Belated Too Early
Pages 37 - 58
What is it about networks that makes them such a compelling, universal concept? How has “it’s a network” become a valid answer: the end rather than the beginning of the analysis? Why and how has it become the diagram for both global capital and contemporary U.S. society? This article addresses these questions by arguing that networks have been central to the emergence, management, and imaginary of neoliberalism, in particular to its narrative of individuals collectively dissolving society. Tracing the ways in which networks, or more precisely the mapping of networks, were embraced as a way to evaporate the postmodern confusion that dominated the late-seventies and early-eighties, this article reveals that the force of networks stems from how they are imaged and what they are imagined to do. Networks allow us to trace and to spatialize unvisualizable interactions as flows: from global capital to environmental risks, from predation to affects. To begin to imagine networks differently, this article argues that, rather than focusing on network maps and connections, we need to think about new media in terms of habitual repetition and leaks.