Chell's blog

Thoughts, ideas, and other things 'a bit unkempt'…

Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization,Alexander R Galloway


This reading addresses very clearly what the title portrays. I liked how the first paragraph set everything out clearly and in context:

This book is about a diagram, a technology and a management style. The diagram is the distributed network, a structural form without center that resembles a web or meshwork. The technology is a digital computer, an abstract machine able to perform the work of any other machine (provided it can be described logically). The management style is protocol, the principle of organisation native to computers in distributed networks. All three come together to define a new apparatus of control that has achieved importance at the start of the new millennium. 

The information that resonated with me the most from this reading was about ‘protocol’. Protocol is at the core of networked computing systems. It is a set of rules and recommendations for the computer that outline the specific technical standards.

Prior to its usage in computing, ‘protocol’ referred to any type of correct or proper behaviour within a specific system of conventions… Now, protocols refer to standards governing the implementation of specific technologies. 

Galloway gives an analogy of a highway system to explain computer protocols. He describes how many different routes are available for someone to get from location A to B. But one route has more restrictions and rules you must follow (protocol) such as red lights, double lines etc.

Galloway’s main argument is that protocol is in fact how technological control exists after decentralisation. I tend to follow the author’s flow of thought here, but I find it difficult to analyse and summarise. I intend to continue this post after we discuss this reading in class this week. I’d like to hear other people’s ideas too.

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