Discussing the ideas of the book "Netocracy" by AlexanderBard
and Jan Soderqvist (See BookList
The link http://www.thenetocrats.com/ seems to be back!!!
This summer Bard and Soderqvist came out with a follower to "Netocracy" The English translation is on itīs way. Directly translated from Swedish its name would be "The Global Empire". It elaborates many of the ideas from "Netocracy" and goes a bit deeper into filosofic discussions. A new webcite is also comming soon, acording to the authors: http://www.eternalism.com/.
ReadWith : my outline for the Wittgenstein Society : http://www.nooranch.com/synaesmedia/academic/netocracy_format.doc ( http://blahsploitation.blogspot.com/2007/12/yeah-ok-im-legendarily-lazy-and.html )
Netocracy is another example of FeudalismCapitalismInformationalism.
In Bard and Soderqvist's model, the post-capitalist situation is an economic mode where the most valuable form of economic wealth is a network of good connections, through which flow information and influence. (Connections can be personal connections to people; or knowledge of resources such as good website)
Money is not eliminated, but follows flows. Good connections bring valuable information; and valuable information can be used in two ways : exploitation and imploitation :
- Exploitation is the typical reaction of the capitalist : to attempt to turn information into money. The Bard and Soderqvist example is to turn knowledge of an obscure, pleasant beach into cash by building a hotel and selling trips there. (Also SocialCapitalAndIncome)
- However, as the Netocratic economy becomes more prominent, connections themselves become the more desirable form of wealth. Thus knowledge of the beach can be imploited, ie turned into further network wealth by using it to make or cement connections. Instead of trying to popularize the beach, you can invite some select friends or people you'd like to be friends. Careful imploitation of information strengthens your network. (Note here that NetoCracy differs from some similar theories, in that it presumes that many exclusive networks will be concerned with preserving the secrecy of information and keeping people out.)
(More on each at their sub-pages : /Imploitation and /Exploitation)
A tabular overall of NetoCracy :
| ||Feudalism || Capitalism || Netocracy|
| Stable Point (1) || God || Man || ?? |
| Political Root || The King || TheNationState || Polyarchy (2) |
| Elite || Aristocracy || Capitalist || Netocrat (3) |
| Underclass || Peasant || Workers || /Consumtariat (4) |
| Political System || Patronage || Democracy || Polyarchy (5) |
| Epistemology || Religion || Science || ?? (maybe ConspiracyTheories) (6) |
| Wealth (7)|| Name / Land || Capital / Money || Information / Connections |
| Elite Exerts Control || Obligation || Paying people to work || Controlling information, /InformationOverload |
| Resistance || Peasant Revolt || Worker's Revolt || Crime, millenial cults, terrorism (8) |
| Philosophical Type (9) || Totalist || Totalist || Mobilist |
| You Are? (10) || Instrument of God and King || The Self || The Dividual |
- The stable point is the fixed idea at the centre of the moral universe. The unchanging source of value, impervious to the fluctuations within society. Note, that while discussing this for Feudalism and Capitalism (which they also refer to as Project Man) B + S give no equivalent for netoracy. Perhaps there is no stability. In their new book, B + S say the fixed idea of the new era is the Net. The presentation is somewhat muddy, but as I understand it itīs about being less indivualistic and instead feel as a part of oneīs "virtual tribes" as well as the global net. Just as the indivual subject has been a useful abstraction without a real ontologic ground, so, in the new era, it is useful to treet the virtual tribes as well as the upcoming global net as subjects.
- The stable point is the centre, but the Political Root is the representative of that stability on Earth. The King is God's ordained representative. Under Capitalism, in theory the Democratically elected state is the official expression of the will of Rational Man. Polyarchy is the state of total legal autonomy that individuals within networks find themselves in. LawAndSanctionsInNetocracy
- The elite are those who are succesful. The Netocrats are elite of Netocracy.
- Meanwhile, the underclass are the losers in the system. (And B+S, unlike some are clear that there will be losers.) See the section on consumtariat below.
- In Patronage, power flows down the hierarchy. In Democracy power flows up from the will of rational man. In Netocracy's Polyarchy each individual is sovereign of his / her own network. Maybe power flows across networks. Another possibility is that political system under netocracy is EmergentDemocracy
- Under feudalism, knowledge came from God. In Project Man, knowledge comes from our own rational research. (Science is the major expession of this, but we can count history and the rest of academic research) It's not clear what the equivalent is in Netocracy. Although there is an interesting discusison of NetocracyVsAcademia). I have a couple of suggestions. ConspiracyTheories would be a possible contender for the equivalent of religion. Another possibility is celebrity gossip (TheCultOfCelebrity) Or maybe it's a variation of "it's not what you know but who you know" SocialNetworkAnalysis, mapping knowledge flows in companies etc. (And NetworkEpistemology?)
- Name is wealth under Feudalism because it implies entitlement to land. Information is a kind of wealth, but a quickly devaluing one. However it can be imploited to build connections which are the major form of wealth.
- All these systems have losers who are driven to rebel against them. In Netocracy resistance comes in two forms. Passive resistors will try to do without the system (in other words, seek to isolate themselves from the wider networks, in a private space of their own. Active ones will attack networks.) There is also the nightmarish BazaarOfViolence. An rival network organization which is a market of interdependent violent groups with no overall aim than to fight a continuous gang wars and prevent rival institutions and structures getting a hold.
- B+S bring a strong philsophical influence from GillesDeleuze. This involves categorizing philosophies into Totalistic and Mobilistic. Both Feudalism and Capitalism are Totalistic, whereas the default philosophy of the Netocrats will be Mobilistic. Although unclear, this philosophy seems to contain elements of the existentialist insight that action precedes essence. And owes something to Nietzsche. It involves keeping oneself ever changing, rejecting all fixed idea. PLEASE, SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTANDS THIS STUFF BETTER, HELP ME OUT HERE (And more OnMobility)
- The notion of the self is analyzed as a construct of Project Man. The Netocratic person will be a flux of roles, changing with each network he / she joins. Deleuze coins the term Dividual for this multiple construct. (See also OnIndividuals)
If there's a transition between Capitalism and a new economic paradigm, shouldn't we see a conflict between the champion institutions of the different modes? B+S think we are seeing it start in the form of a power struggle between the media and the state. The democratic nation state is one of the institutions of Capitalism; wheras increasingly, the modern media looks and works like a network. Although it's owned by companies, many journalists, TV producers etc. are freelancers who move from one contract job to another. These people rely on their network of contacts to provide them with the next job. The journalists have networks of contacts to feed them information, or who to approach for quotes. Hence the modern media is a network of networks.
Conflict between the media networks and the NationState takes the form of a continuous attack, made by the media, on the idea of the state. In particular, the propaganda that the electorate is bored with politics, feels disenfranchised by the political process, doesn't trust politicians, and that people are increasingly opting out by not voting. As the media continues to spread this idea, which delegitimises the government, voter apathy increases, which feeds back into the downward spiral. The media also promotes the idea that media performance itself is the key to electoral success; and analyses the prospects of politicians in terms of their capacity to give good media, to entertain (a media virtue) the electorate.
The result is a genuine disengagement with politics, not because politicians are really corrupt, but because politicians are really disempowerd by the media. The media also acts as a conduit through which other network institutions such as special interest groups, charities and oligarchs etc. can gain power. As long as they are able to enter into symbiotic relations with the media network by providing a "good story".
This now has it's own page /MediaAgainstTheState
Other possibilities :
- EmergentDemocracy / SecondSuperpower
- NetWar (and the question of terrorist networks attacking the nation state)
- We can also see networks attacking capitalist institutions in the form of FreeSoftware projects colonising niches in competition with proprietory software companies, and starving them of income.
But contrast: CapitalistResistanceToNetocracy, HierarchiesBeatNetworks which might show succesful resistance.
Production, Consumption and The /Consumtariat
From the book : The fundamental difference between the netocracy and the comsumtariat is thus that the former controls its own production of desire, whereas the latter obeys the orders of the former ... Both capitalists and labourers worked, but it was the capitalists who dictated the terms. Both netocrats and comsumtariat consume, but once again it is the elite that is dictating the terms.
In netocracy, production of goods has, allegedly, ceased to be a problem. So, although this constitutes a genuinely new economic infrastructure, it is not really a mode of production. Netocracy occurs in societies where production has been outsourced to poorer countries ... or eventually where it has been sufficiently automated. Netocrats and consumtariat share a world which is better described as a mode of consumption. What production there is in this world blurs into consumption, and is either stimulating or dull and repetative.
But the netocrats are those who discover a new thing; who's access to information brings it to them first; and who evaluate it. They're the taste makers who declare it to be worth consuming. As such they value novelty, the things which are currently unjudged and unconsumed. These things they then have the choice of keeping to themselves (imploitation) until this value has been sucked out of it; and then throwing to the consumtariat as the "next big thing" to be into.
More detail : /Consumtariat
Importance of Exclusivity
Netocracy differs from some other pictures of an Informational economic mode (for example : TheAttentionEconomy) in that it emphasizes that the netocrats will rely on exclusivity of membership of networks, and the keeping of information as a resource for private imploitation.
See more on /Exclusivity
Typology of Actors
There's a very unclear typology of actors in Netocracy : the eternalists, the nexialists and the curators.
As far as I can tell :
- nexialists are nodes in the network, equated with entrepreneurs and, I guess, people who have traditional, non-network derived value. They understand (or are) the value at the nodes.
- curators manage the arcs between nodes. Curators control who belongs to a network, and consequently have the power of inclusion and exclusion. They understand (or are) the value of the arcs.
- eternalists see the networks' network nature. In fact eternalists can't help seeing things as networks. They even understand their own being as being a resonance phenomenon washing over a network confluence of memetic and genetic nodes. They understand the value of the dynamics or flow within the network.
(THIS EXPLANATION SUCKS, AND MAY BE WRONG. CAN ANYONE HELP ME OUT WITH THESE TYPES?)
Otherwise we may be better off with another typology such as Mavens, Connectors, Salesmen. (Do Mavens map onto Nexialists and Connectors onto Curators?)
More : TypesOfInformationTraders
Others who get it
See also :
CategoryPolitics, CategoryInformationalism, CategoryNetworks, CategoryNetworkSociety