Unlike predictions, ‘networks’ are on their way out. The reason for this is the unprecedented concentration of money, power, and infrastructures in the hands of a few monopoly players. Instead of ‘social networks’ we speak of ‘social media’, and that is no coincidence. In fact, ‘network theory’ has followed this trend for some time and has been in relative decline for longer than we might be aware. We can consider the 1990s the golden period of network theory, dominated by a scientific-mathematical method (Barabasi, Watts) and also a social science approach (Castells). Since the crisis of the rhizomatic and productivist Deleuze and the subsequent rise of ‘dark Deleuze’ (Culp), the question has become: why connect, if machines will connect us regardless?
So here is what I wrote as an abstract for a talk on April 14, 2015. It was hosted by the fabulous Digital Cultures Research Lab and took place at the Stadtarchiv of Lüneburg.
My talk is going to present some preliminary thoughts on the notion of “boundary objects” in digital infrastructures. I am going to reconsider the relation “networks” and “platforms” from a network historical and STS point of view. The “Internet of Things” is actually fairly old, if confronted with earlier special purpose digital networks. But how may we speculate already on its remediating qualities in terms of new objecthood, networked agencies, and platform regulations?
I always wanted to refurbish the slides which I had written with the LaTeX beamer class for a change. But now we have got the audiovisual documentary – splendid. Huge thanks to all the great people at DCRL! (And I still have to rework the slides at some point).
The Swiss Federal Archives have been publishing a video documentation of their „ICT@Admin“ conference. I had the privilege of being a part of this, so I include the video and abstract of my talk here. A complete documentation is also online, and the overall YouTube playlist is highly recommended.
CREDIT CARD MOBILITIES (Sebastian Gießmann, Siegen, March 26 2015)
The talk sketches out a praxeological history of the credit card, with an emphasis on its mediating qualities and operational status within bureaucratical frameworks. Temporal borrowing via credit card is regarded as a highly dynamic social technology that produces emergent topologies through distributed mobile payments. The formative years of the American credit card (1950-1975) are analyzed along with approaches from ethnomethodology (Harold Garfinkel) and actor network theory (Michel Callon). Cooperative media practices are key to understanding the relation between the administrative handling of „accounts“ and emerging social networks. This includes (1) Dining, traveling, and charging, (2) Accounting for trust and credit, (3) Mass mailing and advertising new ways of payment, (4) Building „co-opetitive“ platforms for networks and (5), the digital momentum of credit cards as immutable mobiles.