After reading Galloway for two consecutive weeks, I am noticing a certain tendency in his writing where, like Chun, he turns to technological and historical specificity when his broader theoretical arguments require a certain imagination. He uses historical facts concerning software and internet development to illustrate some sort of point about the increasing distribution of information. Beyond the proposition that control does not disappear after decentralization, but is in fact reorganized and implemented in more insidious ways (an idea he borrows from Deleuze), I am still not sure how protocol assists in this process. Indeed as Galloway shows, protocol can be enacted in either top-down hierarchal (DNS) or in distributed, non-centralized, atmospheric networks.
I suppose the move from disciplinary to modern societies of control is a shift, from the insularity of institutions (the school, the clinic) to the making of more self-disciplining populations and control embedded and organized through bio-statistics or dividualism; but Galloway is trying to get us to see how protocol is the modus operandi of this new regime: “But which technologies in particular would correspond to Foucault’s biopolitical scenario? I argue here they are the distributed forms of management that characterize the contemporary computer network and within which protological control exists”. (13)
A general explanation of computers and computational networks seems to bring Galloway closer to his point about power, but between the very obvious diagrams, or phrases like, “computers understand numbers more easily, humans understand words”, I’m having some difficulty following the process. Mostly, I don’t think anyone really wants to be told how computation can have many layers, or that its precise mechanics hard to comprehend, or that networks are ubiquitous and ever more complex. To be honest, I’m having a hard time critiquing his process of description, while holding back my annoyance with its sheer obviousness. Additionally, while Galloway preemptively defends his periodization against exactness, he still wants us to follow the conjoined evolution of power and computers with through causal logic. I hope some of this surfaces in our discussion tomorrow, which I am eager to sit back and observe alongside Kelly.