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archives begin in 1996

  

Agnotology wins (as always)

story © Michael Betancourt | published November 9, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

The problem posed by a dominant regime of agnotology is that it makes challenges to established patterns of thought difficult if not impossible: the affect of agnotology, perversely, is a reinforcement of certainty since it undermines alternatives that could challenge those ideas; thus, it leads to an unwillingness to compromise, and an inflexibility of thoughtboth essential features of how digital capitalism is an ideological construction capable of governing what would otherwise appear as incompatible, mutually exclusive groups.






 
The New Alienation of Digital Capitalism

story © Michael Betancourt | published August 19, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

Historically, alienation has been understood as a disassociation of an individual from their agency. It is a well-theorized result of industrial production and the assembly-line in particular, but is common to historical capitalism generally. In digital capitalism, a new type of alienation has arisen not based in disassociations of agency. This contemporary alienation originated with an apparent surplussage of agency created by digital systems. The new alienation resides not in a loss of agency, but in the insignificance of that agency. The aura of the digitals separation of action from result reveals a this alienation in the paradoxical dispersal of efficacy and immediacy of control. Introducing a seemingly unbounded agency, it creates an alienation utterly distinct from that of historical capitalism. This changed alienation masquerades as fantasies of empowerment and autonomy associated with digital technologies.




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Alienation and Autonomous Machineries

story © Michael Betancourt | published April 2, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

By considering how machine labor as an extension of human action--as the mechanical amplification of human labor--becomes the digital, the machine does not augment but supplant. This removal of the human intermediary whose importance "Taylorism" (aka "scientific management," proposed in The Principles of Scientific Management in 1911) removes from production (assembly-line labor is instrumental, not intelligent) is part of a continuous trajectory from tasks organized around repetitive action (itself an organization that implies semiotic disassembly and standardization) into the automation of actions in digital automation where computers leave only a limited role for humans. Taylors approach elides the individuals expertise in performing their work, replacing it with decisions made by management--in the process eliminating their agency. This transformation renders human labor an appendage to the production process, necessary but incidental to the activity being performedactions that are prescribed and fully delimited in advance of the work being done. It transforms the labor into an unintelligent rendering of managerial agency as the thinking required in production is no longer the domain of labor. For Taylors analysis the human decision is the problem to be removed from the production process, just as human labor (in the form of wages) is the expense that must be minimized to maintain profitability.




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Keiser Report, Episodes 894 & 895 on Digital Capitalism

story © Michael Betancourt | published March 31, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

Max Keiser interviews me about my book The Critique of Digital Capitalism in the Keiser Report, Episodes 894 and 895:




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The Critique of Digital Capitalism

story © Michael Betancourt | published January 11, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

My book is now out from Punctum Books, and available on amazon.com. Running 265 pages, this volume collects and expands my critical theory essays pubished over the past decade:

Introduction
​1​ The Ideology of Automation
​2 ​The Emergence of Immaterial Physicality
​3​ The Aura of the Digital
​4​ The Immaterial Commodity
​5​ The Valorization of the Author
​6​ The Black Box of Past Experience
​7​ The State of Information
​8​ The Demands of Agnotology::Surveillance
​9 ​The Scarcity of Capital
​10​ On Immaterialism

The critique introduced in this book develops from basic questions about how digital technologies directly change the structure of society: why is Digital Rights Management not only the dominant solution for distributing digital information, but also the only option being considered? During the burst of the Housing Bubble burst 2009, why were the immaterial commodities being traded of primary concern, but the actual physical assets and the impacts on the people living in them generally ignored? How do surveillance (pervasive monitoring) and agnotology (culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data) coincide as mutually reinforcing technologies of control and restraint? If technology makes the assumptions of its society manifest as instrumentality then what ideology is being realized in the form of the digital computer? This final question animates the critical framework this analysis proposes.




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