Hu 2015

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Hu, Tung-Hui. A Prehistory of the Cloud.’’ Cambridge: MIT Press, 2015.

“By producing a seemingly instant, unmediated relationship between user and website, our imagination of a virtual ‘cloud’ displaces the infrastructure of labor within digital networks.” (Xii)

Cloud seems to disperse sovereign power but “what this book argues is that ‘the cloud’ also indexes a reemergence of sovereign power within the realm of data” (xiii)

Foucault, shift from sovereign power to disciplinary power, panopticon

Deleuze, shift from disciplinary societies to control society, “a continuous set of cybernetic systems, financial incentives, and monitoring technologies molded to each individual subject, that follow him or her even when ‘outside’ an institution as such; and, precisely because there are fewer explicit institutions, spaces, or rules to restrict the subject’s behaviors, these systems are often experienced as freeing” (xv)

“Rather than consider sovereign power a historical exception or aberration within a wholesale shift to the systems of controle, I suggest that it has mutated and been given new life inside the cloud.” (xvi)

“sovereignty of data” — it is a “necropolitics”, a politics of death — it “the cloud transmutes the mechanism of deatha nd presents it to us as life” (xviii)

Embrace of materiality or platform studies to “recuperate the often invisible logics, algorithms, and apparatuses that structure digital culture” (xviii) — but the cloud “inevitably frustrates this approach, because by design, it is not based on any single medium or technology; it is medium-agnostic, rather than medium-specific” (xix)

Looking at materiality of cloud to understand it is like looking into projector light to understand a film

“Analyzing the cloud requires standing at a middle distance from it, mindful of but not wholly immersed in either its virtuality or its materiality.” (Xx)

Sources: 1. representations of cloud in popular media 2. Examples drawn from the culture of computer science itself 3. Photographs, drawings, videos, games showing how visual culture functions in the cloud