This issue of Culture Machine will explore how digital platforms can be understood, leveraged and contested in an age when the ‘platform’ is coming to supplant the open Web as the default digital environment.
Full articles due Nov 1, 2012. Special issue of Culture Machine, vol. 14.
ABOUT - Platforms can be characterized as resting on already existing networked communication systems, but also as developing discreet spaces and affordances, often using ‘apps’ to circumvent any need to access them via the Internet or Web. For this issue of Culture Machine we are seeking papers that explore the nature and distinctive aspects of the ‘platform’: as something that can be positioned as more than just a neutral space of communication; and as a complex technology with distinct affordances that have powerful political, economic and social interests at stake. In this respect the platform constitutes a zone of contestation between, for example, different formations and configurations of capital; social movements; new kinds of activist networks; open source and proprietary software design. Platforms also constitute spaces of struggle between mass movements and governments, users and the extractors of value, visibility and invisibility: witness the various debates over the role of ‘social media’ in the Arab Spring, anti-austerity, student and occupy movements. Such struggles entail a compelling intersection between technology and design, capital, multitude, the democratization of technology and ‘subversive rationalization’.
The platform represents not just a question of software and control, then; it also connects to wider social struggles in the sense that ‘platform’ can refer to a ‘political platform’, and can thus take on the agenda setting or framing role of political discourse more generally. Accordingly, this special issue will look to understand ‘platform politics’ as a broad social assemblage, complex or form of life. Linking particular platforms across the molecular and molar, it will think about platform politics as a distinct new context of power operating at the intersection of technological development, software design, cognitive/communicative capitalism, new forms of social movement and resistance, and the attempts to contain them by the exiting democracies. As such, platform politics requires a distinct mode of engagement, which this special issue of Culture Machine will endeavour to encourage and provide.
We invite contributions on topics such as:
- Protocols as machinery of the platform – its common language, including ideas of control and/or the possibilities and limitations of open, non-proprietorial platforms.
- The question as to whether a process of enclosure is taking place via the struggle over the creation and expropriation of ‘network value’, or whether it entails a more parasitical engagement with, and enhancement of, the existing network architectures.
- Visibility/invisibility: platforms as political spaces to be seen/heard, or indeed tactically escaped and eluded.
- Resistance: how the above described issues relate to the potential for cultural, political, social and economic praxis, which in turns opens up a space from which to address recent global events. (See, for example, RIMs (Blackberry Messaging’s) enclosure, which ironically creates spaces of resistance as well as disturbance and securitization.)
- New software possibilities: for example, Drupal’s opening up and democratization of content management, which perhaps creates a kind of ‘platform commons’? The potential of ‘Diaspora’, the open source social network, to offer a viable alternative to proprietary social media.
- The role of intrinsic network tendencies, as opposed to political and economic decision-making, taking in explorations of the relevance of graph theory, the role of power laws and the network-specific characteristics of ‘communication power’.
Please submit your contributions including contact details by email to Joss Hands: joss.hands(at)networkpolitics.org
Culture Machine’s Guidelines for Authors: http://www.culturemachine.net/index.php/cm/about/submissions#authorGuidelines
All contributions will be peer-reviewed.