Reblog> to be invisible or not to be invisible: that is the power. or is it?

Over on her blog Visual / Method / Culture, Gillian Rose has written an interesting blogpost about the politics of ‘visibility’ online and the rendering visible of digital/electronic things and their infrastructures. She draws on some interesting work (that I didn’t know) by Shannon Mattern and Adam Rothstein.

This got me thinking about a couple of other related things, that compliment and provide further examples for Gillian’s argument…

Of course a big chunk of the early geographical fascination with all things web/internet was about visualisations and mappings as Dodge & Kitchin’s “Atlas of Cyberspace“ attests”¦ It also brings to mind the recent cases of the “right to be forgotten“ in search results, and the ways in which those with the means can render what they deem undesirable “invisible” – the corollary of which is the increasing practices of public ‘shaming’ [see this great essay by Ben Jackson in the LRB], and the repugnant exploit of “revenge porn”.

So the politics of visibility Gillian teases out – and perhaps, here, more the *in*visible than the visible – is refracted through existing politics of those that have (money, status and power and so the means to render themselves selectively visible) and those that do not – who increasingly find themselves visible to all sorts of agencies.

to be invisible or not to be invisible: that is the power. or is it?

I’ve been pondering the rhetoric of ‘invisibility’ that surrounds so much critical discussion of digital technologies, particularly those that intersect with our everyday lives: the software that ‘hides’ behind smartphone screens, for example, or the intangibility of the ‘cloud’ that stores our photos and our contacts, or the invisibility of digital infrastructure. As a both Shannon Mattern and Adam Rothstein have pointed out recently, it’s a rhetoric that’s also used to describe an awful lot of other kinds of infrastructure too at the moment.

read the whole blogpost.

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