[-empyre-] contesting the netopticon

Simon Biggs s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
Mon Jan 31 02:58:12 EST 2011

So, we come to the end of the month of January and our discussion on the
theme of the Netopticon.

To remind us where we began, abstracted from the original post setting out
the theme:
The Panoptic structures innate in social space are often cited in relation
to the internet and its governance. The term "Netopticon" suggests a
mesh-work structure of how a socially networked Panoptic apparatus can
operate. Malkit Shoshan describes how the social technologies that
characterise Web 2.0 facilitate the emergence of the internet as a Panoptic
space, where individuals are complicit in their own surveillance. The
internet is pervasive in how people construct their social lives. If we
accept that "people" are emergent, through social activities that are a
process of becoming, issues around net neutrality, Web 2.0 and surveillance
have implications reaching into the psycho-social. Within a Foucauldian
appreciation of the social, where the Panopticon (nee: super-ego) is
manifest at the heart of our social relations, the Netopticon engages our
entwined individual and social ontologies. How will the codification of
individual and collective relations develop?

Over the past month invited guests and members of empyre have addressed this
theme from a range of perspectives. I am not going to summarise the various
viewpoints here as I fear my attempt would be inadequate. The empyre archive
is accessible and makes an excellent read, organised by date, thread and

I would like to thank everybody who contributed to the discussion; our guest
discussants Joseph Delappe, Marc Garrett, Davin Heckman, Patrick Lichty,
Heidi May, Christina Spiesel, Jon Thompson and Alison Craighead, all of whom
gave generously of their time to post provocative and inspiring texts. I
would like to thank Renate Ferro and Tim Murray for inviting me to moderate
the discussion and for continuing to host and maintain empyre. We can
present the netoptic as automatic social formation but sites for debate like
empyre are precious and survive because of the efforts of individuals. I
would also like to thank all those members of empyre who contributed to the
discussion and also all those members who participated silently. Whilst
lurking should be seen as a "public good" it is perhaps this silent
"reading", the nitrogen (as distinct to the oxygen) of listservs, which
presents the most appropriate image for the netopticon. By having our
conversations in public we can render our inter-subjectivities as a
performative instance of the netopticon in play.



Simon Biggs
simon at littlepig.org.uk

s.biggs at eca.ac.uk

Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number SC009201

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