David Ogilvy is an interesting character. So are Machiavelli, Sun Tzu and Gen. Smedley Butler. There are many more, too many to count. Their game is strategy, rather than philosophy. There is a goal direction. The discursive tools are control and power. “The end justifies the means” or in the internet realm, “the memes.”
In the digital realm there are elements which are unbounded by real world conditions. But, what happens there influences the real (the mind influencing the body corpus). “Perception is reality.” There are effects.
The ability to work with avatars, to make innumerable copies, the boundlessness of possibility. The only stricture is finding a way to make online presence profitable. Taking “profit” to mean whatever gives you advantage. It is a space of information parsed in 1s and 0s, a multiplicity out of binary forms.
Strategy opines to deal with “real world” conditions, driven by actors, played out on a global stage. Strategy avers to action. Philosophy contends with truth. Strategy does not auger well with truth and veers more to trickery. “Strategy is game.” You got game?
Do universities have more digital game than the people who built the arenas; Google, FaceBook and Twitter?
Till recently I’ve been a little conflicted with universities selling digital marketing courses. They’ve done it by adding digital to marketing, retaining marketing as the profitable core. But “digital” is the antecedent, marketing the suffix. Digital by design. What the universities are selling is what universities have been selling for centuries, control of knowledge and hierarchy. But in some way they’ve inverted a paradigm, they no longer own digital, digital owns them, the greater access and mass of information resides in their offspring.
What is digital?
Digital is a domain of communication bounded neither by time or space, it is virtualized. Virtualization meaning a simulation of the real. A french guy called Baudrillard defined three levels of simulation; one the copy of the real. 2. the copy of the copy. 3. The copy unrelated to the real (the symbol). Let us say the real is the closest thing to truth we can determine, conceding that conception of truth is not truth, or defining real a reality. Like the conception of “mind,” we cannot stand outside of it.
Defining real is a vexed question that returns to the roots of philosophy all the way up to present day. The more you aim to pin it down the more threads of causality you produce and more philosophers you uncover.
A nodal structure built on top of a global communications network. The controllers of the tool might loosely be defined as the Military Educational Industrial complex (for some people that combination is a heretical phrase). I’m not really interested in who controls it within the frame of this text, but it a notable group with a notable intent.
Is the internet an element of what is “digital” or is digital a quality of the internet? Is digital the defining term? I am looking at strategy, so I see digital as the “strategos” and internet the domain. Interestingly the original meaning is …
Strategos is a compound of two Greek words: stratos and agos. Stratos (στρατός) means army, literally “that which is spread out”, coming from the proto-Indo-European root *stere- “to spread”.
Looking to causality for simulation is difficult. Look to internet as symbols divorced from reality (for the sake of argument). Is not the icon the defining feature? A symbolic landscape, a shared illusion?
Facebook has been called a religion (although hard to think of Zuckerberg as a cult leader). You can see why; the grouping, the control and the dopamine. There are so many possible social medias, yet this one has gained an “uncritical mass.” Yet I’ve not seen universities calling out this uncritical mass and the “useful idiotness” of them. Some researchers yes, but the “higher ups” have remained quiet. The Cambridge Analytica thing notwithstanding.
I know this is turgid stuff, but I’m moving through it. To recap, we’ve got simulation, network, trickery and communication. This puts us flat bang into Classical strategy. My domain. The conversation is to militarism now, that is the tie that binds here. Without getting bogged down – the objective is to win.
What is it good for? Propoganda – it controls your attention and intention. You may have logged on to get football results, but you leave watching an hour of X factor snippets. Nearly everyone will tell you the internet is a “time suck.” It seems the novelty and shiny quality is a powerful force that only grows over time.
“Social media is so perfectly designed to manipulate our desire for approval…”
Some will say I am being harsh, that the internet was founded on a combination of forces (for good or evil is a moot point). The strategy of power is”the will to control the mass,” similar to how sales guys shape a MLM (Multi Level Marketing) structure to funnel money and control to the summit.
You may say that my viewpoint is dystopian, that all of these control points are incidental. Being a strategist, it is hard to come to the same conclusion. There are only two rules of inquiry; cui bono? And, where does the money go?
Let’s chase the genie from the other end of the tube and look at the moment. We are forced to contend with the immediacy of it. The internet is the “ever evolving now.”
I can go to my Twitter feed and see 80% of the traffic is from bots; automated avatars, fake agents of one kind or another. Check Linkedin and see how a trite Richard Branson quote receives the adulation of a business prophecy. Facebook and see that my cohort from college (20 years ago) are still exchanging the same timeless platitudes. Be bombarded with targeted ads, built out of my search history and accumulated interests. The internet can look back at me, it is an animate in the sense that it reacts to me, mirroring and blowing smoke into my mental recesses, calling forth the limbic instead of the pre-frontal.
All that is as obvious to you as it is to me. Take a pen and paper and jot down the posts you see, connect them to their purpose. The most interesting thing to see is how oblivious the denizens are, how willing to susceptibility -the “I’ve got this” shrug. This attitude drives the passivity, the flick, click and scroll.
I need a clear line to address this – social media is a weapon aimed squarely at the domestic population. Social media is hierarchical control through algorithm, that is the strategy. Control the material mind by filling it with what it wants.
If you want proof look at how shallow old media has become, how obviously partisan and compliant (literally his master’s voice). This fits with the MO of all the controlling parties, a conspiracy of mindf*cks. But why? The old gold – money and power.
Some say that the 80/20 rule of yore has been bypassed with the internet. Now the control factor is closer to 99%/ 1%. This would make sense, if you see how small the controlling cohort really is. How little information you have on the “elite” class and the inverse. How tightly matched the rewards to stimulation in “real time.” By being a symbolism, it is stimulation by simulation, developed in image …an actual mind, controlled by masterminds that reflects you back at you for eternity. Or until someone switches off the power.
All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.
Final paragraph: Cui Bono? Strategy is a political objective. Who benefits from craven suggestibility, conformity and the passive “pray for… “mob mentality fostered by such tools? Voltaire once said you can tell who rules by who you are not allowed to question and the questions you are not allowed ask. Always follow the money.