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Ruling Class Studies (Research proposal)

Ruling Class Studies (Research proposal)

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Published by Marcell Mars
Research proposal for Design department at Jan van Eyck Akademie (http://www.janvaneyck.nl/):

"Ruling Class Studies should produce critical theoretical instruments to measure the political, ethical and professional accountability of GFAeB to their proclaimed missions, advertised practices, and to a world where their monopolies are taking root. Only after that we can seriously consider the scale and scope of any (possible) emancipation enabled by the emerging digital network paradigm."
Research proposal for Design department at Jan van Eyck Akademie (http://www.janvaneyck.nl/):

"Ruling Class Studies should produce critical theoretical instruments to measure the political, ethical and professional accountability of GFAeB to their proclaimed missions, advertised practices, and to a world where their monopolies are taking root. Only after that we can seriously consider the scale and scope of any (possible) emancipation enabled by the emerging digital network paradigm."

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Published by: Marcell Mars on Apr 17, 2010
Copyright:Public Domain

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APPLICATION FORMJAN VAN EYCK ACADEMIEPOST-ACADEMIC INSTITUTE FOR RESEARCH AND PRODUCTIONFINE ART, DESIGN, THEORY
o PERSONAL INFORMATION
 
Surname:
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Mars
 2 
aka
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Romic
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First name(s):
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Marcell
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aka
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Nenad
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Address:
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Klub mama
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Preradoviceva
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18
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Postal code:
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10000
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Place:
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Zagreb
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Country:
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Croatia
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Telephone:
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+38514856400
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Fax:
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+38514855729
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Mobile:
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+385916272355
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Email:
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ki.ber@kom.uni.st
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Web address:
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http://ki.ber.kom.uni.st
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Date of birth:
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24/05/1972
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Place of birth (Place + Country):
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Benkovac
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Croatia
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Nationality:
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Croatian
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Sex:
133433
Male /
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Female
 
Photograph:
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6
Please do not fill out this part)
 
To Be Completed by The InstituteRegistration number:Application fee:Slides:Photograph:Publication:Text:DVD:CD-ROM:Video:USB-stick:
o RESEARCH DETAILS
 
Department you wish to apply for:
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Fine Art
433
Design
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Theory
Period:
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Variable period (at least1 month- at most 24 months)
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12 months: 1/9/2010 – 1/9/2011
 22 533
1 year: 1/1/2011 – 31/12/2011
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2 year: 1/1/2011 – 31/12/2012
 Attach the following:
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Curriculum Vitaem:An overview of education,previous employment, commisions,exhibitions, publications,grants, awards, …
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Research proposal:A description (max. 1.000 words,addendum possible) of theobjectives of your researchand how you want to realise yourproject. Theoriticians shouldattach a bibliography.
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Motivation:Description of your needs andexpectations in relation to theJan van Eyck Academie.
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Listed documentation material:(dating back five years max.)indicating title, year,description.
How did you get informed about theJan van Eyck Academie:
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1(Ex-) researchers or advisingresearchers, name:
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Dubravka
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Sekulic
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Website Jan van Eyck Academie
533
Internet, address:
1222222222222222222222222222222222222 533
Advertisement, name:
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Email
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Unesco brochure
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Advertisement, name:
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Other, namely:
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Signature, Place, and date:
1
 22222222 
,Somerville,15/04/2010
 22 
 
RULING CLASS STUDIESRESEARCH PROPOSAL
o RESEARCH PROPOSAL 
In Ruling Class Studies I will analyze
1
 the business strategies, vision,corporate missions of Google, Facebook,Amazon and eBay (GFAeB). I will alsoconsider the way these firms designtechnical infrastructure, create rulesgoverning users' access to data andservices, and appropriate counter-cultural values and identities.Furthermore, I will make a comparativeanalysis with older firms who have usednetworks as both an infrastructure anda utility. Particularly, the mail ordercatalog business of Sears, Roebuck andCo., technological and businessinnovation in electric power generation/grids (e.g. Chicago Edison), and theAmerican Telephone & Telegraph Company.I am interested in identifying thechanges in business strategy fosteredby the network form prior todigitalization, and distinguishing whatis new in the behavior of GFAeB. I wouldlike to explore how companies from thepast invested profits in search offields into which to expand.An additional interest lies inevaluating the measure of accountability(political, market, moral, managerial..)of the afore-mentioned companies. Onemeans to research this is analysis ofthe existing documentation on theinternet, whether voluntarily disclosedto the public or published as a resultof lawsuits involving the companies.Further research inputs will be gatheredthrough interviews with GFAeB'scorporate representatives. I will alsoorganize a Ruling Class Studiesconference where theorists, activists,economists, hackers and businessmen and women can meet.The goal of this research is to
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 analyze the emancipatory potentialarising from the paradigm shift from personal computers to the Internet, andfrom the user interface metaphor ofphysical space (office) to semanticspace (search bar, keywords). Thatchange generated easily accessibleinfrastructures for production and(more importantly) collaboration,usually free of charge. A methodologyto evaluate the adaptations andappropriation of practices from emancipatory social movements by GFAeB,and especially Google, should bedefined.GFAeB were founded as Internet only
1
 businesses. They are the digital nativesof the business world. The networkinfrastructures they build are offeredto the world as "public services"[i]governed by their "citizens"[ii], apromise typically enacted bygovernments. Their huge growth hasdemonstrated the strength of the networkparadigm. Many hoped that digitalnetworks would eliminate intermediariescompletely, but although manydisappeared, the few who remained foundtheir position strengthened[iii].For these firms, maintaining marketpower requires responsiveness to users'demands to a degree proportional withthe ease of user defection to theircompetitors. From this point of view Google's search business, its principalprofit center, is at the same time thearea in which the switching costs toanother service (e.g. Bing) are lowest,and thus its most vulnerable asset.Unsurprisingly they are keen to depictthemselves as the virtuous do-gooders ofthe digital realm.They digitize intellectual heritage
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 (Google Books Library Project[iv]),Earth, Moon & oceans (GoogleEarth/Maps[v]), "provide a globaltrading platform where practicallyanyone can trade practicallyanything"(eBay [vi]), facilitate theonline supply of workers' intellectuallabor to business through transient,task-based, limited-time relationship without any direct communication(Amazon's Mechanical Turk [vii]).Through real-time auction they maximizecapacity utilization of computer clouds(Amazon's Spot Instances [viii]), andevery time someone searches somethingthey calculate the bids and sell the adspace (Google AdWords[ix]). They know  who is friends with whom (Facebook),those matching your consumption profileas a reader (Amazon), or yourreliability as a participant to atransaction (eBay).They are the ruling class of digital
2
  world.Google, Facebook, Amazon and eBay
1
 reveal to us the current level ofcorporate adaptation and intelligence.Each mediate search and access torelevant information in some or all of
 
RULING CLASS STUDIESRESEARCH PROPOSAL
the semantic, social and business/trading contexts. They design theirsearch infrastructure combining:algorithms — (e.g. Google's Page
3
Rank is a link analysis algorithm thatassigns numerical weighting to eachelement of a hyperlinked set ofdocuments with the purpose of"measuring" its relative importance within the set.)social graphs — (e.g. Facebook Wall,
3
 Amazon recommendations, ebay Sellerrating providing relevant informationthrough comparisons of previouschoices done by similar people orfriends.)auctions (e.g. eBay, Google's
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 AdWords, Amazon's Spot Instances;according to market logic the relevantinformation is the price someone is willing to pay.)With their infrastructure and business
1
 models GFAeB also introduces their ownculture. Often this is a directappropriation of the techno-utopianvision of the digital networks. This maybe articulated through very mainstream stereotypes of the idea of democracy(e.g. Facebook Site Governance) orthrough a far more subtle appropriationof hacker culture (e.g. Google 20% TimeProjects).Google have made several gestures anddecisions which distinguish them from any other company in history. They playthe role of a good citizen in the freesoftware world by making platforms forcollaborative communication (GoogleWave, Android OS, Chrome Web Broser,GWT), financially supporting projects(Firefox or Ubuntu), and through GoogleSummer of Code. In the case ofregulation of wireless spectrum in the700 Mhz band, made available by thetransition of television to digital,Google advocated allocation to theprovision of free spectrum. Theyintended to commit a minimum of $4.6billion to make that happen.Google invests over $100 million peryear for projects such as Google FluTrends and RE<C (an effort to developutility-scale renewable energy at aprice cheaper than that of coal).Furthermore, by making available alltheir web services to users free ofcharge (Google Mail, Google Docs,Groups, Calendar etc.) they arguablyempower users at a scale unparalleled byany other (software) company. 
1
Ruling Class Studies
should producecritical theoretical instruments tomeasure the political, ethical andprofessional accountability of GFAeB totheir proclaimed missions, advertisedpractices, and to a world where theirmonopolies are taking root. Only afterthat we can seriously consider the scaleand scope of any (possible) emancipationenabled by the emerging digital networkparadigm.
Notes:[i] Company Overview: "Google's mission: toorganize the world's information and makeit universally accessible and useful." -http://www.google.com/corporate/ [ii] Mark Zuckerberg CEO Facebook:"Beginning today, we are giving you agreater opportunity to voice your opinionover how Facebook is governed. We'restarting this off by publishing two new documents for your review and comment. [..]Facebook Principles, which defines yourrights [..] and Statement of Rights andResponsibilities, which will replace theexisting Terms of Use." -http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=56566967130[iii] Nicholas Carr: "Middlemen werefriction, and the Web was a friction-removing machine. We were misinformed. TheWeb didn't kill mediators. It made them stronger." -http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2009/04/google_in_the_m.php[iv] http://books.google.com  [v] http://earth.google.com  [vi] http://pages.ebay.ca/aboutebay/thecompany/companyoverview.html[vii] Ayhan Aytes. "Crowdsourcing,Mechanical Turk and the Cultural History ofCognitive Labor Apparatus". The Internet AsPlayground And Factory. Conference at theNew School, NYC, USA.[viii] http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2009/12/the_new_chicago.php [ix] http://adwords.google.com 

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