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Design and Geopolitics: The Alterglobal, Soft Power, Disaster Capitalism

[10.2011]

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Design and Geopolitics: The Alterglobal, Soft Power, Disaster Capitalism

An interview with Benjamin H. Bratton by Metahaven published in the issue of Print, for which they were special editors/designers. Topics range from designing geopolitics, to cloud sovereignty, post-America, Wikileaks, transparency, austerity as a design strategy, to the merger of Bahrain and Iceland.






Metahaven: What does “designing geopolitics” mean?

Benjamin Bratton: “Designing geopolitics” has several connotations, obviously. I am deeply invested in some of these, and not at all in others. For D:GP, the Center for Design and Geopolitics, which I direct at Calit2 and the University of California, San Diego, it means more than just designing on a geopolitical scale, but rather that the geopolitical domain is itself the design problem.
What do I mean? The geopolitical architectures that we have inherited from the Treaty of Westphalia, the Mountbatten Plan, Bretton Woods, etc. were, first of all, “design” decisions and were based on particular political, discursive, even topological understandings of the world. To recognize them as such, it becomes obvious that the “alter-globalization” we imagine for the years to come must take different forms and formats than those through which we currently govern. In time, those forms may be based upon rather different relations to whatever becomes of things like sovereignty, nation, narrativity, geography, polity. These are the material design problems of the next century.

Planetary-scale computation has both deformed and distorted traditionally modern geometries of jurisdiction (think of the Google/China conflict as one example). It is also producing new territories of jurisdiction in its own image. Unusual and as-yet-unnamed networked patterns of informational and urban subjectivity are already shifting the geopolitical landscape. The Arab Spring made this obvious to even the most numb observer. For D:GP, design is as much about understanding and “scaling up” these patterns as it is about conceiving new things ex nihilo.

Ultimately, I am interested—through a convergence of theory, fiction, and design—in how the “post-Anthropocene” era can be more deliberately prototyped and how a genuine, robust cosmopolitan intelligence can enforce itself against its many enemies, both internal and external.
It’s interesting. In our discussions about D:GP, McKenzie Wark has offered some very helpful remarks to me challenging the word/idea “political” as the crux of our initiative, some of which I very much agree with. Reza Negarastani has done similarly about the premise/prefix “Geo.” I myself am perhaps most dubious of “design,” if only because the word, the idea, and the program have been so thoroughly abused by the marketing and decoration industries.

Metahaven: What forces influence and contribute to a state's global image? Who makes the design decisions?

Benjamin Bratton: This question could be taken in at least two ways. The state’s “image” is a product of the civilizational history of states and of nations and also is a function of how states are today constructed as brands. The deeper history animates many interesting debates: from the primordial origins of archaic states and their relation to agriculture and theological geography, Plato’s formulas as renewed by Alain Badiou, Kant’s architectures and their role in contemporary transnational and cosmopolitan models, Eric Hobsbawm and the invention of national tradition, and Chantal Mouffe and Gopal Balakrishnan’s Marxian takes on Carl Schmitt to more liberal projects, such as Bruno Latour’s, which would expand the domain of formal constitutions. Perhaps most important are the multifaceted postcolonial and various non-Western histories of nations and states, which, while partially indecipherable to the parochial visions of trans-Atlantic political theory, may be more directly influential on the global, designable future of the “state.”

On the other hand (or perhaps right in line with the above) the state seems to be steering further into simulacrum: a malleable brand defined by a two-letter internet suffix, a captured tax base, a nativist bloc, and an Olympic team. At the same time, especially in the BRIC countries, the state is a refortified machine of privatized public control. (Informally, we could say that just because the state becomes a brand, it doesn’t become any less violent, and vice versa: just as the brand becomes a state—Google, Wal-Mart, FIFA, etc.—it doesn’t necessarily inherit all the same characteristics of the Hegelian model. Sometimes it really does, if only as another order of simulation; in other ways, not at all. Tim O’Reilly talks about “government as a platform.” By opening up the state’s capacity as an information-gathering and structuring machine to its user-citizens, it can become a more powerful machine for economic and cultural circulation. In turn, then, software platforms become governments, and end-user agreements become de facto constitutions. There is a wonderful piece to be written comparing Government 2.0 vs. the Kojevian End of History).

We don’t know where any of this leads. I can only presume that things which appear to have one effect today may prove to have quite the opposite in the long run. While the martial privatization of the public sphere may end up turning states into entities much more like multinational corporations, this could have surprising effects. Perhaps this would radically undermine jus soli citizenship, such that to switch, add, or subtract layers of one’s citizenship would be no harder (or easier) than moving from Windows to Mac, or switching from Protestantism to Catholicism (to extend Umberto Eco’s analogy). In turn, that may force another set of demands on corporate space, challenging the sovereignty of brands in a way that would be unthinkable today.

“California, Inc.” might offer strong ecological regulation and platforms, good climate, multicultural vibrancy, and excellent bandwidth, but at a premium price. Disney might enter into an agreement with Apple making Florida even more of a mega–walled garden. It’s not hard to imagine neoprovincial territories, legal and translegal enclaves, and exclaves defined by some weird mix of legacy Westhaphalian jurisdictions, software platforms, and branded theology taking up a lot of the Earth’s crust! Most of these I would hate, but that is probably the point.
The D:GP project presumes that it’s time for robust political science fiction, both to index our options and to make them available to various design programs. It isn’t about defining ideal or dystopian spaces but gaming what is emergent.



Social Media and the United States

Metahaven: Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, Obama: Is this the post-Bush American identity? See, for example, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's address on “internet freedom.”

Benjamin Bratton: I live in the USA and so can only comment on shifts in perception of the USA by the world as a whole from that limited, skewed perspective. The idea that Facebook, Google, etc. have replaced Halliburton and McDonalds in the minds of Europeans, and that this shift is analogous and parallel to Obama’s replacement of Bush, seems quite plausible to me, especially in light of the social-media thematics of David Cameron’s Big Society, the “Twitter revolution” discourse around the Arab Spring, etc. (One question is how much of these global technologies will remain available and ownable by unofficial actors in the ways we have seen recently. It may be that the heralded Cairo triangulation of Facebook/Twitter/YouTube can never happen again. Like May ’68, it may have been a one-time deal. In terms of both network openness and a critical mass of users, perhaps the seam in the system was exploited for a unique fleeting moment that is nevermore possible. Or perhaps this is the new system. The new normal is upon us. If so, then that would include the Obama brand as well. It’s either a fleeting instant of false hope or the new normal, or both).

Of course, Secretary Clinton did not mention the USA in her address as a source of problems with freedom on the internet. This cannot be expected of the State Department, but that is precisely why the “American internet” should be eclipsed by many other global and local internets constituting a more plural ecology of territories. Speaking again as someone who lives in the USA, I think that things like the “Internet Kill Switch” are surely dangerous, but there are more systematic problems. We know these: our retrograde digital intellectual property statutes, a dangerous over-privatization of bandwidth that should have had as serious political consequences here, as it is having now in India, and, in general, a cannibalistic exploitation the digital commons as a matter of course.

That said, “internet freedom” is clearly too simple a phrase to account for that needed plurality. Whatever purpose the phrase may serve is largely meaningless without a sophisticated understanding of how one kind of freedom results in another kind of domination and vice versa. Everything we learned from Adorno, Horkheimer, even Fromm and Arendt, about the dialectic of “positive” and “negative” freedom is applicable here. In other words, it’s simply not possible for Clinton to conceive, let alone address as a matter of policy, how the privatization of the common intellect is antithetical to robust digital cosmopolitanism. This is not only because she is a spokesperson for a particular political economy but because the real story is happening elsewhere.  Nevertheless, your point is well taken. I know from my time in Russia that Google is synonymous with U.S. power in many circles. To talk about it in a positive light, one might as well be pouring Coca-Cola into the vodka. It is widely seen as a force of cognitive imperialism, not in the nuanced way that Geert Lovink or Matteo Pasquinelli examine the soft power of search but in the dusty terms of a bipolar Cold War of two superpowers and their competing megamachines: Sputnik vs. Apollo. (It probably doesn’t help to assuage that perception that the new director of Google Ideas is Jared Cohen, whose tenure at the State Department is associated, however inaccurately, with a supposed conspiratorial manipulation of social-media platforms to orchestrate events in the Arab Spring. Evgeny Morozov’s take on this is an important correction.)

The key point is this: Facebook, Apple, and Google all represent, embody, and are enacting different geopolitical futures. The architecture of their brands and their software platforms are not only representative of geopolitical interests; they are geopolitics. The more difficult question for these very global technologies is less how they extend U.S. foreign policy than how they constitute three different and incomplete options for what comes next, both as actual privately held companies and, as Eco pointed out years before in “The Holy War: Mac Vs. DOS,” different political-theological programs.

Metahaven: To what extent do these brands/standards assert U.S. power or extend cultural and political influence abroad?

Benjamin Bratton: Allow me to speculate a bit improvisationally on what each of them might mean as an imminent geopolitical form in its own right. It goes without saying that they should be challenged by a range of other standards that are more open and more available to multiple cultural interests.
Facebook, it seems to me, explicitly and emphatically does not wish to foster open information infrastructures, and may prove in time to be critically hostile to the very idea. As for user freedom and the larger picture of digital civil society, the default mind-set of Facebook’s core leadership is not so totally unlike that of the Chinese central government in certain respects. Both are interested in enforcing control and profit over the domain they exercise as a monopoly, and each looks at the other—state versus internet—as an ambiguous but indispensable variable in its own schemes. Facebook (perhaps like China itself) is underestimated, at the moment at least, as a technology-infrastructure player. It understands the cloud in ways that Apple can’t, and it has its pick of whatever scraps will be left of Microsoft (Office, Skype, Azure, etc.). Facebook’s goal is a private internet. Not Facebook online, but Facebook as the line. Here, too, China’s total policy is broadly analogous.

Apple has taken the mantle from Disney in its expertise over closed-system experience design and operates, by comparison to Facebook or China, much more with carrot than stick. Apple bases its market-sector dominance in enforcing a total-design seamlessness into which individual consumers can effectively invest their most utopian desires. All utopias are closed systems, and perhaps vice versa. In a future of nation-size gated communities, that utopian desire (yes, in Fredric Jameson’s sense) may lead Apple well out of consumer electronics as we conventionally understand it, and into the wider envelopes of everyday life. Peter Sloterdijk’s landscape of “spheres” is Apple’s long-term horizon and program.
Google believes itself to have a much more cosmopolitan and reason-driven mission. This week, it bid against Apple and Microsoft for a series of patents from Nortel, with sums representing sometimes obscure mathematical strings. For example, they bid $3.14159 billion, or Pi multiplied by a billion, for the bundle. They had bid numbers that were Brun’s constant and the Meissel-Mertens constant, which relate to prime numbers. This I take as an emphatic symbolic statement by Google that ultimately the immutable, ecumenical, and universal laws of mathematics, which are by their nature uninterested in the human folly of political hierarchies, will win out over the hysterical mere “numbers” of the financial market. There are asymmetric echoes of Badiou in this, though he would choke on the suggestion. Google recently dumped PowerMeter but still has its license to sell energy; and I think, in the longer term, Google Energy will be a key player in the retail and wholesaling of renewables and the management of both consumer and municipality-facing smart grids. It sees the pairing of bits and electrons as part of its vocation in ways that other companies cannot: Google Space. Google AI. Google Caliphate.

Twitter is too new and too one-dimensional to compare the others’ more grandiose geopolitical potentials. It may be better compared to a critical insect species in a larger ecology, moving memes from place to place, like bees pollen from flowers. It never builds more than simple clusters on its own, but without it, other more complex architectures would decay. It’s hard to say. For some time I’ve argued (directly to Twitter, in fact) that it mustn’t overlook the nonhuman user base, and that its potential as a universal platform for the internet of things may prove an equally important function as human-human threads. Twitter could be very important in the deeply addressable space of the “IPv6 universe.” Who knows? It’s purely speculation on my part. However, right now I see Twitter operating more in terms of epidemiology than geopolitics, though obviously one involves the other.

Metahaven: What about when these networks are used to distribute information and content that may negatively affect the world's perception of America—for instance, the images of abuses at Abu Ghraib; the video of a U.S.  Apache helicopter killing civilians in Iraq, leaked by WikiLeaks; the HBGary emails obtained by Anonymous; or Twitter links to torrents from LulzSec?

Benjamin Bratton: Strangely, many people think that WikiLeaks is an American company. Many also think that it has something to do with Wikipedia and that, in turn, Wikipedia is implicated with “marines getting killed in Afghanistan.” It’s easy to overestimate the reflexive macro-systemic comprehension of actors within any complex order. Bear in mind that isolationism and exceptionalism are still very powerful recipes of U.S. political culture. The very idea that Google, for example, could be a global platform for a decentralized, postnational democracy of energy, information, knowledge, etc.—however dubious that idea may or may not be—is taken by some to necessitate conspiratorial suspicion. Glenn Beck has referred to Google’s supposed involvement in Egypt as a sign of its sympathies with global jihad. Ridiculous, sure, but not to about one-third of the U.S. electorate.

Metahaven: Why does China censor websites like Facebook and Google but then allow in-state surrogate sites to flourish?

Benjamin Bratton: And flourish they do. Obviously, the institutional space of the internet, and its relation to the state, are very different in China than in the U.S. or Europe. Consider what “net neutrality” might mean in Beijing. In the U.S., protecting the functional independence of the internet as a civic space means protecting the implied constitutional position of each receiver of information as equally a producer. All those spoken to, equally have voice. This is clearly distorted when, as in Citizens United vs. FCC, a corporation that wields power closer to that of a state than of a person is granted the protections afforded to the individual. In the U.S., net neutrality means that the public intervenes through the state on its own behalf to ensure greater access and a more robust information ecology. To use these terms again, it acts on behalf of long-term “positive” freedom at the expense of short term “negative” freedom.

It could be argued that in China a kind of inversion of this is at work, with the state having more fully absorbed the functions of corporate capital, including a more explicit agenda for social media as an mechanism of governance. In China, net neutrality is a very different issue because according to its institutional logic, the internet, like the body politic itself, is something to be crafted and curated by the state as a component content of the unified nation.

If you read the opinion pages of Chinese newspapers after every confrontation with Google, the reasoning is not circumspect or inconsistent, though perhaps disingenuous. The phrase “information imperialism” is deployed frequently. As your readers are aware, I am sure, China already has more internet users than any other country. The Chinese internet is “emergent” only in relation to what it itself will become. The central state hopes to sculpt Chinese society through that infrastructure as it does through all others at its disposal, and in doing so, the elite can realize enormous financial profit that would not be possible if American first-movers were to capture Chinese market share. Anyone reading this in ten years may be surprised to learn that in 2011 hardly any English speakers were using Renren, Baidu, or Weibo yet. These sites may start off as clones, but they will evolve into global platforms in competition with Facebook, Google, and Twitter, not only in the service of geopolitical interests but as an imminent material form and expression of geopolitical architectures that are as powerful as the sponsoring states from which they came. They will surely be much harder to control once they are successful global brands.



Iceland

Metahaven: After Iceland’s economy crashed in 2008, the country established the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative and rebranded itself as a “transparency haven,” touting press freedom and protection as its global brand as well as an economic model. Is Iceland uniquely qualified to pull something like this off? Do you think it’s working? How does the notion of an island-based zone of legal exception tie in with the networked nature of today's global communications? Isn’t a haven that can be easily pinpointed especially vulnerable to outside aggression?


Benjamin Bratton: WikiLeaks underscores both the upside (potential) and downside (risk) for national initiatives like Iceland’s. To use the privileges of a sovereign state in this way is a very interesting geopolitical strategy, but perhaps not as unusual as it may appear at first read. Iceland has certain advantages, but it’s hard to say which might prove most important. Its history as an in-between state during the Cold War (e.g., the Fischer-Spassky chess match), as well as its cultural and linguistic independence, means that it is not entangled in the same kinds of ethnic and military alliances that might complicate an initiative of generalized sovereign exception for information economies as it might for other states. Its physical location in the near-remote of Europe makes direct connection and commerce feasible, it has deep cold caverns for data centers, and as an island it has a geometrically unambiguous jurisdiction. The later is an advantage over Switzerland, which shares some of the same ambitions.

Nauru is a classic case of an island nation using the privileges of sovereignty in ways that other states would consider illegal. The little island’s guano had been exploited for a century by other states under the dubious rights of the colonial flag, and once independent, Nauru became a hub of money laundering, sham passports, tax havens, etc. Nauru’s schemes were dependent on international telecommunications infrastructure, but perhaps not as much as Iceland’s project is a direct function of what planetary-scale cyber-infrastructure makes possible. (The Bank of Iceland’s internet banking was, as the British will remind us, exemplary of the risks of transnational deregulation of intrastate banking. Losses related to Icesave were hundreds of billions of pounds).

Fredric Jameson and others have written at length about the relationship between islands and utopian spaces. Both are sites where total design is possible because they are closed systems. It’s interesting then that Iceland uses its island status to enable a more indiscriminate and ungoverned circulation of valuable information through its national body. Iceland can be a site of informational transparency and promiscuity because it has a discrete and distinct geography.




Greece

Metahaven: The current debt crisis and austerity plan in Greece have a grim outlook. Does its state of emergency present a novel situation in terms of design and geopolitics?

Benjamin Bratton: I am hesitant to make claims or prognostications about Greece because I don’t think we really know the full extent of the situation yet. It’s quite possible that the financial rot goes even deeper than we know, not just in Athens but in Brussels and Berlin as well. It’s easy to say now that Greece probably never should have joined the European Union in the first place, and this “conclusion” suits both left and right perspectives, but it sidesteps the question of how it was possible for the European Central Bank not to know how fragile and fraudulent the situation really was and is. It’s much worse that it didn’t know. Of course, the economic violence of the current solution, where generations of young Greeks watch their country sold on eBay to the very financial industry in London whose systemic incompetence diagrammed the calamity in the first place, is shocking and painful. I don’t need to repeat the obvious points (for example, that the lack of enforcement of the tax code in Greece, along with the empty accounts that follow, is a criminal example of private profit and public risk/loss).

So, to answer your question: yes, in that Greece is now the poster child to the Left for disaster capitalism and to the right for disaster socialism. The ECB, the IMF, the NBA—you name it, they will all have a seat at the auction. Perhaps the refinancing of the debt fails, the ECB or the bond market decides to cut Greece loose. And in that case, it’s uncharted territory, and anything is possible, including the wholesale nationalization of Greek cities, monies, historical possessions, land, time, language, or—we don’t know what, something genuinely new. No one can fail to note the possibility that “democracy” might be reinvented in Athens. Novel situation? Not yet; possibly soon.

Metahaven: Is an austerity package a design strategy? Who is effectively ruling the Greek people? The citizens via their democratically elected politicians; or investors, shareholders, and rating agencies via the stock market, the EU, and the IMF?

Benjamin Bratton: Certainly it is, but that is not an evaluation of its merits. The methodological shift to design-by-subtraction away from the high-modern design-by-addition-into-tabula-rasa is important for the post-Anthropocene era. When the planet is full—and it is always full—then subtraction is the other half of the technical economy. In the case of the austerity package, it is painfully clear that the body politic is being dismembered for spare parts. This is a design strategy, yes, but like war is design strategy.

Metahaven: If Greece sells off its national assets—from mining rights to airports—would this privatize “Greekness”?

Benjamin Bratton: It would. But what does that mean? If these things have exchange value, then why can’t they be “rented” instead of sold outright? You recall the campaigns in recent years trying to wield international trademark protection for the names and brand of certain foods and drinks associated with particular regions. In the U.S., for example, you cannot sell champagne that is not grown in the Champagne region of France and officially certified. The same is true with certain Italian ham, French mustards, Russian vodkas, as so forth. I wonder if there isn’t a way for the rich semiotic commonwealth of Greece, from Plato to olive oil, to be held in some entrepreneurial national trust, a sovereign-wealth fund of a new sort, which over time would leverage the exchange value of these assets against the national debt in such a way that the Greeks would profit from the speculative investment, which is what the outright sale of assets is as well. The irony that this rent would be capitalized in London should not pass unremarked upon.



Bahrain

Metahaven: It was reported that Bahrain hired an American PR agency, Potomac Square Group, prior to brutally suppressing popular uprisings. Can a state use PR to manage an image crisis in the same way Lindsay Lohan would?

Benjamin Bratton: Lindsay Lohan would not manage the crisis well at all! While this sort of Machiavellian “Council of Dissimulation” is ancient, the example you cite points to the incredible power of advertising as a social force, one which goes even beyond what the Situationists identified as the Society of the Spectacle. In the U.S., the public-relations industry moved into this space as a technique for managing emergencies; Bhopal, Three Mile Island. The origin of this contemporary form of “crisis communications” as a service is generally thought be the 1982 recall of Tylenol pain medication in response to tampering. The client lists of Burston-Marsteller and Edelman are a who’s who of the world’s most powerful and deeply capitalized enterprises, including sovereign states. If they recognize themselves as brands and understand that their power is dependent upon maintaining a degree of public trust, then it is not surprising that they would source the production and management of public perception to a professional expert agency. There is much that is disturbing about the pervasiveness of branding and advertising as predominant discursive economies, and that pervasiveness is only becoming more deeply ingrained into everyday life.

As I write these sentences in Google Docs and Gmail in response to your questions, my words are framed by advertisements. By parsing my words about “designing geopolitics,” the algorithmic phylum has figured out what I might be interested in at this moment, and what goods and services might interest me. (In this case, according to AdSense, several companies that will “help you use Twitter to do business in China.”) This is a frightening aspect of social media (and both search and email are social media now): that the domain of private, interior human communication has already been absorbed by nano-targeted advertising. Anything I might write to you is made possible by the fact that my ideas might hold your attention long enough for you to notice an ad about something that my own words have already put you in mind of. Evil? Proto-Singularity? Mere banality?

Our information technologies are becoming more intelligent as we use them, and click by click, search by search, we train them about who we are and what we know. It’s a useful exercise to look at one’s search history at the end of the year—the important and banal searches, the upstanding and the dodgy—and imagine who your search engine thinks you are. Lacan could only dream of it!

Perhaps soon the cutting edge of neuroscience will be funded by the big holding companies, Omnicom, Interpublic, WPP, Publicis, Dentsu. In this kind of environment, how can Bahrain not hire an American PR agency? When the emergency is permanent, the techniques of crisis are the infrastructure over which interests compete.

Metahaven: How might something like a conference to “set the agenda for a national dialogue,” with over 300 participants dealing with political, social, economic, and human rights, shift Bahrain’s image? (One is being held as we speak). What do you make of the Bahrain National Safety Council sentencing eight dissidents to life in prison within the same two-week period?

Benjamin Bratton: Imagining the event you describe, I think of Albrecht Dürer’s woodcut “The Grand Arch of Maximilian,” a political cosmology rendered in section. You know, I just finished rereading one of my favorite books of political philosophy, the play The Balcony, by Jean Genet. It’s all about the transvestism at the heart of any structure of political representation: the law, the revolution, the moral order, or of the one true challenge to that order.

I don’t know enough about this particular forum in Bahrain to offer any specific critique regarding its goals, who is and isn’t involved, or what paths to transformation it can contain or curtail. But even if it is a “theatrical” event, that does not mean that it is without political substance. The substance of power is transvestite, and its proscenium is a factory of consensus. Now, there is more than one kind of consensus: that which is doxic and so deeply habituated that it cannot even be addressed as such, and also that which is agreed to in bad faith, like the terms of a truce, and also that which is informed by a Foucauldian process, where the protocol of an event becomes over time the architecture of the political itself (such as how “left wing” and “right wing” shifted from a parliamentarian seating plan into the shape of the ideological spectrum).

There is consensus that is implicit and explicit, latent and manifest, and the transvestism of power depends upon the state’ management of these economies. Bahrain, I imagine, is hoping to physically stage a diagram of the structures of power it proposes to perform going forward, which, if people perform in place, becomes itself the consensus. Slavoj Žižek has built his oeuvre on the dissection of these necessary hypocrisies.

Metahaven: Facebook, Twitter, or Google+?

Benjamin Bratton: Google+ is too new to say. So far, so good. I can imagine a version of Google+ that would be much better than what we have now, but that is only my whiteboard dream. They haven’t asked me for my input. Twitter will be very useful for nonhuman actors communicating to human users and, likewise, other nonhumans. Facebook has made huge gains in cloud architecture and, well beyond any direct social play, will be a dominant technology company in the years to come. It is also the most politically dangerous of the big American players. I am writing something now about its hyperlibertarian early funder, Peter Thiel, and his tutelage under René Girard. Very strange.

Metahaven: Something you’d like to disclose in the name of transparency?

Benjamin Bratton: I saw Slavoj Žižek and Lady Gaga leaving Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s hotel room the night of the supposed incident.

Metahaven: Dream leak?

Benjamin Bratton: Not sure, but it is in Chinese.

Metahaven: First order as newly appointed king of Bahrain?

Benjamin Bratton: Merge with Iceland.

Metahaven: Last best lulz?

Benjamin Bratton: “Prisencolinensinainciusol” by Adriano Celentano

Metahaven: The next neologism?

Benjamin Bratton: More interface features turning into verbs of intimacy; e.g., overheard this morning: “Circle me on that” (meaning add me to your Google + circle on that topic).

Metahaven: Top three power players in design geopolitics?

Benjamin Bratton: LAMP stack, Wal-Mart, Al-Jazeera, Android, Hu Jintao, IPv6, Eurovision, Lula—too hard. Too many options.

Tags: branding, geopolitics, future of politics, google, facebook, apple, sovereignty

Published: 10.23.2011

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