Galloway notes that the very nature of resistance has changed as a result of the protocological era. The enormous and far reaching success of technology—the totality of protocol standardization and strategic goal of openness—turn it into a force the Galloway likens to gravity. New forms of resistance seek to impress an exaggerating complexity (a hypertrophy) , where by power and resistance to power become indistinguishable.
Enter: The Circle. I think that it is at this point concerning power that Dave Egger’s book comes into play. The Circle is essentially a hypertrophic multinational (somehow that term feels displaced here given the view of the capitalist world becoming a distributive network) corporation. There are nurmerous passages to choose from that illustrate my next point(s) but this one opens the conversation concerning Galloway’s utopic hackers and the problem of labor that their “utopia” creates if taken to the extent of the Circle:
“Stenton professionalized our idealism, monetized our utopia. He’s the one who saw the connection between our work and politics, and between politics and control. Public-private leads to private-private, and soon you have the circle running most or even all government services, with incredible private-sector efficiency and an insatiable appetite. Everyone becomes a citizen of the Circle.” (489)
When I read this explanation from Ty I was frustrated. My response was of course. Egger’s had been shoveling this onto the past 250 pages at least. Nonetheless, it is the point in the novel that I my mind jumped into the logic of Galloway’s Protocol.
Social software—or in the case of the Circle, all software, as it has all be made fundamentally social— is cast as liberating, democratizing, and so on, which it undeniably is, but more important is the fact that today we are ushering in a whole new system of informatic value extraction and exploitation. The web is, in essence, the world’s largest sweat shop. The phenomenon is evident across the spectrum of web technologies, but also in the biological realm as life itself has emerged front and center as the central locus of valorization and exploitation. In this sense companies like Google and Monsanto (a hundreds others) are essentially trying to mine data from individual’s daily actions. Think even of the Page Rank algorithum, which I understand to be relatively simple when it comes to such things, which greatly shapes (perhaps still unknown to some) the way we are made to digest information on the internet. They both are leveraging the ability for life to self-valorize. Of course anyone familiar with the modern era will note that this process has been happening for a long time–part of why I grew frustrated with the Circle (Egger’s gave us no new ideas.) I think the primary question to ask now, and what The Circle is commenting on, is what we do with the price that is now put on matter.
Galloway rethorizes hackers by pointing to what they have in common with protocol: unlimited and total access to computers, and they both seek to eliminate authority.