Politics is the exercise of power.
Politics is essential to our species, and all of the hominids; chimpanzees do it, bonobos do it, even gorillas do it. The politics of our genetic cousins is more immediate but still nuanced. Much derives from pure physical strength – our equivalent to military force – but the rest arises from social relations. In this, they, like us, use communication to best advantage.
Before the advent of telegraphy, power and communication flowed in seamless union, each reinforcing the other. The Rise of the Network has been the great Fall away from singularity. New strategies are required if any power wishes to remain coherent unto itself, but no strategy will allow power to successfully deny its connectedness.
We have no maps for these territories. They are truly terra nullius. We know power has failed – or rather, failed to adapt – and we have yet to find the light switch. The opportunity presented has produced a kind of Cambrian Explosion of different forms of power, some impossibly bizarre, others needlessly complex, a few seeming archetypal in their perfection and elegance.
The essays collected in this volume represent an attempt to apprehend and articulate the forms of power within the connected era. I came to this research from earlier work in the studies of communities and the sharing of media; by the middle 2000s it had become clear that not just the distribution of media but the distribution of power itself had begun to decisively shift. As I looked deeper, I began to understand that ‘hyperconnectivity’ created a platform for the vast transformations in culture appearing with both greater frequency and piquancy.
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