Blockchain Imperialism in the Pacific

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This chapter explores a new medium for documenting Pacific tourism between the world wars: Kodachrome. Vast increases in tourism coincided with intense transitions in the region, with European colonial networks still entrenched and US expansionism soon to exert its greatest impact. Many locales tourists encountered were on the verge of total militarization, the culmination of centuries of political and commercial competition. These rare films can provide insights not only into color film history and shifting perceptions of cinematic realism, but into the fashioning of imperial and cosmopolitan selves during a period when ‘old’ colonial networks were yielding to ‘American Pacific’ ambitions.
We are often told that data are the new oil. But unlike oil, data are not a substance found in nature. It must be appropriated. The capture and processing of social data unfolds through a process we call data relations, which ensures the “natural” conversion of daily life into a data stream. The result is nothing less than a new social order, based on continuous tracking, and offering unprecedented new opportunities for social discrimination and behavioral influence. We propose that this process is best understood through the history of colonialism. Thus, data relations enact a new form of data colonialism, normalizing the exploitation of human beings through data, just as historic colonialism appropriated territory and resources and ruled subjects for profit. Data colonialism paves the way for a new stage of capitalism whose outlines we only glimpse: the capitalization of life without limit.
Neoliberalism--the doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action--has become dominant in both thought and practice throughout much of the world since 1970 or so. Writing for a wide audience, David Harvey, author of The New Imperialism and The Condition of Postmodernity, here tells the political-economic story of where neoliberalization came from and how it proliferated on the world stage. Through critical engagement with this history, he constructs a framework, not only for analyzing the political and economic dangers that now surround us, but also for assessing the prospects for the more socially just alternatives being advocated by many oppositional movements.
In recent years, much has been written on ‘big data’ in both the popular and academic press. After the hubristic declaration of the ‘end of theory’ more nuanced arguments have emerged, suggesting that increasingly pervasive data collection and quantification may have significant implications for the social sciences, even if the social, scientific, political, and economic agendas behind big data are less new than they are often portrayed. Compared to the boosterish tone of much of its press, academic critiques of big data have been relatively muted, often focusing on the continued importance of more traditional forms of domain knowledge and expertise. Indeed, many academic responses to big data enthusiastically celebrate the availability of new data sources and the potential for new insights and perspectives they may enable. Undermining many of these critiques is a lack of attention to the role of technology in society, particularly with respect to the labor process, the continued extension of labor relations into previously private times and places, and the commoditization of more and more aspects of everyday life. In this article, we parse a variety of big data definitions to argue that it is only when individual datums by the million, billion, or more are linked together algorithmically that ‘big data’ emerges as a commodity. Such decisions do not occur in a vacuum but as part of an asymmetric power relationship in which individuals are dispossessed of the data they generate in their day-to-day lives. We argue that the asymmetry of this data capture process is a means of capitalist ‘accumulation by dispossession’ that colonizes and commodifies everyday life in ways previously impossible. Situating the promises of ‘big data’ within the utopian imaginaries of digital frontierism, we suggest processes of data colonialism are actually unfolding behind these utopic promises. Amid private corporate and academic excitement over new forms of data analysis and visualization, situating big data as a form of capitalist expropriation and dispossession stresses the urgent need for critical, theoretical understandings of data and society.
In this article I assess the challenges and opportunities of using online social network services as international platforms for development and for networking global civil society. A human rights framework and information ethics approach are used to identify principles as they are transposed to the internet, to evaluate dominant trends in social network sites (SNSs) and to theorise how human rights might be embedded into the technical design of new and existing online social networks. The central research question is ‘how can SNSs affirm and uphold a “people centered, inclusive and development-oriented information society” (WSIS 2005)?’ Ideal values and outcomes of a public service social network include interoperability, privacy, transparency, autonomy, participatory design, cultural and linguistic diversity, support for oral cultures and non-technical populations, open access and the commons. Affordances and functions of existing SNSs include sociability, sharing, interaction, homophily, social capital and power, and network effects. Examining tensions between values and affordances, public and private interests, can help guide the design and implementation of SNSs for international networking and development.
At the center of contemporary discourse on technology — or the digital discourse — is the assertion that network technology ushers in a new phase of capitalism which is more democratic, participatory, and de-alienating for individuals. Rather than viewing this discourse as a transparent description of the new realities of techno-capitalism and judging its claims as true (as the hegemonic view sees it) or false (a view expressed by few critical voices), this article offers a new framework which sees the digital discourse as signaling a historical shift in the technological legitimation of capitalism, concurrent with the emergence of the post-Fordist phase of capitalism. Technology discourse legitimated the Fordist phase of capitalism by stressing the ability of technology and technique to mitigate exploitation. It hence legitimated the interventionist welfare state, the central planning in businesses and the economy, the hierarchized corporation, and the tenured worker. In contrast, contemporary technology discourse legitimates the post-Fordist phase of capitalism by stressing the ability of technology to mitigate alienation. It hence legitimates the withdrawal of the state from markets, the dehierarchization and decentralization of businesses, and the flexibilization of production and the labor process.
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