Monday, March 01, 2010

Wanted: a French poet walking a lobster

From a fine piece by Mark Andrejevic*, THIN-SLICED THOUGHTS AND THEORY’S ENDS:
The very notion that one is free to choose not only one’s opinions but also one’s facts relies upon a breakdown in the notion of any guarantee of a consistent, knowable world. ...

One is free to choose one’s own opinions and facts in a world wherein all representations are understood as debunkable contrivances.

(big snip)

It is perhaps not surprising, then, that the “investment arm” of the CIA, an organization called In-Q-Tel, has already provided backing for a sentiment analysis company called Visible Technologies, as “part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using ‘open source intelligence’” (Shachtman, 2009). The modulation of affect is what might be described as a convergent strategy—a management mode that lends itself to the realms of politics, policing, and marketing alike. Whether or not it turns out to be a successful strategy, it gestures in the direction of a different way of thinking about information—not as the raw material of rational-critical understanding and not as contributing to an ongoing process of deliberation based on an evidentiary, representational view of the world (one in which facts tell us about something beyond themselves). In this regard, the strategy undermines the very premises upon which important aspects of the political version of the information revolution were based: the creation of an informed citizenry and increased state and corporate accountability. ...

It is a shift that calls for a two-fold counter-strategy: the development of a means for recognizing a debunked but unsurpassed symbolic efficiency and a critique of the commercial capture and privatization of the information infrastructure. ... information is collected without its use being subject to scrutiny; targeting strategies remain opaque along with the priorities and algorithms that guide them.

The whole article by Andrejevic is worth a read, as it very much concerns how to impede, resist the FAST collapse of the symbolic into the unreal. This last bit is touched on in something I wrote after attending the FASTforward 08 conference. The manipulation or even creation of affective states is very much an on the fly, mobile sort of thing. Perfect for tweeterz.

Before we got to rapid mobile manipulation, there was the more deliberate pace of the flaneur.

It should be noted that since that conference, FAST, the Norwegian search firm, was acquired by Microsoft and now consults with the NY Times etc.

*via humorzo

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