Morlock Elloi on Thu, 15 Mar 2018 02:30:38 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> The System Development Corporation

It was uninformed :) but I definitely think that the infrastructure is the message.

I don't doubt that a whole universe of ideas and battles can exist on the top of any given 'infrastructure'.

The hard question (or even hard problem) is what matters? Where is the line drawn between the abstractions?

When you bring water to the middle of the desert, you immediately get mold in your bathtub. This mold may consist of many opposing cultures, with different ideologies, all fighting noble battles and educating their young to carry on the fight ... but the fact is that they exist only because (a) someone brought the water to the desert and (b) your shower leaks.

One way to look at this problem is figuring out which action can bring the most effect. Turning off the water or engaging in inter-mold-culture wars?

I think that mechanics of the information control and flow determine pretty much everything, and that differences between resulting ideologies are cosmetic, irrelevant and ephemeral (including the totality of identity politics and all its strains, left, right, etc.)

Just compare the world before and after Gutenberg, or before and after TV.

In this sense, modulating and reforming the infrastructure is far more effective in changing the world. Those who invest in and run the infrastructure know that, and they don't engage in moldy ideological discourses. When sufficiently irritated, they shut down the water, problem solved (just look at the whining about being 'banned' on corporate computer systems.)

On 3/14/18, 02:42, David Garcia wrote:
I imagine that Morlock’s original pithy statement of comparing activism to "grafitti on tanks”
was an informed  re-mix of the old Mcluhan aphorism:
"the content or message of any particular medium has about as much importance
as the stencilling on the casing of an atomic bomb”

The origin might be a clue that we are looking at something like
the good old  “The medium is the message” trope re-jigged for today’s
rapidly changing internet, with Morlock (like Mcluhan) foregrounding
“infrastructure” (instead of the medium) as the obligitory focus of our attention along with the
suggestion that all other spaces of conscern and intervention are a futile distraction.

This feels to me like a false dichotomy thats in danger of throwing too many babies out with the
bath water. Dismissing activism and the politics of representation per se would be to dismis the “Me To”
movement that is re-shaping feminsim for this generation,  the Black Lives Matter movement that is doing
something similar for civil rights, to name but two social movements among many that again remind us
that the battles for social justice are as urgent as ever.

It is absurd to say that challenging the highly influential content of the memes carrying white supremacist
and anti-feminist messages and sentiments are less important than investigating the dynamics of message
board infrastructure.  They cannot be separated. The  infrastructures and the messages were intertwined and
the activism that emerged did not simply “call the boss names”.. it played a role in facilitating the arrival of the boss who
now sits in the White House.

Addressing the platform politics of a hyperpartizan era are not entirely infrastuctural. The politics of representation and
the rise of the ant-feminst mannosphere was also a key part of the story.

This is not to say that we must rush to the other extreme and neglect the importance of
understanding and engaging in the shaping power of infrastructures and their platforms and devices
(including the infrastructure of government and the wider political economy).

Morlock the knowledge and emphasis you make is vital and well made, but to make it the centre of all political gravity
is in danger of producing a dangerous one dimensional formalism. The dichotomies you point to cannot be divided in
so absolute a fashion. Its a one dimensional approach in an era when multi-dimensional thinking and acting is required.

David Garcia

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