Blog Theory: Feedback and Capture in the Circuits of Drive
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Blog Theory offers a critical theory of contemporary media. Furthering her account of communicative capitalism, Jodi Dean explores the ways new media practices like blogging and texting capture their users in intensive networks of enjoyment, production, and surveillance. Her wide-ranging and theoretically rich analysis extends from her personal experiences as a blogger, through media histories, to newly emerging social network platforms and applications.
Set against the background of the economic crisis wrought by neoliberalism, the book engages with recent work in contemporary media theory as well as with thinkers such as Giorgio Agamben, Jean Baudrillard, Guy Debord, Jacques Lacan, and Slavoj ?i?ek. Through these engagements, Dean defends the provocative thesis that reflexivity in complex networks is best understood via the psychoanalytic notion of the drives. She contends, moreover, that reading networks in terms of the drives enables us to grasp their real, human dimension, that is, the feelings and affects that embed us in the system.
In remarkably clear and lucid prose, Dean links seemingly trivial and transitory updates from the new mass culture of the internet to more fundamental changes in subjectivity and politics. Everyday communicative exchangesÑfrom blog posts to text messagesÑhave widespread effects, effects that not only undermine capacities for democracy but also entrap us in circuits of domination.
practice, a change that appears as an effect of our looking back. When bloggers are killers ushering in fundamental changes in media, politics, and journalism, they are understood within a logic of desire. That is, there is an underlying supposition that at some point in time some people wanted blogs, that blogs were objects of desire produced to fill a previous lack. For example, people didn’t trust the mainstream media, so they starting blogging in order to produce a journalism they could
Yet he also confronted an emerging non-knowledge or loss in knowledge at the level of the economy. Greenspan noted the complexity of “pinning down the notion of what constitutes a stable general price level.” If prices are necessary for measuring inflation, which prices matter? Do escalating stock and real estate prices pose a problem to economic stability? What about “the price of a unit of software or a legal opinion”? The combination of informatization and the post-industrial shift toward the
form of state power, that it is a vehicle for mastery over the people. Understood reflexively, constant, pervasive communication can be a regime of control in which the people willingly and happily report on their views and activities and stalk their friends. Networked whatever beings don’t need spectacles staged by politicians and the mass media. We can make and be our own spectacles – and this is much more entertaining. There is always something new on the internet. Corporate and state power
the Scientific Method Obsolete,” Wired 16.07, posted June 23, 2008. Available at http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/16-07/pb_theory (accessed March 26, 2010). Critical responses can be found at Edge: http://www.edge.org/discourse/the_end_of_theory.html (accessed March 26, 2010). 33 Guy Debord, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, translated by Malcolm Imrie (London: Verso, 1998) 9. 34 Debord 27 (emphasis added). 35 Debord 29. 36 Debord 22. 37 Debord 19. 38 Debord 17. 39
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