Joss Hands – Gadget Consciousness: Collective Thought, Will and Action in the Age of Social Media


Pluto Press, ISBN-13: 978-0745335346, English, 208 pages, 2019, UK

Eight years after the publication of “@ is For Activism” comes Joss Hands’ new monograph, dedicated to understanding and elaborating on the role of the gadget. He uses this term and consequent possible definitions as a strategic tool to articulate (and stimulate, also) a proper discussion around the gadget as a pivotal element in our capitalist societies. Here, he brilliantly defines it as a “cultural trope”, and its consciousness, re-appropriating strategies, increasing social centrality and ontology are explained throughout the two main sections of the book. In the first three chapters, the gadget is interpreted as a specific ’material entity’, with its own plasticity. Hands explores the value the gadget creates for capital, and the intrinsic dangers of over-reliance on these devices. In the subsequent three chapters, the gadget is first framed within the ’general intellect’ of networks, as a political tool, and then within the context of social media, ending in the fascinating ’gadget communism’ hypothesis. In Hands’ words: gadgets “shape us and we shape them […] as a species”. Looking at them in relation to a collective thought, this exquisite, political book calls for action; it is a call to ‘subtract’ from capital and its industrial tactics, consciously communicating through what then becomes a ‘counter-dispositif’.