Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

23

Now, though, like everything else, writing is being restructured around the format of the computer. Billions of people, above all in the world’s richest countries, are writing more than ever before, on our phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. And we are not so much writing, as being written. This is not really about ‘social media’. The term ‘social media’ is too widely used to be wished away, but we should at least put it in question. It is a form of shorthand propaganda. All media, and all machines, are social. Machines are social before they are technological, as the historian Lewis Mumford wrote. Long before the advent of the digital platforms, the philosopher Gilbert Simondon explored the ways in which tools generate social relationships. A tool is, first, the medium of a relationship between a body and the world. It connects users in a set of relationships with one another and the world around them. Moreover, the conceptual schema from which tools are generated can be transferred to new contexts, thus generating new types of relationship. To talk about technologies is to talk about societies.

—p.23 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago

Now, though, like everything else, writing is being restructured around the format of the computer. Billions of people, above all in the world’s richest countries, are writing more than ever before, on our phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. And we are not so much writing, as being written. This is not really about ‘social media’. The term ‘social media’ is too widely used to be wished away, but we should at least put it in question. It is a form of shorthand propaganda. All media, and all machines, are social. Machines are social before they are technological, as the historian Lewis Mumford wrote. Long before the advent of the digital platforms, the philosopher Gilbert Simondon explored the ways in which tools generate social relationships. A tool is, first, the medium of a relationship between a body and the world. It connects users in a set of relationships with one another and the world around them. Moreover, the conceptual schema from which tools are generated can be transferred to new contexts, thus generating new types of relationship. To talk about technologies is to talk about societies.

—p.23 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago
28

[...] The social industry has created an addiction machine, not as an accident, but as a logical means to return value to its venture capitalist investors.

—p.28 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago

[...] The social industry has created an addiction machine, not as an accident, but as a logical means to return value to its venture capitalist investors.

—p.28 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago
32

[...] There is a particularly strong correlation between depression and the use of Instagram among young people. But social industry platforms didn’t invent depression; they exploited it. And to loosen their grip, one would have to explore what has gone wrong elsewhere.

—p.32 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago

[...] There is a particularly strong correlation between depression and the use of Instagram among young people. But social industry platforms didn’t invent depression; they exploited it. And to loosen their grip, one would have to explore what has gone wrong elsewhere.

—p.32 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago
55

The Twittering Machine appears to have a similar magical quality. Technology has never been just technology. It is always a world of intense emotional attachments. The Twittering Machine promises to give us access to everything, limitlessly, allowing us to transcend the limitations of mere flesh. This is how the telecommunications firm, MCI, sold the internet two decades ago. People could communicate ‘mind to mind’. No race, no gender, no age, no infirmity. ‘There are only minds,’ the advertising breathlessly suggested. ‘Utopia? No … The internet. Where minds, doors and lives open up.’ This was digital Clintonism, a kind of thin liberal utopianism. Standing in a weak shadow of the opiate sublime, it promised an abundance of being, ageless immortality, protean plasticity beyond the bedrock of the body. The name of this abundance was connectivity, a truly magical substance.

—p.55 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago

The Twittering Machine appears to have a similar magical quality. Technology has never been just technology. It is always a world of intense emotional attachments. The Twittering Machine promises to give us access to everything, limitlessly, allowing us to transcend the limitations of mere flesh. This is how the telecommunications firm, MCI, sold the internet two decades ago. People could communicate ‘mind to mind’. No race, no gender, no age, no infirmity. ‘There are only minds,’ the advertising breathlessly suggested. ‘Utopia? No … The internet. Where minds, doors and lives open up.’ This was digital Clintonism, a kind of thin liberal utopianism. Standing in a weak shadow of the opiate sublime, it promised an abundance of being, ageless immortality, protean plasticity beyond the bedrock of the body. The name of this abundance was connectivity, a truly magical substance.

—p.55 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago
55

But as the cyberpunk writer Bruce Sterling points out, connectivity is not necessarily a symbol of affluence and plenty. It is, in a sense, the poor who most prize connectivity. Not in the sense of the old classist stereotype that ‘the poor love their cellphones’: no powerful group would turn down the opportunities that smartphones and social media offer. The powerful simply engage differently with the machine. But any culture that values connectivity so highly must be as impoverished in its social life as a culture obsessed with happiness is bitterly depressed. What Bruce Alexander calls the state of permanent ‘psychosocial dislocation’ in late capitalism, with life overrun by the law of markets and competition, is the context for soaring addiction rates. It is as if the addictive relationship stands in for the social relationships that have been upended by the turbulence of capitalism.

—p.55 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago

But as the cyberpunk writer Bruce Sterling points out, connectivity is not necessarily a symbol of affluence and plenty. It is, in a sense, the poor who most prize connectivity. Not in the sense of the old classist stereotype that ‘the poor love their cellphones’: no powerful group would turn down the opportunities that smartphones and social media offer. The powerful simply engage differently with the machine. But any culture that values connectivity so highly must be as impoverished in its social life as a culture obsessed with happiness is bitterly depressed. What Bruce Alexander calls the state of permanent ‘psychosocial dislocation’ in late capitalism, with life overrun by the law of markets and competition, is the context for soaring addiction rates. It is as if the addictive relationship stands in for the social relationships that have been upended by the turbulence of capitalism.

—p.55 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago
61

The most important problem with teaching machines, though, is political. In Walden Two, the community is overseen by a benign tyrant, Frazier. In defending his techniques, Frazier argues that the alternative is to leave them in the hands of wicked movements like the Nazis. This comparison only serves to illustrate his authoritarianism. The fantasy is that it is possible to know, through scientific research, what is good and how people ought to live. It is a fantasy in which meaning is replaced by technique, and all that is contrary, disputatious and unpleasant in social life is replaced by a smooth surface and flow. (Perhaps it is no coincidence that the aesthetic of late capitalism, and particularly of smartphones and apps, is so obsessed with smoothness and flow.) This requires relentless intrusive surveillance and laboratory-like manipulation of the entire population. But the secret of the good life is not something that can be known, it being different for everyone. So, behind the rule of science and technology, there has to be a tyranny somewhere making these decisions. A small number of real-world communities attempted to emulate Walden Two, with varying degrees of success, one of the main drawbacks being that leaders often identified with the benevolent authoritarianism of Frazier.

—p.61 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago

The most important problem with teaching machines, though, is political. In Walden Two, the community is overseen by a benign tyrant, Frazier. In defending his techniques, Frazier argues that the alternative is to leave them in the hands of wicked movements like the Nazis. This comparison only serves to illustrate his authoritarianism. The fantasy is that it is possible to know, through scientific research, what is good and how people ought to live. It is a fantasy in which meaning is replaced by technique, and all that is contrary, disputatious and unpleasant in social life is replaced by a smooth surface and flow. (Perhaps it is no coincidence that the aesthetic of late capitalism, and particularly of smartphones and apps, is so obsessed with smoothness and flow.) This requires relentless intrusive surveillance and laboratory-like manipulation of the entire population. But the secret of the good life is not something that can be known, it being different for everyone. So, behind the rule of science and technology, there has to be a tyranny somewhere making these decisions. A small number of real-world communities attempted to emulate Walden Two, with varying degrees of success, one of the main drawbacks being that leaders often identified with the benevolent authoritarianism of Frazier.

—p.61 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago
101

There is death in this. Twenge and Campbell are getting at something when they urge people to worry less about their identities and more about their lives. Between life and the self, there is a choice. This is implicit in the idea of an attention economy. The more compulsively we curate the self, the less we live. We may find it helpful to forget ourselves from time to time. We may need, that is, a form of ‘anti-identity’ politics, a resistance to all trends which force one to spend too much time on the self, or on a particularly narrow, depressing and ultimately coercive idea of what a person can be. It would treat all the labour spent on the self as wasted potential. It would cultivate forgetting and disconnection.

—p.101 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago

There is death in this. Twenge and Campbell are getting at something when they urge people to worry less about their identities and more about their lives. Between life and the self, there is a choice. This is implicit in the idea of an attention economy. The more compulsively we curate the self, the less we live. We may find it helpful to forget ourselves from time to time. We may need, that is, a form of ‘anti-identity’ politics, a resistance to all trends which force one to spend too much time on the self, or on a particularly narrow, depressing and ultimately coercive idea of what a person can be. It would treat all the labour spent on the self as wasted potential. It would cultivate forgetting and disconnection.

—p.101 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago
173

Post-democracy was well advanced in most of Europe and North America well before the digital platforms appeared. As the political scientist Colin Crouch defines it, a post-democratic society is one that retains the institutions of mass democracy, but where these have negligible effects on policymaking. It reduces elections to a spectacle of stage-managed debates and poll-driven simulations of ‘voter demand’. Whereas mass democracy means that popular desires and interests have to be taken seriously, post-democracies are in the business of population management. Like cybernetic systems, post-democracies are far less interested in consent than in moderating the behaviour of elements within the system. Like the algorithmic protocols of the digital platforms, they hit below the intellect, working underneath the surface of persuasion, building realities into our everyday experience. It doesn’t negotiate with our wants, it shapes what we are capable of wanting. And, as the Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta once put it, ‘everything depends on what the people are capable of wanting.’

—p.173 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago

Post-democracy was well advanced in most of Europe and North America well before the digital platforms appeared. As the political scientist Colin Crouch defines it, a post-democratic society is one that retains the institutions of mass democracy, but where these have negligible effects on policymaking. It reduces elections to a spectacle of stage-managed debates and poll-driven simulations of ‘voter demand’. Whereas mass democracy means that popular desires and interests have to be taken seriously, post-democracies are in the business of population management. Like cybernetic systems, post-democracies are far less interested in consent than in moderating the behaviour of elements within the system. Like the algorithmic protocols of the digital platforms, they hit below the intellect, working underneath the surface of persuasion, building realities into our everyday experience. It doesn’t negotiate with our wants, it shapes what we are capable of wanting. And, as the Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta once put it, ‘everything depends on what the people are capable of wanting.’

—p.173 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago
212

And this is where the story is not just about corporations and technologies. The Twittering Machine may be a horror story, but it is one that involves all of us as users. We are part of the machine, and we find our satisfactions in it, however destructive they may be. And this horror story is only possible in a society that is busily producing horrors. We are only up for addiction to mood-altering devices because our emotions seem to need managing, if not bludgeoning by relentless stimulus. We are only happy to drop into the dead-zone trance because of whatever is disappointing in the world of the living. Twitter toxicity is only endurable because it seems less worse than the alternatives. ‘No addiction’, as Francis Spufford has written, ‘is ever explained by examining the drug. The drug didn’t cause the need. A tour of a brewery won’t explain why somebody became an alcoholic.’

—p.212 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago

And this is where the story is not just about corporations and technologies. The Twittering Machine may be a horror story, but it is one that involves all of us as users. We are part of the machine, and we find our satisfactions in it, however destructive they may be. And this horror story is only possible in a society that is busily producing horrors. We are only up for addiction to mood-altering devices because our emotions seem to need managing, if not bludgeoning by relentless stimulus. We are only happy to drop into the dead-zone trance because of whatever is disappointing in the world of the living. Twitter toxicity is only endurable because it seems less worse than the alternatives. ‘No addiction’, as Francis Spufford has written, ‘is ever explained by examining the drug. The drug didn’t cause the need. A tour of a brewery won’t explain why somebody became an alcoholic.’

—p.212 by Richard Seymour 2 years, 6 months ago