Archive for November, 2010

Let’s begin with some examples that will update aspects of Virilio’s argument in The Information Bomb.

1. “The Reality Mining Dataset: The Reality Mining project represents the largest mobile phone experiment ever attempted in academia. We are collecting an unprecedented amount of data on human behavior and group interactions that we plan on anonymizing and making available to the general academic community. By the end of the experiment, this dataset will contain over 500,000 hours (~60 years) of continuous data on daily human behavior. Already we have been approached by over a dozen of researchers in a wide range of fields (including epidemiology, sociology, physics, artificial intelligence, and organizational behavior) who are extremely eager to see how this unique data can answer questions from their own discipline. In an article on the Reality Mining project in December’s issue of New Scientist, prominent social network analyst and Harvard professor David Lazer was quoted saying that this research will “revolutionize the field of social network analysis [Beaver (2004)].”


For Strategic Optimism!

Posted: November 28, 2010 in ethics
Tags: ,

A Uni course we should all attend!

Throughout these blog entries I have continued to specify, define, differentiate, complexify, and diagram Gilles Deleuze’s conception of affect. Here is a further attempt, this one taken from Deleuze’s fine book Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, Robert Hurley, trans. (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1988) 48-51.

Deleuze makes some crucial distinctions in the definition of “Affections, Affects” given in these three pages. Spinoza’s modes are the affections of substance or of its attributes. These affections are active (in what way exactly? this is a lingering question).

But affections are also “that which happens to the mode, the modifications of the mode, the effects of other modes on it” (48). Then Deleuze gives a definition of these modifications that involves us in thinking about image-theory in a materialist, affective manner. As modifications of the mode, affections are images or “corporeal traces,” and their ideas involve both the nature of the affected body and that of the affecting external body. Deleuze quotes Spinoza thus: “The affections of the human body whose ideas present external bodies as present in us, we shall call images of things….And when the mind regards bodies in this way, we shall say that it imagines.” These image-affections or ideas affect, in turn, the state of the body, pushing it along gradients of intensity, strengthening or decomposing its capacities to affect and be affected. “…from one state to another, from one image or idea to another, there are transitions, passages that are experienced, durations through which we pass to a greater or a lesser perfection. Furthermore, these states, these affections, images or ideas are not separable from the duration that attaches them to the preceding state and makes them tend toward the next state. These continual durations or variations of perfection are called ‘affects,’ or feelings (affectus)” (48-9).


Gilles Deleuze never to my knowledge wrote extensively on marketing, but he had some choice words for it in “Postscript on Societies of Control.” I quote them below. I lectured today, minutes ago actually, on Foucault’s panopticism and Deleuze’s modulated control to my first year marketing and communication course at QMUL. I tried to make the argument to them (about 200 very diverse, international students) that marketing is a historically specific form of power.

Control societies are taking over from disciplinary societies. “Control” is the name proposed by Burroughs to characterize the new monster, and Foucault sees it fast approaching. Paul Virilio too is constantly analyzing the ultrarapid forms of apparently free floating control that are taking over from the old disciplines at work within the time scales of closed systems. It’s not a question of amazing pharmaceutical products, nuclear technology, and genetic engineering, even though these will play their part in the new process. It’s not a question of asking whether the old or new system is harsher or more bearable, because there’s a conflict in each between the ways they free and enslave us. (Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on Societies of Control” 178).