Sunday Mutants 26-9-10

Not quite adjusted to daylight saving edition.

Cognitive Slaves – John Robb on social media and job/wealth creation now and in the future. (Or: why you are suckers working for free.)

A two minute whoa, wtf think piece: On networked buildings and architectural neurology.

In other words, why have a building somehow controlled by a human brain, when a human brain could instead be controlled by a building?

Three in a row, from @klintron, one of my favourite mutants.

Angelgate: price fixing and collusion among angel investors in silicon valley.

How Right-Wing Billionaires and Business Propaganda Got Us into the Economic Mess of the Century. Fairly peppy but interesting take on the issues; asks some interesting questions about mass psychology, of America in particular.

Fascinating if somewhat dated interview with Manuel Delanda about markets, anti-markets, self-organization, the internet age and information warfare, the importance of remembering the material basis of life in an information age, and the chauvinism of an organism based point of view.

On the other hand, another problem with original Adam Smith idea was not so much that it was too simple, but that it applied the term „markets, to things that were not self-organized. All the way back to Venice in the fourteenth century, Florence in the fifteenth, Amsterdam in the eighteenth, London in the nineteenth, in other words, throughout European history, beside these spontaneously coordinated markets, there have been large wholesalers, large banks or foreign trade companies or stock markets that are not self-regulated, these are organizations in which instead of prices self-regulating it, they had commands. Everything is planned from the top and more or less executed according to planned, everything is more or less intended. There is very little self-organization going on at all. And indeed, these large wholesalers, these large merchants, large bankers and so on, made the gigantic profits they made and they became capitalist thanks to the fact that they were not obeying obeying demand and supply, they were manipulating demand and supply. For example, instead of the peasant that shows up to the market to sell a certain amount of corn, here you have a wholesaler with a huge warehouse where he stores all the corn he can. If the prices are too low, he can always with drawn certain amounts from the market, put them in the warehouse, and artificially make the prices go up. When the prices go up, he then sells the rest of the corn at these high prices and he makes a lot of money. But, of course, he is manipulating demand and supply. He is not being governed by these anonymous forces. He is not being subject to self-organization; he is organizing everything in a planned cunning way. And so, because economists use the word „market” to describe both, that is one of the main confusions I see in contemporary thought.

We need another word to describe these organizations that are large enough to manipulate markets. A word has been suggested by historian Fernand Braudel and it is a very simple one: „anti-market.” Why? Because they manipulate markets. And so today, in the United States, there is a very strong political movement, mostly by the right wing, and Newt Gingrich is perhaps the most well known politician in this regards, who are trying, as they say, shrink the size of the government, let market forces have more room to operate. But, of course, translated into the terms we’ve just introduced, what they really want to do is let anti-market forces run wild. They don’t really want small producers and small manufacturers and bakers and printers and mom-and-pop shops to have more room to manoeuver and make money. They want national and international corporations to have more room to manoeuver. They want to shrink government so that there are less regulations to keep international and national corporations from doing what they want. But if you go and study one of these corporations, rather than looking like a market, they are like mini-Soviet Unions. I mean, everything is planned in these corporations. The managerial hierarchies are exactly like the hierarchies in the Soviet Union: they planned everything, prices play a very small role and most of the organization is done via command.

“I find Twitter to be the most powerful aggregator of shared novelty that humanity has yet possessed.” – William Gibson (Which is more or less what I said in the first of the Sunday Mutants posts.)

Could be more to come but home interweb is so slow right now it makes my eyes bleed.

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