platform = “raised areas that facilitate — and leave open — exchange and social activity.”

platform = “‘a business based on enabling value-creating interactions between external producers and consumers,’ providing ‘an open, participative infrastructure for these interactions’ and setting ‘governance conditions for them.’”

platform =

  • uber/lyft (doesnt own cars)
  • airbnb (doesnt own hotels)
  • alibaba (doesnt own retail goods)
  • facebook (doesnt own media)
  • …but they own all data associated with the activity on the platform

this is a “model of privatized governance”

cognitive capitalism = movement away from Fordist industrial mass production toward post-Fordist, advanced capitalist expansion of “echnology-intensive, service, financial, craft, and cultural industries” via “the replacement of standardized machinery in the American production system by digital technologies that not only act as a substitute for routine labor, but that also complement and enhance the intellectual and affective assets of the labor force”

  • cognitive behavior = online behavior

  • may be “siphoning value from socio-cultural activity as such”

“we lack language to grasp the way these platforms collapse profit and the social, culture and capital”

the term platform in this sense is propaganda - it “fuses several meanings to the benefit of these businesses, combining the software platform with the figurative and political senses of the word associated with freedom. “

its urgent that we understand “the platformed world”

“whatever gets platformed … also becomes data owned by the platform-owners”

calls for platform data regulation reaching headlines after Cambridge Analytica/2016 election exposé

“regulation isn’t enough. We need theory”… to figure out “how we need to change our vocabulary and categories, and how we need to update our critical frameworks, for our new reality.”

Franklin Foer’s “World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech”

” ‘the ascendant monopolies of today aspire to encompass all of existence,’ in an attempt to ‘overhaul the entire chain of cultural production, so that they can capture greater profit.’” - Franklin Foer

Foer argues that platform capitalism “threatens to flatten cultural creativity to consensus”

Foer’s solution is to “embrace paper and long-form reading, to voluntarily adopt non-platformed cultural diets.”

  • but “The voluntarist solution falls flat in the face of the sheer size of the networks in question.” … can’t escape their reach/influence, can’t compete

Thus we learn from Foer that “calls to regulation based on pre-digital critical frameworks make critique conservative. Lacking the conceptual tools to envision progress, liberals are the conversatives now.”

Scott Galloway’s “The Four”

“[Scott] Galloway suggests that platforms run on culture rather than traditional profit.”

Galloway, Foer, “a chorus of Italian Marxists and cultural theorists,” Benjamin Bratton (“Cloud Feudalism”), and Bruce Sterling liken pre-modern (Medieval) terminology to describe the current situation

“Trying to keep drivers driving means negotiating with them, but the results are not encouraging. By denying their status as a firm with employees, Uber devolves the risk of enterprise onto their “contractors,” and then argues those contractors should be loyal to the platform’s internal, algorithmic assessment of its own success, since their ability to drive at all is based on Uber continuing to exist.”

  • “resembles feudalism”

“The platform is an adventure in extreme forms of expropriation set against the backdrop of a slowing economy, what Marxist economist Robert Brenner calls ‘the long downturn’ since the 1970s.”

the Big Four = “smart monopolies”

“We need new theory to face that situation, not just pre-modern analogies and calls to regulation lacking any sign of fulfillment in the current political landscape.”

Nick Srnicek’s “Platform Capitalism”

platform capitalism is about harvesting data

“[Google & FB] are ‘appropriating data as raw material.’’ They are not, [Nick] Srnicek makes clear, expropriating a surplus value produced by ‘online’ or ‘cognitive’ labor in the production of that data.”

cloud platforms outsource IT labor (AWS)

platform model exist in meatspace too (via IoT)

  • “Product and industrial platforms will likely enter a profitable symbiosis in the coming years.”

“National growth or no, the platforms are increasingly in control of the distribution of wealth.”

“capitalist competition is driving the internet to fragment,” we should “collectivize the platforms” - Srnicek

Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s “Machine, Platform, Crowd”

Decentralized Autonomous Organization = “a blockchain-based investor collective that demonstrated through failure why we can’t automate economic planning and social trust altogether.” (see: here)

“many disciplines other than economics are needed to grasp the present situation”

  • we need systems understanding, beyond” what the current “division of the faculties can analyze”

“replacing the standard model that firms have used since the 1990s, where humans make judgments based on data”: “‘instead of having machines provide data as an input to human judgment,’ companies should have ‘judgment serve as an input to an algorithm.’”

“Logic is for computers, rhetoric for humans.”

“The final line of human defense against the fantasy of a total decentralization of everything turns out to be companies.” (Brynjolffson and McAfee)

“there aren’t workers anymore, only entrepreneurs.” (Brynjolffson and McAfee)

“entrepreneurs are not workers with jobs, and managers who don’t make decisions might not be earning their keep in the one percent. Firms are (or should become) just algorithmic mirrors of crowds, formal organizations that facilitate the monetization of social activity — that is, platforms.”

“Platforms are a computational interface between society and capital.”

Benjamin Bratton’s “The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty”

“The Stack”: Bruce Sterling says that instead of “the internet,” “Silicon Valley,” or “the media,” “‘just study Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft,’ these ‘big five American vertically organized silos’ which were ‘re-making the world in their image.’”

“Stacks are the looming end of the emancipatory promise of cyberspace”

The Stack = “a way of seeing the totality in spite of the fragmentation”

platform ≠ business platform ≠ government platform = a “third institutional form, along with states and markets.” - Bratton

“The Stack is a cosmology of platform capitalism (w 6 layers)”:

  1. Earth
  2. Cloud
  3. Address
  4. City
  5. Interface
  6. User

^^ describes “a totality of computation, from click to globe”, semi-fictional/speculative/predictive theory

“By leaving climate change untreated and untreatable,… [the Republican Party] are actively creating conditions in which neo-feudalism can stabilize itself” … “Bratton suggests the left should avoid the ‘unfortunate knee-jerk antidigital technology politics.’… Critique that tries to roll back two generations of digital creep is always already obsolete”

“We mostly stumble from one catastrophe to another, avoiding the direst consequences and ignoring the infinite task of squaring theory and policy in the era of the platform.”