Review: Ned Rossiter (2006) Organised Networks: Media Theory, Creative Labour, New Institutions, Culture Machine, April 2008.
Ned Rossiter’s complex and thought-provoking book, Organized Networks: Media Theory, Creative Labour, New Institutions, focuses on emergent institutional forms characterizing systems of networked communication. Rossiter argues persuasively that in the discussion of networked culture, a reformulation of traditional thinking around organizations is necessary in order to counteract the obsolescence of representational democracy, and to refocus attention on relational moments of antagonism outside of state structure and immanent to online networks. Thinking about network culture in this manner offers the possibility of rethinking the sustainability of critique in a world that is often characterized as one with ‘no outside,’ that is, a society in which everything is co-opted, leaving no independent position from which to stage a critique. In order to do this, Rossiter locates his main argument in a contrast and comparison between the networked organization and the organized network, the first characteristic of hierarchical and centrally organized institutions, the latter defined by its horizontal organization and vertical mode of interaction. Organized networks are described as enablers of change, as emergent socio-technical forms that arise from the limits of both tactical media and more traditional institutional structures. It is suggested that the organization of the apparently chaotic multitudes operating in cyberspace as a part of the ‘disorganized’ creative labour underlying the systems of intellectual property offers the potential for non-representational radical forms of democracy that can work against the vagaries of neoliberalism. ‘Transformation,’ Rossiter writes, ‘is conditioned by a capacity to become organized’ (215)….
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