Ulises Ali Mejias – Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital World
University Of Minnesota Press, ISBN-13: 978-0816679003, English, 224 pages, 2013, USA
The popular discourse about social media and their impact has slowed the analysis of networks as the fundamental structures lying underneath. But social networks have also evolved digital networks to a different status, accelerating a new relationship between the platform and the individuals – which makes us ask: is our world organised by networks and are we all surrendering to their logic? This book is politically radical and defines the network as “part of a capitalist order that reproduces inequality through participation and… this participation exhibits a hegemonic and consensual nature”. It’s divided into three chapters: the first makes a structural analysis of our relationship with networks, the second motivates disruption through various tactics; and the third promotes ‘intensification’ as the most subversive tactic. There’s a paradigmatic word used in the text – “exclusion”. It opposes years of supporting the network paradigm as an open one that creates democratic access and social capital, empowering people to participate no matter of how physically isolated or socially excluded they are. Mejias attacks the contemporaneity of this approach, describing network’s “nodocentrism” and its negative consequences, or the “monopsony”, or social network structures where there’s a singular buyer for a multitude of sellers. It’s a structural critique, which aims to “disidentify from the digital network” and constitutes a compelling manifesto, with mostly theoretical strategies that raise many interesting questions.