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The Exploit A Theory of Networks Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker

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The Exploit
A Theory of Networks
Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker

From P2P protocols to al-Qaeda, a new approach to network culture.

The network has become the core organizational structure for postmodern politics, culture, and life, replacing the modern era’s hierarchical systems. From peer-to-peer file sharing and massive multiplayer online games to contagion vectors of digital or biological viruses and global affiliations of terrorist organizations, the network form has become so invasive that nearly every aspect of contemporary society can be located within it.

Borrowing their title from the hacker term for a program that takes advantage of a flaw in a network system, Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker challenge the widespread assumption that networks are inherently egalitarian. Instead, they contend that there exist new modes of control entirely native to networks, modes that are at once highly centralized and dispersed, corporate and subversive.

In this provocative book-length essay, Galloway and Thacker argue that a whole new topology must be invented to resist and reshape the network form, one that is as asymmetrical in relationship to networks as the network is in relation to hierarchy.

“The Exploit is that rare thing: a book with a clear grasp of how networks operate that also understands the political implications of this emerging form of power. It cuts through the nonsense about how ‘free’ and ‘democratic’ networks supposedly are, and it offers a rich analysis of how network protocols create a new kind of control. Essential reading for all theorists, artists, activists, techheads, and hackers of the Net.” —McKenzie Wark, author of A Hacker Manifesto

“A rich and provocative text. This book is an invaluable resource for those reconsidering the topicality and viability of artistic practice and artistic subjectivity within contemporary culture.” —Art Journal

Alexander R. Galloway is assistant professor in the Department of Culture and Communication at New York University. He is the author of Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture and Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization.

Eugene Thacker is associate professor of new media in the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is the author of Biomedia and The Global Genome: Biotechnology, Politics, and Culture.

256 pages | 5 3/8 x 8 1/2 | 2007
Electronic Mediations Series, volume 21


On Reading This Book
Proleogmenon: “We’re Tired of Trees”
A Global Dynamic —Political Atomism—Unilateralism versus Multilateralism—Ubiquity and Universality—Occultism and Cryptography—Networks Fighting Networks—The New Sovereignty

Part I. Nodes
Technology (or Theory)
Theory (or Technology)
Protocol in Computer Networks
Protocol in Biological Networks
An Encoded Life
Toward a Political Ontology of Networks
The Defacement of Enmity
Biopolitics and Protocol
The Exploit

Part II. Edges
The Datum of Cura I
The Datum of Cura II
Sovereignty and Biology I
Sovereignty and Biology II
Abandoning the Body Politic
The Ghost in the Network
Birth of the Algorithm
Political Animals
Sovereignty and the State of Emergency
Fork Bomb I
Epidemic and Endemic
Network Being
Good Viruses (SimSARS I)
Medical Surveillance (SimSARS II)
Feedback versus Interaction I
Feedback versus Interaction II
Rhetorics of Freedom
A Google Search for My Body
Divine Metabolism
Fork Bomb II
The Paranormal and the Pathological I
The Paranormal and the Pathological II
Universals of Identification
RFC001b: BmTP
Fork Bomb III
Unknown Unknowns
Codification, Not Reification
Tactics of Nonexistence
Disappearance; or, I’ve Seen It All Before
Stop Motion
Pure Metal
The Hypertrophy of Matter
The User and the Programmer
Fork Bomb IV
There Is No Content
Trash, Junk, Spam

Coda: Bits and Atoms
Appendix: Notes for a Liberated Computer Language