Saturday, November 17, 2007
The Gang Mentality
I'm intrigued by the level of spontaneity that can be achieved in organization via texting and other forms of mobile networked communication(softening of time, virtual presence, etc). It reminds me of media theorists--notably the Critical Art Ensemble--who have proposed that the locus of power has shifted away from the street, away from monumentality, and that activism should follow. It would be an empty gesture (or a symbolically loaded but pragmatically useless tactic) to occupy the White House--it would make a pretty image, but governmental power would not be overcome. Power might rather function through networks, so activism should do the same. The key, of course, is keeping smart mob-style communication free of this same control. This seems rather impossible, unless we expect the (corporate) government to hold absurd ethical standards. Some NSA spokesman said last week that privacy no longer means that individuals can expect to keep their personal information protected, but rather that governments and corporations must protect what they do with that data. Responsibility shifts from the individual (the bourgeois, Enlightnment ego--wonderful!) to conglomerations of people, capital, and weapons. Can networked citizens resist corporate control through these mechanisms? Would we need to when this consumption is becoming more and more pleasurable?