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The Exploit: A Theory of Networksby Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker
Synopses & Reviews
“The Exploit is that rare thing: a book with a clear grasp of how networks operate that also understands the political implications of this emerging form of power. It cuts through the nonsense about how 'free' and 'democratic' networks supposedly are, and it offers a rich analysis of how network protocols create a new kind of control. Essential reading for all theorists, artists, activists, techheads, and hackers of the Net.” —McKenzie Wark, author of A Hacker Manifesto
The network has become the core organizational structure for postmodern politics, culture, and life, replacing the modern era’s hierarchical systems. From peer-to-peer file sharing and massive multiplayer online games to contagion vectors of digital or biological viruses and global affiliations of terrorist organizations, the network form has become so invasive that nearly every aspect of contemporary society can be located within it.
Borrowing their title from the hacker term for a program that takes advantage of a flaw in a network system, Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker challenge the widespread assumption that networks are inherently egalitarian. Instead, they contend that there exist new modes of control entirely native to networks, modes that are at once highly centralized and dispersed, corporate and subversive.
In this provocative book-length essay, Galloway and Thacker argue that a whole new topology must be invented to resist and reshape the network form, one that is as asymmetrical in relationship to networks as the network is in relation to hierarchy.
Alexander R. Galloway is associate professor of culture and communications at New York University and the author of Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture (Minnesota, 2006) and Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization.
Eugene Thacker is associate professor of new media at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the author of Biomedia (Minnesota, 2004) and The Global Genome: Biotechnology, Politics, and Culture.
Book News Annotation:
The world is increasingly organized around the form of the network, argue Galloway (culture and communication, New York U.) and Thacker (new media, Georgia Institute of Technology), in politics, in social relations, in communications, etc., but they warn that networks are by no means inherently egalitarian, as some have theorized. Networks instead exhibit entirely new forms of material, non-human control. They theoretically explore the operation of network power, especially in its variant of American empire, and theorize future means of resistance. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The publication examines the transdisciplinary actuality and genealogy of dynamic, locally defined networks. It stems from sociologist Thomas Schellingand#8217;s research on housing segregation in major US-American cities as a historical case study for its concept of Neighborhood Technologies. Henceforward, neighborhoods constituted a new research paradigm in which the complex macro-behaviors of a system and the non-linear dynamics of social collectives are generatively and procedurally put forth by rigidly defined microscopic neighborhood relations. Neighborhood technologies thus depict an intermediate or meso-range for the linkage of single local agents with the overall global dynamics of social networks in many different scientific disciplines and#8211; from Sociology to Biology, to Ecomomics and Logistics, or to Robotics or Neurology. The volume questions neighborhood principles on four levels: 1) How do local neighborhood relations affect global collective behaviors; what relations emerge between micro- and macro-perspectives? 2) How, when, and why have complex networks and their relations been built on local neighborhoods and and#8220;generatedand#8221; instead of being and#8220;designedand#8221; or and#8220;constructedand#8221;? 3) How do neighborhood technologies operate as a and#8220;social principleand#8221;? 4) How do Neighborhood Technologies initiate novel scientific neighborhoods?
The book comprises contributions from Computer Science, Mathematics, Mathematical Sociology, Media and Culture Studies, Theater Studies, and Architecture. It explicitly endeavors to bridge the traditional gap between the and#8220;two culturesand#8221; (C.P. Snow) by its careful selection of scientists from the Natural Science with a transdisciplinary mindset, and techno-savvy researchers from the Humanities.
Neighborhood Technologies expands upon sociologist Thomas Schellingand#8217;s well-known study of segregation in major American cities, using this classic work as the basis for a new way of researching social networks across many different disciplines. Up to now, research has focused on macro-level behaviors that, together, form rigid systems of neighborhood relations. But can neighborhoods conversely affect larger, global dynamics? What relationships can be found between micro- and macro- perspectives?
To answer these and related questions, this volume introduces the concept of and#147;neighborhood technologiesand#8221; as a model for intermediate, or meso-level, research into the links between local agents and neighborhood relations. Bridging the gap between the sciences and humanities, Tobias Harks and Sebastian Vehlken have assembled a group of contributors who are either natural scientists with an interest in interdisciplinary research or technology-savvy humanists. With insights into computer science, mathematics, sociology, media and cultural studies, theater studies, and architecture, the book will inform new research.
About the Author
Alexander R. Galloway is associate professor of media studies at New York University and lives in New York, NY. He is the author of four books on digital media and critical theory, most recently The Interface Effect.
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