“The key thing may be to create vacuoles of noncommunication, circuit breakers, so we can elude control.” (Deleuze qtd. in Galloway 17)
Is noncommunication the only way to truly “elude control”? I believe that it is. Even the Internet, whose TCP/IP protocols are “anarchic and highly distributed” (Hall qtd. in Galloway 8) and which appears to be a society built on anonymity, relies for communication on rigid protocols like HTML and HTTP. “Web traffic must submit to a hierarchical structure (DNS) to gain access to the anarchic and radically horizontal structure of the Internet” (9), Galloway writes, casting protocols as the laws people follow in order to gain freedom of communication. “Protocol,” he warns, “is dangerous” (16).
IP addresses (which to me resemble social security numbers, those least anonymous of tags) can be traced; web pages are eternally cached. All online communication – indeed all language – leaves footprints that facilitate control.
In a sense, the Internet is an imagined community based entirely on language: words comprise websites, forums, and email while on another level written computer code allows online actions and transactions to function in the first place. “I attempt to read the never-ending stream of computer code as one reads any text,” Galloway writes, “…decoding its structure of control” (20).
Given that the imagined community of the Internet is a mecca of communication, and language is a means of control (as Benedict Anderson seems to suggest), is the Internet less or more controlled/controllable than other, more concrete communities?
Also on the subject of control, Galloway asserts that “the root servers…have ultimate control over the existence (but not necessarily the content) of each lesser branch” (10). By way of an example, he says dramatically that “if hypothetically some controlling authority wished to ban China from the Internet…they could do so very easily through a simple modification of the information contained in the root servers… China would vanish from the Internet” (10).
Intriguing to me is the idea that while the Internet is indeed a society of control, a given “controlling authority” cannot choose the manner of his power. He can delete China, perhaps, but he can’t really edit it. Users function differently: we can change the Internet’s content in our own small ways, but we can’t even delete a blog post once it’s been cached by Google. Which means of control is greater?