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social networking control

A great chunk from Nealon's Foucault Beyond Foucault, thanks to event mechanics:

... the intensification of biopower. In a world of cyber-work, e-commerce, distance education, virtual markets, home health care, and the perpetual retraining of flexibly specialized labor, the disciplinary world of partitioning and surveillance (the office, the school, the bank, the trading floor, the mall, the hospital, the factory) seems like it’s undergoing a wholesale transformation. As Deleuze argues, “We’re // definitely moving toward ‘control’ societies that are no longer exactly disciplinary. . . . We’re moving toward control societies that no longer operate [primarily] by confining people but through continuous control and instant communication. . . . In a control-based system, nothing’s left alone for long.” Deleuze further elaborates on the Foucaultian distinction between discipline and control: “In disciplinary societies, you were always starting all over again (as you went from school to barracks, from barracks to factory), while in control societies you never finish anything—business, training, and military service being coexisting metastable states of a single modulation, a sort of universal transmutation” of power. So, following the Foucaultian logic of power we’ve been developing here, as societies of control extend and intensify the tactics of discipline and biopower (by linking training and surveillance to evermore-minute realms of everyday life), they also give birth to a whole new form. And this emergence comes about through what Foucault calls a “swarming [l’essaimage] of disciplinary mechanisms,” through the intensification of discipline rather than its exhaustion or dissipation: “The massive, compact disciplines are broken down into flexible methods of control”. Panoptic disciplinary surveillance in the contemporary world of “control” has been taken to a new, even more disembodied and therefore efficient state; your Web browser, your DNA, your bank ATM card, your subway pass, or your credit report all suggest that you are tracked in ways that make the disciplinary or panoptic warehousing of bodily traces (like photographs, surveillance tapes, fingerprints, or blood types) seem positively quaint by comparison (67-68).

Social networks. Facebook - the demand to update, picture tagging, news feeds, 'less of' / 'more of', events, groups, markets... An infinite sorting and reunification, a "universal transmutation" that is carried out only by further atomisation and analysis of the individual's entire autobiography.

Addendum: And yet entirely social - it is a system of dividuals, a stand alone complex.

1 comment:

James said...

The worst thing about social networking? The ridiculous modernist notion of sorting and classifying.

I've never felt so much more 'organised' and not in a good way. I can count the amount of friends I have, their relations to my other friends, track social habits, musical tastes, political viewpoints and on and on. While we'd know some of this information IRL we would have nowhere near as much access to these concepts of each others social and personal lives.

David Weinberger claims that information is miscellaneous in this digital age and it's true that facebook's information is freely being used and re-used in the web 2.0 style that people dig(g), with tags, feeds and cross referencing. However his argument that we're breaking out of some restricted modernist framework doesn't fit with me. I think our need to organise just re-enforces this restrictive mental framework - a framework which could be easily analysed in a Foucaultian discourse.

What better way to establish weird ass power relations than by everyone having a news feed on everyone else, sharing minute details like what music we're into or by seeing how many photos you're in with a friend to the exact number.

I think this design would have been fine in U.S College Campuses when you're already living in each others pockets (more or less) but in IRL? I'm not so sure.