Friday, April 8, 2011


By Sirs Kevin McCoy and Robert Rowan

Because of the complexity of both concepts of the network and the rhizome and also because these are relatively new concepts in both social media specifically and in human history generally, this post will explain and deconstruct each separately and will conclude by showing their similarities, differences and functions.

Definition of a Network – According to Castells, “a network is a set of interconnected nodes. A node is a point at which it intersects itself “(620). Both terms depend on the surrounding structures, but are open to constant expansion. According to Levina and Kine, “From pop culture to scientific research to border regulation, governance, entertainment, production and consumption, almost every identifiable facet of human and post-human life has been affected by a network paradigm” (Levina 7). A network is different from previous social structures in that it is not hierarchical. Essentially, everyone exists on the same plane. Power is egalitarian in theory but not in function because there are people who control greater access the network. Castells later elaborates: “Switches connecting the networks (for example, financial flows taking control of media empires that influence political processes) are the privileged instruments of power” (ST 621). The internet is the greatest example in that all types of information could be accessible to anybody online, but access to the information can be limited by bandwidth, signal strength, or censorship. As Castells points out, our culture has become centred around social media networks, like Facebook. What began as an exclusive system within the Ivy League expanded to include more colleges and universities, but it remained as an exclusive network of college students. Today, it is open to anyone over the age of 13.

The ubiquitous presence of the iPod in society shows us the physical manifestation of a large network that goes into making the product. In order to make an iPod, numerous factories throughout China specialize and make individual elements of the finished product: one factory makes the chips, another designs the skin, another mines for plastics and metals and other elements that comprise the brain and the body of the iPod. Once it is finished a distribution network comes into play to get it from the sites of production to the sites of consumption. It must be shipped through various international ports to arrive at your local Apple Store. Lastly, you drive your car or ride your bike to the Apple store and purchase it.

Castells notes: “Thus distance (physical, social, economic, political, cultural) for a given point or position” is irrelevant. However, the two points can connect/communicate only if they are within the network. It is a binary system of inclusion and exclusion. Let’s consider excommunication in the Catholic Church as a pre-existing example of this paradigm. The Catholic Church excommunicates heretics, let’s say, and if an individual suffers this he is not simply banished from a specific church, he is excluded from the Catholic Church as an institution and is out of the network.

The network is constantly trying to protect itself. Let’s consider last week’s discussion: Life is the most important commodity in Empire, which consolidate power to preserve peace so that life can be produced and controlled like all other commodities It’s a major network working toward preserving itself. To be alive is to be part of Empire network. To preserve life is to preserve Empire Network. To attack life is to attack Empire Network. Resistance always comes from within like a virus. Terrorism is attacked against the body of the Empire and suicide bombing is the ultimate attack. The body of the empire is the site of conflict between the preservation of life and self destruction.

Finally, the last thing about a Network is that all global networks are connected by a single thing: capital. Essentially, Marx’s socialist workers’ revolution is impossible. Labor is divided into specialized compartments and all are connected to a network of capital...Capital tends to escape in its hyperspace of pure circulation, while labor dissolves its collective entity into an infinite variation of individual existences. Under conditions of network society, capital is globally coordinated and labor is individualized (Castells 622-23).


The article “Rhizome Versus the Tree” articulates the rhizomatic structures within society. Deleueze organized the characteristic of the rhizome into five different sections.

In the principles of connection and heterogeneity section, literally what the rhizome vs. the tree represents is a difference in methods of communication. For instance, the rhizome is always in the middle: “Unlike trees or their roots, the rhizome connects one point to any other point, and its traits aren’t necessarily linked to traits of the same nature” (35). In the words of Deleuze, the tree represents a linear and genealogical information system, whereas a rhizome has a multi-dimensional function, it is always “in the middle.” It is also called an “antigenealogy.” This means that rhizome cannot be traced from a beginning to and end – i.e. it is not a line segment.

Let us consider the fields of linguistics and/or informational studies. In a linguistic in tree system, everything is organized, structured, and self-contained within finite boundaries. In a rhizome system, however, a linguistic system is diverse, fluctuating, colloquial, and centered upon jargon and patois (Deleuze 30).

In the third section, the principle of multiplicity states that a rhizome is indivisible. You can examine an abstracted fragment, but it always has to be considered in relation to the infinite whole. As Deleuze states: “A multiplicity has neither subject nor object, only determinations, magnitudes, and dimensions that cannot increase in number without the multiplicity changing in nature. Deleuze uses the metaphor of the relationship between a puppet and its puppet master. It is not simply the puppeteer manipulating the strings; it also has to do with the interaction between the nervous system of the puppet master, his/her subtle manipulation of certain parts of the handles attached to the strings which in turn sends motion waves down the strings and into the puppet. The gravity and movement of the puppet in turn send signals back up the strings, into the handles attached to the strings, through the hands and back into the nervous system of the puppeteer. This is a perfect representation of a rhizome system because signals and information are not merely the interplay of signals received and then forwarded and returned; it is a constant fluctuation of communication and interaction.

Another way to conceptualize the rhizome vs. tree comparison is to compare an encyclopedia to Wikipedia. A tree structure is more similar to an encyclopedia, not only because it is printed on paper, but also because the book is a finite structure with certain rules: it is a physical object, it cannot be amended once it’s been printed and published, the authors are limited in the amount of information it can contain; it has to exist as a representation of all the information in existence at a given point in time, and even then it has to be limited in scope to adhere the structures of the encyclopedic format.

In contrast, Wikipedia exists as a rhizome structure because it does not exist as a physical object, there is not an annual edition, and it exists as a constant and variable flow of information (new pages, citations, and articles are verified and re-verified on a constant basis). A page can be updated real time almost concurrent to the action or information that it is covering. For instance, during the 2009 State of the Union address, the Republican South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson called out President Obama by shouting, “YOU LIE!” Almost instantaneously, his Wikipedia page was updated to include that event in both his and the country’s life. The update of new information is what Deleuze calls the asignifying rupture. This means that a rhizome can be broken but it will continue from the old line or with a new line into many different directions or flights of path. For instance, if we change a Wikipedia page by adding or omitting information, it experiences an asignifying rupture, and a rupture occurs again when another Wikipedia user updates the information. This constantly evolving process is never truly finished; it is always “in the middle.” In contrast, an encyclopedia doesn’t experience this rupture. If you tear a page from the encyclopedia, it has become irrevocably altered. The information cannot simply continue. The information on that page is lost and cannot be amended.

This asignifying rupture is in the middle of his fourth concept which explains the idea of deterritorialization and reterritorialization. The old meaning is stripped away, new meaning is applied, and the new eventually becomes old and is replaced by a “newer new.” In this day and age, there are innumerable examples of this de/reterritorialization. For example, “the High Line in NYC was a former elevated freight railroad spur that connected directly to factories and warehouses, allowing trains to roll right inside buildings. Milk, meat, produce, and raw and manufactured goods could be transported and unloaded without disturbing traffic on the streets” ( After falling into disrepair because of disuse, the High Line has been reconstituted into a public greenway.

Another example of de/reterritorialization is the evolution or rock music. Rock’s roots are steeped in Delta blues, country pickin’, and, to an extent, New Orleans jazz. When these different musical genres formed its elemental structure in Memphis, it became rock ‘n roll. However, with the advent of television and other forms of media such as record players, rock concerts, etc., the musical genre was deterritorialized and subsequently reterritorialized within different cities and countries all over the world. For instance, the Beatles picked up on rock in the late 1950s Liverpool by attainting bootleg copies of R & B, country, and rock records while also being influenced by Elvis Presley. Rock music deterritorialized the musical traditions that influenced the Beatles growing up – big band, skiffle, English folk music for example. When they latched onto rock, they reterritorialized rock music to suit their environment. Later in their career as they began to evolve their musical sound, they underwent a new process of de/reterritorialization process that continued throughout their career as Beatles and even into their solo careers.

The fifth and last principle of Deleuze’s rhizome is the principle of cartography. Here he compares the rhizome to a map (Deleuze 35). He goes on to say: “The map is open and connectible in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant always has multiple entryways” (Deleuze 35). This means that your view of the map depends on your orientation: how far you want to go and how much you want to see. A map can be as small as a plan for a house yet can be expanded to encompass city, county, state, nation or the world. GoogleMaps is the perfect manifestation of a rhizomatic map.

Lastly, we will briefly on Deleuze’s article “Postscript on Control Societies.” He begins by tracing Foucault’s analysis of the transition from the carceral/disciplinary society to a control society. A carceral/disciplinary society focuses on “various places or sites of confinement,” while the control society operates through constant variations and modulations of observation (178). This relates to the panopticon that we discussed in class. As he further demonstrates, the control society is manifested economically. We are no longer dealing with the duality of masses and individuals; individuals become “dividuals” and masses become samples, data, and markets and/or banks. For example, the principle of money: in a disciplinary society, money was manifested as molded currencies or upon a gold standard; in a control society, money manifests itself through exchange rates and modulations depending on the market forces. This is why the recent uprisings in Egypt/Libya have caused oil prices to spike, and why the catastrophe in Japan has halted the production of automobiles.

In conclusion, the network and rhizome are similar concepts of communication, production, and information dissemination. The network has historically had a more ubiquitous and oft-used function in society. The rhizomatic structure has existed primarily as a theoretical application. We have demonstrated a few of their operations such as the network of iPod production and distribution; we have also shown the rhizomatic structure present in internet informational systems such as Wikipedia.


  1. Hats off to Robert and Kevin for tackling some very challenging readings.

    Because A Thousand Plateaus entails a sense of “extreme difficulty and perverse originality” (Lemert 671), I am going to see if I can explicate a small section of a passage that we read: the section in which Deleuze and Guattari begin referring to “plateaus.”

    The concept of “plateau” is significant because I think that it can help us understand the rhizome concept, namely because the authors make the simple assertion that “A rhizome is made of plateaus” (672).

    But what are plateaus? I think that one way to understand what they are getting at is to think of plateaus not as some geographic or physical shape but rather a kind of state of being. They refer to Gregory Bateson to make this point; a plateau for Bateson is “a continuous, self-vibrating region of intensities whose development avoids any orientation toward a culmination point or external end” (672). This “region” represents something perhaps analogous to state of being in which there is no culminating end point (e.g. no climax). Hence, they make the point at the beginning of the paragraph that “a plateau is always in the middle, not at the beginning or the end” (672).

    According to Deleuze and Guattari, our “Western” minds resist thinking in terms like those of plateaus. Books, for example, are often conceived of and constituted as having a beginning, middle, and end, but this kind of linear organization is not the only way to think of books and to write them; books can also be composed of “plateaus that communicate with one another across microfissures, as in a brain” (672), and they suggest that one can conceive of their book this way.

    So to get back to what plateaus are: when these plateaus—plateaus being regions or “multiplicities” that remain in a kind of “middle” state without a beginning, end, or culmination—when these plateaus extend as “multiplicities” connecting with each other, they form a rhizome. As they put it, “We call a ‘plateau’ any multiplicity connected other multiplicities by superficial underground stems in such a way as to form or extend a rhizome” (672).

    Or to be repetitive (I'm still trying to work through this), perhaps a plateau is this: a network of “multiplicities” (what these are, I am still not sure) that connect to form a “region” that they are calling a plateau, which is characterized by always being in a kind of “middle” state without a culminating endpoint or beginning point. When this plateau extends through an interconnection of “multiplicities,” we have a rhizome.

    At this point, they begin illustrating what I rhizome is by talking about how their book represents one, and the passage only gets weirder. That is, next they begin talking about a “method” that can effectively construct a “multiple,” a method which several sentences later, they insinuate that they were unable to effectively put to use: “We ourselves were unable to do it. We just used words that in turn function for us as plateaus. RHIZOMATICS = SCHIZOANALYSIS = STATOANALYSIS = PRAGMATICS = MICROPOLITICS” (673).

    What they are talking about here and through the rest of the paragraph/excerpt on page 673, I don’t know. Robert, Kevin, or Marina: maybe you can offer some clarification on Monday.

  2. As Castells writes in “The Global Network,” “Switches connecting the networks (for example, financial flows taking control of media empires that influence political processes) are the privileged instruments of power. Thus, the switchers are the power holders” (ST 621). I’d like to continue to contemplate the complex nature of “switches,” “switchers,” and the flipping of the switch for, as Castells observes and as Robert and Kevin note in their post, this is where the true power resides.

    In “Control and Fear in a Post-Global Network,” Levina and Kien identify how after 9/11, there emerged a “popular paranoia about the vulnerability of relying on the network” (1). The enemy no longer has a face and a trajectory (a “force”), but rather permeates the very “environment” in which we exist (2). The authors cite a number of films that demonstrate the dangers of a network going “live,” if not becoming fully “self-aware” in the process. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) is one film the authors cite, and it is a good one. The title is somewhat misleading, for the machines are merely the devastating, out-of-control instruments of the network called “SkyNet.” SkyNet, the same enemy from the previous Terminator films, is fittingly named: the sky knows no limits, and neither does this network – that is, once it is “switched on.” Once the switch has been flipped, the machines then can execute the will of this now “live” network. And indeed, Arnold Schwarzenegger/the Terminator/the machine-as-enemy “is indistinguishable from the general populace” because it/he looks like one of us (the tagline is: living tissue covering metal) (3).

    Here is a clip of the exact moment in the film where SkyNet is switched on, bringing about Armageddon: This film illustrates an understanding that the threat of the network and any tangible form that may represent and/or work on behalf of the network only comes into being by the switcher who flips the switch. Consider how this second clip (starting at 36 seconds) shows the apocalyptic repercussions brought about by the flip: It truly illustrates the connectedness of the network, as the attacks are simultaneously carried out and related to one another, yet we do not actually see, per se, from where this originates. Most telling is how at the bottom of this clip, a YouTube viewer wrote the following of the depiction of earth destroyed: “i think it's the most beutiful thing i've ever seen.. but at the same time my biggest fear” (MrBustedyou). Grammar aside, the poster truly captures the paradox that Levina and Kien capture themselves: “The post-global network both overtly denotes danger, while at the same time more subtly connoting freedom” (2). In Terminator 3, the flip was switched not for annihilation, but to actually “trap” the origin of a network virus: ultimately, freeing us from danger through a “system-wide connection” via SkyNet (T3 script). In the end, this raises important questions about the role of “intent” in grappling with questions about networks, while also reinforcing the fact that the lines between fantasy and fear are largely indistinguishable.

  3. Since my entry way into understanding concepts and generally speaking, the world, has been rhetoric, I find drawing from that form of thinking to be the easiest way to conceptualize the network, rhizomes, and plateaus. Thus, when I turn to understand what a rhizome is, Michael McGee’s concept of fragmentation comes to mind [1]. The same way a fragment is only part of a broader context and perception of the world and cannot be removed from the cross-cultural and historical context, a “the rhizome is an acentered, nonhierarchical, nonsignifying system without a General and without an organizing memory or central automation, defined solely by a circulation of states” (ST, 672). The meaning assigned to both the fragment and rhizome comes not from within these two things, but instead what is pressed upon it. That is to say, like a chameleon that changes based upon it’s background, the fragment and rhizome are defined by their relation to what is around them.

    For this reason, if one were to remove the fragment or the rhizome from any portion of this larger whole, what would be left would be more of what was initially removed. Plateaus also function in the same manner. Like any symbol (word, picture, or otherwise) the symbol (and the plateau) serves as a centralized place where one can draw meaning. However, through the interconnectivity, there is no clean and clear definition of what this symbol or plateau represents. Instead, as Deluze and Guattari explain it is, “a continuous self-vibrating region of intensities whose development avoids any orientation toward a culmination point or external end” (ST, 672). As a result, there is no clear distinction between where the symbol ends or begins. To use a food metaphor, if a rhizome a pint of ice cream found within a quart of ice cream, then a plateau is a scoop.

    Understood from this level, we can turn to the subject of networks and control. We can begin to answer the question by Levina and Kien posed at the end of their chapter—“how does one conceptually use ‘network’ to analyze evolutions in critical cultural discourse and the everyday practices that it addresses?”—by acknowledging that if one cannot remove any institution, practice, or more specifically a rhizome, from the network, then we can better comprehend the nature of a hurricane by looking at any butterfly [2].


  4.! How you have enhanced and ultimately destroyed my life. You are truly a "living" paradox, something I never knew I needed and now cannot live without. You have made me an addict without my consent and in the process I have sacrificed my power, my individuality, and my intelligence. I cannot hide from anyone or anything. I can always be found by family, long-lost friends, psycho ex-boyfriends, credit card companies, and debt collectors. Senders of emails and text messages are alerted when (and if) I read the messages, making it difficult for the excuse, "I didn't get that message” to be effective. Indeed, I have control over little to none of the information available about myself if I choose to remain as a participant in the global network, despite my efforts to sustain the highest levels of privacy and security. Perhaps even if I choose to leave the network, my digital footprint will remain, and still I cannot hide. Thank you Google maps. No longer am I known as "Carolyn" the girl who lives down the street or the girl I go to school with or the girl I work with. Rather, I am an entity found on Facebook with a multitude of signifiers that recognize me only as one in a group of many, a member of a network society which shape my virtual and thus, physical identity. I am "friends" with people I have never met or will never see again. My hobbies and interests are exploited for economic gain. To most, I am "just another" (fill-in the blank). Thanks to technology, I have no reason to memorize a phone number. Cell phones do that. I do not need to know where I live or how to get there. GPS handles all directions for and from me. I do not need to know how to talk to people. Text messages and email have eliminated all need for my voice. I do not need to exercise polite manners such as holding a door. Electronic sensors take care of that. Correct change and balancing bank accounts are handled by ATM's. I no longer need to think. I just need to be connected. Heaven help all of us when the network fails, when Y2K becomes a reality. It would be the end of me and I could not even call my parents to say goodbye and tell them I love them. I do not know their number.

    The purpose of these seemed ramblings is not simply to fulfill an assignment for media theory (well, hopefully they DO do that), but rather to contemplate how this happened. For I know not the beginning of the end of my power, individuality, and intelligence. I just appeared in the rhizome one day. The network called. I answered. I wonder how they found me.

  5. Networks exist as complex configurations of multiple fragments that become interchangeable moving parts. This modern conceptualization of the rhizome seems like a natural progression from the industrial revolution where pieces of products were manufactured instead of a complete finished product. Deterritorialization of boundaries is enhanced by the proliferation of technological advances which only makes this phenomenon more pervasive as information and commerce are exchanged at rapid speeds that are only impeded by access to bandwidth. How much the emergence of the network levels the field is debatable but the impact of this climate is undeniable. Access or inclusion into the network is fundamental to operate within the network which still formulates hierarchically; the network system is still governed by rules that operate as control mechanisms which regulate access and operating space.

    Castells asserts: “the new economy is organized around global networks of capital, management, and information, whose access to technological know-how is at the roots of productivity and competitiveness” (ST, 621) The average person in our society has access to devices like the cell phone or ipod or can easily access the internet, however the average person cannot overcome the gap of knowledge, innovation and resources it takes to implement influence on a massive scale. We can tweet, interact with people on Facebook, upload and download, but we do not have access to the newest technology that is utilized by elite military personnel, for example. Therefore what we have in terms of freedom is still limited by comparison to those who have access to resources, in fact one could argue that deterritorialization allows more space for exclusion and exploitation.

    The controls of financial markets and currency are regulated by these networks. Castells writes:
    “While finance capital has generally been among the dominant fractions of capital, we are witnessing the emergence of something different: capital accumulation proceeds, and its value making is generated, increasingly, in the global financial markets enacted by information network in the timeless space of financial flows” (ST, 621).

    Timelessness seems like a good way to characterize the rhizome as the dimensions of the plateau are open ended. Sometimes it is hard to notice when some entity free falls from its steep sides, perhaps landing uncomfortably on a lower plateau. I think the two concepts of network and rhizome provide a perfect correlation as access to the network can be viewed as analogous to stepping on the plateau- these spaces are somewhat self-contained but not completely closed, operating with fluid margins that are frayed at the ends with many dangling from these tattered threads. These lines, as Deleuze and Guattari call them, connect the plateaus in circular patterns. I see this concept visually in my mind as an endless surface with clusters of activity that are connected by consistent and rapid flashes of connection. These connections are interwoven and pass clusters in various orbits seamlessly while connecting, disconnecting and reconnecting within the relevant spheres of activity.

  6. “While network can be experienced as though infinite, it is important to acknowledge that membership in any particular network is often restricted and unequally distributed…underrepresented populations are further excluded from the network through the development and design of the products that purport inclusion” (Levina & Grant, p. 6 – 7). It would be easy to highlight prices and look at which classes of people are walking around with I-Phones, I-Pads or any of the newest technologies, then examine who doesn’t have them. Where I see the problem is when technologies becomes a norm. Being someone who has never had a credit card or a checking account and works on a cash only basis, I find more and more that access to many services are restricted to credit card only. It started with renting cars and booking airline flights, but now if I don’t want to pay retail or get a discounted book a credit card is required (especially once all the bookstores go under). These services which make books affordable and more accessible, but exclude those who do not have credit cards; “Membership has its privileges.” Under the realities of our new economy and the credit card laws passed by Congress, access to credit is limited or even being denied more than ever before. What will eventually happen to those “slow” people in the commercial holding up the transactions? One place where access has become an ideological battle is “Net Neutrality.” Normally I don’t use wiki but since we approaching a rhizomatic rupture I’ll use it. “Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle proposed for users' access to networks participating in the Internet. The principle advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and the modes of communication.” The Democrat controlled FCC passed rules barring companies from restricting access to competitors and according to “Wiki” the new Republican house of representatives, representing the controlling companies, have vowed to reverse this decision with law. These battles center on providing access because more and more services and participation in everyday activities requires internet access, but what about those people who don’t have computers? As Levina & Grant reveal, products which claim to increase inclusion actually leave behind underrepresented groups as internet access or possession of a computer is required to participate in the network.

  7. I continue to be fascinated by the way in which the language of computing becomes the language of human being. Cognitive science looks at the human mind and thinking in terms of processing power and other computing concepts. Much of communication theory, with its sender-receiver foundation, is based on the mathematical model developed by Bell Lab scientists Shannon and Weaver. So, human being is reduced to the neat and tidy; the connections are efficient and if not yet efficient, efficiency is the goal.

    I want to reflect briefly on one of the points from Deleuze which Kevin and Robert highlight in their post. They not that “’unlike trees or their roots, the rhizome connects one point to any other point, and its traits aren’t necessarily linked to traits of the same nature’ (35). In the words of Deleuze, the tree represents a linear and genealogical information system, whereas a rhizome has a multi-dimensional function, it is always ‘in the middle.’” When human being is regarded in this way, one also can view science fiction as critical theory and reflection.

    So, the readings this week (including the post by Kevin and Robert) drew me to science fiction, particularly Star Trek. I also thought about Octavia Butler. I have only a passing acquaintance with the work of Butler. However, I do know that Butler observes that humans are instinctively hierarchical; that is to say that in their connections and relationships, humans consistently privilege one way of being or thinking over another way of thinking or being. Further, even in a network or nodal orientation, the very point of contact or connection can become “more” privileged than other parts in the network. The notion of division and privileging is at the core of the rhetorical theory of Kenneth Burke.

    In a July 2007 article titled “'The human contradiction': identity and/as essence in Octavia E. Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy” in the YEARBOOK OF ENGLISH STUDIES, Jeffrey Tucker notes that the reader is introduced to “aliens [who] seek to interbreed with the survivors of a nuclear war to remove a conflict between humanity's genetic traits: intelligence and hierarchical thinking.” He also observes that the “aliens, the Oankali, come bearing the gifts of making the planet liveable once again and liberating humans from the hierarchical thinking that ensures their extinction” (;col1).

    In a similar vein, this week’s readings remind me of the story arc in Star Trek: The Next Generation about a cyber race simply referred to as “The Borg.” They are a race of beings of one consciousness connected through nodes. They are part machine and part human with an incredible capacity to adapt, heal, and rebuild. Their efficiency continues to evolve as they capture and assimilate “inferior” beings keeping what is “good” and discarding what is superfluous, contradictory, or hierarchical. The associated tagline is that “resistance is futile.” Defeating “The Borg” requires sabotaging the collective consciousness. In the end, the efficiency of “The Borg” is also the most exploitable vulnerability.

  8. As I was reading this week, I became very aware of the statement that Dr. Levina said in class a while back (I think about a month ago). “Everything is violent.” In Deleuze’s articulation of rhizome, we learn that in the network this is true in a multitude of ways. Even the terms that Deleuze uses to categorize aspects of his theoretical framework are violent: rupture, de/reterritorialization. Even in the progress of creation, such as Wikipedia, there must be destruction as well.

    However, I think the most interesting aspect of these readings this week deals with fear and control in the network. For me, I try to be somewhat conscience of my attachment to the network and its effect on my life. Levina & Kien discuss this awareness of attachment in the context of Y2K and 9/11. My mother is a prime example of someone who still harbors this fear. She not only refuses to be on Facebook and LinkedIn, but she keeps cash stashed away in the event that she cannot access her bank account (a very Y2K fear). However, Levina and Kien argue that the network “should not be conceptualized as a singularity or a technological entity, but rather as an always-already amorphous condition of life”(2). In other words, we cannot hide or escape it. In fact, with some companies it is hard to not even do business with them in the digital network, because they only exist there, such as Amazon and iTunes. Another theme is this article is the concept of control in the network. Levina & Kien argue that the phrase ‘We have lost control” represents an anxiety we consider to be discernable at the heart of efforts to contain and control threats in the post-9/11, post-global network” (3). While I constantly try to maintain control over my presence in the network, I do have these deep seeded fears of losing control. In fact this past week, they were confirmed when I received nearly ten emails from different companies explaining that a data management company, Epsilon, that they use has been breached and that my information might have been compromised. ( The first email did not surprise me or even frighten me as this is a common occurrence in the digital network. However, after the fifth email, I was shocked to realize how many companies that I frequented used this one company. Not only had I lost control, but multiple companies had lost control as well. However, while the network creates a sense of fear and a fight for control, some of the response to this has been through the use of collective intelligence as Bratich demonstrates with his case study of collective intelligence in conspiracy and truth surrounding 9/11 (Levina & Kien, 6). I use collective intelligence constantly as a form of control in my networked life.

    As Carolyn stated in her post, the network has called and she wonders how they found her. I myself often contemplate my place in this vast network that is my life. I cannot hide or escape it, because I live it.

  9. Networks largely aide increasing globalization as networks act to compress time and space throughout the world. While networks dominate society, there are recognizable consequences of such a framework. Specifically, networks aide in social control as surveillance acts as a mechanism of power. Increasing interconnectedness, through networking, furthers this theory.

    As Michel Foucault noted in, Power and Knowledge, power is a critical source of control, specifically a tool of population or social control. Essentially, according to Foucault, discourses transmit, produce, reinforce, undermine, and expose power. Thereby, power may appear fragile and the possibility of thwarting that power is now an option. Like Deluze’s article, Postscript on Control Societies, the shift from the carceral/disciplinary system to the control society, which dominates today’s Information Age.

    Foucault also discusses the effects of the surveillance as a tool of power. He describes surveillance control as “permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary.” (CTPC, 130).

    Specifically, a network includes some into the body while explicitly excluding others. Networks affect social and cultural values in terms of culture and power. Castells states” Not that people, locales, or activities disappear. But their structural meaning does, subsumed in the unseen logic of the meta-network where value is produced, cultural codes are created and power is decided.” (ST, 624-625). Castells furthers, “The new social order, the network society, increasingly appears to most people as a meta-social disorder. Namely, as an automated, random sequence of events, derived the uncontrollable logic of markets, technology, geopolitical order, or biological determinism” (ST, 625). In other words, Castells stresses that society is now made out of the process of work.

    Essentially,the new Information Age views technological culture as superior to previous narratives in which, nature dominated cultural ways of life. Where networks are becoming further globalized we are all nodes of interconnectedness. As the wise Bob Dylan said, "No one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky."

  10. So, some think “we’ve lost control.” Interesting! As Levina and Kien note, control in this case has to do with the fact that we can no longer single out the influence or threat of any person or entity because everyone and everything is so interconnected in our global society. Deleuze explains this reality from the perspective of the rhizome which is basically an endless thread that connects everyone and everything to everyone and everything regardless of boundaries (30-31). Castells explains this reality from the perspective of networks in that social networking sites connect everyone and makes disseminating information as easy as posting on one’s page. The threat posed by this new reality is that since we no longer have a linear model of organization, identifying the primary center of power (i.e. terrorist organization) in today’s society is much more challenging than finding Waldo in the children’s game “Where’s Waldo” (I sucked at that game because everything and everyone looked the same to me). As a result, Levina and Kien suggests we’ve lost control.

    Though I can see the validity of this statement, I want to challenge them, a little. Though it seems like we have lost control, as Castelles points out, switches do exist that allow those in power to somewhat control situations (620). A contemporary example that comes to mind is how the Egyptian government ordered the withdrawal of more than 3,500 Border Gateway Protocol (BGP routes are the most vital parts of the internet) during recent protests. That one act left 88 percent of Egyptians without internet access. CNN posted an article shortly thereafter and discussed how easy it is for any government to repeat what Egypt did, as was the case with Syria a few weeks ago.

    Though it appears “we’ve lost control,” from time to time switches are pulled to demonstrate those in power still maintain some type of control. In light of earlier discussions this semester, I dare argue the same illusion of freedom continues to exist and that we still have the option to choose between the choices that “the powers that be” have provided.

  11. I engaged in this week’s readings with little to no prior knowledge on networking and society. Therefore, I took a particular interest in these readings discussions in how networks function in society.

    According to Castells (1996), the network society is, currently, a capitalist society. Castells adds that “for the first time in history, the capitalist mode of production shapes social relationships over the entire planet” (Social Theory, p. 621). I find this to be true in relation to the example of Facebook as the leading GLOBAL social network. As Kevin and Robert note, Facebook began as a social network for Harvard college students, then IVY league students, then expanded to include any college students with a valid college email (that is when I joined the network), and now anyone with computer access can join this network [Even one of my brother’s friends has separate Facebook accounts for her dogs]. This changing of the network, or rhizome, might refer to Deleuze’s fourth principle of the rhizome, the reterritorialization, when the older meanings of a network keep becoming replaced by newer meanings. With the expansion of this network, came the “need” to capitalize on its popularity and to further globalize this network; anyone that has seen the movie, Social Network (2010), has viewed the account of how Facebook executives started making profits from advertisers and investors. And while the capital of Facebook is now globally coordinated, as Castells states, the labor is individualized to meet the demographics and needs of each individual network user, by all the while replacing space and leaving behind the idea of time. Based on the Facebook pages you visit, the pages you belong to or “like,” and your personal profile information, commodity advertisements have become individualized to appeal to the individual network user marketed to ultimately bring in the most money to Facebook and its investors, while also seemingly keeping the user more “active” and involved in the network. For example, based on what your side Facebook pages advertise, you can shop and get involved with politics at the same time without worrying about the concept of time itself. Therefore, Facebook remains a “real” and “live” example of the GLOBAL concept of a network of financial flows in which billions of dollars is spent by companies, both advertisers/investors, for the hopes of significant profit-making.
    However, Castells asserts that “the powers that are in the media networks take second place to the power of flows embodied in the structure and language of these networks” (Social Theory, p. 623). According to Castells, ultimately, the power of the langue and parole take precedent over the power complex of the media institutions that run these network sites. Therefore, studying the use of language rhetorically might benefit cultural analyses of social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.