On this side of the Pacific, we can explore further how this ethical methodology
works to construct the political subjectivity of the User in the image of resource totality and the quantification of the feedback loops initiated with infrastructural systems. This might entail the monetization of cognition (as for Cloud platforms) or of the calculation of a User ’ s carbon footprint toward other ends, but what matters most is the optimization of the User ’ s profile as the source of its economic viability and its political agency. Perhaps the bravura performance of User quantification as autobiographical anthem was by Saul Griffith for a talk at the Poptech! conference in 2008. 15 His talk begins by recounting the procedures he underwent in order to come up with a viable measure of the number of watts of energy that he, as one person, draws from global platforms. Because one uses so many different systems, from airlines to highways to processed meats, it ’ s necessary to calculate not just immediate interactions but the percentage of vast wholes that one individual is arguably responsible for. It took a year, but this is what Griffith and his partners did, quantifying every big and small systemic interaction, from food and diet to transatlantic flights to taxes paid toward the paving of roads. He concluded that he uses around 17,027 watts per year, which not extraordinary for a US citizen. The world average, however, is 2,250 watts per person, with
several billion people filling out the long tail of energy access. Even so, Griffith ’ s confessional might nominate his practice of self as the ideal universal User ( Homo persona?) far more than comparatively blunt profiles available for the Reids or the Hagens in Shanghai. Not only are his interactions with The Stack quantified with exacting candor and offered up for critique and comparison, but his intelligent efforts also provide those systems a valuable measure of their interactions with him. He then performs a similar heroic act of statistics for the collective User inclusive of all humans and their
aggregate effects on the planetary situation (my words, not his). His point then is to demonstrate exactly how difficult will be the necessary transitions from current infrastructures to those required to stave off ecological calamity. At the time of his talk, the United States had put about 90 gigatons (GT) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (China had put about 26 GT). Before industrialization, the climate held about 270 parts per million carbon dioxide, and we ’ ve recently passed 400 parts per million. Griffith asks how the collective User could sustain a still very dangerous 450 parts per million and still produce the same 16 terawatts of energy currently demanded by the global population. He surmises that we ’ ll
have to come up with about 10 terawatts of clean renewable energy, in addition to the 6 terawatts from other sources in order to have any reasonable hope for stabilization at 450 parts per million. Getting 10 new terawatts of clean energy in twenty-five years, however, may mean the immediate, simultaneous, and comprehensive transformation of almost all of our entire industrial infrastructure. We would need one gigawatt nuclear plant to go online every week for the next two decades. Plus we would need to install 100 square meters of solar cells every second. Plus we would need twelve 3
megawatts of wind turbines every hour. Plus, to grow enough biofuel-producing algae, we would need to fill a space the size of Wyoming. To have a chance of accomplishing these feats, he says, Coke and Pepsi would have to switch entirely to making sheets of reflective mirrors instead of sheets of aluminum for cans of sugar water. GM, Ford, and Toyota would have to team up to achieve the goal of one wind turbine every five minutes. Obviously such lurches would bring their own negative consequences, and so even “ solving for carbon ”is sure to cause other problems. In other words, it seems impossible. It is true, he concludes, that we have brought 10 terawatts online in the last forty years, and so who knows? Without the deus ex machina of miraculous nanotechnological quantum fusion from Mars, the prospects for the comprehensive stabilization of atmospheric carbon without dramatic reduction in energy use by people like
himself seems highly unlikely. Most interesting, however, is not Griffith ’ s individual apologetics but the shift from the unit of the individual User of The Stack to a profile derived from the total sum of all Users, gauged as one enormous meta- User. Perhaps this shift in scale provides some hope that deliberate redesign of governance is possible. The political identities of Users are produced through interfacial regimes, and the public profile and legitimacy of those regimes appear in the composite mosaic of the Users that it generates. The whole makes parts, which make wholes: the apparatus individuates User, and the totality of Users comes to define the scope and quality of the
apparatus as infrastructure for their lives.

As more things, events, and things are addressed, the social relations of mutual
interest between haecceities are themselves transposed into addressable clusters and empirically queryable entities; they are addresses about addresses. These may spawn addressable networks of metadata that spawn addressable meta-metadata, all of which require visualization tools to make them sensical to human Users. And so things that materially absorb and communicate the conditions of their appearance, and the installations of people and things along the same plane of such a network, are a challenge to our ethical, political, aesthetic stance toward the dignity of both. Marx famously diagnosed capitalism ’ s confused employment of people as if they were things and the assignment of magical agencies to objects. We know full well that capitalist economic relations drive and are driven by a productive rationality that renders all components according to their most apparently efficient conditions of production and circulation so as to maximize the surplus realized in their transactional intercommunication. Logistics understands flatness quite well, and this is also the good news. The challenge is unwinnable on humanist terms, and I am not convinced that any “ parliament ”of things can govern this maelstrom. Instead I would hope that a strongly ubiquitous computation would help to implode the sentimental parameters of brute humanism toward an alternative and more rigorous materialism that extends ethical programs outward by demanding empathetic recognition of ourselves in networked matter as coaddressees.