Niall Docherty is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Critical Theory at Nottingham University. His project attempts to combine the empirical foundations of software studies and Foucauldian governmentality to analyse Facebook within the neoliberal context of its inception and current use. He has completed two degrees at Goldsmiths – a BA in Politics in 2014, and an MA in Cultural Studies the following year. Niall was born and currently lives in Sheffield, ‘the greenest city in Europe’ according to some sources. Dave Young is also a PhD candidate at the Centre for Critical Theory at Nottingham University, and is currently researching bureaucratic media and systems of command and control in the US military since the Second World War. His practice takes the form of workshops, talks, texts, and website development, and he has presented work for organisations such as the Disruption Network Lab, Transmediale, Servus, and Furtherfield. An archive of past/ongoing work can be found at dvyng.com.
The recent publication of Mark Zuckerberg’s open letter, titled Building Global Community, has drawn debates about the accelerationist politics of Silicon Valley into the public sphere once again. The seductive message of the manifesto itself is unsurprising, and is typical of the glossy promotional media released by other tech companies: We are told that new technologies can facilitate greater social inclusion, foster democratic grassroots political movements, and allow us to be more productive in our labour and leisure. While such media are often renderings of some notional “future” existence, what might they reveal about the ways we delimit our understanding of the present? Additionally, what would have to happen between “now” and “then” for these visions to be fully realised?
Manpowertop is a workshop that takes these questions as a starting point, challenging participants to diagnose the power relations in these branded visions of the future. Participants will adopt “troubleshooting” as a critical framework for enquiry, and produce diagrammatic readings of these speculative technologies, the networks they interlink with, and their associated politics of usership. In doing so, we will collectively identify what is left out of these visions, and explore how these omissions might offer an insight into the power relations that exist between users and technological platforms in the present.