If I had not grown up in Stockerau, in the boonies of Lower Austria, than I would not be what I am now. The germ cell of burgeoning nerdism is difference. The yearning to be understood, to find opportunities to share experiences, to not be left alone with one's bizarre interest. At the same time one derives an almost perverse pleasure from wallowing in this deficit. Nerds love deficiency: that of the other, but also their own. Nerds are eager explorers, who enjoy measuring themselves against one another and also compete aggressively. And yet the nerd's existence also comprises an element of the occult, of mystery. The way in which this power is expressed or focused is very important.
I think that the figure of the nerd provides a beautiful template for analyzing the transformation of the disciplinary society into the control society. The nerd, in his cliche form, first stepped out upon the world stage in the mid-1970s, when we were beginning to hear the first rumblings of what would become the Cambrian explosion of the information society. The nerd must serve as comic relief for the future-anxieties of Western society. And the transformation I'm talking about is already in full swing: the police gaze of 19th- and 20th-century disciplinary society made visible the individual, which is illuminated by power. In our burgeoning technological control society, the individual is x-rayed and algorithmized. Even worse: the individuals x-ray themselves, willingly putting themselves on display.
The widespread inability to understand technological artifacts as fabricated entities, as social and cultural phenomena, derives from the fact that in retrospect only those technologies that prove functional for a culture and can be integrated into everyday life are 'left over.' However, the perception of what is functional, successful and useful is itself the product of social and cultural--and last but not least--political and economic processes. Selection processes and abandoned products and product forms are usually not discussed.
In a media-based society (and of course there is no such thing as a non-media-based society consisting of more than one person) it is the signs and significants, the meanings and habits and conventions of speaking and thinking, the images and stereotypes which control everything. It is important to analyze how it is represented and of course what is not represented or how it lacks representation. It's not so much Rupert Murdoch – whose assholeness I will not dispute – that we should attack, but rather something I would call the cultural grammar of the public space. Power is formed within such a grammar. Access and non-access to each and every thing is regulated in its realm. Meanings are negotiated there.
talking about Guerilla Communication strategies in "Urban Hacking", transkript, p. 98
The human is a narrative being. We construct emotional machines, so-called “stories”, to communicate, to share the world in which we live and make it collectively experienceable. And we are pretty good at doing that. Since the primordial soup at some point mendelized into primate brains, we have either been fleeing from big cats or telling others about our escapes from the clutches of big cats. Sitting around the campfire, interpreting and breaking down the world, charging it with aura. Initially this was all very mythopoeic, and slowly it became more differentiated. But even in the post-Enlightenment age, world interpretations are not necessarily particularly rational. Good stories sell well, and the best stories are the ones that hit you in the gut, regardless of whether they would hold up to a Wikipedia check or not.
Companies like Nike already use Graffiti as a standard variety in their marketing campaigns and the first people who read Naomi Klein's 'No Logo' were marketing gurus who wanted to know what they shouldn't do.
talking about Guerilla Communication strategies in "Urban Hacking", transkript, p. 106
Since the advent of modernism, artists have been seeking to loosen the entanglement of work and subject, because they saw themselves pushed into a role that they did not necessarily want to occupy: one which offered freedom and independence on the upside, but in combination with isolation and powerlessness on the downside. While the workers of the Fordist factory developed collectivist strategies to pursue their goals, the particularities of the artist's existence – cast as productive eccentricity and manic-depressive individualism – made it more difficult for artists to organize to achieve their demands and improve their precarious living and working conditions. It was only with great difficulty that this group, condemned to autonomy, could free itself from the prison of its freedom.
The information age is an age of permanently getting stuck. Greater and greater speed is demanded. New software, new hardware, new structures, new cultural techniques. Life-long learning? Yes. But the company can't fire the secretary every six months, just because she can't cope with the new version of Excel. They can count their keystrokes, measure their productivity … but! They will never be able to sanction their inability! Because that is immanent.
I always loved the grand dichotomies of life. Dogs and cats. Cats and mice. Like Tom and Jerry. But as someone who grew up in Central Europe I never understood how a mouse can live inside a wall. Walls are made of bricks! They are not hollow. Way later I came to understand, when I learned that US-American houses are just made of wood, and their walls are really hollow.