Everyday Life In The Internet Area

Greenfield, Adam

Radical Technologies

the design of everyday life (1)

Abstract: Everywhere we turn, our everyday experience is being overlaid and interrupted by startling new technologies. Today, we depend on the smartphone as an interface to an urban environment we share with autonomous drones and self-driving cars, even as we use augmented-reality applications to interact with things that aren’t quite there. Now 3D printing offers us unprecedented fine-grained control over the form and distribution of matter, while the blockchain promises to remake the way we record and exchange value. And all the while, fiendishly complex algorithmic systems are operating quietly, reshaping the economy, transforming the fundamental terms of our politics, and even beginning to etch away at what it means to be human. Just how did these things come to be? How do they work? What (and whose) values do they reproduce? And what kind of choices do they present us with? “Radical Technologies” raises all of these questions to the surface and provokes us to ask what we might want to do with them now, when we might still be able to shape their impact on our shared future. Smartphone: the networking of the self — The internet of things: a planetary mesh of perception and response — Augmented reality: an interactive overlay on the world — Digital fabrication: towards a political economy of matter — Cryptocurrency: the computational guarantee of value — Blockchain beyond Bitcoin: a trellis for posthuman institutions — Automation: the annihilation of work — Machine learning: the algorithmic production of knowledge — Artificial intelligence: the eclipse of human discretion — Radical technologies: the design of everyday life.


P. 1 – 19. Introduction: Paris Year Zero. Smartphone: The Networking Of The Self

Technology as:

Instrument Of Control And Power

      • monitoring transactions, localisations and health
      • identify and control micro and macro patterns, networks and connections


    Als der türkische Präsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan Anfang 2017 Tausende von Regierungskritikern verhaften ließ, offenbarten ihm Smartphonedaten ein perfektes Schaubild von Kontakten und Verbindungen; nicht zuletzt dadurch folgten die Verhaftungswellen so schnell und so umfassend. (2, p.98)

    • system of actors behind a mobile phone embedded in the everyday technological structure
    • social and economic consequences are largely invisible


    Construction Of The Everyday

    • no information is lost, all of them have an impact on the here and now
    • perception of reality through technology as a mediator of reality & there is little knowledge of it


    • technology not only distorts but also changes reality
    • mobile phones change city and personal use
    • more and more is being digitalised, objects disappear, dematerialisation is a growing trend
    • ecological consequences


    Identity Construction

    • technology causes a social change
    • technology affects individuals’ thinking and actions
    • objects as symbols of the way of life disappear. Objects with which the individual has expressed his identity vanish.
    • the speed of social negotiation has increased
    • understanding and resistance is difficult – the individual is overwhelmed
    • conscience is repressed


    Instrument Of De-differentiation

    • daily life / economy
    • private / public
    • technology / financing / law


    Rosa, H., Kottman, A., & Strecker, D.
    Soziologische Theorien. (3)

Modern Differentiation And Late Modern De-differentiation

true vs. good → political production of truth

good vs. nice → political criterion of coolness (Schwarzenegger)

work vs. leisure → spatial, temporal and sensual de-differentiation

nature vs. technology → genetic engineering, hybrids

technology vs. body → transplant revolution, hybrids


A Neo-Marxist Perspective:

“Empire is materializing before our very eyes. Over the past several decades, as colonial regimes were overthrown and then precipitously after the Soviet barriers to the capitalist world market finally collapsed, we have witnessed an irresistible and irreversible globalization of economic and cultural exchanges. Along with the global market and global circuits of production has emerged a global order, a new logic and structure of rule—in short, a new form of sovereignty. Empire is the political subject that effectively regulates these global exchanges, the sovereign power that governs the world.” (4, p. xi)


  • de-differentiation of politics and business
  • power relations between politics and business create a new global order
  • new logical and structural forms of domination and sovereignty


Compulsory Exploitation Of Capital

    • determines external individual action – e.g. social policy, economy
    • determines internal action, creating desire.



Paradigmatic Form Of Biopower

  • all social life becomes the object of domination
  • no more stable conflict lines
  • no clearly identifiable rulers
  • no clear responsibilities
  • resistance potentials are weakened



“From one perspective Empire stands clearly over the multitude and subjects it to the rule of its overarching machine, as a new Leviathan. At the same time, however, from the perspective of social productivity and creativity, from what we have been calling the ontological perspective, the hierarchy is reversed. The multitude is the real productive force of our social world, whereas Empire is a mere apparatus of capture that lives only off the vitality of the multitude—as Marx would say, a vampire regime of accumulated dead labor that survives only by sucking off the blood of the living.” (4, p.62)

  • Empire is dependent on the masses of people – the only source of all creativity & productivity
  • once the multitude has become aware of its own power and freedom the Empire will be eliminated

Questions for discussion

1. From a Marxist perspective, the need to exploit capital is the driving factor in the development of society. Could other factors be important and why?

2. „In Ägypten konnte das Al-Sisi-Regime nach dem Arabischen Frühling dank Facebook und Twitter ebenfalls besonders effektiv zuschlagen und Dissidenten aus dem Verkehr ziehen.“ (2, p.98)

How should digitalisation be evaluated in terms of political participation? Do you know of other disadvantages and can you also identify advantages?

3. Do you agree that the multitude is the only source of creativity and productivity and why or not?

4. „We tend to assume that our maps are objective accounts of the environment, diagrams that simply describe what is there to be found. In truth, they’re nothing of the sort; our sense of the world is subtly conditioned by information that is presented to us for interested reasons, and yet does not disclose that interest.“ (1, p. 23)

What measures could be taken to alleviate this problem with increasing digitalisation? Should they originate rather from the information providers or the information users?




(1) Greenfield, A. (2017). Radical technologies : the design of everyday life. London, New York: Verso.

(2) Scheidler, F. (2018). Der digitalisierte Mensch: Unser Leben in der Matrix. Abgerufen 10. März 2018, von https://www.blaetter.de/archiv/jahrgaenge/2017/dezember/der-digitalisierte-mensch-unser-leben-in-der-matrix

(3) Rosa, H., Kottmann, A., & Strecker, D. (2013). Soziologische Theorien. Konstanz: UVK-Verl.-Ges.

(4) Hardt, M., & Negri, A. (2000). Empire. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

(5) Mau, S. (2018). Das Vermessene Ich. Abgerufen 25. März 2018, von https://www.swr.de/swr2/programm/sendungen/wissen/vermessung-ich-daten/-/id=660374/did=20696712/nid=660374/9otq9o/index.html




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