Workshop 1 - Discussion - The Age of the Generalised Experiment

Discussion following ‘The Age of the Generalised Experiment’ panel with Michael Dillon and Nigel Thrift explored  three themes: that of the nature of information systems, that of the counter forces to total war, and that of the politics of the security-entertainment complex.

Firstly, attention was drawn to the change in understanding the nature of information systems in terms of newspeak perceived as a discrepancy of what the agency for changing the forces does what the administration does.

Secondly, the questions of the counter forces and counter tendencies was raised, in the context of the 1989-1990 military change and the idea of total war as the perfection of the process of transformation. Contemporary warfare was considered in terms of a field of formation which had no single definition. The problem of what happens to the institutions with regard to these transformations was analysed in terms of a deep political crisis.

Thirdly, the links between security and entertainment were investigated. The argument was made that in the long run this formation goes against the interests of big corporations, asking whether there should exist a counter-movement against corporations. This was answered within three propositions:

  • things are extremely open most of the time
  • corporations wanted to tap into the uncontrollable sources of information that they unleashed – they don’t want to control them but observe and choose the profitable ones
  • the constant shifting of power as the use of new technologies creates counter forces