Speculative Management: Stock Market Power and Corporate Change

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Technological solutionism now claims an imperial vista that supplies consumers, entrepreneurs, and policy makers across the world with an ethos of commitment to an infinite now as an insurance against fragile futures. Populist projects have proven unable to address the condition of distribution beyond identitarian reterritorializations against migration and mercantilist economics against free markets.

The migration of techniques of governing populations to algorithmic apparatuses financed by venture capital signals the diagrammatic of algorithmic control, intensifying technologies of the self and the financialization of life. At the same time, the infrastructural dynamics created to autonomize and accelerate distribution machines offer a lot to any thought struggling with the organizational challenge presented by operations of the digital. The current interest in blockchain applications across the fields of collective cultural, economic, and social organization is a case in point.

It is not an accident that the technical terms of the extractive industries are being generalized into the organizational metaphors that seek to totalize economies of capture. And, if nothing else, the ongoing series of catastrophic instantiations of such a logic of chance-based constitution — from stock-market crashes to infrastructural failures — reminds us of the actuality of distribution as a condition that is neither ruled nor governed by a single logic of control. Second-order big data projects like the U. Affecting our very ability to engage with the catastrophic conditions that define the current conjuncture and planetary future, a commitment to immanence implies that the analytical idiom of structures and systems is approached in terms of a profound processuality rather than the stasis or relational equilibrium that these terms seem to suggest.

There is nothing radical about processuality. Sociologists Nick Fox Processuality does not grant us epistemic privilege. But it is indispensable to any analysis of experience.

Speculative management : stock market power and corporate change, Dan Krier

The idea of the digital object describes a conceptual space as much as the infrastructural actuality of distribution. More than anything, however, the digital object for Hui consists of computational schemas or structures that organize metadata as ontologies. Or rather, the relational will not suffice as the end point in thinking infrastructural arrangements within and through which economy and society, labour and life are governed. Instead, this requires attention to various registers of material constitution — from the design of infrastructures to the legal frameworks governing their operation.

In our exploration of the operational logic of the digital object, the processual comprehension of computation joins forces with a neo-Kittlerian focus on hardware without which both a semiotics of software and any analysis of the autonomy of algorithmic systems would remain ontologically incomprehensible.

The apparent joy of researchers embracing the possibilities of visualizing archives and advancing data analytics to generate a neo-positivist hermeneutics of the world reminds us that disciplines generally prefer to shelve the problematic of a politics of subjectivation within machinic systems. If it is true that both the school and factory were once ruled by the same logics of disciplinarity, we now witness the voyeuristic enjoyment of data-driven knowledges across the social field.

Given the harsh realities of work in underfunded universities, there is little to argue with the enthusiastic ludification of academic labour. Unlike empiricism, positivist analysis cannot be a form of immanent critique. It posits as its own condition of possibility a position of exteriority in both spatial and temporal terms. With the surging recognition of digital humanities, the uptake of digital analytics across disciplines, governmental and industry practice, and the extinction of post-structuralist critical inquiry, much academic research has unwittingly defaulted to positivism as the explanatory idiom by which the world is revealed.

Most depressingly, neo-positivism has been welcomed with a collective sigh of relief that educational modes of relation no longer have to be organized around the demanding and largely unpaid labour of critique, historical contextualization, and the reflexive gestures inherited from second-order cybernetics.

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Yet if distribution is our condition, nothing exists simply in one location. Goshgarian, London, Verso, This is a post-production perspective from which the object is always-already distributed. Engaging with the question of machinic modes of relation as matter of aesthetic experience, artists like Hito Steyerl have been making the case that the condition of distribution requires a technical reframing of the question of experience itself that takes into account the historical feminization of labour in production processes.

The documentary aesthetics informing our faith in the coupling of visibility and governability are failing us in the comprehension of the futurity of cognition.

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Visualizations of network topologies, database analytics that reveal hidden narratives of the archive, cluster maps of the Twittersphere, infographics that seek to explain complex systems — these are just some of the prevailing techniques invested in modes of revelation that, like big data analytics, often have more to say about their method than the semiotics of material conditions.

And while we do not suggest that fringe formations that have never been central to academic economies of recognition such as speculative design or that science fiction constitutes paradigmatic proposals, they offer us an intimation of parables of the future that listen to the language of things. If we begin with the object as that which delineates processes of subjective constitution, the analytical horizon of a speculative entropology allows us to trace the distributedness of things, indexing the labour of their production. As a figuration of coproduction and collaborative constitution, the speculative entropologist fielding these dispatches is itself an experience machine, retrieving logics of operation to confront the power of digital objects that have set out to structure labour and life.

But if experience is a key terrain upon which algorithmic modes of extraction are played out, research itself must become an aesthetic practice. Style has returned as a matter of concern economically, so critique must register this re-emergence of the aesthetic and not pretend that language simply names that which is already given. This is especially the case when the language of critique is mobilized from within a horizon of mediation Called upon to witness our own condition, we find it impossible to single out the topological layers of everyday experience.

Disturbed by epistemic latencies whose variability again escapes human cognition and perception even while they structure social and economic life through computational systems, dynamic signal-message ratios give us a sense of the limits of certainty. Our condition of distribution and communication is also a condition of asynchrony. But rather than accepting the passage from melancholy into nostalgia for the analogue, for the public sphere, for the autonomy of aesthetic experience or descending into depression, we must turn it into method — into the attention to things Benjamin and their charm in the world.

And what better way to live with this melancholy than to produce that which has been lost as an object of inquiry. Clarke, and Ellen Balka eds. In the context of experience economies, what happens to concrete cases of work is what happens to work as such. What is at stake is the epistemological and in fact ontological privilege we accord labour in relation to the singularity of human experience and production of subjectivity. By extension, this demands an interrogation of the aesthetic, economic, and political models we have built on this privilege.

But the nature and quality of that composition will reflect back on the organization of work in important ways… To change the ecological mix with respect to my work organization means changing the organization in which I work. It is not merely an exercise of imagination, but a real political risk. Working with this risk will be a key task of future research. As the operations of capital production, distribution, exchange, labour power organized through computational architectures and logistical models move into the focus of political analyses and studies of contemporary labour, we are still struggling to generate the diagrams on which such analysis could be built.

While such strategies for the interregnum might buy the time needed to come up with alternatives, there is no future here to push back the horizon of a now that appears to close in on us. High-frequency trading, machine learning systems, the rise of the sensor city, the financialization of life through the subsumption of self-optimization by insurance industries: where does politics situate itself in a world of distributed objects, many of which operate beneath the threshold of human perception? The calls for open data, transparency, and accountability are all undermined by computational architectures of inspection and control Snowden, NSA, WikiLeaks, etc.

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  6. I. Prologue.

In a world in which the scene of politics assumes spectral qualities, inventing figures of thought is less a matter of finding definitive frameworks of analysis than of engaging in the art of casting spells over a world of ghosts — a necessarily provisional, hence minor gesture. Above all else, aesthetic practices issue probes into multiple worlds whose simultaneity irritates our experience of the contemporary. To operationalise the machine, we need a collective language — a way of naming, an idiom of expression, which entails the singularity of practice — that helps organize the production of subjectivity and living labour in ways that are not constrained by the formatting of action in algorithmic architectures.

The digital object calls for analytical attention not least because it has set out to determine how we approach it; one implication of autonomous systems is that they frame our encounter with them, and in doing so establish protocols of relation and exchange.

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Thanks for your comment. Mitchell claims that a new form of speculation emerged at the turn of the century as corporations altered their capital structures and investors their portfolios away from bonds, with contractually fixed coupon payments, to preferred stock with less certain dividends and, ultimately, to common shares with even more uncertain dividends. Instead it unfolds modes of relation open to contingency. The subscription TV service closed out an epic growth year in , with subscriber gains passing 8 million, compared with management's expectations of adding 6 million members. Updated: Aug 21, at PM.

For us, the digital object is a processual dynamic that makes distribution possible. We will need to experiment with what this distribution implies, exploring its consequences for theories of state, market, and our own agency. The emergent algorithmic assemblages from finance capital to political insurrection are not without social articulations, but our theories of individual and collective agency may not be capable of comprehending them. The return of positivism is not a conspiracy but the exhaustion of a particular variety of immanent critique.

We refuse to be exhausted. Special thanks to Carolin Wiedemann and Armin Beverungen for their editorial suggestions. We also thank Ryan Bishop for his comments and advice on an earlier iteration of this text. Together with Brett Neilson and Tanya Notley, he is currently investigating data centres and the governance of labour and territory in Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney. This notice describes our privacy policy. By visiting websites owned by or associated with TSI Network, you are accepting the practices described in this Privacy Policy.

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The Experience of Digital Objects – Toward a Speculative Entropology

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