Galloway, Protocol

Denham’s take away is:

I think this is the key point that I took out of this reading (most of it I didn’t fully understand), the idea that although the internet is commonly viewed as this chaotic, ruleless utopia/dystopia, there are still a very stringent set of protocols governing how we act on the internet and contribute to the network that it creates.

This is a good place to begin from. Galloway also argues from this that ‘protocol’ is how all of this is controlled, and that ‘protocol’ is how things get controlled today. He’d argue society, not just the internet, and at this point it is like the internet is the manifestation of a lot of other changes and ideas. Which I suppose begs the question of whether the internet has caused or accelerated this, or whether the internet responded to a cultural change?

Holly has an outstanding post that begins to think about protocol, lots of nice examples from outside the web to contextualise why and how protocol matters. Olivia picks up the tenor of ‘control societies‘ and worries about what that might mean.

Anna D has a fantastic post joining Galloway to the stuff about scale free networks, so that decentralisation doesn’t equal lack of strucure, and that what Galloway shows is how important protocol is (I’d suggest technical and social) to making this structure sensible to us. Protocol as an economy and ecology of control is ‘flat’, decentralised and possibly more democratic. I don’t know, but its structure is flat and there aren’t really centres, just processes of agreement that are in turn highly ordered (protocolesque) events. For instance anyone can write a RFC, and anyone can join the W3C and have a say in what protocols are defined for the internet. Anyone.