Alex Galloway’s new book, “Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization”, is a detailed foray into network culture, internet art, and hactivism and how these practices exist within the larger rule-sets imposed by technology. The book is also a nice primer on the basis of actual protocols like how TCP/IP might mimic a polite conversation of “Hello”, “Hi.How are you?”, “i’m fine thanks”, while UDP is a much ruder protol that stuffs data down your throat until you receive the message. Protocols may govern the domain of network and technological practice, but this somewhat authoritative control provides an ample target for artists to challenge its conventions. Some examples in the book include Jodi.org’s OSS, an alternative operating system thats shreds all notions of the GUI and Cory Arcangel’s Total Asshole File Compression that actually increases the size of a file exponentially when you compress it. Despite artists’ eagerness to break protocols, Galloway remains adamant that without protocols we would be living in a kind of anarchist technocracy. He contends that protocols themselves are what drives critical creative realization and that they are harmoniously tied to each other while simultaneously at war. Pick up a copy and put your creative mind to the test!
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