Protocol Notes

Am reading Alex Galloway's book Protocol (2004) and taking a few notes. Those below are from the introductory chapter.

[I]t is not my goal to examine the social or culturo-historical characteristics of informatization, artificial intelligence, or virtual anything, but rather to study computers as Andre Bazin studied film or Roland Barthes studied the striptease: to look at a material technology and analyze its specific formal functions or dysfunctions. (p. 18)

Deleuze: "Each kind of society corresponds to a particular type of machine--with simple mechanical machines corresponding to sovereign societies, thermodynamic machines to disciplinary societies, cybernetic machines and computers to control societies." (p. 22)

Jameson: "There have been three fundamental moments in capitalism, each one marking a dialectical expansion over the previous stage. These are market capitalism, the monopoly stage or the stage of imperialism, and our own, wrongly called postindustrial but what might better be termed multinational capital," or to use [Ernst] Mandel's terminology, late capitalism. (23-24)

My book [maps] out certain details of the third, "control society" phase, specifically the diagram of the distributed network, the technology of the computer, and the management style of protocol. (27)

Skipping ahead to the other chapters I haven't posted notes on yet: my short reading is that we are still in a Foucauldian "disciplinary society" and the Net only promises the illusion of freedom. The abuse of the Domain Name System to silence corporate critics, described in the book, and the inability to remove certain famous crooks from high office, suggest this. I am reading for Galloway's analysis of how Net protocols shape discourse (and art) but am not willing to agree that these are anything other than playground rules while adults continue to manage the home, office, and various killing grounds. --tm