Articles by: Timothy Erik Ström

Author Biography:

Timothy Erik Ström is an independent writer and university teacher based in Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of Globalization and Surveillance and his writings can be found at his website: The Sorcerer’s Apparatus. He is Arena Online Editor.

Editorial: Undead Undone? Coronavirus and Capitalism

The coronavirus pandemic lays bare how the living, the dead and the grey zone in between are organised into a global system of power, ecology and technology; a formation whose vulnerabilities and contradictions are being pressed to boiling point.

Informit: Data-driven democracy

A parallel to the Cambridge Analytica scandal 'The development of powerful new means of communication has coincided, historically, with the extension of democracy and with the attempts, by many kinds of ruling groups, to control and manage democracy.' These words, written by Raymond Williams back in 1962, referred to the rise of printing in the long sixteenth century, through to newspapers in the nineteenth century, and radio and television in the twentieth century. This point…

Informit: Marketing fascism

The cyber-strategies behind the Christchurch attack Many of the best responses to the massacre in Christchurch have focused on a recog - nition of the human lives that have been torn apart by this shocking act; they are a conscious and affirmative counter to the cycles of dehumanisation that led to the rampage. Other excellent responses have sought to reckon with the social context in which such horror becomes possible - inquiries into the grinding…

Informit: The ugly internet [Book Review]

Review(s) of: Surveillance valley: The secret military history of the internet, by Yasha Levine, (Public Affairs, 2018).

Informit: Abstract and control: Twenty years of google

The third in a series of articles in Google's twentieth-anniversary year The story of Google is a telling case study in the analysis of contemporary society, reorganised as it has been by the mutations of cybernetic capitalism. The company's history has been one of deep enthralment with technology, typically cast in naive 'how-cool-is-that' terms - it is a story peppered with geeky tropes and various vacuous watchwords like 'innovation', 'entrepreneurial' and, of course, lots and…

Informit: Surveil and commodify: Twenty years of google

The second of three articles in the twentieth-anniversary year of Google: advertising for monopoly power. Google's system of surveillance-fuelled automated advertising is highly effective, as noted in part one of this series (Arena Magazine no. 153). In part two here, I shall look more closely at the intertwined processes of surveillance and commodification, for herein lies the secret to Google's tremendous success. Advertising provides the company with most of its enormous revenue, but as advertisers…

Informit: Expand and centralise: Twenty years of google

On 4 September 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin deposited a cheque for $100,000 written by 'angel investor' Andy Bechtolsheim, co-founder of Sun Microsystems. With this money put into a newly opened bank account, the pair formally incorporated their start-up, dubbing it 'Google Inc'. They chose this name in reference to the obscure mathematical concept 'googol', a number represented as a one followed by 100 zeros, or in scientific notation, 10100. The word googol was…

Expand and Centralise: Twenty Years of Google, by Timothy Erik Ström

The first of three articles in the twentieth anniversary year of Google: from garage project to global institution

Leviathan in Electric Sheep’s Clothing, by Timothy Erik Ström

Technology, debt and control in China’s Social Credit System

Informit: Leviathan in electric sheep’s clothing

Over the last few years, the Chinese government has been working on a colossal experiment in social control. The first public mention of this project was in mid-2014 in a document called 'Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System'. There the State Council, the chief administrative authority of the People's Republic of China, proposed the creation of a vast system of surveillance in which every citizen would be given a numerical score…

Informit: Abstraction and production in google maps: The reorganisation of subjectivity, materiality and labour

Maps can be seen as a potent symbol and the technological manifestation of the abstraction process fundamental to human practice. Cartographic abstraction grants an organising power to the way we look at the world, and hence map-makers and the institutions they serve have often worked to intensify this abstraction. Google Maps goes a step further. In addition to offering an abstracted view from above, the very materiality of the map is itself abstract. Its production…