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>Politics in 140 characters

>Our funding success with AHRC (Exploring New Configurations in Network Politics-network project) could not have arrived at a better time. The events in Iran, and the buzz surrounding Twitter are something that has made people discuss about its political implications even more than with the past Moldova case. Some of the commentators have been worried that more full-fledged analysis is needed, and that of course Twitters and like cannot replace good old fashioned lengthy commentating — all comments which are true, but also neglecting that perhaps with such 140 character inserts its not a matter of interpretation, analysis or such, but a different mode of politics altogether; a politics of doing in a different key, and interacting with different scales than in the old-fashioned idea of doing politics through a public sphere of discussions. Indeed, despite many claims of such technologies reintroducing the importance of the public sphere, we have to be aware that such a mode of public is much more multi-scalar, heterogeneous and less spatial than temporal. Its not only a matter of redefining the public and the private but of such spheres of in-betweenness that elude concepts of the modern political era from representation to public, from citizen/private to action.

What the project we got up and running with Joss Hands is doing is exactly trying to map such blind spots, interzones, transversal connections, multiple scales and new modes of action/discourse that characterize the network culture. Joss is himself finishing a very much needed book on digital activism, and my interests in this field lie in the idea of “politics of imperceptibility”; how beyond a politics of representation, recognizability and visual culture that characterised a post-1960s media cultural approach and cultural theory, we need accounts of politics of becoming invisible, imperceptibility both as the ontology and tactics of network culture. This idea stemming from Deleuze and Guattari has been elaborated in a sense by Elizabeth Grosz in her writings on sensation and nature and for example Galloway and Thacker in their more recent The Exploit-book, speculating on politics of such “future avant-garde”; beyond being registered, informationalized, gridded, there is a need for tactics of avoidance, going off the radar. In this sense, we can also export the idea to a politics of cartography of that which goes of the map, or is not mapped through/in the algorithmic logic of network culture. In other words, the “new configurations” or imperceptible or non-existent of network culture that our networking project explores is not understood in the negative sense of shedding light on such obscurities, but in embracing it as a concrete potentiality of politics. (As a footnote, all this pointing towards e.g. non-representationality is not that new but could be linked to the various conceptualizations that have been emerging from Agamben’s coming communities to Deleuze’s “people to come” etc.).
Naturally, its not all about rhizomes and distributed networks with such politics — far from it. As Joss will show in his forthcoming book, for example the much discussed Obama-campaign demonstrated how the power law is at the core of such politics — not only a politics of the micro, but a politics of the power law. In addition, its still through the old media that such new modes of participation gain their currency and disseminate. Its much more complex also in terms of inter-medial ties. But the actual work starts now…more during the coming 2 years…This is the first larger funded project for ArcDigital and I am sure not the last one.
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