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

Ricardo Dominguez rrdominguez at ucsd.edu
Sat Dec 13 01:15:58 EST 2014

Hola Tod at s and David,

While the research and scholarship you present is extremely important to
and to understand. It also assumes that artists and activist have no
critical awareness of these issues of power above all things or below all
things (of algorithms or robots), and I think this wrong. At least for me
since my days  (80's) with Critical Art Ensemble, ACT UP, and spending our
days and nights reading Adorno to Virillio, from the Pentagon Papers to
the SCUM. Manifesto, working with the Zapatistas and Electronic
Disturbance Theater in the 1990's and now under the weight of Cloudy
Empires etc., - we have never been utopian about technology or imagined
the power and computing in the 20th century would be or become platforms
of justice or concern. But we also did not want to fall into the no-way
out zone of the apocalyptic-that seems to some degree at play in your

And I would add that this critical stance allowed us to continue to
consider the importance of being in as artivist in support of social
justice causes (of being advertisement or the platforms of concern) who
would use whatever means to do it-including current expressions of the

Finally, a number of artivist and activist are investigating type exodus
protocols to
become what Max Headroom called "blanks."

Thanks for all your research links and pushing us to consider other types of


> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> 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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Ricardo Dominguez
Associate Professor

Visual Arts Department, UCSD
Principal Investigator, CALIT2

email: rrdominguez at ucsd.edu

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