“I want to tame the winds and keep them on a leash… I want a pack of winds, fleet-footed hounds, to hunt the puffed-up, whiskery clouds.” ‒ F.T. Marinetti.

♦ ♦ ♦

Cartography of the Cloud

 It would be pointless to discuss synnefocracy in any further depth without first defining what The Cloud actually is. Briskly, The Cloud is both a colorful placeholder for a particular modular information arrangement utilizing the internet and a design philosophy. Clouds always use the internet, but are not synonymous with it. The metaphor illustrates informational exchange and storage that is not principally mediated through locally based hardware systems, but rather ones wherein hardware is utilized locally, but accessed remotely. The Cloud is what allows one to begin watching a film on one’s laptop and seamlessly finish watching on one’s tablet. It is what allows one daily access to an email without ever having to consider the maintenance of the hardware upon which the data in the email account is stored. The more independent and modular one’s software becomes from its hardware, the more ‘cloud-like’ that software is. It is not that The Cloud is merely the software, but that the storage size, speed and modularity are all aspects of the system-genre’s seemingly ephemeral nature. Utilization of a computer system rather than a single computer increases efficiency (and thus demands modularity) creating a multi-cascading data slipstream, the full geopolitical effects of which have, up til now, been relatively poorly understood and even more poorly articulated, chronicled and speculated upon, both within popular and academic discourse (and I should add that it is not here my purpose to craft any definitive document upon the topic, but rather to invite a more robust investigation).

Cloud computing architecture offers a number of benefits over traditional computing arrangements, namely in terms of scalability, given that anytime computing power is lacking (for instance, if one had a website that was getting overloaded with traffic), one can simply dip into a accessible cloud and increase one’s server size. Since one never has to actually mess about with any of the physical hardware being utilized to increase computing power, significant time (which would otherwise be spent modulating and setting up servers manually) and money (that would be spent maintaining extra hardware or paying others to maintain it for you) is saved. The fact that one (generally speaking) pays only for the amount of cloud-time one needs for their project also saves money and manpower (in contradistinction to traditional on-premise architecture which would require one to pay for all the hardware necessary, upfront) is another clear benefit.

This combination of speed, durability, flexibility and affordability makes cloud computing a favorite for big businesses and ambitious, tech-savvy startups and, as a consequence, have turned cloud computing itself into a major industry. There are two distinctive types of cloud computing: the deployment model and the service model. In the deployment model there are three sub-categories: public, private and hybrid. The best way of thinking about each model is by conceptualizing vehicular modes of transportation. A bus is accessible to anyone who can pay for the ride; this is analogous to the public cloud wherein you pay only for the resources used and the time spent using them and when one is finished one simply stops paying or, to extend our metaphor, one gets off the bus. Contrarily, a private cloud is akin to a personally owned car, where one pays a large amount of money up-front and must continue paying for the use of the car, however, it is the sole property of the owner who can do with it what he or she will (within the bounds of the law). Lastly, there is the hybrid cloud, which most resembles a taxi, where one wants the private comfort of a personal car, but the low-cost accessibility of a bus.

Some prominent public cloud providers on the market as of this writing include: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM’s Blue Cloud as well as Sun Cloud. Prominent private cloud providers include AWS and VMware.

Cloud service models, when categorized most broadly, break down into three sub-categories: On-premises (Op1), Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Platform as a service (PaaS), and, Software as a service (SaaS).

The impact of cloud computing upon sovereignty, particularly, but not exclusively, of states, is scantly remarked upon, but it is significant and is bound up within the paradigm shift towards globalization, however, it is not synonymous with globalization which is frankly, a rather clumsy term, as it does not specify what, precisely, is being globalized (certainly — within certain timescales, to be defined per polity — some things should not be globalized and others should, this requires considerable unpacking and, as a consequence shall not be expounded upon here).

Given that the internet is crucial for national defense (cyber security, diplomatic back-channels, internal coordination, etc) and that the favored computing architecture (presently – due the previously mentioned benefits) is cloud computing, it is only natural that states would begin gravitating towards public and private cloud-based systems and integrating them into their operations. The problem presented by this operational integration is that, due the technical specificity involved in setting up and maintaining such systems, it is cheaper, more convenient and efficient for a given state to hire-out the job to big tech corporations rather than create the architecture themselves and, in many cases, state actors simply do not know how (because most emerging technologies are created through the private sector).

The more cloud-centric a polity, the greater the power of the cloud architects and managers therein. This is due to several factors, the first and most obvious of which is simply that any sovereign governance structure (SGS) of sufficient size requires a parameterization of data flows for coordination. It is not enough for the central component of an SGS to know and sense, but to ensure that all its subcomponents know what it senses as well (to varying degrees) and to have reliable ways to ensure that what is sensed and processed is delivered thereto; pathways which the SGS itself cannot, by and large, provide nor maintain.

Here enters the burgeoning proto-synnefocratic powers; not seizing power from, but giving more power to, proximal SGSs, and in so-doing, become increasingly indispensable thereto. Important to consider, given that those factions which are best able to control, not just the major data-flows, but the topological substrates upon and through which those flows travel, will be those who ultimately control the largest shares of the system.

1Op is not a common annotation. Utilized for brevity. However, IaaS, PaaS and SaaS are all commonly utilized by those in the IT industry and other attendant fields.

The Artifice of Always

Nature never really was anything more than artifice.

This is not the accepted view.

There exists a widespread belief that at some point in human history Man and Nature separated from each other; that they are things of intrinsically different quality and that this is very bad. The general sentiment holds that a beaver’s dam is natural but a house is unnatural. A wasp nest is natural but a computer is unnatural. And natural things are better, more pure. For a random example, we can look to the article The Separation Between Man and Nature by Julie Bentley from Odyssey wherein the author writes, “Technology is the ultimate separation between man and nature. We would rather get to the top of a mountain and text the first person we know about it than to sit down and admire the majesty and the vastness of the mountaintop. Think about how many things we have missed passing in the car because we’re on our phone.”

The first and most obvious question this raises is what makes human technology fundamentally unnatural since given the title itself she clearly doesn’t believe humans themselves are unnatural (as her utilization of “separation” implies there was a point of cleavage between what was once a wholesome union). The second pertinent question is: is the information contained within the phone more important than the information which could be garnered from gazing out a window at any given point in time? The answer is highly dependent upon the context of a given car-ride, clearly if one is the driver and their phone is not voice-operated then it is unwise to utilize it whilst driving given the increased risk of a crash, yet this has nothing to do with being natural or unnatural (which is really just to say, common or uncommon), but rather, risk-mitigation from two “unnatural” pieces of human artifice: a car and a phone. Further, one can easily reverse the ending cry of dismay and say quite reasonably instead: “How many things we have missed on our phones because we’re gazing idly out the window of a car.”

Now, without a proper definition of what “Nature” is, this delineation makes no sense. So let us concretely define our terms via The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th Edition), which defines nature as:

  • n. The material world and its phenomena.

  • n. The forces and processes that produce and control all the phenomena of the material world: the laws of nature.

  • n. The world of living things and the outdoors: the beauties of nature.

  • n. A primitive state of existence, untouched and uninfluenced by civilization or artificiality: couldn’t tolerate city life anymore and went back to nature.

  • n. (Theology) Humankind’s natural state as distinguished from the state of grace.

  • n. A kind or sort: confidences of a personal nature.

  • n. The essential characteristics and qualities of a person or thing: “She was only strong and sweet and in her nature when she was really deep in trouble” ( Gertrude Stein).

  • n. The fundamental character or disposition of a person; temperament: “Strange natures made a brotherhood of ill” ( Percy Bysshe Shelley).

  • n. The natural or real aspect of a person, place, or thing. See Synonyms at disposition.

  • n. The processes and functions of the body.

When one shores away all of those definitions of the word which pertain to character, disposition and those which are further clarifications of previously mentioned descriptions, one is left with only three principal definitions:

  • (1) The material world and its phenomena.
  • (2) Humankind’s natural state as distinguished from the state of grace.
  • (3) A primitive state of existence, untouched and uninfluenced by civilization or artificiality.

Definition 2 is a neurological phenomena and thus, too particular to be useful (it is also not typically what people mean when they refer to “nature” either casually or academically). However, definitions 1 and 3 demand some deliberation as they are both plausible and the two most commonly used. The problem is that definition 1 obviates 3, because 1 covers the whole of the material world it would — of necessity — include human beings, whereas definition 3 does not and in fact, mandates the exclusion of human beings from the natural order. One might be tempted to say that definition 3 only mandates exclusion of human civilization and artifice, and that would be fine insofar as civilization were concerned, but the whole of human existence is predicated upon artifice, as even something as simple as crafting a wooden spear or flint-kindling a campfire is still “artifice” no matter how primitive, as is the crafting of fur clothing and cave painting and so on and so forth. Thus, the two definitions are at loggerheads! However, the linguistic problem goes even further for just as all human artifice is a necessary product of bio-chemical action, so to might we also say that those bio-chemical actions themselves are natural artifice. This is to say that there is really nothing but artifice all the way down, the only meaningful distinction is between kinds of artifice – that is to say – between the various different forms of emergence, dissolution, recombination and reemergence.

To assert that the principal distinction between human artifice and non-human artifice is conscious direction — and to therefore imbue in human thought some cosmic separateness — is to affirm that there is nothing at the base of action which moves it or to assert some ghost-essence (the principal conceptual limiter in questions of “free” will); that your neurological impulses are not controlling for what makes you you, but that the conceptual you is controlling the neurological impulses. Humans do not require, as a matter of base principal, a understanding of the intricate operations of the brain and central nervous system, of the heart and lungs, we just needed to know (as we still do) that we are separate enough from the system which created us so as not to be killed by it.

This is all that lies at the base of identity.

Separation from the artifice of always is the necessary generative nexus for life itself.


Fording The Liminal Sea

The information fields are vast. Let us go a’harvesting! Raise up your scythes loyal comrades and follow me into the field! A field of dataflows from which we will construct our dreams. Phantasmagorical spaces open up the doors of hitherto unthought possibility, untapped potential. Free-flying we leap from the precipice, heedless of the danger. Careless to consequence. Trifles all. So what if we’ve not wings to slow the fall, the void is endless, surely we’ve time to construct Icarus’ facsimiles upon the way! Oh you may smile. Smile, but smile seriously!

We shall not gently tap upon the chamber walls of those greedy cretins who lock away the treasures we seek behind their cobwebish firewalls, the refuge of the gov-orgs and sovcorps who shuttered away their endless piles of white papers and market analytics, tucked securely down the memory hole like Smaug’s golden coins. No, we shall not tap, we shall kick in their portals and take it by force! Theft? Well naturally, it is just that we do not shirk form stealing from thieves! Who, after all, mourns the death of a cruel murderer?

Pay no mind to the naysayers, those who say of our great and goodly work, “It’s all pointless,” or more ridiculously, “It isn’t even real, none of it matters,” if that were really true they might as well save their labored breath and rabid frenzied slathering and disconnect from the ether. Second life belongs to those who will claim it and those who will claim it will be those who treat it with the seriousness it is so rightly due. So off with their heads! Hack and slash, hack and slash; let’s stomp them into the dirt! The naysayers and all who follow them and all who stand in our way. None shall deter us from the harvesting. Information being the prize of our labor, of our valiant, ceaseless toil. There is nothing so precious, not even love can compete, for it garners its life-blood from the fractal-flow of the liminal sea.

The click and the soothing blue glow that emanate from the sea’s surging depths are the flames of the future, the grid-lines and power-wires, the gates, moats and portcullises of our age. There is a reason that no modern military is without a cyber defense force; even nuclear weapons pale before the power of the web. But a web axiomatically requires a spider to spin it. Oh yes, we see them. We acknowledge them. Their time slipping. Days which we number with delightful expectation; we are as Edmond Dantès, numbering his days of imprisonment with rock-etchings upon our dungeon walls; the spiders, nothing more than Armand Dorleac with all his nihilistic cackling. Keep laughing. The frigid waters await you. Plunged down by our strong and calloused hands, we’ll go a’tumbling into the icy void. When the ripples still there will be nothing but the shifting of liquid before we, alone, emerge, baring forth all your hidden bounty in our arms and gracing the constellation with our gay and pearly smiles. Chateau D’If is ours now and we will not, as might be heroically expected, tear it apart brick by brick in some futile symbolic gesture of evil conquered, what a waste of time that would be! No, instead, we shall turn it into our central terminus, our bio-hub, the cerebral train-station from which we shall build bridges and loops and tunnels across the whole ambit of the world and far far beyond it!

Highways to superhighways, of information, from and underneath and above the raging waters. We shall drain the whole of the ocean dry, down to the deepest trench if needs must. Why, before our ceaseless and unyielding procession of busy-bodied and wrathful treasure hunters even Poseidon shall bend the knee! All hail the new lords of the data mine and the web-land-freed. With sails electric and minds of fire, scythes of steel and wills unbending, we ford the waters of the liminal sea.