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Alexander Galloway

Protocol: How control exists after decentralization (2004)

Alexander Galloway distinguishes three types of networks: centralized, decentralized and distributed. "A distributed network differs from other networks such as centralized and decentralized networks in the arrangement of its internal structure. A centralized network consists of a single central power point (a host), from which are attached radial nodes. The central point is connected to all of the satellite nodes, which are themselves connected only to the central host. A decentralized network, on the other hand, has multiple central hosts, each with its own set of satellite nodes. A satellite node may have connectivity with one or more hosts, but not with other nodes. Communication generally travels unidirectionally within both centralized and decentralized networks: from the central trunks to the radial leaves.
The distributed network is an entirely different matter. [...] Each point in a distributed network is neither a central hub nor a satellite node - there are neither trunks or leaves. The network contains nothing but intelligent end-point systems that are self-deterministic, allowing each end-point system to communicate with any host it chooses." (page 11)[2]

Galloway establishes that although in distributed networks control does not exist in a centralized form instead it can be found in the form of protocols which define who is in and out of the network. "Like the rhizome, each node in a distributed network may establish direct communication with another node, without having to appeal to  hierarchical intermediary. Yet in order to initiate communication, the two nodes must speak the same language. This is why protocol is important. Shared protocols are what defines the landscape of the network - who is connected to whom." (page 12)[2]

The exploit: a theory of networks (2007)

Galloway and Thacker suggest that the new mode of political conflict is based on a network-network symmetry. "[...] the high modern mode of political conflict is characterized by symmetrical war (power centers fighting power centers, Soviet and American blocs and so on). Then, in postmodernity, the latter decades of the twentieth century, one witnesses the rise of asymmetrical conflict (networks fighting power centers). But after the postmodern mode of asymmetrical political conflict, and to bring the discussion up to the present day, we recognize in recent years the emergence of a new politics of symmetry. 'What we are heading toward,' write Hardt and Negri, 'is a state of war in which network forces of imperial order face network enemies on all sides'". (page 15)[3]

The authors claim that networks are nonhuman and that only nonhuman exploits like viruses can effectively fight back future hegemonies.

Keyword: network, protocol.

[2] Galloway, Alexander. Protocol: How control exists after decentralization. 2004
[3] Galloway, Alexander and Eugene Thacker. The exploit: a theory of networks. 2007 University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis London