Swarm Intermezzo: Meditations on the Ether

Edmund has a nice essay on Hardt and Negri concerning their concept of Ether: “the Ether is free from the command of sovereign entities. Unlike the Bomb (which is directly correlated to the geopolitical might of a given nation through its center stage in the military and mutually-assured-destruction strategies) and Money (forever flowing upwardly into the financial metropolises like New York City and London while dictating the relations in the global markets below), the Ether is utterly deterritorialized and diffused across the transnational plane, and continuously circulates through the civil societies of the world. It is only through Empire’s harnessing of the Ether than it becomes subverted into a methodology of control.”

Deterritorial Investigations



     When we perceive the movement of the swarm, what is being witnessed is a certain diagram of action derived from the organizational properties of the distributed network. At this level, we take the shifts and fluctuations of masses found within nature – bees, birds, schools of fish, insects, bats, myxobacteria, so on and so forth – and transpose their logic into that of our informatic paradigm, a polymorphous, interdisciplinary and transitory state with its concrete genesis (though it has a great many filiations and genealogies preceding it) in the mathematical theory of communication as laid out by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver in the 1940s.

     The distributed network is the extension of the Shannon-Weaver model to encompass innumerable points, relays and nodes across space, time and the scales these operate through. In the original theory, communication – rendered here as the message – proceeds from…

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