Exploit

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Book: The Exploit: A Theory of Networks. Alexander R. Galloway, Eugene Thacker. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2007


Review

Daniel Gilfillan:

"In their recent co-authored volume The Exploit: A Theory of Networks, Alexander Galloway, associate professor in the Department of Culture and Communication at New York University, and Eugene Thacker, associate professor of new media in the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, theorize a contemporary understanding of networks which will account for the existence of systems of control within the distributed networks crucial to globalization, and central to an earlier notion of subversive network resistance that sought to disrupt the central power hubs of the sovereign state. They move the discussion beyond the emancipatory promise of the network to light upon the inherent systems of control and power relations that also inhabit it, and allow it to thrive:

It is foolish to fall back on the tired mantra of modern political movements, that distributed networks are liberating and centralized networks are oppressive. This truism of the Left may have been accurate in previous decades, but must today be reconsidered. To have a network, one needs a multiplicity of "nodes." Yet the mere existence of this multiplicity of nodes in no way implied an inherently democratic, ecumenical, or egalitarian order. Quite the opposite.

In the process of debunking such continued idealistic notions of democratic network potential, Galloway and Thacker locate a renewed sense of networked resistance within the potentiality of the exploit, an opening within the system of control which can be taken advantage of by pliant and vigorous nonhuman actors (the swarm, the flood) that will take their cues from the actions of computer viruses, emergent infectious diseases, and bioterrorism. Let's take a closer look at what all this means.

The Exploit: A Theory of Networks traces the historical development of networks and the tensions that sprout up within them beginning with the disciplinary societies of high modernism and its reliance on centralized and institutional power, through the postmodern with its locale of resistance to these centralized power hubs of modernity and the sovereign state situated within the frame of distributed networks, and on to contemporary control societies and their contradictory use of these same distributed networks as sites of control and modulated freedoms. Galloway and Thacker clearly invoke the work of Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze in their tracing of these developments, and locate the roots of their own theoretical discussion of networks squarely in the work of Deleuze." (http://rccs.usfca.edu/bookinfo.asp?ReviewID=552&BookID=396)


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