Below, in counter-chronological order, are a series of article and chapters that I have published in various locations.
2021: Cybernetic Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics
“China’s Social Credit System is a compelling manifestation of cybernetic capitalism—of how financial mechanisms interlock with other systems of social control, by combining mass surveillance, gamified corporate loyalty programs, and debt peonage.”
This article is was published first in print in Arena in issue 6, 2021, and thereafter, it was published on Arena’s website.
2020: Antennas Aflame: Cybernetics, Conspiracies and 5G
This article digs into the 5G conspiracy in the time of coronavirus, looking to take it seriously, not on a factual level – as plainly there are many false components – but rather to see how the incredible spread of such conspiracies is bound up with our strange and terrible historic moment and what this means more generally.
2020: Win-win for capital, lose-lose for us: Google vs. News Corp vs. the Public
“…the struggle over the News Media Bargaining Code can be seen for what it is: a minor turf war between factions of monopoly capital.” Published on the 3rd of September, the full text is available at Arena https://arena.org.au/win-win-for-capital-lose-lose-for-us-google-news-corp-vs-the-public/Online.
2020: Speaking Power to Truth: Trump’s Contradictory Strength and the Possibility of a Coup
“Flash forward a few months into the very near future and imagine a moment when Trump, having to face up to an election, thinks it might just be better not to have one.” Published on the 7th of July, this editorial can be found in full on Arena Online.
2020: Journey to the centre of the world: Google Maps and the abstraction of cybernetic capitalism
This article is published in the academic journal, cultural geographies, and here is its’ abstract:
Across human history, many cultures have produced different ‘centres of the world’, with cartography often being bound up in the construction and representations of this axis mundi. A contemporary manifestation of these ancient phenomena can be seen in Google Maps, the most popular world-map ever made. Google use surveillance to present various types of customized centres-of-the-world, with their global representation being automatically tailored for specific subjects. This study uses engaged theory to analytically separate the levels of abstraction inherent in these processes, connecting empiric observations with large-scale historic transformations, with a focus on subjective and material changes in relation to the capitalist world-system. It is argued that the automated, atomizing processes bound up in Google Maps serve to projects intensifying abstractions into everyday social practice, thus reconstituting how space and time are experienced, as well as being intimately bound up with intensifying processes of capital accumulation and social control.
Assuming that one is not excited about paying SAGE Publishing an absurd amount of money (that they don’t share with their authors), then here is a downloadable version of the article without the paywall.
2020: Abstracting Money: Cryptocurrencies, Cybernetics and Contradictions
Published by the Australian Humanities Review, this article goes into the crypt of cryptocurrencies, the eerie and hidden realm of networked computing-machines that enable this financial mutation. The article looks at how the global history of money can be understood as an increasingly abstracted social and material practice.
2020: The Limits of Control
This article was published in the first edition of the new series of Arena., and it is an edited extract from my book, Globalization and Surveillance. Through analysing the parallels between China’s State Council and Google, I look at how surveillance is used by the powerful in place of solidarity, noting both the strength and and simultaneous limits of this controlling vision.
Timothy Erik Ström, ‘The Limits of Control’, Arena, No.1, Autumn, 2020, pp.38-42.
2019: Data Does Democracy
This article, published in Arena Magazine, looks at the 2016 federal election in the United States, and the mass manipulation of voters. The infamous case of Cambridge Analytica, it turns out, is just the tip of the democracy-sinking iceberg. Indeed, managing democracy to serve elite interests has become a booming industry.
2019: Into the Glorious Future: The Utopia of Cyber-Capitalism according to Google’s Ideologues
The above book written in honour of Manfred Steger, a brilliant scholar, friend and one the primary supervisors of my PhD. The book, Revisiting the Global Imaginary: Theories, ideologies, Subjectivities, was published by Palgrave Macmillin, was edited by Chris Hudson and Erin Wilson.
My contributing chapter is called ‘Into the Glorious Future: The Utopia of Cybernetic Capitalism According to Google’s Ideologues’ and it can be downloaded from here.
2019: Marketing Fascism
This brief article for Arena Magazine was written in the immediate aftermath of the horrific massacre in Christchurch and it traces some of the grim cybernetic marketing strategies employed by the mass murderer.
2018: 20 Years of Google
In 2018, the tech-titan commonly known as Google turned 20. In those two decades, it went from a dorm room project to a global institution with tremendous power over the everyday life of billions of people unevenly scattered around the world. In this anniversary year, I published three articles in Arena Magazine that critically reflect on these developments and what they mean for the world.
2018: The Road Map to Brave New World
“This paper explores the shifting practices in and between cartography and capitalism. It compares two road maps of the same territory created one-hundred years apart; a Gulf Oil map from 1915 and a Google Map from 2015. These representations of space serve as entry points into examining some of the larger transformations that have occurred within capitalism over the century. I am interested in how the classic world order of Fordism has been reconstituted by cybernetic capitalism. I argue that the world order has been intensified and reorganised on a more abstract level, with profound subjective and material consequences.”
Citation: Ström, Timothy Erik: “The Road Map to Brave New World: Cartography and Capitalism from Gulf Oil to Google”, Culture Unbound, Volume 9, issue 3, 2017: 307–334.
2017: Leviathan in Electric Sheep’s Clothing
This article is about China’s Social Credit System and it was published by Arena Magazine. If you have an institutional subscription, please support Arena and use this download link to access the article via Informit. Otherwise, it can be downloaded here without a pay wall.
Citation: Ström, Timothy Erik. Leviathan in Electric Sheep’s Clothing. Arena Magazine (Fitzroy, Vic), No. 151, Dec 2017: 11-14.
2017: Abstraction and Production in Google Maps
This is an academic article that came out of my PhD thesis and was published in Arena Journal. If you have an institutional subscription, please support Arena and download it via Informit. Otherwise, here is a download link without a pay wall.
Citation: Ström, Timothy Erik, 2017, ‘Abstraction and Production in Google Maps: The Reorganisation of Subjectivity, Materiality and Labour’, Arena Journal, 47/48, pp.143-71.