Friday, September 19, 2008

Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization

Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization - Alexander Galloway, MIT Press

The internet continues to be framed in terms of its radical potential - the smashing of hierarchies, the expanded access to information, the ability to participate in public forums.

Galloway, however, theorizes the Internet in terms of its "materiality" - its hardware and operational protocols - in order to uncover how mechanisms of control are built into its structure. While TCP/IP - the protocols that govern how packets of information are broken up and find their way across the web - distribute control, DNS - the Domain Name System that resolves World Wide Web domain names into numerical internet addresses - is strictly hierarchical. For Galloway, a "protocological" analysis is one that focuses on what is possible or allowed in the system, rather than on the meaning or content of individual messages within the system.

In a society that increasingly falls into a distributed network mode rather than the decentralized hierarchies of the modern bureaucracy, such an analysis has implications outside of media technology studies. Galloway includes several examples of art/activist responses that test the limits of the system.

1 comment:

Tobi Vail said...

is this what you are studying in school? how does it relate to the art you are making these days?