Electracy, like literacy and orality before it, is an apparatus, meaning that it is a social machine (part technological, part ideological, part metaphysical). An analogy with the invention of literacy guides our experimental approach to electracy. The Classical Greeks invented alphabetic writing (the vowel, signs recording the spoken word, the material support for inscription); school and its practices (the Academy, the Lyceum, in which were invented the categories, method, concept, logic — in short: science); individual and collective identity behaviors (selfhood, democratic state).
The question pursued here is: what are the electrate equivalents of the literate institutional practices and identity formations? Despite all the explicit statements made by leading commentators rejecting technological determinism, much of the best theorizing of new media and digital technology in general today neglects the insights of “apparatus”: that the Internet is an emerging institution that is to electracy what school was to literacy; that the categorial, logical, and rhetorical practices needed to function natively in this institution have to be invented, and moreover that the invention of an image metaphysics (the equivalent of what Aristotle accomplished for the written word) has its own invention stream, independent of the features of modern recording equipment.
A shorthand version of what we seek in this blog is the electrate equivalent of essence. literate category formation (aka metaphysics) functions by means of definitional determination of essence (that without which a thing may not be what it is). This categorial operator was used to organize every aspect of literate civilization, including the social construction of identity in terms of essences. The movement away from essential identities in contemporary culture is not due to some emancipatory poltics; or rather, emancipatory politics, breaking free from eseentialism, is a symptom of the mutation in the apparatus, from alphabetic metaphysics to image metaphysics.
Heuretics proposes the following analogy, to be explored here.
Literacy = School / Concept / Self :: Electracy = Internet / Emblem / Brand