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Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization Paperback – Feb 17 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (Feb. 17 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262572338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262572330
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 18 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #169,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Format: Hardcover
Some of the most interesting work being done today is a result of the cross fertilization of intellectual fields. While this is somewhat of a computer scienct book about the protocols of the internet, the author is a professor of Media Ecology. When he talks of the Internet and its protocols it's almost as if he is using different words.
It has long been a contention of mine that the Internet, both the world wide web and e-mail needs to be view as a transition in media not unlike that brought about by Gutenberg. Here the Internet and its interactions with both people and machines is analyzed like other media. What is the impact on society of a computer virus? How does this differ from the impact of the AIDS virus? And is the computer virus the problem or the weakness of the underlying programs - after all, most viruses use weaknesses in Microsoft Outlook to spread themselves.
We are at a time when the internet is changing our lives. It's good to see that people other than just technologists are looking at where we are going.
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Format: Hardcover
Some of the most interesting work being done today is a result of the cross fertilization of intellectual fields. While this is somewhat of a computer scienct book about the protocols of the internet, the author is a professor of Media Ecology. When he talks of the Internet and its protocols it's almost as if he is using different words.
It has long been a contention of mine that the Internet, both the world wide web and e-mail needs to be view as a transition in media not unlike that brought about by Gutenberg. Here the Internet and its interactions with both people and machines is analyzed like other media. What is the impact on society of a computer virus? How does this differ from the impact of the AIDS virus? And is the computer virus the problem or the weakness of the underlying programs - after all, most viruses use weaknesses in Microsoft Outlook to spread themselves.
We are at a time when the internet is changing our lives. It's good to see that people other than just technologists are looking at where we are going.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A must-have if you're interested in the art, tech, or culture of networks June 28 2005
By Jon Ippolito - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Galloway is a triple threat: he's fluent in the esoteric dialects of poststructuralist theory, Internet geekspeak, and network aesthetics. There are plenty of books that try to tackle the art and politics of the Internet age from one of these angles, and a handful that try two--but if you're looking for a three-dimensional treatment of the subject, this is the book for you.

Protocol's subtitle, How Control Exists after Decentralization, gives away Galloway's intention in writing this book, which is to steer a path between the "media are chains" intonations of broadcast media critics and the "networks make us free" hype of Internet evangelists. The fact that he's trying to erect a new theory in this uncharted territory makes this book a valuable contribution to the field.

Sometimes I think he loses his path along the way, as when he veers afield from his focus on networks to apply his ideas to an abstract "biopolitics" or to propose an aesthetic interpretation of Marx. None of these efforts is misguided or irrelevant, and academics with heads in the clouds will probably love these parts. Personally, however, I find Protocol most useful not when it connects one theory to another, but when it connects a theory to a specific technical specification. When Galloway pulls A Thousand Plateaus of the shelf to reveal the politics underlying the Internet's fundamental TCP/IP protocols, he's not just showing off his booklearning--he's upgrading Deleuze and Guattari's theory for use in the field, so we can apply their radical philosophy to the email and chat applications we design and deploy.

If you're a teacher trying to explain the relevance of dead European philosophers to students who'd rather be learning the latest PhotoShop filter or IM client, Protocol is a great translator between these realms. In my classes, I make them read an excerpt on a specific topic--network diagrams, for instance--but I also ask them to analyze the handy tables and photographs Galloway uses to condense and illustrate his points.

(Disclaimer: I know the author from our mutual work in the field of Internet art. That said, I know a lot of the authors of recent books on new media--it's the nature of the field.)
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
DNS Error or Server Not Found April 24 2008
By The Dilettante - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Alexander Galloway seems to have something profound to say about networks but not the confidence to say it clearly. Galloway sets out to prove that "protocol" is to distributed postmodern networks (i.e. the Internet) what Foucault's "panopticon" was to modernist social hierarchies. Since Foucault is, for me, the best example of why postmodern 'theory' is still worth taking seriously, I got pretty excited about this book.

Galloway begins ambitiously, clearly stating his thesis (the book's subtitle), identifying his intellectual opponents (naive techno-libertarians), and situating his work within the literature (he invokes figures as diverse as Vannevar Bush and Gilles Deleuze). By page 65, the book seems really to be going somewhere, as Galloway walks us through the history of protocol, using TCP/IP and DNS as exemplars. The writing is technically crisp and hard-headed.

But just as I started to get really interested, Galloway seemed to back off his argument, retreating into vague pronouns and undefined terms. Derrida appeared briefly. There was some general derision of 'late capitalism.' I finally got lost on his discussion of Sergei Eisenstein's attempt to adapt Das Kapital for the movie screen ("What does this have to do with networks?" I thought.)

In the end, I never figured out what Galloway meant by "protocological control." It was not clear which (if any) agent does the controlling, what the limits of protocological control are, or how we could exercise control if we wanted to. I was left with the distinct impression that protocological control amounts to the simple requirement that nodes on a network speak a common language. It's hard to see this as particularly insidious, or even politically relevant. There may be more going on here, but I can't find it.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Computer Science from a Liberal Arts View. June 23 2004
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Some of the most interesting work being done today is a result of the cross fertilization of intellectual fields. While this is somewhat of a computer scienct book about the protocols of the internet, the author is a professor of Media Ecology. When he talks of the Internet and its protocols it's almost as if he is using different words.
It has long been a contention of mine that the Internet, both the world wide web and e-mail needs to be view as a transition in media not unlike that brought about by Gutenberg. Here the Internet and its interactions with both people and machines is analyzed like other media. What is the impact on society of a computer virus? How does this differ from the impact of the AIDS virus? And is the computer virus the problem or the weakness of the underlying programs - after all, most viruses use weaknesses in Microsoft Outlook to spread themselves.
We are at a time when the internet is changing our lives. It's good to see that people other than just technologists are looking at where we are going.
3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Computer Science from a Liberal Arts view. June 23 2004
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Some of the most interesting work being done today is a result of the cross fertilization of intellectual fields. While this is somewhat of a computer scienct book about the protocols of the internet, the author is a professor of Media Ecology. When he talks of the Internet and its protocols it's almost as if he is using different words.
It has long been a contention of mine that the Internet, both the world wide web and e-mail needs to be view as a transition in media not unlike that brought about by Gutenberg. Here the Internet and its interactions with both people and machines is analyzed like other media. What is the impact on society of a computer virus? How does this differ from the impact of the AIDS virus? And is the computer virus the problem or the weakness of the underlying programs - after all, most viruses use weaknesses in Microsoft Outlook to spread themselves.
We are at a time when the internet is changing our lives. It's good to see that people other than just technologists are looking at where we are going.
6 of 19 people found the following review helpful
How the idea was born... April 27 2005
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A thought occurs to the author, "human beings have a protocol of sorts that allows them to cooperate.. that keeps them under _control_". He sits around, has some coffee. Eats a bagel. And then it hits him, "Oh my God, the Internet is made up of _computer protocols_!!", and a book is born.

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