From at least the advent of the homepage, the words used to describe online places have been explicitly architectural and urban. If online organizational structures and real-world architecture have anything in common, this set of similarities has nothing to do with the qualities of form, space, and material that are usually appreciated in buildings. To speak in terms of information architecture, or cyberspace, is inadequate to describe the ways in which all of these structures, built or unbuilt, are produced and sustained by the social and economic systems that surround them.The piece is, in many ways, a companion to an older article, from 2006, written as the result of a semester long research project in social media, enclosure, and architectures of control: "You must be logged in to do that!":
In the newer piece for Interactions, I'm particularly grateful to be able to reference some unpublished work by two friends and colleagues: Kio Stark's recasting of 'users' as 'constituents' returns the production of place into a more humanistic and democratic context; and Eric Leshinsky's usage of the term 'cultural containers' condenses the essential isomorphisms in the way spatial enclosure operates, both online and off.
One does not escape the physical body into a noncorporeal cyberspace as a jailed man escapes from a prison into the wide world. If a body is recomposed as information, it is all the more subject to the specialized techniques of control: distributed surveillance, data aggregation, and the continuous modulation of production and access.