected to the rise of new dominant
groups in society (merchants / industrialists / workers / post-urban
middle class, etc.)

It is much more productive to think about the interaction of social
processes and technological infrastructures in terms of 'assimilation'
as Lewis Mumford proposed in his seminal two volume work The Myth of
the Machine in the late 60s. The one cannot be thought without the
other, but as many STS (Science and Technology Studies) scholars would
say 'impact is dead' - i.e. the existence of the internet is not the
cause of deeper changes in society but rather evolves along with them
and they continuously interact and influence each other.

Thus, the technological is not some condition that is just inflicted
upon us, as some bad fate outside of human influence, but rather a
force to be reckoned with and a force that can bend in different ways.
No one is all powerful here, I agree with you on that, but we can all
intervene at some level (micro/macro).

So, I resolutely stand by by assertion that we need political design
and not just critique, and what's more I think that it would be an
absolute disaster to give up on our democratic ideals and aspirations
- they will change, transform, mutate, but that's no reason to write
them off because we are living in 'net-times'.

Btw - I think that the operators of the control state would be very
happy with such a fatalistic discourse.


#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info:
#  archive: contact: