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There is no one point of access, and all points of access are equally valid. Move the text, change the text, produce the text.


 By Errol Danehy

Below is a link to my blog for Assignment #1.


While reading Galloway, I became fascinated especially with the idea he proposed where he defined the internet as a distributed network. Given his established definitions, I found this to be an odd one for the internet this day and age. The free flowing, equal opportunity of the distributed internet no longer feels that way. Since large industries began taking serious plots of space on the internet and the web because a hub for capital, the way in which the user is forced to approach the internet has changed. If we have to purchase any miscellaneous item and are looking for the best price, we have no choice but direct our attention to amazon. When consulting any part of the web, whether it be to find information or even things as personal as our mail, google is always the middleman. Many websites accept a Facebook identification as real justified identity for access. My point is that large websites have changed the way we navigate the web. By making services more accessible, they have made their services invaluable and made the internet unimaginable without them. The more we depend on these services to use the internet, the more they make it impossible to get through the internet without. In this way, I believe the internet has taken a path towards a decentralized hierarchy. The few great internet services control and mediate our processes online. Google watches our motions on the internet and organizes what we find based on our searches, therefore google in a way is mapping our reality on the internet. Smaller, boutique sites, now depend on giants like google and Facebook for any modicum of traffic to come their way.

Galloway’s point on the development of the internet as a military protocol also struck a strange chord in my mind. As a result of these behemoth web companies, the dependence we feel towards their existence to use the net is a direct result of their intent to nurture. If these sites were to just disappear, the way in which we travel the net would be destroyed. Our navigation has become wholly dependent and symbiotic with the google relationship. In this way, the current state of distribution of networks makes us more vulnerable rather than less vulnerable to violent threat as the military would’ve hoped. We’ve created larger, more delicate targets. By this, I refer to the physical medium in which all the net depends on. An often overlooked idea, the so called “cloud” cannot possibly exist without massive rooms of memory drives storing data and information. The article “Underwater Flow” effectively addresses this problem of depending on the physical world for a future in digital media that we take for granted. The accessibility of fiber optics cables directly affects the output of media-based society. The fact that it is so easily available in the United States reflects our passion for it. The case with Fiji also reflects this point that the politics of acquiring physical access to digital media is something that has become far more relevant than when Galloway wrote his piece in the early 2000’s. These warehouses full of data and pipe lines that now connect us to the modern world make us far more vulnerable than the physical cold war targets that the nuke drove us to escape from. We have perhaps become so dependent and immersed into this digital world that we forget about the physical spaces that make them possible.

“Indeed, just as the corporation replaces the factory, perpetual training tends to replace the school, and continuous control to replace the examination. Which is the surest way of delivering the school over to the corporation.”

To me, this brought to mind the image of a Ford assembly line, which was slightly ironic since Deleuze’s Postscript on the Societies of Control mentioned American corporation’s move from  production to pure marketing. Regardless, I envisioned a line of people honed from birth/creation to fit into a mold. I imagined them pausing at stations along the way, such as the education system and the corporation where they are modified and better made to fit the mold of marketing–the most profitable and less energy consuming way of making money.

However, my analogy is off in the sense that the people are not being modified, but are modifying themselves. Because children are being introduced to “the ‘corporation’ at all levels of schooling,” a control society does not need to exert much direct energy into creating workers who will perpetuate the cycle, since in essence they are forming themselves.

So how does technology play into this? For one, it certainly perpetuates the environment that a control society currently thrives in. With constant affirmation from networking and peers that constant training leads to money and success in the future, it maintains a large pool of similarly motivated workers. For another, it allows those at the top of the hierarchy more power and ability to micromanage the training and watch have over the workers. But still, on a more micro level, what does the very nature of computers do for maintaining a control society? Also, I can see how it facilitated the shift from a disciplinary society to a control society, but really, what next? Will the concept of freedom become an even more intangible illusion?

This week, I was most struck by the connection between Agre’s idea of grammars of action and its connection with the control society as described by Deleuze. Grammars of action provide a protocol for actions, dictating what can or can’t be done or how to do something. Whether this is for an accounting system or for a telemarketer’s script or some other scenario, a set of rules is provided and the person or computer is required, or at the very least expected, to follow them. This connects back to the idea of the control society in which rules are provided to people, although in this situation the rules are often implicit, who are then also expected to abide by them. A person may feel that they are an individual, but in the grand scheme of things, there is ultimately a set protocol that encompasses all the possibilities for how something can be done. In this way, everything that we are able to do is allowed because it falls under the accepted standards and, if we are to use Agre’s language, grammars of action for the society at large, or more narrowly, in our jobs and through our electronic devices.

On a more personal note, I also began to think about this near lack of complete autonomy in terms of a lack of privacy, particularly in regards to Foucault’s panopticism. The idea of others being able to access what I would consider private information through my computer or phone should, by Foucault’s measures, lead me to enact a certain level of self-surveillance or censorship. However, I haven’t stopped sending embarrassing pictures of myself to my best friend or shopping on amazon for weird socks even though I know this information could easily be accessed and used in some way that I have no control over. As a result, I continually find myself justifying my actions through thoughts of, “Well, I haven’t done anything illegal that I need to hide,” or, “That picture or google search might be a bit embarrassing but in the long run, it’s not a big deal” instead of curbing these activities. This denial of any serious repercussions of another person gaining access to my life led me to question whether or not I truly felt this lax about it, or if it was simply a convenient way for me to bury my real fear and anxiety about the decrease in true privacy, particularly as I don’t foresee myself giving up my computer or phone anytime soon. I have no doubts that this is a question that I will continue to struggle with for a long time.