Robots in the Commune
Brian Droitcour

          Wrestling legend Ultimate Warrior just called BS on the hordes of hipsters behind Occupy Wall Street, telling TMZ they’re a bunch of poseurs, fueling the same corporate giant they’re trying to take down. In an ultra-rare appearance in full make-up, Warrior (real name Brian Hellwig) tells us, I find it a little ironic that most of these kids own iPads and iPhones and all these material things. They’re a big part of the consumerism that goes on in this country.” — With their credit cards, smartphones, laptops and lattes, they wander about the city as if the infrastructure of communication and guilty pleasures were a given, all the while reluctant to engage in the simplest of human action, hygiene. Recently, Apple Inc. surpassed ExxonMobil as the wealthiest American company. The disparity between the two companies’ products could not be greater, and yet unlike the ideas of the occupiers, have integration. You would find very little conflict with Apple’s wealth in the crowd of protesters occupying Wall Street. Many of them are communicating with iPhones and appreciate their value, and rightfully so. Apple is their example of clean, efficient technology. —
          What is the problem with using a sleek and successful computing product while protesting corporate excesses, government corruption, economic inequality ? How deeply are a thing and its value implicated in the practices of its producer, the means of its production ? How can you use it as you want and not be produced by it as a user ? How deeply are you implicated in the social whole ? — Through a brand a corporation makes a relation to a social whole. Through a brand a financial entity becomes a word. Through a word a speaker relates to a social whole. — A MacBook. An iPhone. These are things that communicate, things that transmit words. They are bodies that breed immanence. But they are less like older talking things — less like the telephone, the tape cassette, the book. They come with their own interfaces for navigating the world. They exclude alternatives.*Where can I get an abortion I don’t see any abortion clinics. Sorry about that — How do you live with them — not under them ?
           — Words belong to nobody, and in themselves they evaluate nothing. But they can serve any speaker and be used for the most varied and directly contradictory evaluations on the part of the speakers.— Branding on clothing is a way of bringing the word of a corporation into the space of the consumer’s body. A brand is a word in the voice of the product’s owner. The voice of the wearer sounds in unison with the voice of the designer.*designer handbags — designer iphone 4 cases — designer shoes — designer s — Designers today cannot just think of form, function, and meaning. They also have to think of script. Now, as a designer, you really have to think of how those objects are going to interact with people. Of course, this comes naturally to interface and interaction designers, but not as much to product designers or furniture designers — but they all have to learn that this is what’s necessary today.—
          What could be a better public relations campaign for “Think Different” Apple than the Occupiers typing on its things ? I’ll tell you: Steve Jobs dying. Steve Jobs died so Siri could soar.*What’s your biggest secret ? My name is Siri, and I was designed by Apple in California. That’s all I’m prepared to say. — Cancer consumed his viscera as disembodied Siri voice entered the marketplace. All the magazines put him on their covers. The mass grieving of his passing — and when has the passing of a CEO been so grieved ? — became the greatest public-relations campaign in history.*Hi Steve Jobs Hello there, Amy. Where are you Wherever you are, that’s where I am. I’m scared Are you ? This is very scary — Siri won’t be the last robot and she wasn’t the first.*Robot unicorn attack. Robot chicken. Robot heart. Robot chicken star wars. — What about Bob ? What about Jeeves ?

           — Just as freedom of speech is a convenient myth under which something else entirely can safely be left to occur, the ideal of a word processor is that it creates an enunciative framework that remains the same whether what is being written is a love letter or a tax return. All word processing programs exist at the threshold between the public world of the document and those of the user. How does Word meet, detour or expand these drives, norms and codes in writing ? Office Assistant will do a few things off its own bat if you tell it to in Preferences. But its subsequent cheery dosing of the user’s eyeballs with timely Tips about using features, the mouse, keyboard shortcuts, means that to use Word without the winsome little pixie switched firmly off is to be constantly prodded in the ribs, to have your ears twisted to attention, to be told off. School will never end.
           — The white void of Google’s homepage was intended as relief from web portals cluttered with logos, flashing ads, and links. It presented the search engine as a tool, not an inviting or exciting destination in itself. This approach was key to Google’s ascendance, but it has never entirely displaced attempts at human warmth. Ask Jeeves, a leading entry point to the web around 2000, anthropomorphized the search engine as a cartoon concierge, and encouraged users to formulate their queries in complete sentences. (Popularity dwindled because Jeeves hadn’t actually discovered a way to parse natural language.)*— how do i go back to the old facebook chat — how do i go back to the old yahoo mail — how do i go back to yahoo mail classic — how do i google something
           — Not all Googles are the same ! Depending on your location*— where can i buy stamps — where can i buy dry ice — where can i buy zhu zhu pets — where can i buy a snuggie — where can i buy a kindle — where can i buy amazon gift cards — where can i buy uggs — where can i buy pepper spray — where can i buy glycerin — where can i buy a monkey Google will forward you to a different country-specific version of Google with potentially different results to the same query. A search from the US will yield hundreds of thousands of results, whereas the same search from Germany (at least if you don’t change the default redirect to returns... zilch.
           — Software governs not only the functions performed on a machine but selections among those functions and the user’s understanding of how they are performed. It doubles the role of ideology in a society.*— robbie williams naked. Related searches: robbie williams fat. For the most part software, like ideology, operates in a such way that it becomes invisible to those proficient with it. The how vanishes.*— how do g — how do girls come — how do goldfish mate — how do gatso speed cameras work — how do girls master bat — how do generators work — how do giraffes sleep — how do groynes work — how do glow sticks work — how do google make money — how do guns work In 2009, Microsoft launched an ad campaign to promote its search engine, Bing. One commercial starts with a blonde complaining about her meal at a sidewalk cafe: “We really need to find a new place for breakfast.” “The Breakfast Club,” her redheaded companion shoots back, “a 1985 cult classic starring members of the Brat Pack.” “What ?” Cut to an electronics store. “So do we want a LCD or plasma ?” a shopper wonders. His son pipes up: “Plasma is an ionized gas.” — Cuts quicken, and in each location more strangers extend the chains of association. Discrete vignettes dissolve in a shuffle of shots as absurd conversations become indistinct chatter. Silence. “What has search overload done to us ?” Microsoft asks against a black screen. Bing, we’re told, is “not just a search engine, it’s the first-ever decision engine.” — To great effect, the ad links the fragility of isolated words to the porous social boundaries of the internet. The strangers butting in with useless nonsense are farcical distortions of fears that a foray online might put you in touch with a MySpace predator or a Cragislist killer.
           —*— Blah blah blah blah That’s a nice song ! Blah blah blah blah blah Sheer poetry, Amir ! Blah blah blah blah I don’t know what that means, but at least it rhymes. Blah blah blah blah blah Well, as we’ve all heard, location is a big part of it. But she’s also thinking about a bigger picture item that Google is still working on. This is what Google is calling “contextual discovery.”*— is it n — is it normal to eat your period blood — is it normal to be sexually attracted to numbers — is it normal to miss a period — is it normal to bleed after intercourse — is it normal to spot during pregnancy — is it normal to have cramps during pregnancy — is it normal to have white discharge — is it normal to bleed after being fingered — is it normal to have two periods a month — is it normal to be wet all the time This means being able to look at either a person’s browsing profile or their location profile and serving up interesting data to them without them searching for anything. Yes, it’s Google results without the search. “The idea is to push information to people,” Mayer said. She noted that on mobile devices this is particularly interesting because location can provide context.*— what is my ip — what is planking — what does my name mean

           — The enigma of the consumer-sphinx. His products are scattered in the graphs of televised, urbanistic, and commercial productions. They are all the less visible because the networks framing them are becoming more and more tightly woven, flexible, and totalitarian. They are thus protean in form, blending in with their surroundings, and liable to disappear into the colonizing organizations who products leave no room where the consumers can mark*Why do my testicles smell bad I don’t know. Maybe the GeniusBar folks can answer that. their activity. The child still scrawls and daubs on his schoolbooks; even if he is punished for this crime, he has made a space form himself and signs his existence as an author on it. The television viewer cannot write anything on the screen of his set. He has been dislodged from the product; he plays no role in its apparition. He loses his author’s rights and becomes, or so it seems, a pure receiver, the mirror of a multiform and narcissistic*I hate you so much. Noted actor. Pushed to the limit, he would be the image of appliances that no longer need him in order to produce themselves, the reproduction of a ‘celibate machine.’ In reality, a rationalized, expansionist, centralized, spectacular and clamorous production is confronted by an entirely different kind of production, called ‘consumption’ and characterized by its ruses, its fragmentation (the results of the circumstances), its poaching, its clandestine nature, its tireless but quiet activity, in short by its quasi-invisibility, since it shows itself not in its own products (where would it place them ?) but in an art of using those imposed on it.*Why don’t you understand me I’m sorry Anthony; your language is somewhat new to me. Can you try asking me in a different way ? No one understands me OK, I didn’t think so
           — Take a train to the Financial District. Take a MacBook. The only way to impose an art of using on a thing like that is to transpose it to a place where you can act freely. If a city square is bought by a developer to increase the values of nearby property the only way to impose an art of using on the square is poach it from property values. March down the street in a straight line, and the street is lined with people recording the progress of the march. The valence of surveillance shifts to a point where you all survey. — #OccupyWallStreet cannot be reduced to a finite or fixed location; it is a relational geography of political conflict at local, rational, and planetary scales. For this reason, #OccupyWallStreet (#OWS, for short) should in principle always be supplemented with a Twitter hashtag to indicate the fact that it circulates as an open-ended injunction — “occupy !” — threaded through a shifting mediatic assemblage of technologies, words, images, sites and bodies throughout the city, nation, and beyond.
           — The hashtag is a perpendicularly positioned pair of parallel lines, splayed on a screen and pointing all ways, always pointing at the screen’s unbounded horizontality. — GO is about to launch its beta mobile app for iPhone and Android. GO provides a geo-tagged broadcasting service so that outsiders can peek in on events as they happen and as GO users upload them. That makes it an interesting tool for #OccupyWallStreet protests still taking place in New York City and organized events in other cities. Users upstreaming video content will remain anonymous, making GO even more attractive for sharing political demonstrations or possibly even criminal activities. Without actually using the app, the images on the website show a map of an area with a series of pink dots appearing to indicate events or uploads taking place. Items with higher traffic seem to have a larger transparent black circle around the pink dot.

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Some of these words have been taken from people, books, and web sites. Paola Antonelli, Mikhail Bakhtin, Michel de Certeau, Brian Droitcour, Matthew Fuller, Failblog, Google, Yates McKee, Shit Siri says, the editorial page of the Washington Post, TMZ, Zero Results.

Robots in the Commune
Brian Droitcour
Published in Linear Manual
from TLTRPreß, 2012.
Purchase Linear Manual here.