Thoughts for a slow day
I really mustn’t feel like there’s anything bearing down on me if I can spend the afternoon copying Deleuze’s “Postscript on the Societies of Control” from the Web into TextEdit, and setting it into something a little easier to read. It does occur to me, though, that I should probably be packing for my trip to Grenoble tomorrow.
The Deleuze is perfectly appropriate reading, actually: the Grenoble gig is a presentation to Ideas Day at the MINATEC nanotechnology research center, and, as Daniel Kaplan has pointed out to me, MINATEC isn’t exactly perceived as a neutral actor locally.
Putting aside for a moment the disturbing pleasure the activist contingent seems to take in their disruption of public debate, I’m probably more sympathetic to their core concerns than not. The fusion of nanotechnology with everyware promises to equip our network society with a full-fledged sensorimotor system, operating on a very wide range of scales, and I’ll confess to being not particularly sanguine about what we’ll wind up choosing to do with such a system.
In this regard, Deleuze’s concerns in the 1990 “Postscript” strike me as strongly prescient, particularly his insistence that emergent technologies will permit the recuperation of open environments by a power previously forced to resort to crude containments to achieve its ends. An off-the-shelf constellation of distributed sensor nets, powerful datamining techniques, networked physical barriers and softer methodologies of constraint would achieve just that, in fact, and good ol’ Gilles saw it all coming. (“The conception of a control mechanism, giving the position of any element within an open environment at any given instant…is not necessarily one of science fiction.”)
So that’s cheery, huh?
I’ll be back in town on the 20th, and then, hallelujah, I don’t have a single trip, engagement or other event planned until the ITP semester begins on 22 January. One solid month to rest, recuperate, read, think, and write: imagine that.