Notes for Manuel Castells The Rise of the Network Society Second Edition
Key concepts: Aleph, capitalism, culture of electronic surfing, globalization, identity, information technology paradigm, informationalism, network, networked enterprise, open source software, real virtuality, regionalization, social analysis, space, space of flows, spatialization of time, subjectivity, timeless time.
Provides definition and historical details for social analysis of built environment, as well as discussion of subjectivity as it relates to specific cultures versus gross technological determinism. Specific mention of OSS (versus proprietary technological artifacts) credits radical transformation of communication through expansion and generalization of the Internet. Virtuous circle of using IT to enhance IT. The network enterprise is constituted by business networks, technological tools, global competition and the state. Network enterprise is material, productive instantiation of the informational culture. What happens to human being inhabiting it? Basis of texts and technology studies is the technological transformation of computerized media yielding the culture of real virtuality. Structural schizophrenia while physical realities and real virtualities compete for locus of interest, and therefore affecting the nature of subjectivity. Non-sequential time of cultural products based on desire and computability, thus timeless. Connect to Manovich's development of the history of cinema into new media software and Kittler. Key concept for my work is real virtuality; also good discussion of subjectivity.
Related theorists: Ceruzzi, Engelbart, Johnson, Kittler, Latour, Manovich, McLuhan, Touraine, Weber.
to the 2012 Edition of The Rise of the
(xvii) I contend that around the end of the second millennium of the common era a number of major social, technological, economic, and cultural transformations came together to give rise to a new form of society, the network society, whose analysis is proposed in this volume.
(xviii) The shift from traditional mass media to a system of horizontal communication networks organized around the Internet and wireless communication has introduced a multiplicity of communication patterns at the source of a fundamental cultural transformation, as virtuality becomes an essential dimension of our reality.
(xviii) Moreover, while networks are an old form of organization in the human experience, digital networking technologies, characteristic of the Information Age, powered social and organizational networks in ways that allowed their endless expansion and reconfiguration, overcoming the traditional limitations of networking forms of organization to manage complexity beyond a certain size of the network.
(xix) By studying empirically the contours of these social and organizational arrangements on a global scale, I ended up with a series of specific analyses on different dimensions of the network society that appeared to be coherent, so that together they provided a canvas of interpretation of events and trands that at first sight seemed to be disjointed.
(xix) The relevance of a social theory, beyond the empirical body of evidence gathered to support specific arguments, ultimately comes from its capacity to explain social evolution, either in society at large or in certain dimensions of society.
(xix) Let me review some of the key developments of the last decade, relating them to the analyses presented in this book.
(xix) The global financial crisis that exploded towards the end of 2008 and sent the global economy into a tail spin was the direct consequence of the specific dynamics of this global economy, as analyzed in chapter 2 of this volume.
(xxi) In short, the very real benefits of the new economy were appropriated in the securities market and used to generate a much greater mass of virtual capital that multiplied its value by lending it to a multitude of avid consumers/borrowers.
Sensing global automaton concept can be further analyzed in terms of internal programmed emerging unconscious, and can be applied to many domains besides global financial market, just one if its rhizomatic phenomenal protuberances.
(xxi) Yet, no one could do much about it because the global financial market had escaped the control of any investor, government, or regulatory agency. It had become what in this volume I called a “global automaton” imposing its logic over the economy and society at large, including over its own creators.
(xxii) Work and employment have been transformed. But in contrast to the dystopias and utopias foreseen by prophets of doom or evangelists of a new economic age, the relationship between technology and the quantity and quality of jobs has followed the complex pattern of interaction outlined in chapter 4 of this volume.
(xxiii) Exaggerating the terminology to capture the imagination of the reader, I labeled these two types of workers “self-programmable labor” and “generic labor”.
Resembles Latour and Johnson STS methodology.
(xxiv) In sum, the occupational structure of our societies has indeed been transformed by new technologies. But the processes and forms of this transformation have been the result of the interaction between technological change, the institutional environment, and the evolution of relationships between capital and labor in each specific social context.
Specific mention of OSS (versus proprietary technological artifacts) credits radical transformation of communication through expansion and generalization of the Internet; is this an old myth or another useful argument for the free, open source option as ethic needs checked in empirical research (Feller).
Perhaps the most apparent social change taking place in the years
since this book was first researched is the transformation
a trend that I analyzed in chapter 5 of this volume.
(xxv) Computer networking, open source software (including Internet protocols), and fast development of digital switching and transmission capacity in the telecommunication networks led to the expansion of the Internet after its privatization in the 1990s and to the generalization of its use in all domains of activity.
Rather than solely the medium being the message, overdetermining content through social and economic forces, messages of other media, the Internet medium supports wider degrees of freedom.
(xxvi-xxvii) The Internet, the World Wide Web, and wireless communication are not media in the traditional sense. Rather, they are means of interactive communication. . . . So, television continues to be the major mass medium, for the time being, but its delivery and format is being transformed, as its reception becomes individualized. A similar phenomenon has taken place with the print press.
Alludes to Kittler threat of flattening by convergence and development of social media of shared member made content in social spaces of virtual reality, mentioning Second Life; consider Jenkins.
(xxvii) Furthermore, the combination of on-line news with interactive blogging and email, as well as Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds from other documents on the Web, have transformed newspapers into a component of a different form of communication: mass self-communication. . . . the formation of a multimodal, multichannel system of digital communication that integrates all forms of media.
Hayles cyborg of human computer symbiosis is Castells culture of real virtuality; Second Life the exemplar.
With the prospects of expanding infrastructure and declining prices
of communication, it is not a prediction but an observation to say
that on-line communities are fast developing not as a virtual world,
but as a real virtuality integrated with other forms of interaction
in an increasingly hybridized everyday life.
(xxix) New technologies are also fostering the development of social spaces of virtual reality that combine sociability and experimentation with role-playing games. The most successful of these is Second Life.
(xxx) It means that there is a process of convergence that gives birth to a new media reality whose contours and effects will ultimately be decided by political and business power struggles, as the owners of the telecommunication networks position themselves to control access and traffic in favor of their business partners and preferred customers.
That there is a culture of real virtuality seems a point Zizek refuses to engage, making him a hold out of pre-posthumanism, although not for being modern in Latour sense; it is more of a blind spot: Zizek is unable to apply his theory to computer technologies.
Culture of real virtuality for post-postmodern era.
(xxx-xxxi) This is a new communication realm, and ultimately a new medium, whose backbone is made of computer networks, whose language is digital, and whose senders are globally distributed and globally interactive. . . . This is why, observing more than a decade ago the emerging trends of what now has taken shape as a communication revolution, I proposed in the first edition of this book the hypothesis that a new culture is forming, the culture of real virtuality, in which the digitized networks of multimodal communication have become so inclusive of all cultural expressions and personal experiences that they have made virtuality a fundamental dimension of our reality.
Transformation of space and time in human experience fundamental to all major social changes; does this mean his position is fundamentally phenomenological?
All major social changes are ultimately characterized by a
transformation of space and time in the human
(xxxi-xxxii) In this volume I proposed a theory of urbanism in the Information Age based on the distinction between the space of places and the space of flows. . . . In fact, cities are, from their onset, communication systems, increasing the chances of communication through physical contiguity. I call space of places the space of contiguity. . . . This new form of spatiality is what I conceptualized as the space of flows: the material support of simultaneous social practices communicated at a distance.
(xxxiii) The metropolitan region arises from two intertwined processes: extended decentralization from big cities to adjacent areas and interconnection of pre-existing towns whose territories become integrated by new communication capabilities.
(xxxv-xxxvi) They are not global cities but global networks that structure and change specific areas of some cities through their connections. . . . Outside the landing places of networked value creation lie the spaces of exclusion, or “landscapes of despair”, borrowing the concept from Dear and Wolch, either intra-metropolitan or rural.
(xxxvi) The key innovation and decision-making processes take place in face-to-face contacts, and they still require a shared space of places, well-connected through its articulation to the space of flows.
(xxxvi) What is fundamentally new is that these nodes interact globally, instantly or at chosen times throughout the planet.
(xxxviii-xxxix) Now, the most strategically important observation for an analysis in terms of spatial networks is that these global networks do not have the same geography; they usually do not share the same nodes. . . . These mega-nodes are the urban dimension of multilayered global networks. . . . In the absence of active social demands and social movements the mega-node imposes the logic of the global over the local. . . . There is an increasing contradiction between the space of flows and the space of places. . . . At the same time, few people in the world feel identified with the global, cosmopolitan culture that populates the global networks and becomes the worship of the mega-node elites. In contrast, most people feel a strong regional or local identity. . . . And this is the most fundamental contradiction emerging in our globalized, urbanized, networked world: in a world constructed around the logic of the space of flows, people make their living in the space of places.
(xxxix) Humans experience time in different ways depending on how their lives are structured and practiced.
(xl) Everything changed with the invention of the clock and the industrial age. Production was organized around the control of time, ultimately perfected in the Taylorist factories of Henry Ford and Vladimir Ilitch. Working time defined life time. The strict definition of time became a major tool to discipline society, as the rhythm of everything was counted and valued, and people fought to gain their own time beyond their subdued working time.
(xl-xli) Time as sequence was replaced by different trajectories of imagined time that were assigned market values. . . . The clock time of the industrial age is being gradually replaced by what I conceptualized as timeless time: the kind of time that occurs when in a given context, such as the network society, there is systemic perturbation in the sequential order of the social practices performed in this context.
Like Hayles he developed insights from analyzing experience of time in global financial networks.
(xli) I first found traces of timeless time while analyzing the
workings of financial networks.
(xlii) Yet, there are alternative forms of conceiving and practicing time linked to alternative projects of organizing society. The most important alternative expression of time that I identified in this book is what I called, using a concept from Scott Lash and John Urry, “glacial time”.
Consider dead lines, short lines, nondeterministic present of scheduled multiprocessing, batch, distributed time of packet switching digital communications, and other experiences of time in machine embodiment.
(xliii) The trends observed in the last decade seem to support the relevance of this analysis of the transformation of time, however abstract it appears to be.
(xliii-xliv) Theory and research are only as good as their ability to make sense of the observation of their subject matter. . . . If you think that the approach I proposed, in spite of its obvious flaws, relates to your experience, this is all the comfort this author needs to peacefully fade away.
the Net and the Self
(3) There follows a fundamental split between abstract, universal instrumentalism, and historically rooted, particularistic identities. Our societies are increasingly structured around a bipolar opposition between the Net and the self.
(4) I believe in rationality, and in the possibility of calling upon reason, without worshiping its goddess. I believe in the chances of meaningful social action, and transformative politics, without necessarily drifting toward the deadly rapids of absolute utopias. . . . And, yes, I believe, in spite of a long tradition of sometimes tragic intellectual errors, that observing, analyzing, and theorizing are a way of helping to build a different, better world.
Rejects technological determinism, highlighting importance of social contexts and (human) search for identity.
(4) To take some first steps in this direction: we must treat technology seriously, using it as the point of departure of this inquiry; we need to locate the process of revolutionary technological change in the social context in which it takes place and by which it is being shaped; and we should keep in mind that the search for identity is as powerful as techno-economic change in charting the new history.
Technology, Society, and Historical Change
(5-6) Indeed, the dilemma of
technological determinism is probably a false problem, since
technology is society,
and society cannot be understood or represented without its
technological tools. . . . The information technology revolution
half-consciously diffused through the material culture of our
societies the libertarian spirit that flourished in the 1960s'
movements. Yet, as soon as new information technologies diffused, and
were appropriated by different countries, various cultures, diverse
organizations, and miscellaneous goals, they exploded in all kinds of
applications and uses that fed back into technological innovation,
accelerating the speed, broadening the scope of technological change,
and diversifying its sources.
(7) while technology per se does not determine historical evolution and social change, technology (or the lack of it) embodies the capacity of societies to transform themselves, as well as the uses to which societies, always in a conflictive process, decide to put their technological potential.
(7) Thus, around 1400, when the European Renaissance was planting the intellectual seeds of technological change that would dominate the world three centuries later, China was the most advanced technological civilization in the world, according to Mokyr.
(8) Why did a culture and a kingdom that had been the technological leader of the world for thousands of years suddenly become technologically stagnant precisely at the moment when Europe embarked on the age of discoveries, and then on the industrial revolution?
(9) According to Mokyr, it appears that the determining factor for technological conservatism was the rulers' fears of the potentially disruptive impacts of technological change on social stability.
(10) Japan is of course the counter-example, both to Chinese historical experience and to the inability of the Soviet state to adapt to the American-initiated revolution in information technology.
Industrialism, Capitalism, Statism: Modes of Development and Modes of
(14) The theoretical perspective underlying this approach postulates that societies are organized around human processes structured by historically determined relationships of production, experience, and power.
(15) The relationship between labor and matter in the process of work involves the use of means of production to act upon matter on the basis of energy, knowledge, and information. Technology is the specific form of this relationship.
(15-16) The product of the production process is socially used under two forms: consumption and surplus. . . . Capitalism is oriented toward profit-maximizing, that is, toward increasing the amount of surplus appropriated by capital on the basis of the private control over the means of production and circulation. Statism is (was?) oriented toward power-maximizing, that is, toward increasing the military and ideological capacity of the political apparatus for imposing its goals on a greater number of subjects and at deeper levels of their consciousness.
(16-17) Productivity levels are themselves dependent on the relationship between labor and matter, as a function of the use of the means of production by the application of energy and knowledge. . . . However, what is specific to the informational mode of development is the action of knowledge upon knowledge itself as the main source of productivity.
Or is it still profit and power maximization? Not sure what I meant.
(17) While higher levels of knowledge may normally result in higher levels of output per unit of input, it is the pursuit of knowledge and information that characterizes the technological production function under informationalism.
Informationalism and capitalist
(18) Yet the most decisive historical factor accelerating, channeling and shaping the information technology paradigm, and inducing its associated social forms, was/is the process of capitalist restructuring undertaken since the 1980s, so that the new techno-economic system can be adequately characterized as informational capitalism.
(20) Under conditions of global financial integration, autonomous, national monetary policies became literally unfeasible, thus equalizing basic economic parameters of restructuring processes throughout the planet.
Distinction between information and informational.
(21 note 31) The term “information society” emphasizes the role of information in society. . . . In contrast, the term “informational” indicates the attribute of a specific form of social organization in which information generation, processing, and transmission become the fundamental sources of productivity and power because of new technological conditions emerging in this historical period. My terminology tries to establish a parallel with the distinction between industry and industrial.
The Self in the Informational Society
Identity defined with Touraine twist, defense of subject against logic of apparatus replacing class struggle.
(22) The first historical steps of informational societies seem to characterize them by the pre-eminence of identity as their organizing principle. I understand by identity the process by which a social actor recognizes itself and constructs meaning primarily on the basis of a given cultural attribute or set of attributes, to the exclusion of a broader reference to other social structures. . . . Alain Touraine goes further, arguing that “in a post-industrial society, in which cultural services have replaced material goods as the core of production, it is the defense of the subject, in its personality and in is culture, against the logic of apparatuses, and markets, that replaces the idea of class struggle.”
The excluded in the networked world become less and less visible.
(24) There seems to be a logic of excluding the excluders, of redefining the criteria for value and meaning in a world where there is shrinking room for the computer illiterate, for consumptionless groups, and for under-communicated territories. When the Net switches off the self, the self, individual or collective, constructs its meaning without global, instrumental reference; the process of disconnection becomes reciprocal, following the refusal by the excluded of the one-sided logic of structural domination and social exclusion.
Word on Method
(25) I certainly owe many thoughts to many authors, and particularly to the forebears of informationalism, Alain Touraine and Daniel Bell, as well as to the one Marxist theorist who sensed the new, relevant issues just before his death in 1979, Nicos Poulantzas.
(26) The methodology followed in this book, whose specific implications will be discussed in each chapter, is at the service of the overarching purpose of its intellectual endeavor: to propose some elements of an exploratory, cross-cultural theory of economy and society. In the Information Age, as it specifically refers to the emergence of a new social structure.
(27) The first volume, in the reader's hands, deals primarily with the logic of what I call the Net, while the second (he Power of Identity) analyzes the formation of the self, and the interaction between the Net and the self in the crisis of two central institutions of society: the patriarchal family and the nation-state. The third volume (End of Millennium) attempts an interpretation of historical transformations in the last hope of the twentieth century, as a result of the dynamics of processes studied in the fist two volumes. It is only at the end of the third volume that a general integration between theory and observation, linking up the analyses concerning the various domains, will be proposed, although each volume concludes with an effort at synthesizing the main findings and ideas presented in the volume.
The Information Technology Revolution
(28) My starting point, and I am not alone in this assumption, is that, at the end of the twentieth century, we lived through one of these rare intervals in history. An interval characterized by the transformation of our “material culture” by the works of a new technological paradigm organized around information technology.
Definition of technology based on Brooks and Bell.
(28-29) By technology I understand, in a straight line from Harvey Brooks and Daniel Bell, “the use of scientific knowledge to specify ways of doing things in a reproducible manner.” . . . Furthermore, the current process of technological transformation expands exponentially because of its ability to create an interface between technological fields through common digital language in which information is generated, stored, retrieved, processed, and transmitted.
Engelbart. Power of symbol manipulation.
What characterizes the current technological revolution is not the
centrality of knowledge and information, but the application of such
knowledge and information to knowledge generation and information
processing/communication devices, in a cumulative feedback loop
between innovation and the uses of innovation. . . . The feedback
loop between introducing new technology, using it, and developing it
into new realms becomes much faster under the new technological
paradigm. As a result, diffusion of technology endlessly amplifies
the power of technology, as it becomes appropriated and redefined by
its users. . . . Users and doers may become the same. . . . For the
first time in history, the human mind is a direct productive force,
not just a decisive element of the production system.
(33) Differential timing in access to the power of technology for people, countries, and regions is a critical source of inequality in our society. The switched-off areas are culturally and spatially discontinuous: they are in the American inner cities or in the French Banlieues, as much as in the shanty towns of Africa or in the deprived rural areas of China or India.
from the Industrial Revolution
(36) The interactivity of systems of technological innovation and their dependence on certain “milieux” of exchange of ideas, problems, and solutions are critical features that can be generalized from the experience of past revolutions to the current one.
(37) although they both brought a whole array of new technologies that actually formed and transformed an industrial system in successive stages, at their core there was fundamental innovation in the generation and distribution of energy.
The Historical Sequence of the Information Technology Revolution
Refers to Ceruzzi among others for the well exercised history of the IT revolution, of which he gives a condensed version, concluding that 1990s networking has been decisive, then discussing the creation of the Internet: is this history likely to become part of general education, or will it be needed for grounding digital humanities and philosophy of computing?
(38) The brief, yet intense history of the information technology revolution has been told so many times in recent years as to render it unnecessary to provide the reader with another full account.
electronics and information
(39) Let us retrace the stages of innovation in the three main technological fields that, although closely interrelated, constituted the history of electronics-based technologies: micro-electronics, computers, and telecommunications.
(40) The giant leap forward in the diffusion of micro-electronics in all machines came in 1971 with the invention by an Intel engineer, Ted Hoff (also in Silicon Valley), or the microprocessor, that is the computer on a chip.
(43) This extraordinary versatility, and the capacity to add memory and processing capacity by sharing computing power in an electronic network, decisively shifted the computer age in the 1990s from centralized data storage and processing to networked, interactive computer power-sharing. Not only did the whole technological system change, but its social and organizational interactions as well.
(44) This opto-electronics-based transmission capacity, together with advanced switching and routing architectures, such as the asynchronous transmission mode (ATM) and transmission control protocol/interconnection protocol (TCP/IP), are the foundation of the Internet.
The creation of the Internet
(45) The creation and development of the Internet in the last three decades on the twentieth century resulted from a unique blending of military strategy, big science cooperation, technological entrepreneurship, and countercultural innovation.
(46) Despite the establishment in 1998 of a new, American-based regulatory body (IANA/ICANN), in 1999 there was no indisputable, clear authority over the Internet, either in the US or in the world – a sign of the free-wheeling characteristics of the new medium, both in technological and cultural terms.
(47-48) In 1978, Cerf, Postel (from UCLA), and Cohen (from USC) split the protocol in two parts: host-to-host (TCP) and internetworks protocol (IP). The resulting TCP/IP protocol became the standard for computer communication in the US by 1980. . . . Another instance of technological convergence was still necessary for computers to communicate: the adaptation of TCP/IP to UNIX, an operating system enabling access from computer to computer.
(48) Many of the applications of the Internet came from the unexpected inventions of its early users, inducing a practice and a technological trajectory that would become essential features of the Internet.
(50) Bulletin board systems did not need sophisticated computer networks, just PCs, modems, and the telephone line. Thus, they became the electronic notice-boards of all kinds of interests and affinities, creating what Howard Rheingold named “virtual communities.”
(50) A new technological leap allowed the diffusion of the Internet into the mainstream of society: the design of a new application, the world wide web, organizing the Internet sites' content by information rather than by location, then providing users with an easy search system to locate the desired information.
(50-51) The CERN team created a format for hypertext documents that they named hypertext markup language (HTML), designed in the Internet traditional of flexibility, so that computers could adapt their specific languages within this shared format, adding this formatting on to of the TCP/IP protocol. They also set up a hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) to guide communication between web browsers and web servers, and they created a standard address format, the uniform resource locator (URL) which combines information on the application protocol and on the computer address holding the requested information. Here again, URL could related to a variety of transfer protocols, not just HTTP, thus facilitating general interface.
Network technologies and
(52-53) Thus, computing power, applications, and data are stored in the servers of the network, and computing intelligence is placed in the network itself: web sites communicate with each other, and have at their disposal the necessary software to connect any appliance to a universal computer network. New software programs, such as Java (1995) and Jini (1999) designed by Bill Joy at Sun Microsystems, enabled the network to become the actual information-processing system. . . . So, ultimately, the communications network will be packet switched, with data transmission accounting for the overwhelming share of traffic, and voice transmission being but one, specialized service.
Computing intelligence now in the network itself rather than individual systems; this pervasive, distributed model influences views of human subjectivity.
(53) Based on these technologies, computer scientists envisage the possibility of computing environments where billions of microscopic information processing devices will be spread everywhere “like pigment in the wall paint.” If so, then computer networks will be, materially speaking, the fabric of our lives.
The 1970s' technological
Technologies of life
(54) Although biotechnology can be traced all the way back to a 6000 BC Babylonian tablet on brewing, and the revolution in microbiology to the scientific discovery of the basic structure of life, DNA's double helix, by Francis Crick and James Watson at Cambridge University in 1953, it was only in the early 1970s that gene splicing and recombinant DNA, the technological foundation of genetic engineering, made possible the application of cumulative knowledge.
(55) Genetic cloning entered a new stage when, in 1988, Harvard formally patented a genetically engineered mouse, thus taking the copyright of life away from God and Nature.
(57-58) The development of genetic engineering creates the possibility of acting on genes, making humankind able not only to control some diseases, but to identify biological predispositions and to intervene in such predispositions, potentially altering genetic fate.
(59) All indications point toward the full blossoming of genetic engineering, and its applications, in the early years of the new millennium, thus triggering a fundamental debate about the now blurred frontier between nature and society.
Social context and the dynamics
of technological change
(59-60) In fact, it seems that the emergence of a new technological system in the 1970s must be traced to the autonomous dynamics of technological discovery and diffusion, including synergistic effects between various key technologies.
(60) But it did not come out of any pre-established necessity: it was technologically induced rather than socially determined. However, once it came into existence as a system, on the basis of the clustering I have described, its development and applications, and ultimately its content, were decisively shaped by the historical context in which it expanded.
(61) Without necessarily surrendering to historical relativism, it can be said that the information technology revolution was culturally, historically, and spatially contingent on a very specific set of circumstances whose characteristics earmarked its future evolution.
Actors, and Sites of the Information Technology Revolution
(62) Silicon Valley (Santa Clara County, 30 miles south of San Francisco, between Stanford and San Jose) was formed as a milieu of innovation by the convergence on one site of new technological knowledge; a large pool of skilled engineers and scientists from major universities in the area; generous funding from an assured market with the Defense Department; the development of an efficient network of venture capital firms; and, in the very early stage, the institutional leadership of Stanford University.
(63-64) Anna Saxenian compared the development of electronics complexes in the two areas (Boston's Route 128 and Silicon Valley) and concluded that the decisive role was played by the social and industrial organization of companies in fostering or stymieing innovation. . . . Late-evening conversations at the Walker's Wagon Wheel Bar and Grill in Mountain View did more for the diffusion of technological innovation than most seminars in Stanford.
(64) A parallel story could be told about the growth of genetic engineering, with leading scientists at Stanford, UC San Francisco and Berkeley, bridging into companies, first located in the Bay area.
Worldwide research trip with Hall discovering metropolis-centered milieux of innovation.
Can this social, cultural, and spatial pattern of innovation be
extrapolated throughout the world? To answer this question, in 1988
my colleague Peter Hall and I began a several years' tour of the
world that brought us to visit and analyze some of the main
scientific/technological centers of this planet, from California to
Japan, New England to Old England, Paris-Sud to Hsinchu-Taiwan,
Sophia-Antipolis to Akademgorodok, Szelenograd to Daeduck, Munich to
Seoul. Our conclusions confirm the critical role played by milieux
of innovation in
the development of the information technology revolution: clusters of
scientific/technical knowledge, institutions, firms, and skilled
labor are the furnaces of innovation in the Information Age.
(66) Our most striking discovery is that the largest, old metropolitan areas of the industrialized world are the main centers of innovation and production in information technology outside the United States.
(67) The cultural and business strength of the metropolis (old or new – after all, the San Francisco Bay area is a metropolis of about 6.5 million people) makes it the privileged environment of this new technological revolution, actually demystifying the notion of placelessness of innovation in the Information Age.
(69) Thus, the state, not the innovative entrepreneur in his garage, both in America and throughout the world, was the initiator of the information technology revolution.
(69) It is indeed by this interface between macro-research programs and large markets developed by the state, on the one hand, and decentralized innovation stimulated by a culture of technological creativity and role models of fast personal success, on the other hand, that new information technologies came to blossom. In so doing, they clustered around networks of firms, organizations, and institutions to form a new socio-technical paradigm.
The Information Technology Paradigm
Features of IT paradigm: act on information, pervasive effects, networking logic, flexibility, highly integrated convergence.
(70) The notion of the technological paradigm, elaborated by Carlota
Perez, Christopher Freeman, and Giovanni Dosi, adapting the classic
analysis of scientific revolutions by Kuhn, helps to organize the
essence of current technological transformation as it interacts with
economy and society.
(72) Although research has still a long way to go toward the material integration of biology and electronics, the logic of biology (the ability to self-generate unprogrammed, coherent sequences) is increasingly being introduced into electronic machines.
(75) The important contribution of the complexity theory school of thought is its emphasis on non-linear dynamics as the most fruitful approach to understanding the behavior of living systems, both in society and in nature.
(75-76) In sum, the information technology paradigm does not evolve toward its closure as a system, but toward its openness as a multi-edged network. It is powerful and imposing in its materiality, but adaptive and open-ended in its historical development. Comprehensiveness, complexity, and networking are its decisive qualities.
The New Economy: Informationalism, Globalization, Networking
(78) To be more precise: the products of new information technology industries are information-processing devices or information processing itself.
Productivity, Competitiveness, and the Informational Economy
The Productivity enigma
(79) On the basis of his calculations he [Robert Solow] contended that gross output per man doubled in the American private non-farm sector between 1909 and 1949. . . . Economists, sociologists, and economic historians, supporting Solow's intuition, did not hesitate to interpret the “residual” as being equivalent to technological change.
Is knowledge-based productivity specific to the informational
(84) Even if we account for the specificity of some countries, what appears clearly is that we observe a downward trend of productivity growth starting roughly around the same time that the information technology revolution took shape in the early 1970s.
(85) First, economic historians argue that a considerable time lag between technological innovation and economic productivity is characteristic of past technological revolutions.
(88) Until we develop a more accurate economic analysis of services, with its corresponding statistical apparatus, measuring productivity in many services is subject to considerable margins of error.
(88) The “services” category is a residual, negative notion, inducing analytical confusion.
(89) In sum, it may well be that a significant proportion of the mysterious productivity slowdown results from a growing inadequacy of economic statistics to capture movements of the new informational economy, precisely because of the broad scope of its transformation under the impact of information technology and related organizational change.
Informationalism and capitalism, productivity and
(94) Thus, firms will be motivated not by productivity, but by profitability, and growth of value of their stocks. . . . Profitability and competitiveness are the actual determinants of technological innovation and productivity growth.
Firms motivated by profitability and competitiveness; finding new markets the real challenge.
(95) But I propose the hypothesis that one strategy was implemented
earlier and with more immediate results: the broadening of markets
and the fight for market share. . . . While some short-term answers
to the profitability crisis focused on labor trimming and wage
attrition, the real challenge for individual firms and for capitalism
as a whole was to find new markets able to absorb a growing
productive capacity of goods and services.
(96) The global integration of financial markets since the early 1980s, made possible by new informational technologies, had a dramatic impact on the growing disassociation of capital flows from national economies.
(99) thus, the linkage path between information technology, organizational change, and productivity growth goes, to a large extent, through global competition. This is how firms' search for profitability and nations' mobilization toward competitiveness induced variable arrangements in the new historical equation between technology and productivity.
The historical specificity of informationalism
(100) This is why the economy is informational, not just information-based, because the cultural-institutional attributes of the whole social system must be included in the diffusion and implementation of the new technological paradigm, as the industrial economy was not merely based on the use of new sources of energy for manufacturing but on the emergence of an industrial culture, characterized by a new social and technical division of labor.
Symbol processing capacity used as direct productive force on an industrial scale.
(100) What has changed is not the kind of activities humankind is engaged in, but its technological ability to use as a direct productive force what distinguishes our species as a biological oddity: its superior capacity to process symbols.
The Global Economy:Structure, Dynamics, and Genesis
Difference between world economy and global enconomy is unit-operational capabilities (Bogost).
(101) A global economy is an historically new reality, distinct from a world economy. A world economy – that is, an economy in which capital accumulation proceeds throughout the world – has existed in the West at least since the sixteenth century, as Fernand Braudel and Immanuel Wallerstein have taught us. A global economy is something different: it is an economy with the capacity to work as a unit in real time, or chose time, on a planetary scale. . . . This globalized core includes financial markets, international trade, transnational production, and, to some extent, science and technology, and specialty labor.
Global financial markets
(104) A critical development in financial globalization is the staggering volume of currency trading, which conditions the exchange rate between national currencies, decisively undermining governments' autonomy in monetary and fiscal policies.
(104-105) They recombine value around the world and across time, thus generating market capitalization out of market capitalization. Some estimates put the market value of derivatives traded in 1997 at about $US 360 trillion, which would amount to 12 times the value of the global GDP. By linking together products traded in different markets, derivatives link the performance of these markets to their product valuation in any market.
(105) By rating securities, and sometimes entire national economies, according to global standards of accountability, they tend to assert common rules on markets around the world.
(106) Movements in financial markets are the result of a complex combination of market rules, business strategies, politically motivated policies, central banks' machinations, technocrats' ideology, crowd psychology, speculative maneuvering, and information turbulences of various origins. The ensuing flows of capital, in and out of specific securities, and specific markets, are transmitted throughout the world at the speed of light, although the impact of these movements is processed specifically (and unpredictably) by each market.
Globalization of markets for goods and services: growth and transformation of international trade
(107) Trade of manufactured goods represents the bulk of non-energy
international trade, in sharp contrast to the predominance of primary
commodities in earlier patterns of international trade.
Value added knowledge component.
(108) There is a deeper transformation in the structure of trade: the knowledge component of goods and services becomes decisive in terms of value added.
Globalization versus regionalization?
(111) That is, a global system of trade between trading areas, with increasing homogenization of customs within the area, while maintaining trade barriers vis-a-vis the rest of the world.
(111) Developments in the 1990s compel us to re-examine the regionalization thesis more thoroughly.
(114) So, on close examination, the configuration of the global economy at the turn of the century sharply departs from the regionalized structure that was hypothesized in the early 1990s.
Trading units of globalized markets are networks of firms rather than countries.
(115) Indeed, markets for goods and services are becoming increasingly globalized. But the actual trading units are not countries, but firms, and networks of firms.
The internationalization of production: multinational
corporations and international production networks
(119) Thus, a large share of what we measure as international trade is, in fact, a measure of cross-border production within the same production unit.
(121) In this sense, they are multinational rather than transnational corporations. That is, they have multiple national allegiances, rather than being indifferent to nationality and national contexts.
(121-122) Global production of goods and services, increasingly, is not performed by multinational corporations, but by transnational production networks, of which multinational corporations are an essential component, yet a component which could not operate without the rest of the network.
(122) multinational corporations are increasingly decentralized internal networks, organized in semi-autonomous units, according to countries, markets, processes, and products. Each one of these units links up with other semi-autonomous units of other multinationals, in the form of ad hoc strategic alliances.
Territorial spread of networks, Reich global web.
(122-123) Thus, dominant segments of most production sectors (either for goods or for services) are organized worldwide in their actual operating procedures, forming what Robert Reich labeled “the global web.” The production process incorporates components produced in many different locations by different firms, and assembled for specific purposes and specific markets in a new form of production and commercialization: high-volume, flexible, customized production. . . . What is fundamental in this web-like industrial structure is that it is territorially spread throughout the world, and its geometry keeps changing, as a whole and for each individual unit. In such a structure, the most important element for a successful managerial strategy is to position a firm (or a given industrial project) in the web in such a way as to gain competitive advantage for its relative position. Thus, the structure tends to reproduce itself and to keep expanding as competition goes on, so deepening the global character of the economy. For the firm to operate in such a variable geometry of production and distribution a very flexible form of management is required, a form that is dependent on the flexibility of the firm itself and on the access to communication and production technologies suited to this flexibility.
Informational production and selective globalization of science and technology
Knowledge is primarily open, but research agendas are driven by concerns of advanced countries.
(124-125) First of all, basic research, the ultimate source of
knowledge, is located, in overwhelming proportion, in research
universities and in the public research system around the world. . .
. This means that, with the important exception of military-related
research, the basic research system is open and accessible. . . .
Scientific research in our time is either global or ceases to be
scientific. Yet, while science is global, the practice of science is
skewed toward issues defined by advanced countries, as Jeffrey Sachs
has pointed out. . . . Problems which are critical for developing
countries, but offer little general, scientific interest, or do not
have a promising, solvent market, are neglected in research programs
and dominant countries.
(128) So, there has been, at the same time, a process of concentration of technological know-how in transnational production networks, and a much broader diffusion of this know-how around the world, as the geography of trans-border production networks becomes increasingly complex.
(129) The uneven development of science and technology de-localizes the logic of informational production from its country basis, and shifts it to multilocational, global networks.
(130) There is, increasingly, a process of globalization of specialty labor. That is, not only highly skilled labor, but labor which becomes in exceptionally high demand around the world and, therefore, will not follow the usual rules in terms of immigration laws, wages, or working conditions.
(131) A significant proportion of international migration is the result of wars and catastrophes, which displaced about 24 million refugees in the 1990s, particularly in Africa. . . . While capital is global, and core production networks are increasingly globalized, the bulk of labor is local. Only an elite specialty labor force, of great strategic importance, is truly globalized.
Labor forces are local, but migrations increasing.
(132) In sum, while most labor is not globalized, throughout the world, there is increasing migration, increasing multiethnicity in most developed societies, increasing international population displacement, and the emergence of a multilayered set of connections between millions of people across borders and across cultures.
The geometry of the global
economy: segments and networks
(132) it is not a planetary economy, albeit it has a planetary reach.
(134) The consequence of this concentration of resources, dynamism, and wealth in certain territories is the increasing segmentation of the world population, following the segmentation of the global economy, and ultimately leading to global trends of increasing inequality and social exclusion.
(134-135) Positions in the networks can be transformed over time, by revaluation or devaluation. This places countries, regions, and populations constantly on the move, which is tantamount to structurally induced instability. . . . The fall-out of the Asian crisis, of the Mexican crisis, of the Brazilian crisis, of the Russian crisis, shows the destructive power of volatility in the global economy. . . . While the informational economy shapes the entire planet, and in this sense it is indeed global, most people in the planet do not work for or buy from the informational, global economy. Yet all economic and social processes do relate to the structurally dominant logic of such an economy.
The political economy of
globalization: capitalist restructuring, information technology, and
(136) In 1985, the World Bank, failing to attract private investment in “Third World markets,” coined a new term: “emerging markets.” It signaled a new era of financial integration around the planet, as investors from everywhere sought opportunities of high return, discounting the high risk in the hope of government support in case of crisis for banks and currencies. The seeds of the 1990s' financial crises in Mexico, Asia, Russia, Brazil, and beyond were planted.
(137) Transnational production networks of goods and services relied on an interactive system of communication, and transmission of information to ensure feedback loops, and to set up coordination of decentralized production and distribution. . . . And, in the late 1990s, the Internet became the technological backbone of the new type of global business firm, the network enterprise.
(137) The decisive agents in setting up a new, global economy were governments, and, particularly, the governments of the wealthiest countries, the G-7, and their ancillary international institutions, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. Three interrelated policies created the foundations for globalization: deregulation of domestic economic activity (starting with financial markets); liberalization of international trade and investment; and privatization of publicly controlled companies (often sold to investors).
Interesting account of how governments, monetary funds, and trade organizations imposed pressure to adopt homogeneous rules of the game resulting in the open, global economy.
The mechanism to bring in the globalization process to most counties
in the world was simple: political pressure either through direct
government action or through imposition by the IMF/World Bank/WTO.
Only after economies were liberalized would global capital flow in.
The Clinton administration was in fact the true political globalizer,
particularly under the leader ship of Robert Rubin, former chairman
of Goldman & Sachs, and a Wall Street hand. . . . The
goal was the unification of all economies around a set of homogeneous
rules of the game,
so that capital, goods, and services could flow in and out, as
determined by the judgment of the markets.
(141) These policy recommendations (in fact, impositions) were based on pre-packaged adjustment policies, astonishingly similar to each other, whatever each country's specific conditions; they were, in fact, mass produced by orthodox neoclassical economists, mainly from the University of Chicago, Harvard, and MIT. By the end of the 1990s, the IMF was operating and advising adjustment policies in over 80 countries around the world.
(141) A similar logic in international trade was implemented through the World Trade Organization, established in 1994.
(142) This self-expanding logic, induced and enacted by governments and international finance and trade institutions, ended up linking the dynamic segments of most countries in the world in an open, global economy.
(143) When neo-liberalism, as the new ideology came to be known, spilled over its narrow-minded Reagan/Thatcher mold, it cast itself in a variety of expressions adapted to specific cultures, it quickly established a new ideological hegemony.
(14) In most instances, new leaders were elected as a result of a declining, or sometimes collapsing, economy, and they consolidated their power by substantially improving the country's economic performance.
(145) The ironic twist of political history is that the reformers who enacted globalization, all over the world, came mostly from the left, breaking with their pasts as supporters of government control of the economy.
(145) My argument is not that the financial world controls governments. It is in fact the contrary. For governments to manage economies in the new global context, they need personnel embodying the knowledge of daily survival in this brave new economic world.
(145-146) There is a fourth layer of explanation concerning the fatal attraction of governments to economic globalization: the personal interests of people in positions of decision-making power. . . . Certainly, the personal business interests of political personnel (legal or illegal) are a very old story, probably a constant of politics in recorded history. Yet, my argument here is more specific: it favors pro-globalization policies because it opens up a whole new world of opportunity. In many developing countries, it is in fact the only game in town, since access to the country is the main asset controlled by the political elites, enabling them to participate in the global networks of wealth.
(147) So, the global economy was politically constituted. . . . Once such a network is constituted, any node that disconnects itself is simply bypassed, and resources (capital, information, technology, goods, services, skilled labor) continue to flow in the rest of the network. Any individual decoupling from the global economy implies a staggering cost: the devastation of the economy in the short term, and the closing of access to sources of growth. Thus, within the value system of production/consumerism, there is no individual alternative for countries, firms, or people. . . . Once the global economy has been constituted, it is a fundamental feature of the new economy.
(147-148) The new economy emerged in a given time, the 1990s, a given space, the United States, and around/from specific industries, mainly information technology and finance, with biotechnology looming on the horizon.
(149) At the heart of new information technology industries are, and will increasingly be in the twenty-first century, the Internet-related firms.
(151) The speed of development of the new industry was without precedent: one-third of the 3,400 companies surveyed in 1999 did not exist in 1996. These new companies added by themselves over 300,000 jobs.
(152) As a result, the industry is flushed with cash, thus enjoying ample opportunity for innovation and entrepreneurship.
(152-153) The financial world was transformed in the 1990s by institutional change and technological innovation. . . . From 2000 onwards, banks, securities firms, and insurance companies in the United States can operate jointly or even merge operations in a single financial firm.
(153) Another major development was the process of financial disintermediation; that is, the direct relationships between investors and securities markets, bypassing traditional brokerage firms, on the basis of electronic communication networks.
(154) Electronic trading quickly spread from stocks to bonds.
Securitization liquidates all sources of value into common, tradable form.
all potential sources of value is the keystone of the new finance
industry. Almost everything can become a security, and be traded in
the financial market. Therefore, financial markets constitute the
strategic, dominant network of the new economy.
(156) But, overall, valuation of a given security does not directly relate to the issuing company's profitability in the short term. A strong indication of this sense is the absence of relationship between the distribution of dividends and the growth of value of stocks.
(159) in the new financial world whatever makes market value only lasts as long as this value remains in the market.
(159) This is not to say that all valuation is subjective. But the performance of companies, supply and demand, macro-economic indicators, interact with various sources of information in an increasingly unpredictable pattern, where valuation may be ultimately decided by random combinations of a multiplicity of factors recombining at increasing levels of complexity, as the speed and volume of transactions continues to accelerate.
(159) Expected growth value is the rule of thumb for investment in the new economy.
(160) Because within the logic of capitalism, creation of value does not need to be embodied in material production. Everything goes, within the rule of law, as long as a monetized surplus is generated, and appropriated by the investor. How and why this monetized surplus is generated is a matter of context and opportunity. . . . These is a growing decoupling between material production, in the old sense of the industrial era, and value making. Value making, under informational capitalism, is essentially a product of the financial market. But to reach the financial market, and to vie for higher value in it, firms, institutions, and individuals have to go through the hard labor of innovating, producing, managing, and image-making in goods and services.
The Network Enterprise: the Culture, Institutions, and Organizations of the Informational Economy
(164) It is the convergence and interaction between a new technological paradigm and a new organizational logic that constitutes the historical foundation of the informational economy.
Organizational Trajectories in the
Restructuring of Capitalism and in the Transition from Industrialism
(165) In a parallel analysis to the notion of technological trajectories, I propose to consider the development of different organizational trajectories, namely specific arrangements of systems of means oriented toward increasing productivity and competitiveness in the new technological paradigm and in the new global economy.
From mass production to flexible
(166) When demand became unpredictable in quantity and quality, when markets were diversified worldwide and thereby difficult to control, and when the place of technological change made obsolete single-purpose production equipment, the mass-production system became too rigid and too costly for the characteristics of the new economy.
(167) New technologies allow for the transformation of assembly lines characteristic of the large corporation into easy-to-program production units that can be sensitive to variations in the market (product flexibility) and in the changes of technological inputs (process flexibility).
Small business and the crisis of
the large corporation: myth and reality
(168) In fact, we must separate the argument concerning the shift of economic power and technological capability from the large corporation to small firms (a trend that, as Harrison argues, does not seem to be supported by empirical evidence) from the argument referring to the decline of the large, vertically integrated corporation as an organizational model.
(168) We are not witnessing the demise of powerful, large corporations, but we are indeed observing the crisis of the traditional corporate model of organization based on vertical integration, and hierarchical, functional management: the “staff and line” system of strict technical and social division of labor within the firm.
cooperation, multifunctional labor, total quality control, and
reduction of uncertainty
(169-170) To be able to generalize the method to the whole factory system, Japanese engineers studied the control procedures used in American supermarkets to assess stock on their shelves, so it could be argued that “just in time” is to some extent an American mass-production method, adapted to flexible management by using the specificity of Japanese firms, particularly the cooperative relationship between management and workers.
(170) “Toyotism” is a management system designed to reduce uncertainty rather than to encourage adaptability. The flexibility is in the process, not in the product.
(172) These are the multidirectional network model enacted by small and medium businesses and the licenseing-subcontracting model of production under an umbrella corporation.
(174) A sixth organizational pattern emerging in recent years refers to the intertwining of large corporations in what has come to be known as strategic alliances.
The horizontal corporation and global business networks
Project-oriented business model.
(177) Thus, the actual operating unit becomes the business project, enacted by a network, rather than individual companies or formal groupings of companies. . . . New information technologies are decisive in allowing such a flexible, adaptive model to actually work.
The crisis of the vertical
corporation model and the rise of business networks
(178) The web-like structure of strategic alliances between large corporations is different from the shift toward the horizontal corporation.
Networking the networks: the Cisco model
Virtuous circle of using IT to enhance IT especially relevant in Cisco example.
(181-182) Cisco applied to itself the networking logic it was selling to its customers. It organized in/around the Net all relationships with its customers, its suppliers, its partners and its employees, and, through excellent engineering, design, and software, it automated much of the interaction. . . . The core of Cisco Systems operation is its web site. . . . Only major contracts are dealt with in person. . . . By networking its operation internally and externally, using the equipment it designs and sells, Cisco Systems epitomizes the virtuous circle of the information technology revolution: the use of information technologies to enhance the technology of information, on the basis of organizational networking powered by information networks.
Information Technology and the Network Enterprise
Organizational change viewed in America as labor-saving and concentrating managerial control.
Most of the methods to involve workers, experimented with by
Japanese, Swedish, and American companies, required a change of
mentality rather than a change of machinery. . . . In the 1980s in
America, more often than not, new technology was viewed as a
labor-saving device and as an opportunity to take control of labor,
not as an instrument of organizational change.
(185) Thus, organizational change happened, independently of technological change, as a response to the need to cope with a constantly changing operational environment. Yet, once it started to take place, the feasibility of organizational change was extraordinarily enhanced by new information technologies.
(185) It was because of the networking needs of new organizations, large and small, that personal computers and computer networking underwent an explosive diffusion.
Network enterprise the new emergent organization form, outside of which survival increasingly difficult and people marginalized.
(187) Yet networks also act as gatekeepers. Inside the networks, new possibilities are relentlessly created. Outside the networks, survival is increasingly difficult. Under the conditions of fast technological change, networks, not firms, have become the actual operating unit. In other words, through the interaction between organizational crisis and change and new information technologies a new organizational form has emerged as characteristic of the informational, global economy: the network enterprise.
Network enterprise is material, productive instantiation of the informational culture; interesting illustrations of east Asian business networks that market logic is mediated by existing institutions and cultures.
specific form of enterprise whose system of means is constituted by
the intersection of segments of autonomous systems of goals.
. . . The performance of a given network will then depend on two
fundamental attributes of the network: its connectedness,
that is, its structural ability to facilitate noise-free
communication between its components; and its consistency,
that is, the extent to which there is a sharing of interests between
the network's goals and the goals of its components.
(188) In this sense, the network enterprise makes material the culture of the informational, global economy: it transforms signals into commodities by processing technology.
Culture, Institutions, and Economic
Organization: East Asian Business Networks
(188) This is tantamount to saying that the “market logic” is so deeply mediated by organizations, culture, and institutions that economic agents daring to follow an abstract market logic, as dictated by neoclassical economics orthodoxy, would be at a loss.
A typology of East Asian business networks
Culture, organizations, and institutions: Asian business networks and the developmental state
Enterprises, Transnational Corporations, and International
(206) The analysis of East Asian business networks shows the institutional/cultural production of organizational forms. But it also shows the limits of the market-driven theory of business organizations, ethnocentrically rooted in the Anglo-Saxon experience.
(208) My hypothesis is that, as the process of globalization progresses, organizational forms evolve from multinational enterprises to international networks, actually bypassing the so-called “transnationals” that belong more to the world of mythical representation (or self-serving image-making by management consultants) than to the institutionally bounded realities of the world economy.
Spirit of Informationalism
(210-211) Max Weber's classic essay on The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, originally published in 1904, still remains the methodological cornerstone of any theoretical attempt at grasping the essence of cultural/institutional transformations which in history usher in a new paradigm of economic organization.
(213) Yet, while all these elements are ingredients of the new developmental paradigm, they still lack the cultural glue that brings them together.
The network enterprise is constituted by business networks, technological tools, global competition and the state; what happens to human beings inhabiting it is the network replaces subjectivity as basic unit of economic organization, actor, agent.
(214) For the first time in history, the basic unit of economic organization is not a subject, be it individual (such as the entrepreneur, or the entrepreneurial family) or collective (such as the capitalist class, the corporation, the state). As I have tried to show, the unit is the network, made up of a variety of subjects and organizations, relentlessly modified as networks adapt to supportive environments and market structures.
Virtual culture Castells glimpsed is now instantiated, which he saw as networks replacing individual human consciousness as the locus of the bulk labor of intellection, where a lot of computing happens to substantiate thinking; invokes Schumpeter, seems like position held by Kittler, and leading towards Manovich.
(214-215) But there is indeed a common cultural code in the diverse workings of the network enterprise. . . . It is a multi-faceted, virtual culture, as in the visual experiences created by computers in cyberspace by rearranging reality. . . . The “spirit of informationalism” is the culture of “creative destruction” accelerated to the speed of the opto-electronic circuits that process its signals. Schumpeter meets Weber in the cyberspace of the network enterprise.
The Transformation of Work and Employment: Networkers, Jobless, and Flex-timers
Must separate structural logic of production system and social structure for evidence of a specific techno-economic paradigm inducing development of social structure; compare to Manovich analysis of media.
(222) Only if we start from the
analytical separation between the structural logic of the production
system of the informational society and its social structure can we
observe empirically if a specific techno-economic paradigm induces a
specific social structure and to what extent. . . . To do so, I have
followed the well-known typology of service employment constructed by
Singelmann more than 20 years ago. . . . I did find considerable
methodological difficulties in establishing equivalent categories
among different countries. . . . I have opted for using descriptive
statistics that would simply suggest lines of new theoretical
Low road choices versus Buckminster Fuller utopia.
(225) The new model of global production and management is tantamount to the simultaneous integration of work process and disintegration of the workforce. This model is not the inevitable consequence of the informational paradigm but the result of an economic and political choice made by governments and companies selecting the “low road” in the process of transition to the new, informational economy, mainly using productivity increases for short term profitability. These policies contrast sharply, in fact, with the possibilities of work enhancement and sustained, high productivity opened up by the transformation of the work process under the informational paradigm.
Core labor force of managers and Reich symbolic analysts directing disposable labor force.
(295-296) The prevailing model for labor in the new, information-based economy is that of a core labor force, formed by information-based managers and by those whom Reich calls “symbolic analysts,” and a disposable labor force that can be automated and/or hired/fired/offshored, depending upon market demand and labor costs.
The Culture of Real Virtuality: the Integration of Electronic Communication, the End of the Mass Audience, and the Rise of Interactive Networks
Technological transformation of computerized media yielding emergence of culture of real virtuality.
(356-358) A technological transformation of similar historic dimensions is taking place 2,700 years later, namely the integration of various modes o communication into an interactive network. . . . The potential integration of text, images, and sounds in the same system, interacting from multiple points, in chosen time (real or delayed) along a global network, in conditions of open and affordable access, does fundamentally change the character of communication. . . . Because culture is mediated and enacted through communication, cultures themselves – that is, our historically produced systems of beliefs and codes – become fundamentally transformed, and will be more so over time, by the new technological system. . . . Fortunately, while there is technological discontinuity, there is in history a great deal of social continuity that allows analysis of tendencies on the basis of the observation of trends that have prepared for the formation of the new system over the past two decades. . . . I argue that through the powerful influence of the new communication system, mediated by social interests, government policies, and business strategies, a new culture is emerging: the culture of real virtuality, whose content, dynamics, and significance will be presented and analyzed in the following pages.
From the Gutenberg Galaxy to the McLuhan Galaxy: the Rise of Mass Media Culture
The New Media and the Diversification of Mass Audience
Computer-mediated Communication, Institutional Control, Social Networks, and Virtual Communities
The Minitel story: l'etat et l'amour
The Internet constellation
The interactive society
Grand Fusion: Multimedia as Symbolic Environment
(397) Therefore, the possibility of the emergence of an integrated multimedia system in the early twenty-first century does exist. But its fully fledged development requires not only a huge investment in infrastructure and in programming content, but also clarification of the regulatory environment, still entangled in disputes between entrenched business interests, political constituencies, and government regulators. Under such conditions, only very powerful groups, resulting from alliances between media companies, communication operators, Internet service providers, and computer companies, will be in a position to master the economic and political resources necessary for the diffusion of multimedia. Thus, there will be a multimedia system but, in all likelihood, it will be decisively shaped by the commercial interests of a few major conglomerates around the world.
Accurate prediction? Consider Lessig. Need content.
Furthermore, the expectations of unlimited demand for entertainment
seem to be overstated and heavily influenced by the ideology of the
“leisure society.” . . . Indeed, most experts of the media
industry consider that the real bottleneck for the expansion of
multimedia is that content does not follow the technological
transformation of the system: the message is lagging the
(401-402) First, widespread social and cultural differentiation, leading to the segmentation of the users/viewers/readers/listeners.
(402) Secondly, increasing social stratification among the users.
(402) Thirdly . . . an integration of all messages in a common cognitive pattern.
Multimedia convergence of global hypertext, comparable to Kittler.
(403) Finally, perhaps the most important feature of multimedia is that they capture within their domain most cultural expressions, in all their diversity. . . . Every cultural expression, from the worst to the best, from the most elitist to the most popular, comes together in this digital universe that links up in a giant, non-historical hypertext, past, present, and future manifestations of the communicative mind. By so doing, they construct a new symbolic environment. They make virtuality our reality.
Culture of Real Virtuality
(403) Thus reality, as experienced, has always been virtual because it is always perceived through symbols that frame practice with some meaning that escapes their strict semantic definition.
Reality fully captured in multimedia medium, precession of simulacra: interesting Dan Quayle/Murphy Brown example, Aleph, Caprica V-World.
(404) It is a system in which reality itself (that is, people's material/symbolic existence) is entirely captured, fully immersed in a virtual image setting, in the world of make believe, in which appearances are not just on the screen through which experience is communicated, but they become the experience. All messages of all kinds become enclosed in the medium because the medium has become so comprehensive, so diversified, so malleable that it absorbs in the same multimedia text the whole of human experience, past, present, and future, as in that unique point of the Universe that Jorge Luis Borges called “Aleph.”
Docility designed into electronic communication systems; why it is important for philosophers to start thinking about and producing real virtualities, admitting cohabitation by human and machine intelligences in these virtual yet real worlds, especially with regard to who are the interacting and interacted.
Only presence in this integrated system permits communicability and
socialization of the message. All other messages are reduced to
individual imagination or to increasingly marginalized face-to-face
subcultures. From society's perspective, electronically
based communication (typographic, audiovisual, or computer-mediated)
. . . But the price to pay for inclusion in the system is to adapt to
its logic, to its language, to its points of entry, to its encoding
and decoding. . . . The setting of barriers to entry into this
communication system, and the creation of passwords for the
circulation and diffusion of messages throughout the system, are
critical cultural battles for the new society, the outcome of which
predetermines the fate of symbolically mediated conflicts to be
fought in this new historical environment. Who are the interacting
who are the interacted
the new system, to use the terminology whose meaning I suggested
above, largely frames the system of domination and the processes of
liberation in the informational society.
(406) The inclusion of most cultural expressions within the integrated communication system based in digitized electronic production, distribution, and exchange of signals has major consequences for social forms and processes. On the one hand, it weakens considerably the symbolic power of traditional senders external to the system, transmitting through historically encoded social habits: religion, morality, authority, traditional values, political ideology. . . . Societies finally and truly disenchanted because all wonders are on-line and can be combined into self-constructed image worlds.
Budding transformation of subjectivity in space of flows and timeless time, as well as foundation for emergence of non-human intelligence.
(406) On the other hand, the new communication system radically transforms space and time, the fundamental dimensions of human life. . . . The space of flows and timeless time are the material foundations of a new culture that transcends and includes the diversity of historically transmitted systems of representation: the cultural of real virtuality where make-believe is belief in the making.
The Space of Flows
From space and time considerations for human life, ponder the fundamental, material dimensions of machine life, questioning whether their deformation Castells described approaching the machinic other Bogost considers alien, or affecting human being (subjectivity, consciousness, soul), or both, for example if space is crystallized time for humans, what is the space of machine experience like?
(407) Space and time are the
fundamental, material dimensions of human life.
(407) Both space and time are being transformed under the combined effect of the information technology paradigm, and of social forms and processes induced by the current process of historical change, as presented in this book. However, the actual profile of this transformation sharply differs from common-sense extrapolations of technological determinism.
Advanced Services, Information
Flows, and the Global City
(415) But why must these advanced service systems still be dependent on agglomeration in a few large metropolitan nodes? . . . The cities, or rather, their business districts, are information-based, value-production complexes, where corporate headquarters and advanced financial firms can find both the suppliers and the highly skilled, specialized labor they require.
(417) The global city is not a place, but a process.
The New Industrial Space
(419-421) By milieu of innovation I understand a specific set of relationships of production and management, based on a social organization that by and large shares a work culture and instrumental goals aimed at generating new knowledge, new processes, and new products. . . . What defines the specificity of a milieu of innovation is its capacity to generate synergy; that is, the added value resulting not from the cumulative effect of the elements present in the milieu but from their interaction. Milieux of innovation are the fundamental sources of innovation and of generation of value added in the process of industrial production in the Information Age.
(421) However, some of the most important innovation centers of information technology manufacturing are indeed new, particularly in the world's technological leader, the United States.
(424) And as the logic of information technology manufacturing trickles down from the producers of information technology devices to the users of such devices in the whole realm of manufacturing, so the new spatial logic expands, creating a multiplicity of global industrial networks whose intersections and exclusions transform the very notion of industrial location from factory sites to manufacturing flows.
Everyday Life in the Electronic
Cottage: the End of Cities?
(425) By most reliable accounts, the first category, telecommuters stricto sensu employed regularly to work on-line from home, is very small overall, and is not expected to grow substantially in the foreseeable future. . . . On the other hand, what seems to be emerging is telecommuting from telecenters; that is, networked computer facilities scattered in the suburbs of metropolitan areas for workers to work on-line with their companies.
(427) Health services offer an even more interesting case of the emerging dialectics between concentration and centralization of people-oriented services.
Mistaken prediction that schools and universities will be least affected by virtual logic as many have vanished into virtual space.
(428) Schools and universities are paradoxically the institutions least affected by the virtual logic embedded in information technology, in spite of the foreseeable quasi-universal use of computers in the classrooms of advanced countries. But they will hardly vanish into virtual space.
Transformation of Urban Form: the Informational City
(429) I shall argue that, because of the nature of the new society, based upon knowledge, organized around networks, and partly made up of flows, the informational city is not a form but a process, a process characterized by the structural domination of the space of flows.
America's last suburban
(431) Thus, the profile of America's informational city is not fully represented by the Edge City [of Joel Garreau] phenomenon, but by the relationship between fast ex-urban development, inner-city decay, and obsolescence of the suburban built environment.
The fading charm of European
(432) The new managerial-technocratic-political elite does create exclusive spaces, as segregated and removed from the city at large as the bourgeois quarters of the industrial society, but, because the professional class is larger, on a much larger scale.
Space reterritorialized by field effect phenomena of networks creating baseless structures.
(433-434) There follows the separation between symbolic meaning, location of functions, and the social appropriation of space in the metropolitan area. This is the trend underlying the most important transformation of urban forms worldwide, with particular force in the newly industrializing areas: the rise of mega-cities.
Third millennium urbanization:
(434-435) Mega-cities cannot be seen only in terms of their size, but as a function of their gravitational power toward major regions of the world. . . . Yet what is most significant about mega-cities is that they are connected externally to global networks and to segments of their own countries, while internally disconnecting local populations that are either functionally unnecessary or socially disruptive. . . . A form that is characterized by the functional linkages it establishes across vast expanses of territory, yet with a great deal of discontinuity in land-use patterns.
(439) The southern China metropolis, still in the making, but a sure reality, is a new spatial form.
(440) Mega-cities are the nodal points, and the power centers of the new spatial form/process of the Information Age: the space of flows.
Social Theory of Space and the Theory of the Space of Flows
(441) Spatial forms and processes are formed by the dynamics of the overall social structure. This includes contradictory trends derived from conflicts and strategies between social actors playing out their opposing interests and values. Furthermore, social processes influence space by acting on the built environment inherited from previous socio-spatial structures. Indeed, space is crystallized time.
(441) What is space? In physics, it cannot be defined outside the dynamics of matter. In social theory, it cannot be defined without reference to social practices. This area of theorizing being one of my old trades, I still approach the issue under the assumption that “space is a material product, in relationship to other material products – including people – who engage in [historically] determined social relationships that provide space with a form, a function, and a social meaning.” . . . Thus, we have to define, at a general level, what space is, from the point of view of social practices; then, we must identify the historical specificity of social practices, for example those in the informational society that underlie the emergence and consolidation of new spatial forms and processes.
Using this definition of space for phenomena within real virtualities requires consideration of social practices of machines as well has human designers and users; this flip into the machine world seems reasonable if not compelling in the following articulation of the space of flows.
Relate space of flows to Berry streams as means of characterizing diachrony in synchrony.
From the point of view of social theory, space
is the material support of time-sharing social practices.
I immediately add that any material support bears always a symbolic
(442) Flows are not just one element of the social organization: they are the expression of processes dominating our economic, political, and symbolic life. . . . The space of flows is the material organization of time-sharing social practices that work through flows. By flows I understand purposeful, repetitive, programmable sequences of exchange and interaction between physically disjointed positions held by social actors in the economic, political, and symbolic structures of society.
First layer material support of space of flows constituted by circuit of electronic exchanges, the physical infrastructure of cyberspace.
(442-443) The first-layer, the first material support of the space of flows, is actually constituted by a circuit of electronic exchanges (micro-electronics-based devices, telecommunications, computer processing, broadcasting systems, and high-speed transportation – also based on information technologies) that, together, form the material basis for the processes we have observed as being strategically crucial in the network of society. . . . Thus, the network of communication is the fundamental spatial configuration: places do not disappear, but their logic and their meaning become absorbed in the network.
Nodes and hubs second layer of space of flows his sounds like a description of TCP/IP networking and rhizomes.
layer of space of flows is constituted by its nodes and hubs.
. . . Location in the node links up the locality with the whole
(444) The functions to be fulfilled by each network define the characteristics of places that become their privileged nodes.
(444) Each network defines its sites according to the functions and hierarchy of each site, and to the characteristics of the product or service to be processed in the network.
What is the machine equivalent of the spatial organization of managerial elites exemplifies how philosophy and traditional humanities research intersects and engages new media.
Third layer of space of flows is spatial organization of managerial elites.
important layer of the space of flows refers to the spatial
organization of the dominant, managerial elites (rather
than classes) that exercise the directional functions around which
such space is articulated.
(446) Articulation of the elites, segmentation and disorganization of the masses seem to be the twin mechanisms of social domination in our society. Space plays a fundamental role in this mechanism. In short: elites are cosmopolitan, people are local. The space of power and wealth is projected throughout the world, while people's life and experience is rooted in places, in their culture, in their history.
(446-447) On the other hand, the elites form their own society, and constitute symbolically secluded communities, retrenched behind the very material barrier of real-estate pricing. They define their community as a spatially bound, interpersonally networked subculture. I propose the hypothesis that the space of flows is made up of personal micro-networks that project their interests in functional macronetworks throughout the global set of interactions in the space of flows. . . . From the pinnacles of power and their cultural centers, a series of symbolic socio-spatial hierarchies is organized, so that lower levels of management can mirror the symbols of power and appropriate such symbols by constructing second-order spatial communities that will also tend to isolate themselves from the rest of society, in a succession of hierarchical segregation processes that, together, are tantamount to social-spatial fragmentation.
(447) A second major trend of cultural distinctiveness of the elites in the informational society is to create a lifestyle and to design spatial forms aimed at unifying the symbolic environment of the elite around the world, thus superseding the historical specificity of each locale. . . . Furthermore, there is an increasingly homogeneous lifestyle among the information elite that transcends the cultural borders of all societies. . . . All these are symbols of an international culture whose identity is not linked to any specific society but to membership of the managerial circles of the informational economy across a global cultural spectrum.
Postmodern architecture for space of flows; can this likewise describe phenomena in computer networks, for which the primary comportment is a culture of electronic surfing, invoking today Second Life, gaming communities, and other social networks?
(448) Paradoxically, the attempt by postmodern architecture to break the molds and patterns of architectural discipline has resulted in an overimposed postmodern monumentality which became the generalized rule of new corporate headquarters from New York to Kaoshiung during the 1980s. Thus, the space of flows includes the symbolic connection of each network across the world, so that architecture escapes from the history and culture of each society and becomes captured into the new imaginary, wonderland world of unlimited possibilities that underlies the logic transmitted by multimedia: the culture of electronic surfing, as if we could reinvent all forms in any place, on the sole condition of leaping into the cultural indefinition of the flows of power. The enclosure of architecture into an historical abstraction is the formal frontier of the space of flows.
The Architecture of the End of History
Begins architecture of the end of history section with Bofill quote Nomada, sigo siendo un nomada; thinking of Deleuze nomadism, welcome to the desert of the real, for social analysis of built environment.
Panosfky on Gothic cathedrals, Tafuri on American skyscrapers,
Venturi on the surprisingly kitsch American city, Lynch on the city
images, Harvey on postmodernism as the expression of time/space
compression by capitalism, are some of the best illustrations of an
intellectual tradition that has used the forms of the built
environment as one of the most signifying codes to read the basic
structures of society's dominant values.
(449) Because the spatial manifestation of the dominant interests takes place around the world, and across cultures, the uprooting of experience, history, and specific culture as the background of meaning is leading to the generalization of ahistorical, acultural architecture.
(449) Yet, in fact what most postmodernism does is to express, in almost direct terms, the new dominant ideology: the end of history and the supersession of places in the space of flows.
(450) The meaning of its messages will be lost in the culture of “surfing” that characterizes our symbolic behavior. This is why, paradoxically, the architecture that seems most charged with meaning in societies shaped by the logic of the space of flows is what I call “the architecture of nudity.” That is, the architecture whose forms are so neutral, so pure, so diaphanous, that they do not pretend to say anything.
of Flows and Space of Places
(453) A place is a locale whose form, function, and meaning are self-contained within the boundaries of physical contiguity. A place, to illustrate my argument, is the Parisian quartier of Belleville.
Displays figures of street layouts and land use of Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona, and a business complex in Irvine, California to illustrate self-contained, functional spaces.
(456) In Belleville, its dwellers, without loving each other, and while certainly not being loved by the police, have constructed throughout history a meaningful, interacting space, with a diversity of uses and a wide range of functions and expressions. They actively interact with their daily physical environment. In between home and the world, there is a place called Belleville.
Structural schizophrenia while physical realities and real virtualities compete for locus of interest, and therefore affecting the nature of subjectivity.
(458-459) Experience, by being related to places, becomes abstracted from power, and meaning is increasingly separated from knowledge. There follows a structural schizophrenia between two spatial logics that threatens to break down communication channels in society. The dominant tendency is toward a horizon of networked, ahistorical space of flows, aiming at imposing its logic over scattered, segmented places, increasingly unrelated to each other, less and less able to share cultural codes. Unless cultural, political, and physical bridges are deliberately built between these two forms of space, we may be heading toward life in parallel universes whose times cannot meet because they are warped into different dimensions of a social hyperspace.
The Edge of Forever: Timeless Time
(460) We are embodied in time, and so are our societies, made out of history. . . . All time, in nature as in society, seems to be specific to a given context: time is local.
History, and Society
(463) Contemporary societies are still by and large dominated by the notion of clock time, a mechanical/categorical discovery that E. P. Thompson, among others, considers to be critical to the constitution of industrial capitalism.
(465) The transformation is more profound: it is the mixing of tenses to create a forever universe, not self-expanding but self-maintaining, not cyclical but random, not recursive but incursive: timeless time, using technology to escape the contexts of its existence, and to appropriate selectively any value each context could offer to the ever-present.
(465) What I call timeless time is only the emerging, dominant form of social time in the network society, as the space of flows does not negate the existence of places. It is precisely my argument that social domination is exercised through the selective inclusion and exclusion of functions and people in different temporal and spatial frames.
as the Source of Value: the Global Casino
(465-466) For the first time in history, a unified global capital market, working in real time, has emerged. . . . Favored by deregulation, disintermediation, and the opening of domestic financial markets, powerful computer programs and skillful financial analysts/computer wizards, sitting at the global nodes of a selective telecommunications network, play games, literally, with billions of dollars. The main card room in this electronic casino is the currency market. . . . It is the speed of the transaction, sometimes automatically preprogrammed in the computer to make quasi-instantaneous decisions, that generates the gain – or the loss. But it is also the time circularity of the process, a relentless sequence of buying and selling, that characterizes the system. . . . The very process of marketing future development affects these developments, so that the time-frame of capital is constantly dissolved into its present manipulation after being given a fictitious value for the purpose of monetizing it. Thus capital not only compresses time: it absorbs it, and lives out of (that is, generates rent) its digested seconds and years.
(467) The annihilation and manipulation of time by electronically managed global capital markets are at the source of new forms of devastating economic crises, looming into the twenty-first century.
and the Network Enterprise
(467) Instead, skilled labor is required to manage its own time in a flexible manner.
(468) Only the networked form of organization and increasingly powerful and mobile information-processing machines are able to ensure the flexible management of time as the new frontier of high-performance firms. Under such conditions time is not only compressed; it is processed.
Shrinking and Twisting of Life Working Time
(468-470) More specifically, in modern societies, paid working time structures social time.
Technological reintegration of distributed worker efforts undermines structuring capacity of working time over everyday life, blurring life cycle toward social arrhythmia.
(472) The technological ability to reintegrate in a network of stored
information contributions from various workers at various times
induces the constant variation of the actual time of work
performance, undermining the structuring capacity of working time
over everyday life.
(473) Such diversity ends up, in fact, being measured in terms of each worker's and each job's differential capacity to manage time.
(475) Unless the basis of calculation for social benefits is modified through a new social contract, the shrinking of valuable working time and the accelerated obsolescence of labor will bring to an end the institutions of social solidarity, ushering in the age wars.
Blurring of the Life-cycle: Toward Social Arrhythmia?
(476) I propose the hypothesis that the network society is characterized by the breaking down of the rhythms, either biological or social, associated with the notion of a life-cycle.
(476) While old age was once considered a homogeneous last stage of life, in fact dominated by “social death,” as demonstrated in the French study that Anne Marie Guillemard conductued many years ago with my collaboration, it is now a highly diverse universe, made up of early retirees, average retirees, able elders, and elders with various degrees and forms of disability.
(476) Simultaneously, this relationship is being called into question at the other end: reproduction is coming under increasing control around the world.
(480) It is very simple: they lead to the final blurring of the biological foundation of the life-cycle concept. . . . These are growing social trends, whose technological and cultural diffusion seems unstoppable, except under conditions of a new theocracy. And their direct implication is another form of the annihilation of time, of human biological time, of the time rhythm by which our species has been regulated since its origin.
Cynical view of the denial of death and war.
(481-482) Although the matrix of this attempt lies in the rationalist
belief in almighty progress, it is the extraordinary breakthroughs in
medical technology and biological research in the past two decades
that provide a material basis for the oldest aspiration of humankind:
to live as if death did not exist, in spite of its being our only
certainty. By so doing, the ultimate subversion of the life-cycle is
accomplished, and life becomes this flat landscape punctuated by
chosen moments of high and low experiences, in the endless boutique
of customized feelings. . . . Because we are so close to unveiling
the secrets of life, two major trends have diffused from the medical
sciences toward the rest of the society: obsessive prevention, and
the fight to the end.
(482) This perverted use of medical research is particularly pathetic when contrasted to the indifference of health insurance companies and mainstream business toward primary care and occupational safety.
(484) In spite of some limited movements in defense of humane hospices for terminally ill patients, and even more limited tendencies toward bringing the dying back home, our last episode is increasingly sanitized, and our loved ones do not have the courage to object: it is too messy, too dirty, too painful, too inhuman, too degrading in fact.
(484) By separating death from life, and by creating the technological system to make this belief last long enough, we construct eternity in our life span.
(486) Well-trained, well-equipped, full-time, professional armed forces do not require the involvement of the population at large in the war effort, except for viewing and cheering from their living rooms a particularly exciting show, punctuated with deep patriotic feelings. . . . Most importantly, communications and electronic weapons technology allow for devastating strikes against the enemy in extremely brief time spans.
Advanced technological warfare affects temporality, although thwarted by war on terror.
(487) Massive destruction, or a quick demonstration of its
possibility, in minimum time seems to be the accepted strategy to
fight advanced wars in the Information Age.
(487) However, this military strategy can only be pursued by dominant technological powers, and it contrasts sharply with numerous, endless internal and international violent conflicts that have plagued the world since 1945. This temporal difference in war-making is one of the most striking manifestations of the difference in temporality that characterizes our segmented global system, a theme on which I shall elaborate below.
(488-489) Under the new warfare temporality, induced by the convergence of technology and the pressure from civil societies in advanced countries, it seems likely that the war will recede to the background of these dominant societies, to flare up from time to time in a sudden reminder of human nature.
(489) This acceleration of time by cohabitation with death, regularly experienced by generation after generation for most of human history, is now over in some societies.
(490) It is precisely the asymmetry of various countries in their relationship to power, wealth, and technology that determines different temporalities, and particularly the time of their warfare.
(491) The transformation of war ushers in new forms of violent conflict, terrorism being foremost among them.
(491) The culture of real virtuality associated with an electronically integrated multimedia system, as argued in chapter 5, contributes to the transformation of time in our society in two different forms: simultaneity and timelessness.
Non-sequential time of cultural products based on desire and computability, thus timeless; connect to Manovich development of the history of cinema into new media software and Kittler.
(492) The timelessness of multimedia's hypertext is a decisive feature of our culture, shaping the minds and memories of children educated in the new cultural context. History is first organized according to the availability of visual material, then submitted to the computerized possibility of selecting seconds of frames to be pieced together, or split apart, according to specific discourses. School education, media entertainment, special news reports, or advertising organize temporality as it fits, so that the overall effect is a non-sequential time of cultural products available from the whole realm of human experience. . . . By so doing, the whole ordering of meaningful events loses its internal, chronological rhythm, and becomes arranged in time sequences depending upon the social context of their utilization. Thus, it is a culture at the same time of the eternal and of the ephemeral.
(493) The eternal/ephemeral time of the new culture does fit with the
logic of flexible capitalism and with the dynamics of the network
society, but it adds its own, powerful layer, installing individual
dreams and collective representations in a no-time mental
(493) Assuming, as I do, that New Age is the classical music of our epoch, and observing its influence in so many different contexts but always among the same social groups, it can be suggested that the manipulation of time is the recurrent theme of new cultural expressions. A manipulation obsessed with the binary reference to instantaneity and eternity: me and the universe, the self and the Net.
Time, Space, and Society: the Edge of Forever
Need to consider impact of timeless time on phenomenology.
For the sake of my exploration, I find it helpful to call upon
Leibniz, for whom time is the order of succession of “things,” so
that without “things” there would be no time. . . . I propose the
idea that timeless
as I label the dominant temporality of our society, occurs
when the characteristics of a given context, namely, the
informational paradigm, and the network society, induce systemic
perturbation in the sequential order of phenomena performed in that
. . . Elimination of sequencing creates undifferentiated time, which
is tantamount to eternity.
(494-495) However, this characterization does not refer to all time in human experience. In fact, in our world, most people and most spaces live in a different temporality.
(495) Timeless time belongs to the space of flows, while time discipline, biological time, and socially determined sequencing characterize places around the world, materially structuring and destructuring our segmented societies. Space shapes time in our society, thus reversing an historical trend: flows induce timeless time, places are time-bounded.
(497) The dominant trend in our society displays the historical revenge of space, structuring temporality in different, even contradictory logics according to spatial dynamics.
(499) Between subdued temporalities and evolutionary nature the network society rises on the edge of forever.
Conclusion: the Network Society
Why not learn TCP/IP as the basic expression of networks today?
Networks constitute the new social morphology of our societies, and
the diffusion of networking logic substantially modifies the
operation and outcomes in processes of production, experience, power,
and culture. . . . the power of flows takes precedence over the flows
(501) A network is a set of interconnected nodes. A node is the point at which a curve intersects itself. . . . The inclusion/exclusion in networks, and the architecture of relationships between networks, enacted by light-speed-operating information technologies, configure dominant processes and functions in our societies.
Faceless collective capitalist of the networked financial flows replaces sovereign.
(505) Thus, above a diversity of
human-flesh capitalists and capitalist groups there is a faceless
collective capitalist, made up of financial flows operated by
(508) The new social order, the network society, increasingly appears to most people as a meta-social disorder. Namely, as an automated, random sequence of events, derived from the uncontrollable logic of markets, technology, geopolitical order, or biological determination.
(508) We are just entering a new stage in which culture refers to culture, having superseded nature to the point that nature is artificially revived (“preserved”) as a cultural form: this is in fact the meaning of the environmental movement, to reconstruct nature as an ideal cultural form.
Castells, Manuel. The Rise of the Network Society. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2000. Print.