The only way to reclaim our powers against Wark’s ‘Vectorialist class’ is to reclaim the power to ‘self-design’—not so much as a forced obligation, but pro-actively, comprehensively. Our everyday life is mostly determined by stuff we didn’t design ourselves, but we need to design stuff by ourselves. This could lead to a redesign of our socio-technical and ecological environment, the creation of alternative currencies, the development of new forms of exchange and inhabiting. In short, a technologically and algorhythmically-informed way of communing. Consider solidarity and fairness as parameters and create alternative networks to undermine existing ones. Thus, we need to control the wiring.
We need to reclaim time and space to do real life experiments—not to detach ourselves from capitalist networks but build better ones. Growth is not intrinsically bad: it is not linear, but cyclical. We need to create more toys of co-living and not instruments of power. Being wired is the meaning of being crazy and maybe excessive, but still possible—as long as you don’t harm anybody and respect your environment if people, things, machines, algorithms and organisms. Always leave a door open for those entities: those who want to escape and those who want to take part.
Vectors not only control the direction of circulation, but also their timing. They create differences of speed and these get exploited. Vector is Latin for carrier or transporter. Usually this carrier has a direction, a gradient, it is falling or climbing, never in balance. Algorithms are creating vectors as well. Not only can a group of people control vectors, but there are powerful vectorial powers beyond human scope such as the power of environmental catastrophes. Sometimes, and this is the point here, algorithms create unintended vectors. Unforeseen networked catastrophes emerge.
Bratton’s model of the Stack is proposing a spatial metaphor, but algorhythmics is a time-based model. Algorhythmics draws the attention and sensitivity towards aspects of timing and process rather than structure or architecture. People, for example, are simply bigger and much heavier than electrons, signals and information. That is the reason why powerful agents can restrict the migration and circulation of humans, but not those of information. Information is freed more easily than people, still it is increasingly “in chains”. The chains of privatization do not mean that the flow of circulation, the rhythms of its activity, has ceased—they mean quite the opposite: deregulation, acceleration, faster rhythms, more money, more crashes. Marxist media scholar McKenzie Wark speaks here of a ‘Vectorialist class’, which controls “the vectors along which information circulates. They own the means of realizing the value of information.” Are scientists merely servers for such a Vectorialist class?
Algorithms do not analyze data body data, but they design sensations. The cochlear implant is the most advanced popular technology of this field. It is a crucial aid for severely hearing-impaired people.
Patients are not allowed to change the software for their hearing. They must consult a specialist. German média theorist Friedrich Kittler called this phenomenon “protected mode”, a loss of control in exchange for usability.
‘Communicative Capitalism’, which is the commodification of entities by drawing them into communication circuitry, doesn’t stop at our skins, it also dissolves our bodies into values and numbers.
Computation involves rhythms. We can sometimes hear them. That is the literal meaning of algorhythm.
20 years ago you could hear the tone of the signal in your wired telephone.
40 years ago you had datamusic on datasettes.
Go back 60 years, and serious engineers and computer scientists were literally listening to software processes searching for feedback from their otherwise silent giant computers. They attached a wire to data storage sockets and connected them to a loudspeaker-amplifier system. Their ears were wired in cyberspace.
Algorithms create crucial, but problematic relationships between abstract mathematical operations and material reality. They are self-contained sequences of action, usually performing calculations and automated reasoning tasks. They organize matter and while doing so they generate patterns, rhythms, and effects.