016 :: Nuclear war.. It’s Not Very Nice That

photoPhoto Courtesy of Kieran McCann

It’s Not Very Nice That

From 21 Feb – 27 Apr 2014 the Light House Gallery in Glasgow had an exhibition of current politically engaged graphic design and politics. The #Stacktivism logo was included which was nice of them – the logo was a collaboration between myself and my friend Andrew Brown

“With new ways of being political along with new media
 and modes of production at their disposal, contemporary designers navigate a space of increasing social unrest which has seen the eruption of civil insurrection in the UK, the revolutionary fervour of the Arab Spring and the furore following the Wikileaks revelations. The exhibition will examine the resurgence of political practice among designers since the mid 2000s and will consider their motifs and motivations, exploring the potential problems and possibilities of this diverse set of experiments.”

The noted internet utopian and my friend Micheal Oswell (Graphic Designer) gave a talk on the opening night. I thought it was good :  You can watch it here :: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/7238669/events/2778543/videos/42918142

Read a review of the exhibition by Grafik.

Nuclear Poker

Hexayurt & SCIM creator Vinay Gupta just released a card game called Nuclear Poker in collaboration with Ian Willey. This edition is limited via game crafter as it was a fund-raising effort to build a mini quad dome for this years EMF camp.

“Nuclear Poker is a fun game about the end of the world. Don’t worry, it usually happens only every three or four hands. The rules are a bit easier than Gin Rummy. A hand takes about ten minutes, sometimes less.”

The SCIM graphics (that were also designed in collaboration with Andrew Brown) Were included in the fancy Defcon3 edition of the game: (its in the middle at the bottom of the spread)

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You can buy it here

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013 :: #TTW14 abstract

PHEW. yesterday i finally submitted my extract/talk proposal on the ‘geopolitics of the stacks’ for the theorizingtheweb conference that takes place in april in new york . the piece is reproduced in full below. even if i am unsuccessful, i think the piece is a useful early 2014 ‘flag in the ground’ to orient my self around this year. as this is the direction a lot of my thinking and speaking will headed this year.

please note: im not an academic! but if you have any comments or the subject interests you please do get in touch on twitter , leave a comment on here, or mail me via the contact form on my homepage:

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Colonising the Clouds. 

Infrastructure Territory and The Geopolitics of The Stacks

This paper will explore the implications of multinational technology corporations morphing into the entities that Bruce Sterling has named ‘The Stacks’ – companies that are setting out to build vertically integrated feudalisms. Building on and synthesising the work of Benjamin Bratton (UCSD), Tobias Revell (RCA/ARUP/SuperFlux), Paul Graham Raven (University of Sheffield), and Vinay Gupta (UCL ISRS) this paper will seek to explore ideas of infrastructure, corporations and nation states, territory, and the importance of societal understanding of the interrelations of all three.

It is a strange future-present we live in: corporations are people; Dogecoin exists; Google – a corporation whose mission statement to ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’ – recently acquired eight robotics companies and a thermostat manufacturer; and ‘The Stacks’ are emerging as digitally-dualistic geopolitical entities.

‘Institutional Memory’ is the method by which information is inherited and pass on between states, corporations and collective groups of people. Using this notion we can begin to unpack and explore the beliefs, biases, and assumptions of corporations and states towards concepts such as hierarchy, law,  and – most importantly in our case – ontologies of the internet.

The concept of a separate, distinct ‘cyberspace’, the subtle shifting of corporate discourse from ‘The Cloud’ to ‘A Cloud’, and the boastful claims of the Information Security industry all point towards the web as being understood along dualist lines by the Stacks. This stands in contrast to non digital-dualist views held by government cyber commands which sees ‘cyber’ as a theater not a territory, demonstrated in their understandings of servers on sovereign territory and the legality of cyber-espionage.

The Stacks require deep strata of data to do their business, and in order to get that data the userbase must be made legible. Following James Scott’s “Seeing Like A State”, this talk will argue for the need to “see like a stack” in order for us to better understand the approaches of these entities towards data collection, knowledge creation, and territorial definition.

The conceptual shift upwards from owning and controlling spatial territory to owning and controlling ‘informational territory’ is not new. It began with closing of the US frontier in 1893 & introduction of the telegraph interoperability bill a few years after. Today however, as these infrastructural territories are created and claimed, their owners and creators are influencing our political and economic systems at every level, from the geopolitical to the micropolitical, resulting in what Bratton calls “the ‘accidental’ de-lamination of traditional Westphalian geographies of sovereignty through the realization of other topologies”

This talk will pose the questions: Where are the nexuses of political contestation in this new landscape? Has the discourse of digital dualism been overly focussed on the individual, or is it that only now are the implications of dualism at the geopolitical level being recognised? What are the implications for politics, as nation states evaporate into the clouds, and the Stacks continue to build their own private infrastructures and extend sensing/robotic platforms into the physical world?

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#TTW14 is a conference run by the crew over on cyborgology blog at society pages. i think the work they are doing is exciting and extremely important in the current moment, and the conference is always great.  I have watched it on live stream for the last few years, and have compiled an image of all the tweeted pictures of the keynote for the last two:

012 :: its been busy!

the main news is probably that grew a beard, went to florence, shaved it off again.

DSC_6426

in addition i’ve done a whole bunch of talks and workshops, this is my talk on ‘seeing the stack’ at the #stacktivism unconference in july.

i also spoke more generally about infrastructure, SCIM and other stuff at the CRESC Annual Conference 2013 in September at ULU. which was in the morning on the SAME DAY as i had tickets to improving reality in brighton. was all busy missions that day

plus all the audio recordings from the #iliw13 event have started to go online. the full audio from the ‘new luddism’ panel is was on is now online :: here

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thoughtmenu the nomadic DIY talk & event collective i helped found last year turned 1 in august. its been a bit different this year as it has has been a year of partnerships.

in april we partnered with the wonderful makerhood,com and put on a thought menu at their making uncovered event. below is a fantastic short documentary that gives a awesome sense of the day

since june and we have been working alongside limewharf to help curate the season of ‘Big Picture Days’. we have two more sessions left – oct & november and I’m excited for both of them.

topic so far have been Swam Coops, Stacktivism, Cyberinsecurity. Topics still to come are ‘Rights’ & ‘Neo-nomads’

we have a new website based on tumblr, to celebrate we been posting the videos from previous talks. As a result I’ve learnt quite a bit about Imovie this year – I planning on doing introduction layers with the speaker and talk names on newer videos soon i reckon. heres the newsletter ::

as i write this my room full of semi-packed in boxes. i’m moving soon and will potentially be broke after bills + rent whilst in the new place. as a result, i have some new projects brewing, one of which (hopefully) will come to fruition before the year is out. i just bought a blue yeti microphone  i’m now all ‘wired for sound’  so its most definitely going to be audio.

011 : on #stacktivism – my #ILIW13 talk

:: we cannot have a conversation about something whilst it remains unseen ::

‘The stack’The chain of interconnected activities and technologies of current and historical significance that spread far beyond the individual.

Stacktivism Logo

I think there are many people beginning to have/shape a conversation around the stack: From Jo Guldi the author of Roads to Power: Britain Invents the Infrastructure State , Timo Arnall in his No to NoUI piece, Benjamin Bratton and his geopolitics of the cloud and theoretical languge of ‘the stack’, artist/Critical Engineer Julian Oliver (Eyeo2012 talk is very good) & course my good friend Vinay Gupta.

> who owns the means of not dying?

> who controls the stack?

> is infrastructure neutral?

> what are the dilemmas of radical texts on Amazon in relation to capitalist realism while sat under a Tumblr image hosted on Amazon ?

On Sunday I gave a talk at ‘Immaterial Labour Isn’t Working: Digital Culture, Digital Work, Digital Insurrection’ hosted by Autoitaliasoutheast – the panel session was on New Luddism.

I used my time to introduce the concept of #stacktivism a term that i think allows us to form & give shape to the conversation around infrastructure & our relationship we have to it. I do not seek to define it, merely give shape to an idea.

The concept is early days & in its infancy: I hope my talk embedded below is a useful primer/introduction to this enquiry.


Join in the conversation here :: Stacktivism.com

stacktivism.tumblr.com + @stacktivism )