human being on Wed, 27 Nov 2002 13:46:42 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Space of Flows: Characteristics and Strategies

  hi Felix. fascinating essay. i am left wondering who/what
  exactly in the mid-1970s ushered in the space of flows, i
  can guess but wonder if it goes into complexity theorists.

  one general note, before other comments, is that i found
  the below paragraph to best describe the #1 factor which
  scares the living daylights out of me when considering the
  forces at work during protests, which is why i may tend to
  be more conservative compared to others. i believe the one
  aspect that is a sure-things is increasing control, and at
  whatever means necessary, a type of hyper- and if need be,
  violent-control to keep the flow of things contained. it
  is the main reason i believe non-physical tactics could be
  used with existing nodes, to redirect actions in a focused
  and particular (if general) way, for collective movement...

> The office represents the attempt to better manage the flows of goods
> pouring out of the factories. These flows are constantly threatening to
> run out of control, through over-production or runaway costs. The 
> world of
> the office introduced a central theme of the culture of flows: the 
> paradox
> that the practice of"hyper control" coexists with the condition of 
> ìout of
> controlî. They do not simply coexist at the same time, but more
> worryingly, because of one another. The two conditions are not
> contradictions, but actually two sides of the same medal.

  the space of flows makes sense to me. what it reminds me most
  of is not the dismal science but economics ecological aspects.
  maybe Mark Stahlman would know if this is an accurate assumption,
  and for some reason the idea of 'futures' trading comes to mind
  first, but it seems that in the vast (market or other) economy,
  a shift in production in one industry may have unintended con-
  sequences in another, say labor issues and product availability
  due to decreased output, or weather damage of crops and raised
  prices, or a surplus of local tofu and cheaper vegetarian food.
  i cannot give an example of the weirdness across scales or types
  of categories of economics, but that is partly why i am writing,
  as everything is a part, it is hard to see/configure a whole,
  and whatever is emergent, it is seen from my particular lens.

  yet, as i thought Mckenzie Wark might have been referring to,
  but if i remember i think it was mainly Virilio's use of Vector,
  is that your reference to an ocean reminds me much of what the
  vastly uncharted economic system is, and modeling it seems to
  be one thing, where people estimate (or guesstimate) where and
  how things are connected, and how, where, why-for. it is also
  a type of ecosystem or a larger techno-ecological monitoring
  or reverse-engineering, even. the space of flows, then, to me
  might be similar to the use of vectors/arrows in showing the
  flow of ocean current, or air patterns, each small arrow not
  amounting to much in itself, but when seeing a map filled up
  with real-time data from monitoring stations it adds up to
  fronts and storms and nice weather. or with oceans, places
  to fish, and places to stay far away from, and fast.

  the space of flows, and aspects of nodes and movement and
  action also reminds me very much of the early Simulation
  games, one of which was based on Earth, and natural science.
  early lifeforms competing within and between different eco-
  systems, habitats, trying to evolve. so too, with Simcity,
  the same principles could be found (at least on the first
  version) which was based on a similar type of uncharted,
  or better, roughly charted relationship between events.
  if you build a feeder road or feeder lines of a main trunk,
  for freeway or electrical infrastructure, certain things
  are more bound to happen than others. it is a rough logic,
  but also approximates what probably would happen, and even
  in real life, not just as an entertaining gamespace (so much
  so, i think, that urban-planning classes have incorporated
  Simcity into their learning curriculum, as a learning tool).

  it is this 'invisible' aspect of the space of flows which
  gets me. like the invisible job market, the invisible economy
  where untied things may still be entangled in some way, at
  one time, and another, in another or no other way. it is
  only in the realm of the technological lifeforms that i get
  lost, as i do not understand from the example how this process
  could, one, be called technological, and second, digital, if
  it is human beings working together communicating about ideas,
  and something emerges from this, it seems most likely that
  if one says something or draws something on a piece of paper
  that the analogue world is involved (and possibly predominant
  at times, if in physical space, if that is included in the
  model you are proposing.)

  the other aspect is that i find it difficult for such a value
  given to the digital, as it is not always superior, and in
  many ways inferior to actual experience. audiophiles and the
  warm sound of vacuum tubes is one example, communicating face-
  to-face and the signal-noise ratio might be another, if it is
  to include time and movement and how gestures and the way an
  idea is shared contributes to understanding, besides a trillion
  other examples, including sex. as far as i know, the human body
  processes its information both through analogue and digital
  types of electromagnetic nerve impulses, or some physiological
  subsystem which keeps us breathing, moving, and acting.

  thus i would question the following model:

> the three elements of create a system of flows:
> * the medium ≠ digital communication technology
> * the flows ≠ information, and
> * the nodes hybrids ≠ of people and machinery.

  the medium = communications technology (whether through a human
  or through a machine is still in the realm of the interface,
  and it keeps the ambiguity of analog and digital which is,
  in my understanding, richly complex with supportive aspects to
  the space of flows.)

  the flows = information (one thing nice about words is that
  they can be deconstructed, and in-formation seems to also
  describe the idea of being in-between, acting, moving, forming).

  the nodes = hybrids relating people and machines (this to me
  would help describe 'technological forms of life' a little
  easier, if you mean that humans-humans and machines-machines
  and humans-machines relating are creating emergent effects.
  (i would always keep cause-and-effect, by the way, as at a
  certain scale, like the macro and micro-cosm, the way things
  are perceived may change, and it is hard to reason using flows
  for something that may not use this model, in my opinion).

  the technological forms of life, i am guessing, might be in some
  way related to what happens when all those individual arrows on
  a chart of the ocean of what is start doing their things, and
  a descriptor is needed to say 'what is' is. in its present form,
  i wonder if technological forms of life is a variant on the idea
  of memes. that is, if there are nodes, if each are nodes relating
  to eachother, and how the space of flows, or the node of techno-
  life, might relate to other ideas/concepts.

  in any case, thanks.

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