Baran’s network typologies from the early days of computing (1964) are still referenced by Tecnopolitica researcher-activists at the forefront of social transformation today (see diagram below). Decentralized and distributed networks, politics and technologies are at the heart of Tecnopolitical practices, however their politics are far removed from Baran’s context of US Air Force funded research. Politically, Tecnopolitica would have more in common with the trajectory of bell hooks whose framework: emphasises ‘the centre’ (contrasted with the margin); suggests ‘the decentering of the West globally’ and a focus instead on ‘attention on the issue of voice. Who speaks? Who listens? And why?’ (p. 40, 1994); and continues to be a reference point today for people arguing for ‘decentering and decolonising knowledge’ (Moreno Figueroa, 2019).
However, the substance and vibe of the hooks’ text sends very different messages to these stylised network visualisations (above and below)….
I have some relatively advanced work on a “universe” of concepts around Collective Intelligence. Many very different politics surface in a collective intelligence space, from a Brexity “Will of the People” to Zapatista inspired swarming strategies. Mapping out these concepts has many uses, and potentially it help us navigate the kind of “cognitive slippage” between left and right popular approaches. For any map to be accessible and actually usable for a wide range of people, it needs to be attractive, intuitive and easy to use. Data visualisation techniques seem key here, which leads us to Gephi, and also “Arc Diagram” code which I found through the brilliant Dictionary of the Revolution project.
Image of “#15M Twitter Hashtag networks” by Labic, Brazil (2014) [+ info below]
I started seeing these beautiful spiderlike visualisations of people organising. They intrigued me and I wanted to know more. Through the inspiration and support of people like @LoQueSigue_, I found out the visualisations were made through a programme called Gephi and I set out to learn how to do it myself.