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30-01-2021
James Bridle
📍️ Verso

New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future; James Bridle


I got James Bridle’s 2018 ‘New Dark Age’ for Christmas, after Will Self said it was ‘scary’ or something similar in the Guardian.

Using the analogy of the ‘cloud’, an omnipresent, all - encompassing, network of connectivity that absorbs our daily lives, Bridle seeks to uncover the deep, technological infrastructure that keeps us online, and the apparatuses of power in place to do this. Bridle terms the cloud of technology as a ‘hyper-object’; too large to comprehend, even as we live in it. I think it’s particularly relevant to what we do here at RR, where we look - entirely- at digital spaces. With the rise of rona, we, collectively, are plugged into this cloud more than ever b4.

Following on maybe unconsciously (they are never mentioned) from post-structuralist thinkers like Lyotard and Habermas, Bridle challenges an enlightenment view that more knowledge = human progress. Here, computational thinking does not necessarily lead to the best results; in fact big data swamps comprehension, rather than adding to it - the ‘new dark age’.

Bridle is at his strongest when discussing the internet’s materiality. While we think of the internet as something ephemeral, he points to the servers, the data centres, the ocean floor cables, and the satellites and other infrastructure that often goes unseen, overlooked, or wilfully ignored.

Would rec if you’d like to think a bit more deeply about how and why the internet works - it def made me think twice about our utopian opinion of technology and what it can do for us.


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