[-empyre-] Social Media Use across Campaigns for Social Justice

John Cayley cayley at shadoof.net
Fri Dec 12 00:15:56 EST 2014

On December 10, 2014 at 11:37:36 AM, David Golumbia (dgolumbia at gmail.com) wrote:
power does not know social justice, however we construe that term. it is just power.
On December 10, 2014 at 11:37:36 AM, David Golumbia (dgolumbia at gmail.com) wrote:

it is everywhere in the scholarship on social media in particular: "I'm going to look exclusively at the thing I consider good and how social media contributes to it, and put aside any consideration of the things I consider bad." That's not scholarship: it's advertising. 
Power does not know social justice and neither does algorithm or robot. Rather, now, the power of Big Software - more or less explicitly overdetermined by venal human desire - constructs systems of algorithmically driven robots in its service. The robots are reactive and generative in the sense that they react to symbolically structured cultural forms and then generate (more from less) cultural forms which are fed back to human subjects and also to other robots and systems.

Big Software now builds these networked computational systems chiefly and massively to render commerce (not art or politics or culture or anything else except perhaps the flourishes of 'entertainment media') as frictionless as possible: by facilitating real tractions (between capital and its (co-)subjects) and by advertising hyper-effectively on behalf of capital. Big Software - McKenzie Wark's vectoralists - must make their income by charging capital for 'services.' But they have also discovered (and I will only briefly touch on this real, historical injustice) that they are easily able to steal Big Data from people everywhere merely as an unregulated function of the self-stated 'terms' of 'use' for these 'services'.

Social Media is perhaps the most important manifestation of this pathology of sociopolitical economy.

In so far as we may no longer be able to 'build our own' systems of social media, and in so far as the algorithms and robots of real existing social media are designed by and in the service of this pathology, I believe that there is an argument against Social Media as we know it. Social Media - in the form of robots and algorithms - will tend, inevitably, to generate more and more in the way of pathological cultural forms addressed to human subjects, regardless of those subjects intentions in terms of social justice or its opposite or anything else.

And this is quite apart from the historical fact of Big Data theft and accumulation that is routinely and tacitly accepted as a function of the pathology - our contemporary pharmakon as Bernard Stiegler has it - with and within which we must try to live. The uses and values of all that 'data' (and it's not really data anyway, its only everything that our devices can so far collect) are all but entirely beyond democratic control, let alone beyond our control as individuals or progressive institutions/collectives.

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