Undesigning the Emergency: Against Prophylactic Urban Membranes
Benjamin H. Bratton, Associate Professor of Visual Arts, U. C. San Diego. www.bratton.info
ETech, San Jose, CA. March 11, 2009
RAW lecture notes for citation and reference. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further comment, revision, permissions, etc. I will post a proper online version of the talk shortly.
First, let me thank Brady and Tim for the invitation, not only to speak but to speak about the architecture and terrorism, hardly the usual fare for eTech. But their insight that it is in fact strongly connected to the agenda and ambition of open network social politics is correct. I teach political philosophy to architects, designers, urbanists, artists, and also direct the design policy program at CALIT2, the UC’s primary IT core research institute at UCSD, itself essentially an open sourcing of primary research, a direct innovation and technology transfer platform. But I wont' be showing you technology, we’ll end the day more philosophically, so fair warning.
They asked me to speak about another project, based on an upcoming book, published by semiotexte/MIT early next year on the design logics of terrorism and counter-terrorism and what it teaches us about the character of public space, exceptional violence and open and closed networks. What’s revealed by that is not only the constitutional violence of how all architecture works, but how the design technique of the partition works to generate violence as much as prevent it, and how what we know about open systems in software and in urbanism must learn from each other.
As I see it, for the broader O’Reilly project, software is cast as a tangible substance of human initiative (and non-human, for that matter), more than a mechanism for the automation of command systems. It’s a universal Spinozean animating force of the material world. It is constructive, potentially organic, more like a music that can assume the force of law, than a consumable channel or content. More wet than dry.
The city, any city, is likewise more than a warehouse of architectural achievements and accidents. It is also an emerging technology, and in fact always has been, emerging still and always.
So together, the city as hardware and software as well software, is bound as a generative platform less as machine than as habitat. Such a platform/habitat directs our attention not just to a new set of technologies to be coded and installed (that is the deferred future someday of pervasive computing.) In fact it changes how my other colleagues, architects, urbanists, define what a city is at all, now and already. This bound platform is a metaprogram for what the metamedium of the city is and can be, how we diagnose what is and is not an open, scalable condition or policy. It is, however, not new. It in fact predates digital computation.
The image of the network city goes back at least to the Romans in and drove the city’s Modernity: we see in Louis Kahn’s traffic plan, Archizoom’s no stop city, Superstudio’s megastructures, Dennis Crompton’s computer city, are a few examples.
Which is to say simply that the relative openness and closedness of urban interfaces is the condition into which urban software is installed, and the one which it effects and innovates most directly, but it does not in itself make the city into a landscapes of interfaces. It is always that. Software is not something to be spread like butter onto a city so as to modulate it, but something that may appreciated in its immiediacy and its complexity as a metamedium for integration and activation of the social, because the city is something that is, like software, under threat of being shut down.
What is new, and very important. Is that software, as a system by itself, knows things about open infrastructure that architects and planners need to internalize, that our cities need to absorb and embody, and vice versa.
Among these, I’ll discuss more below, is not only that open networks are better than closed networks, but that urban fabric, like a code-base, is something to be constantly recreated and given the means to recreate itself. Seen from the perspective of its eventual form, it hasn’t even happened yet. The world itself, that is, hasn’t happened yet, either.
Constraint, Hummer Architecture
“Once an act of terrorism occurs, it is already for the second time.” --Paul Virilio
Constraint is not only a set of conditions in which design must struggle, to constrain is itself a design strategy. Cambrian lurches forward in design ecologies tend to occur in response to an emergency, often a war. Today design is asked to choose between two meta-emergencies: ecological deterioration or securitization/ the war on terror. (a space open and filled well or badly by new experts) Lines are drawn. Use cases are modelled. Budgets are allocated. My talk is about the need to undesign the second of these emergencies. I hold in grave suspicion the design of constraint within architecture and urbanism, particularly in response to perceived threats of terrorist violence and external invasion, and so should you.
What is that design?
The complexity of global society is qualified not just by risk, but by incomprehensible risk. The interconnectedness of political, natural, technological, economic variables effects any expert system, but also makes it impossible to master the totality. Precariousness, precarity, is, to the core, the order of the day. In the wake of 9/11,we saw the execution of a generalized "aggressive defensiveness": preemptive strikes, enhanced interrogation, to safe cities and security membranes along our national orifices.
Today, blanketed in the residue of the collapsed bubble, lifeboat ethics is held at bay by an unprecedented reanimation of the agency of the Federal apparatus, under control today by well-meaning intellgent progressives but in four years by who knows.
Our cities are our most important technologies, but they suffer today from a kind of auto-immunity disorder by which we ourselves disfigure them, attack them with defensive measures in the inverted image of a potential threat of future criminal or terrorist violence.
It is a design by designing for the emergency, on behalf of it, by repeating the possibility of the catastrophic violence in advance of its actual occurance which may or may not come.( and now does not need to come, becuase it’s result it put there in advance in the guise of defensive measure) It may also be integral, but even if so, no less bizarre.
By way of precedent consider that for the entirety of the Cold War, the USA and the Soviet Union did not explode a single nuclear device on the other’s territory. Instead, in the guise of the test, the USA bombed the USA (over 1000 bomb tests, >300 atmospheric, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Mississipi, New Mexico and Marshall Islands, 174 megatons) and the Soviet Union bombed the Soviet Union (700-900 bombs, Kazahkztan, Artic achaepelagos, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, other areas of Russia proper, including the Tsar Bomba in 1961, 50 megatons all by itself, or 10 times the total munitions of ww2, 285 megatons) 15 and 20 kilotons, hiroshima and nagasaki.
The defensive measure it to attack one’s own body, to demonstrate the very capacity to attack, and to ward off the possibility of the event being tested from occuring at some time in the future.
As for security programming, the body politic, and the body of the city, goes wrong, and repeats by way closure and prevention a distorting violence upon itself in the inverse image of a projected violence, what psychoanalytic theory would call a defense mechanism.
But my interest is not only in protecting the politically open space from a reactionary closure, it’s to extend and radically expand a politicized openness much further than it is or ever was. Not because it would be nice, but because it is necessary.
Societies are composed of interfaces, hard ones and soft ones, slow ones and fast ones, immobile and mobile, concrete and electronic. The generalized open network, source, software, channel politics will not succeed unless it further develops itself as a theory of technology and not just software, which is to say, of the city.
Let’s consider some examples of this inversion and what is to be learned from them, both positively and negatively.
The new United States embassy in Berlin has been met with howling disapproval by Berliners and architecture critics alike for its menacing fortress, and its official presentation of the United States abroad through a posture of aggressive defensiveness and unwelcome menace. Not only is the design more reminisent of the cheap funcationalism of a military hotel, its hosts are offended by its real measures including triple reinforced walls, bomb-proof, and most of all the surrounding by a security fence that separates it from the main road and the rest of the city. It has been dubbed “Hummer architecture” after the grotesquely militarized consumer SUV’s that became so popular in the psychological wake of 9/11. The official ceremonial body of the USA in Germany is a helmet. ...Germany is complaining about America’s obsessiveness. Wow.
The Politics of National Interfaces: Protecting our precious bodily fluids.
Borders represent an interface between a “national body” and the rest of the world. Recently the militarization of these interfaces has overwhelmed reasoned policy. While the the Dubai Ports World scandal will go down as among the most bizarre episodes of institutional Islamophobia, of much more real concern is the on-going militarization of the Southern and Baja California international border. In the name of better policing of extralegal demographic flows, and even preventing “terrorism” from entering the homeland from abroad, it has become national policy to transform this critical point of regional connection into permanent state of emergency: a very thin, very wide “camp.” It is tragic that in a world of global flows, legal and extralegal, the most unproductive forms of ethnic filtering have replaced imaginative and engaged urban planning.
What does the border do then? Like a very wide but very thin interface, it works to govern conditions of cultural, economic and demographic exchange between these two political territories. It doesn’t just work on behalf of a government, it is governance. To me that is a very interesting design opportunity and challenge, and also why the the prophylactic strategy of the wall must be undone. A border can be many things and do many things. To filtrate and sanitize (peeking) population flows is not the only assignment. We are choosing, to our own detriment, an “Israeli Model”
Security barriers and Green Zones: What is Civilian Space?
Another trend is the confusion of military and civilian spaces, and thereby military and civilian life. It works both ways. Airports and train stations are patrolled by armed men in uniform, and everyday phone calls are suspected as being technologies in a open-ended war against an undefinable enemy.
While in the Green Zone, military personnel are/were coocooned in a safety zone that attempts to replicate normal civilian life as much as possible, a live-work mall complex in the middle of the battlefield. Does the idea of a permanent war mean that there are no civilians and no truly civilian, public space?
CalTrans Bunker, Los Angeles
Morphosis’ CalTrans builiding in downtown Los Angeles, designed by Pritziker Prize winner, Thom Mayne, is truly the most striking and beautiful additions to the skyline. In real design originality it far outpaces Gehry’s whimsical Disney Hall. It is also designed primarily in terms of the use-case of an Oklahoma City-style truck bomb. The building is surrounded by a huge concrete moat, sheilding it from all intercourse with human and automobile scale traffic. The only opening entrance is populated with giant metal finger emerging up from the ground and pointing out at any incoming truck missile. The cleverness of Mayne, who served on the AIA “Building for Security” committee for many years, is to accomodate the demands of a totally militarized public architecture with those of formal and material design innovation. The sheer weirdness of all the security measures add up to a building figure so unusual that it is usually regarded as completely expressionistic, even artistic, even if that artistry is arrived at to assuage a program of panic.
Isamu Noguchi’s Designs for Japanese-American Internment Camps: How Temporary is Temporary?
Among ISAMU Noguchi’s most heartfelt projects, but least known, are a series of schools, playgrounds and meeting halls designed for the internment camp at Poston. Noguchi feared the camps would be permanent. As such they would require careful architectural and urban design to make them as livable as possible. Remember at the time no one knew that the camps were “temporary,” and its procisely this making permanent of the temporary that is worrisome.
Giorgio Agamben argues that the political “state of emergency,” going back to the Roman justinium, is paired with a particular architecture, that of the “camp.” The camp is the zone that exists both inside and outside the law at once, where authority is absolute but derived less from normal law than the infinite exception granted by the state of emergency, ostensibly to protect the framework of law that it itself transgresses.
Critically, for our interest here today, is that such states of emergency begin as a “temporary measure” (precaution, pilot program, protective custody, probation) but over time, through both political shift and in the normalization that appears through design’s accomodation of the emergency, the exception becomes the rule, and the rule the rule of law.
Designing like you Give a Damn: Resistance or Normalization of Emergency?
Many well-meaning projects enroll design in working, like Noguchi, to provide better comfort to those caught within such emergencies: refugees, displaced persons, disaster victims.
(i.e. “Architecture for Humanity”) Without discounting the real help that design can provide to alleviate misery, we must be honest in realizing that accomdating the emergency with design is how a perhaps illegitimate state of exception is stablilzed, normalized and, over time, made normal. To design for the emergency is to aid both its victims and its perpetrators.
More everyday securitization from homeless proofing of public sitting areas,
the securitization of the inside of shoes at aiports, the overarming of private security guards, the militarization of building surfaces and personal urban transporation, ... to the grotesque, migrant labor in UK housed in floating prison ships, barely inside the realm of legal protection separating them from slavery. Everyday forms of low-level chronic, slow motion spatial violence. These are actually more dangerous because they literally and symbolically supress the civility of the civil society at the individual level.
Now...As the Berlin Wall made clear, the camp and bunker are the same typology inverted. One makes partition to keep the contaminant world outside the safety membrane. (bunker) the other to contain it within (camp)....
For example, Remember the prisoner camps in Bosnia where Serbian paramilitaries temporarily housed captured Bosnian muslims? A famous black and white photograph of detainees standing behind barbed wire looking out at the camera, horrified the world and did more to mobilize opinion against the war than anything to date. The Serbs claimed, however, that it was the photographer who was “inside” the camp, looking “out” at the curious Bosnians who had gathered around the perimeter fence. This claim, proven false by a British court, shows how the “camp” and the “bunker” can invert themselves so easily.
Which projection here, which I? inside or outside? camp or bunker? reversability.....does the suppression of civil society responses to exceptional violence serve to support the civil society ostensibly protected from attack, or does it double in advance the attack, rendering the surface of the city in the image of its own projective violence/, ceding to it the habitat well in advance...
The reversability makes openness necessary because the virtual city to be governed can’t possibly know in advance whether and how the closing of a channel will work to stabilize or destabilize an intended civil equilibrium.....if the content of the terrorist form is that there is no civilian space, then the content of counter-terrorism is identical if inverted.
I turn then to what is in fact the most important example for us to consider, the event that signaled all the problems and opportunities we’ve touched on and which requires the most serious analysis because it represents a credible model --both positively and negatively-- of what we can expect from the future. I am speaking of the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
In a recent interview, Paul Virilio, notes that today’s qualities of technology --instantaneity, ubiquity, immediacy -- are those associated with the divine. One very important lesson of Mumbai is that the killer app of digital urbansim is not advertising to the hipster flaneur, it is religion, and it’s impact on political theology will be turbulent, existential and fertile. Read/write urbansim, urban computing, is post-secular.
Like a kind of sick version of a locative media game played on the surface of the digital city, area/code. Cerveny and Slavin just described, a group of at least 10 (no one can know for sure) killed 173 people, wounding over 300 more. 10 coordinated attacks. One caught alive.
Before the episode was even fully over, we’d learned about the array of powerful, but off-the-shelf, navigation and communications software and hardware used by the attackers to coordinate their movements throughout multiple locations at once: satellite phones, handheld GPS, anonymized email, Google Earth, voice-to-text software, etc. This news also cast new attention on report published October 16, 2008 by the U.S. Army considering scenarios in which terrorists would coordinate urban mobilization using Twitter. However in Mumbai, Twitter was used by hostages and others trapped in the mayhem to report and share information on on the events in realtime. The #Mumbai hash tag generated hundreds of pages of texts. See http://twitter.com/Mumbai
Bruce Schneier was, as you can imagine asked for his response to this horrible event, this nightmarish paroxysm of cyberterrorism. His response was pathetic, a variant of the criminals use forks and spoons too, so social/spatial technology isn’t really the story here. Of course social/spatial technology it is the story, but not just by how it was used to outflank a hopelessly unwired Indian official response.
Again, the US Govt however, almost got it just right. Their issued report the month before warning the terrorists might use Twitter to coordinate an attack, was spot on but backwards. Twitter became a way to mobilize a response to terrorist violence --reconaissance, C3, logistics-- to the attacks not on civil society but by civil society!
It is well known now. In response, official channels were misdirected. They didn’ know what was happening, where, when, why, by whom? And yet you had a strange situation where someone in CA reading the #mumbai feed (even though it was striated by rumor) had an apparently equal or perhaps even better raw intellgience feed that the official Indian respsone unit, sluggish, hierarchical cadres of men with guns, critical to fight it out, but where, how, when?. I’m sure some of you in this room tracked the event this way yourselves.
"Hospital update. Shots still being fired. Also Metro cinema next door,”
“"Blood needed at JJ hospital,"
Vinu, post-attack pictures to Flickr, etc. hundreds and hundreds of tweets.
Thinking no doubt of Black September, 72 Israeli Olympic team watching themselves on TV, able to thwart the West German response... the Indian gov’t response was an initial attempt to “shut down the Twitter stream.” This was hoped to choke them off. They didn’t and couldn’t and had they succeeded, many more people may have died.
The lesson for Open Society, Software and Urbanism is crystal clear: what can be used for swarm can be used for counter-swarm and vice versa. What can be used to mobilize a violent distortion of the urban network can be used to mobilize the suppression or dispertion of that distortion.
Swarm and Counter-Swarm
This is not the only lesson, but it is a critical one. Another, voiced by Saskia Sassen Stephen Graham is that the attacks of Mumbai represent a new phase in global conflict: a civilianization and an urbanization of warfare.
I think this is quite probable, but I say that lesson of Mumbai is also that the response to this new phase can’t be to redesign cities as battlefields, latent or explicit, and to accelerate the decivilianizaiton of its partitions, pathways and interfaces. In fact we want the opposite: the further civilianization of the city’s miliatary inheritance.
Since November I have heard Mumbai used as a reason why open technological systems cannot survive the coming violence of globalization. Preventing access the basic tools of digital urbanism is cast the new border patrol. I don’t meant frivolous things like the Indian lawyer who sued Google demanding that they remove “potentially sensitive” sites from GE and Maps, I mean serious policy people. The maturation of locative media may be stunted and with it a new world.
I trust that this audience is unsympathetic to the tired trope that open software systems will cause harmful and undesirable mischief, and that their closure and governance is both possible and preferred. We know the opposite is true and history is on the side of networks doing what networks always do, and that the coming waves of social and economic innovation will rely on the openness of the software systems that will bind civilian space into civil society.
Which is precisely why the parallel response to Mumbai, that the open system of the physical city must be closed down and securitized should be equally suspect to your sensibilies and sense of professional responsibility.
Why? Because as software becomes a medium through which the city is accessed and made social, the paired need for both open software and hardware is clear.
The design of the open public space is dependent on the design of the open software which is, increasingly, dependent on the design of open cities.
Mumbai is read for its contradictory lessons. It reveals the capaity of urban software to outpace and overwhelm the stupidity of prophylactic partition, and the inadequacy of traditional political institutions and their capacity to govern cities by official representation is fatally slow....
So then....Even mumbai is a positive example of sub-political multitude, that emerging, majority of people who own phones and for whom first experience of net and computation will be as an extension of their own embodiment. their’s is the agora of the future, and their right to truly civilian space and the potential of new forms of civil society, for and of the “other” 4 billion people is very much at stake.
I don’t mean that because we have twitter we don’t need an army, but one thing is very clear. In this very real state of emergency, wide open channels, in this case twitter, saved lives. An open city, civil society, swarmed to remap the city in response. That is very good news. Let’s scale that. Let’s respond to the decivilianization and urbanization of war with that. In the convergence of open cities and open software, swarm is both the problem and the solution to the condition of the political multitude.
Zombie Jurisdiction & Post-Crime
To be clear, yes, I am speaking about the global emergence of new modes and scales of political and collective subjectivity, neither exaclty inside or outside of government and representative democracy and not exactly inside or outside of markets, either. Not exactly microscale or macroscale: mesopolitical. In 2009, in this “transitional” phase, post-bubble and pre-whatever-comes-next: “ To enable the emergence of what comes next the pipes have to be open and the channels clear. Even if, and especially if, what comes next is technicallly illegal, or extralegal, by today’s or yesterday’s statutes. Worse than the criminalization of culture, is the criminalization of infrastructure, but such crimes (post-crimes) are simply the inevitable execution of programs provided by new networks in soveregin disregard of zombie jurisdictions.
When there is a mismatch between an emergent convergent social-technical form (a new social network condition arising from a new technical network condition) on the one hand, and an extant, residual legal-political forms (an old legal statute attempting to govern and contain what it can neither describe or circumscribe), then the structrual momentum of the former may --amorally and asubjectively-- proliferate a multitude of “criminal” connections and transferences. A critical mass of historically emergent flow will --good or bad-- overwhelm the legacy code of inherited legal lines in the sand. This is different than the transgression of an active code. It is less illegal than extralegal, outside or transversal to an incomensurate legal supervision.
The securitization of urban interfaces may or may not be zombie jurisdicitons but they have the same effect of closing off the future emergence of new multitudes, and thereby not in the interest of the society they purport to protect. .........The accumulation of interfaces generate networks, and the accumulation of networks generate territories, themselves governed by interfaces,
There is a metadesign agenda, a need, to undesign the excesesses of securitization to retire the emergency in whose name they were committed; a need to specify a post-war urban landscape of open productive interfaces, hard and soft, here and abroad, in the form of the social space we wish to positively inscribe and concretely enforce, to extend openness further than its previous state, not sept 10, better. Buttons The pairing of urban software and urban hardware becomes an blended medium through which the city is accessed and made social. For this, the city’s hardware, its partitions and pathways, its smart and dumb platforms, must be further opened to public access, initiative and innovation. Not just not closed off, but further opened up, more open than ever before.
Again....For the emergent pairing of urban software and hardware, the redesign of the polis is dependent as the redesign o the city & the redesign o the city is dependent on the redesign of the software, in fact they may likely turn out to be all the same thing.
Open Source City
This is a critical problem for the broader socio-technical movement interested in the productive capacities of open systems. It is no longer possible for a certain Libertarianism to hold. It’s not possible to decry and undermine the closure of public space, technique and infrastructure closely guarded by Microsofts and Yahoos and Sonys, in an online world, while at the same time philosophically and politically defending the closure of public space, technique and infrastructure by a mall owner, a hotel chain, a gated community, or a developer. We know that the public good is better served by open software systems, networks, codes, API’s, channels, and we should know that the same is true of open urban systems and their networks, codes, API’s, channels, etc.
It is axiomatic that open code and programming channels have political ramifications not only for software but as a model for complex organizational social infrastructure in general. Building on this we need to design, not just the tech but direclty the emergent modes of citizenship models of democracy, technology, privacy, publicity, economy, market, statute, enforcement, etc. poli sci as a laboratory or studio based discipline.
As it stands today, we have no idea what terms and limits of a cloud based citizenship of the Google Caliphate will entail and curtail. Some amalgam of post-secular cosmopolitanism, agonistic radical democracy, and post-rational actor microecomics, largely driven by intersecting petabyte at-hand datasets and mutant strains of Abrahamaic monotheism. But specifically, what is governance (let alone government) within this?
At this moment, like many people, I am interested in the power of States, even re-reading my Althusserians, but I am certain that government as it was inherited from Hamilton, Voltaire and Roosevelt can’t possibly do the trick. On the one hand we need to redesign, from scratch, our political institutions, and on the other, we see emergent computational networks doing it for us. Some on the Right are pleased to see central states carved out, but when it gets to actually change, actual real emergent deformation, distortion and the radically new they balk and shut down.
Open Source City Standards
Rem Koolhaas’ name for the pervasive planetary sprawl of entertainment lifestyle driven libertarian urbanism is junkspace, the global atrium coded by speculative finance where anything resembling the political is kindly discouraged or prevented so as to not disturb the read-only branded thematics.
So after junkspace, what is the open city? For some the open city conjures image of Faluja or Lagos or Juearez, a cannibal holocaust of overrun institutions, but the Right has been warning of that since Robespierre. When confronted with the possiblity of the “open source city” they think of phone lines torn down and manhold covers pilfered to sell the black market.
I don’t however and neither should you. It’s about public object and public access. Is it in the collective interest for a commercial mall owner to determine finally what software you were able to bring into his space, a space that has replaced public sidewalks, so as to prevent you from coutner-programming it to your purposes.error message “I’m sorry, under agreement with our sponsors, we’ve disabled that iPhone app.” Just as energy replaces information as our core economic substance, New York city managed to defeat the no sensor law, which would have made it illegal to place and use any sensor systems in public areas, effectively killing exactly the kinds of granular environmental monitoring capacities the city most needs.
Adam Greenfield, now at Nokia, has a nice riff on public objects, on all public objects and structures having open programmable API’s. “most public objects - and certainly all municipal objects - should offer APIs. (A concrete example: BART’s provisions.) Furthermore, specifically with regard to public infrastructures like transit systems, I believe that this should be a matter of explicit government policy. What’s a public object? A sidewalk. A building facade. A parking meter. Any discrete object in the common spatial domain, intended for the use and enjoyment of the general public. Any artifact located in or bounding upon public rights-of-way. Any discrete object which is de facto shared by and accessible to the public, regardless of its ownership or original intention. ” Yes, and Yes, It’s a nice synthesis of ideas in the air, including Osman Haque’s Extended Environmental Markup Language.....but the whole city is a public metaobject, and its openness isn’t just software, openness and publicity has to be a hardware issue as well, architecture, streets, zoning, the whole thing. An open API for a closed city is nothing.
Maude: [gesturing to a sick tree growing through a sidewalk] Harold, we have *got* to do something about this life.
Conclusions : : :
1. The Invention of any new technology is the invention of a new accident, train, plane, city, phone, arduino.....personal data....this should be understood as a productive condition.
These are attendant accidents that were built into the system the day it went online....
I am simply insisting that we set up for ourselves the greater appreciation of desirable accidents... accidental civilianization, accidents of openness...
open systems in hardware and software development have been an accumulation of
useful accidents, things that were misused, misappropriated, deployed against themsevles, and yet became the world. same for cities.
twitter, ask them, produced an accident. an accidental potential of counterswarm by civil society... that was at same time, never intended as a ‘functional specificaiton’ of the software, but also built into it, as an accident, on day one.
2. The politics of open interfaces can’t be well governed or even described by inherited political media; it entails is an emergent mode of the political --call it the multitude if you like-- and this modality may be the real content of the form.
public, private distinctions from a pre-electricity era can’t drive us. But that said....you can’t be a radical libertarian in cyberspace and an ancien regime reactionary in the meat world. or you can, as the atlas shrugged wing of the Open source movement attempts, but it is not a vialble political theory or infrastructural policy. it’s fantasy.
role of strong governmance, not necessarily the state, is to protect the necessary conditions of churn in both places. to ensure, to enforce, with the weight of force, by state violence perhaps, the condition whereby constitutional violence which resides within the irreducilble sovereginty of the entire planetary multitude is able freely build and re-build, that is to continuously innovate territorial claims, uses, functions, programs, economies, supplies, demands, profits, etc....
This is the definition of the Open. not only that there is ostensibly equal capacity to be coded into a given arrangement, but the the arrangement itself is always, by force, left ajar to the possiblity of reterritorializaiton by unforeseeable purposes.
3. counter-terrorist design and zealous security design validates the state of emergency, and asks designers to accommodate it and to normalize it through their adaptive ingenuity, from new security measures to new memorials to the fallen. Governance-through-counter-terrorism enrolls the labor of well-meaning designers to rush in and tidy the chaos of emergency and its exceptional states of things. They counteract it, rebalance it into a new equilibrium, decorating the intolerable provisional condition into something normal, livable. Design freezes the dubious fantasy of control into the material substance of everyday life, finishing what the emergency design started, and re-securing societal interfaces in its image.
But his too shall pass. This phase in the uncomfortable shift toward a more intensely integrated networked geopolitics will eventually plateau. This is temporary. The crash will end and the accident will produce a new technology, The war on terror will end, not like Nazism ended, but more like how Disco ended. And when it does, we will be glad that we did not re-dress our cities in its embarrassing fashion
4. Post-What, Pre-What? 2008 finance as the meta-accident, .....
After the bubble, after the financial meltdown, we are in the midst of a transitional moment
which is itself, pre-something we don't know and can barely visualize. In mapping the emergent
in advance of itself, it's a matter of real concern what is and isn’t 'post'? ost-American, post-globalization, post-secular, post-social, post-urban???? What stays and what goes? What is already gone? What is only an after image? What appears to be gone but is really permanent?
Is there a name for this accident? simply “the crash,” the global recession. With 9/11 it was just named by the date because we didn’t know what it was, were waiting for the other shoe to drop. now we are waiting for the event, the bottom, or waiting so that long enough will have passed that the event is safely over, or waiting for what happens now.
we don’t know what we know and what we don’t know, and we know it!
2009 we dont know what we are post, and what we are pre, but simply that we are, an historical interstitial, a gap, is the gap the empty space into which something falls, a void, a newly cleared space?
“Recovery,” to recover a past state condition, is not an option. Strike the word from your vocabulary. absolutely the wrong word. networks like strawberries are parthenogenetic species, they can replicate fixed dna or mix dna to ensure variation, depending on whether conditinos are good or bad. we NEED more variant material. New stuff: to secure interfaces from violence is to secure their life-giving capacities into a frozen simulation, to freeze the kinetic energy of transacation and transference, of improvisation, reducing public activity to a regulated ritual.
If you can’t open it, you don’t own it, applies as much to real public space, as