Friday, November 20, 2009

Late Post- Week of 11/9/09: Dividuals, Masses, or Masses of Dividuals?

Tiziana Terranova's Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age shakes the foundations on which “networks,” “information,” and “culture” at-large sit, opening up new potentials for the political. One interesting point she brings up is the fragmentation of information and even the “receivers” of cultural “messages.” To fully demonstrate this Terranova suggests that regarding “the emergence of information as a concept, then should also be related to the development of a set os techniques, including marketing strategies and techniques of communication management – as they attempt to capture the increasing randomness and volatility of culture...messages were not simply directed at groups but tailored to individuals and even sub-individual units (or as Gilles Delueze called them, 'dividuals', what results from the decomposition of individuals into data clouds subject to automated integration and disintegration)” (34).

My question regards the dividual and its relation to the important group or body of the “mass” or “masses.” Terranova suggests the “masses ('you, me and everybody else') are thus not definite sociological categories like classes. The masses are everywhere and in everybody in as much as meaning no longer takes hold. The masses are the place where meanings and ideas lose their power of penetration, the place of fascination and dismediation where all statements, opinions and ideas flow through without leaving a mark. The masses 'disperse' and 'diffuse' meaning, and this is their political power” (138). In what ways is the “mass” as used here similar or different from the “dividual?” What are the problems in conceiving of masses that are inherently not restricted to the sigulars of “you,” “me” and “everybody else,” but to the “data clouds” we are rendered into as “dividuals”?

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