The Contradiction of Austere Warfare

Drones offer a gaze of the battlefield akin to the reality-TV producer’s gaze. From atop a remote-controlled flying HD eyeball, American generals are coming ever closer to total battlefield awareness. That fabled state of logistical being that heralds the beginning of the ultimate life-imitates-art moment: real war is fought with the perspective of a Sid Meier game and the ease and danger of a flight simulator. All of this visual data is curated and presented to Deciders with the same techniques that brought you Monday Night Football and The Bachelor. Reality-TV producers cum military contractors are the real Fox warmongers and we barely know they exist. The culture industry is widely recognized as post-industrial America’s main export, but I don’t think anyone ever expected it to be quite this deadly.

Read more at The State's Murmuration: A Festival of Drone Culture

The Beast of Kandahar

Iran claims to have captured one of the CIA’s stealth drones which, they say, intruded on their airspace. Usually, I would talk about nations’ continuing development of their capacity for “augmented warfare” and maybe throw in some commentary on how this relates to theories on surveillance and the state. But, to be totally honest, I am incapable of doing that right now. Not because I have deadlines for papers coming up, or because I actually promised that my next post was going to be about Actor Network Theory. Its because… Well…

Read More at Cyborgology

A Brief Summary of Actor Network Theory

Bruno Latour. French Theorist and Main Architect of Actor Network Theory Photo Credit: Denis Rouvre on TheHindu.comThere are many theories that seek to clarify the relationship between our offline existence and whatever it is we are doing online. I say "whatever" not to be flippant, but because there is a great deal of debate about the ontological, conceptual,and hermeneutic ramifications of online activity. How much of ourselves is represented in our Skyrim characters? Is retweeting an #ows rally location a political act? How is access to the Internet related to free speech? These are questions that some of the greatest minds of our day are contemplating. I know some equally smart people that would throw up their hands in frustration at even considering these topics as worthy of research and critical analysis. Regardless of whether or not you think it is worth pondering these questions, people all over the world are engaging in something when they post a Facebook status or check in to a coffee shop on Foursquare. In his Defending and Clarifying the Term Augmented Reality, Nathan described how our relationship to these sorts of digital Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) fits in with our historial relationship to technology: "technology has always augmented reality, be it in pre-electronic times (e.g., architecture or language as technologies) or how those offline are still impacted by the online (e.g., third-world victims of our e-waste or the fact that your Facebook presence influences your behavior even when logged off)." I have argued elsewhere that, even if ICTs mark a fundamental shift in our relationship to technology, it is only another wave in a constantly evolving relationship to our own understanding of technological progress. I am going through this (hyperlinked) summary of many of this blog's larger arguments because 1) we have been growing in readership, and 2) we are embarking on a new, ongoing, project to situate Augmented Reality (AR) amongst other theories of society's relationship to technology. Today I want to introduce Actor Network Theory (ANT).


Read more at Cyborgology