Friday, April 01, 2005

Blogs: Spaces For Capital?

For years now there has been overheated talk about the revolutionary impact of information and communications technology - including the internet - on every facet of society. To read some commentators (I'm thinking of people like Castells here) you would think that the very future of humankind is harnessed to the promises of ICT. We are told endlessly - by policymakers, business leaders, scholars, activists, bloggers - that we have already entered a new age, driven by the transformative power of information. The possibilities on offer in this brave new world are seemingly without restriction, presaging a new way of living and a qualitatively different social world.

Most academic and policy commentary on the informational age turns, naturally, on its significance for the so-called "new economy" and the magic bullets of innovation, technology, knowledge accumulation and networked enterprises. But the ICT exuberance goes much further than this. All is flux: from democracy and identity to power and social space, from personal freedom and individual lifestyles to collective security and the public sphere. In the more utopian readings of these processes, a global civil society has been spawned that spins new webs of connectivity and contestation. It seems that we can all reap the rewards of burgeoning information and, at the same time, reshape the concepts, political imagination and agendas of the new age.

I think the time is ripe for a much more sceptical reappraisal of these claims - raising some hard and critical queries about what is really happening, and that is what I propose to do over a series of posts in the coming weeks. To me, at least, there is a great deal of tendentious nonsense in circulation. Most of it is intellectually slight and analytically inept on nearly every count.

Let's consider for a moment the claims of a new "informational democracy" appropriate to the networked age. Some of these claims are relatively modest and plausible. The relative ease of access to new information for some is a reality. Internet connectivity is an important tool for campaigning on issues that may not otherwise possess their contemporary prominence. Blogs offer spaces for a real exchange of ideas and have expanded, marginally, the public sphere of debate. I would accept all of this without demur.

But when we come to some of the more grandiloquent claims of the "internet galaxy" then I think that we should pause for thought. Castells has argued that "the power of flows takes precedence of the flows of power". According to information society utopians like him, the logic of being networked, being connected, being switched on, trumps the specific social interests and structural power expressed through the networks. This then underpins what Castells sees as a powerful surge of new "resistance identities" which provide the basis for networked political contestation, of which blogs are an exemplar. Empirically, at the very least, this is premature. Even beyond the self-evident digital divide - billions of people are obviously switched off - what actually characterises much of the public sphere of debate is what Herbert Schiller long ago called "manipulative garbage information". At the same time I think we should be cautious about attributing even modest politicial or policy change to the spirit of informationalism or the technology of connectivity.

But there are more substantive objections to this kind of utopianism. The partially networked, informational society is not a new form of transcendant capitalism without an identifiable capitalist class, as Castells would have it. Nearly twenty-five years ago Herbert Schiller had this to say about the political economy of information:
Long prevailing imperatives of a market economy remain as determining as ever in the transformations occurring in the technological and informational sphere.
What was true then is even more the case today. The primacy of business imperatives constitute the overwhelming logic of information and its attendant technologies. Capitalist businesses themselves recognise this logic and adapt accordingly. A lot has been written recently of so-called corporate blogs. And the headline of an FT article ealier this week says it all: "Advertisers can no longer resist blogs". This doesn't seem to me much like a new politics of resistance. Rather it is about finding a space in the interstices of the system. Now many may argue that this is better than nothing or that such a self-limiting political project is all that is possible. Fine, and then that's all internet utopians should claim.

Under the deluge of technocratic commentary it is seems important to me to "bring capitalism back into the equation" - as a necessary starting-point for thinking seriously about what kinds of politics is emerging and what this portends for progressive struggles. At the moment I remain deeply sceptical that very much at all has changed. The use of the new information technologies, and the proliferation of blogs of which they are a part, do not in themselves mean that citizens are actually deciding about the shape and course of their social existence. I doubt, too, that anything like a real, rooted community exists via the internet. It is far more likely that the new information networks are also, and at the same time, structures of capitalist control that channel and coerce people's lives into delimited forms of market dependence. But, as I said earlier, this kind of criticism of technological fixes should not be the end point of debate but the start of new thinking about possible political alternatives. If much of what passes for the so-called information society today has emerged from deliberate policy choices in the interests of capital, then just as surely they can also be challenged.

23 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Connectivity and exclusion are the same side of the same capitalist coin. - the A-Bomb

5:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$200 Bucks It Is...
A guy goes over to his friend's house, rings the bell, and the wife answers.

" Hi, is Tony home?"

" No, he went to the store."

"Well, you mind if I wait?"

" No, come in."
[url=http://number-one-adult.org][img]http://fatal-job.org/1.gif[/img][/url]
[url=http://number-one-oral-sex.org][img]http://fatal-job.org/1.gif[/img][/url]
[url=http://number-one-lesbian.org][img]http://fatal-job.org/1.gif[/img][/url]
[url=http://number-one-homosexual.org][img]http://fatal-job.org/1.gif[/img][/url]
[url=http://number-one-anal-sex.org][img]http://fatal-job.org/1.gif[/img][/url]
[url=http://number-one-xxx.org][img]http://fatal-job.org/1.gif[/img][/url]
[url=http://number-one-sex.org][img]http://fatal-job.org/1.gif[/img][/url]
[url=http://number-one-pussy.org][img]http://fatal-job.org/1.gif[/img][/url]
[url=http://number-one-breast.org][img]http://fatal-job.org/1.gif[/img][/url]
[url=http://number-one-ass.org][img]http://fatal-job.org/1.gif[/img][/url]
They sit down and the friend says "You know Nora, you have the greatest breasts I have ever seen. I'd give you a hundred bucks if I could just see one."

Nora thinks about this for a second and figures what the hell - a hundred bucks. She opens her robe and shows one. He promptly thanks her and throws a hundred bucks on the table.

They sit there a while longer and Chris says "They are so beautiful I've got to see the both of them. I'll give you another hundred bucks if I could just see the both of them together."

Nora thinks about this and thinks what the hell, opens her robe, and gives Chris a nice long look. Chris thanks her, throws another hundred bucks on the table, and then says he can't wait any longer and leaves.

A while later Tony arrives home and his wife says "You know, your weird friend Chris came over. "

Tony thinks about this for a second and says "Well did he drop off the 200 bucks he owes me?"
[url=http://http://phenne.blogspot.com]phentermine[/url]

3:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info, very much appreciated. Its a little to digest but will keep reading.
- anystreetcorner.blogspot.com 8
07 car civic honda
buy used car
car undefined used
used car bergen
used car oakland
used car greensboro
used car raleigh
used car killeen
used car vallejo
used car tacoma

3:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[b][url=http://cheap-car-insurance.quickfreehost.com] aig car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://seoguide.ws] car insurance quote online uk [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://nutritionguide.ws] in car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://affiliaterevenueguide.ws] free car insurance quote [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://careeremploymentguide.com] allstate car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://fitnessequipmentguide.net] mercury car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://inetmarketingguide.ws] low car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://interiordecorguide.ws] general car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://landscapingguide.ws] low car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://mortgageguide.ws] online auto insurance quote [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://personalfinanceguide.ws] car insurance quote uk [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://trafficbuildingguide.net] car insurance chicago [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://vacationrentalsguide.ws] tesco car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://wealthbuildingguide.net] agent car company home insurance life quote rate [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://progressive-car-insurance.wealthbuildingguide.net] car insurance chicago [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://compare-car-insurance.vacationrentalsguide.ws] aa car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://cheapest-car-insurance.trafficbuildingguide.net] texas car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://classic-car-insurance.personalfinanceguide.ws] fresno car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://free-car-insurance-quote.mortgageguide.ws] diamond car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://cheap-car-insurance-quote.landscapingguide.ws] car insurance cost [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://low-cost-car-insurance.interiordecorguide.ws] cheap online car insurance quote [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://car-insurance-quote.inetmarketingguide.ws] car insurance quote canada [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://car-insurance-rates.homeimprovementguide.ws] instant car insurance quote [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://new-york-insurance.fitnessequipmentguide.net] new jersey car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://california-car-insurance.estateguide.ws] geico car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://car-insurance-rate.careeremploymentguide.com] florida car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://auto-insurance-company.affiliaterevenueguide.ws] direct line car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://online-car-insurance.acneguide.ws] diamond car insurance [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://auto-cheap-insurance.nutritionguide.ws] car insurance group [/url][/b]
[b][url=http://auto-insurance-quote.seoguide.ws] car insurance uk [/url][/b]

http://cheap-car-insurance.quickfreehost.com

Random Keyword: :)
[b]churchill car insurance[/b]

7:08 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[b]its here [/b]

[url=http://phentermine.myeasyseek.info]phentermine search ENGINE [/url]
[url=http://phentermine.worksearchuk.info]phentermine[/url]
[url=http://tramadol.themysearch.info]tramadol[/url]
[url=http://tramadol.eworksearch.info]Farm Search Engine[/url]

8:57 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good day! 

I need help with my computer. I is always freezing when i open IE? What do you think?

Wow, I've found the same to be true too!  How did you find that?  

See you soon! WonderGirl 




[color=#9ad][url=http://find-free-paid-surveysjhokzee.blogspot.com]how I make money with paid surveys[/url][/color]

10:03 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Relax and Enjoy !!!!

[url=http://tramadol.myeasyseek.info]tramadol[/url]
[url=http://webraindor.info/wiki/phentermine]phentermine[/url]
[url=http://cialis.goodtone.info]cialis[/url]
[url=http://casino.themysearch.info]casino[/url]

6:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog very informative re direct container line. In a simliar vain to direct container line would definitely recommend http://www.bargainplace.co.uk for **cheap car insurance** or **cheap home insurance**, even **cheap pet insurance**

11:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[b] Relax and enjoy [/b]

[url=http://casino.myeasyseek.info]Casino[/url]
[url=http://viagra.themysearch.info]viagra[/url]
[url=http://myownlook.info]tramadol[/url]
[url=http://cialis.workfinda.info]cialis[/url]

7:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good day! 

By the way, I love that too!  Where did you get that at?  

See you soon! Girly Girl 



[color=#9ad][url=http://online-survey-paid-aerixonacyivemov.blogspot.com]see how I make free money with paid online surveys[/url][/color]

11:22 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tramadol, viagra

viagra
tramadol
cialis

11:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tramadol, viagra

viagra
tramadol
cialis

11:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Latest news. Viagra, cialis

viagra
cialis
tramadol

10:38 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2005 Harley-Davidson : Softail for sale. 2k miles

7:54 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

911 center picture trade world

3:53 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.adquity.com
Classifieds for our community. Buy, sell, trade, date, events... post anything. Adquity Classifieds.

http://www.adquity.com

9:18 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.adquity.com
Classifieds for our community. Buy, sell, trade, date, events... post anything. Adquity Classifieds.

http://www.adquity.com

10:10 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

la tech trade

5:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i sell internet marketing crap....read me.

[url=http://www.internetmarketingtechniques.net/]me internet marketing guru[/url]

Phil "Jackass" Coel

[url=http://www.internetmarketingtechniques.net/]me internet marketing guru[/url]

11:10 am  
Anonymous THE BEST SITE said...

Very interesting site :) You can find more information at :
bonus casino code coupon deposit no
casino slot machine secret
harrahs casino shreveport louisiana
casino free site web
cash casino directory journey online
casino in niagara falls
casino line poker
card casino free game online
casino las poker room vegas
Hope it will always be alive! THE END :)

5:04 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[url=http://solar-homes-for-sale-insur22.l2.prettymob.com/solar-homes-for-sale.html]solar homes for sale[/url]
[url=http://used-cars-for-sale-in-houston-tx-insur22.l2.prettymob.com/used-cars-for-sale-in-houston-tx.html]used cars for sale in houston tx[/url]
[url=http://travel-insurance-insur22.l2.cssmob.com/travel-insurance.html]travel insurance[/url]
[url=http://homes-for-sale-in-chesterfield-insur22.l2.prettymob.com/homes-for-sale-in-chesterfield.html]homes for sale in chesterfield[/url]
[url=http://auto-cars-insur22.l2.prettymob.com/auto-cars.html]auto cars[/url]
[url=http://fort-lauderdale-florida-insur22.l2.prettymob.com/fort-lauderdale-florida.html]fort lauderdale florida[/url]
[url=http://homes-for-sale-by-owner-in-maryland-insur22.l2.prettymob.com/homes-for-sale-by-owner-in-maryland.html]homes for sale by owner in maryland[/url]
[url=http://homes-for-sale-in-johnstown-pa-insur22.l2.prettymob.com/homes-for-sale-in-johnstown-pa.html]homes for sale in johnstown pa[/url]
[url=http://jacksonville-beach-insur22.l2.prettymob.com/jacksonville-beach.html]jacksonville beach[/url]

11:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[url=http://ericbachmann.portmerch.com/stores/schemes/dingbats/color/images/john-mayer.html#1]john mayer[/url]
[url=http://ericbachmann.portmerch.com/stores/schemes/dingbats/color/images/carrie-underwood.html#2]carrie underwood[/url]
[url=http://ericbachmann.portmerch.com/stores/schemes/dingbats/color/images/robin-thicke.html#3]robin thicke[/url]
john mayer
carrie underwood
robin thicke

5:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[url=http://ericbachmann.portmerch.com/stores/schemes/dingbats/color/images/john-mayer.html#1]john mayer[/url]
[url=http://ericbachmann.portmerch.com/stores/schemes/dingbats/color/images/carrie-underwood.html#2]carrie underwood[/url]
[url=http://ericbachmann.portmerch.com/stores/schemes/dingbats/color/images/robin-thicke.html#3]robin thicke[/url]
john mayer
carrie underwood
robin thicke

5:55 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home