Platform politics: new issue of Culture Machine



edited by Joss Hands, Greg Elmer and Ganaele Langlois

Given the recent revelations about the collection of private data from Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Skype, and YouTube by the NSA and GCHQ as well as the current debate over Twitter trolls, it seems important to consider how digital platforms can be understood, leveraged and contested in an age when the ‘platform’ is coming to supplant the open web as the default digital environment.

Platforms can be characterized as resting on already existing networked communication systems, but also as developing discreet spaces and affordances, often using ‘apps’ to circumvent any need to access them via the Internet or web. The contributions to this issue investigate the nature and distinctive aspects of the ‘platform’: as more than just a neutral space of communication; and as a complex technology with distinct affordances that have powerful political, economic and social interests at stake. In this respect the platform is regarded as a zone of contestation between different configurations of capital, social movements, new kinds of activist networks, and open source and proprietary software design. Platforms also constitute spaces of struggle between mass movements and governments, users and the extractors of value, visibility and invisibility.

The platform, then, does not just represent a question of software and control. It also connects to wider social struggles: a ‘political platform’ can frame political discourse more generally. Accordingly, this special issue of Culture Machine considers platform politics as a distinct new context of power operating at the intersection of technological development, software design, cognitive/communicative capitalism, new forms of social movement and resistance, and the attempts to contain them by the existing democracies.


Joss Hands, Introduction: Politics, Power and ‘Platformativity’

Ganaele Langlois, Greg Elmer, The Research Politics of Social Media Platformss

Neal Thomas, Social Computing as a Platform for Memory

Paul Caplan, Software Tunnels Through the Rags ‘n Refuse: Object Oriented Software Studies and Platform Politics

Harry Halpin, Immaterial Civil War: The World Wide War on the Web

Eugenia Siapera, Platform Infomediation and Journalism

Joss Hands, Platform Communism

Nick Dyer-Witheford, Red Plenty Platforms

Tim Jordan, Information as Politics

Tero Karppi, Death Proof: On the Biopolitics and Noopolitics of Memorializing Dead Facebook Users

Jussi Parikka, Critically Engineered Wireless Politics

Cornelia Sollfrank, Giving What you Don’t Have: Interviews with Sean Dockray and Dmytri Kleiner


The Telekommunist Manifesto, Dmitry Kleiner from coco castro on Vimeo.

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