As of May 2, Inside Higher Ed's Views section will feature a timely and perceptive commentary from Slavoj Žižek. The piece, extracted from the new afterword for the paperback edition of Living in the End Times, is an examination of the social and political impact of 'cloud computing.'
In the excerpt, Žižek argues that cloud computing is a quintessential part of the corporatization of the individual's experience of cyberspace and is indicative of a more general push toward the privatization of the 'general intellect':
Everything thus becomes accessible, but only as mediated through a company which owns it all - software and hardware, content and computers. To take one obvious example, Apple doesn't only sell iPhones and iPads, it also owns iTunes. It also recently made a deal with Rupert Murdoch allowing the news on the Apple cloud to be supplied by Murdoch's media empire. To put it simply, Steve Jobs is no better than Bill Gates: whether it be Apple or Microsoft, global access is increasingly grounded in the virtually monopolistic privatization of the cloud which provides this access. The more an individual user is given access to universal public space, the more that space is privatized.
Apologists present cloud computing as the next logical step in the "natural evolution" of the Internet, and while in an abstract-technological way this is true, there is nothing "natural" in the progressive privatization of global cyberspace. There is nothing "natural" in the fact that two or three companies in a quasi-monopolistic position can not only set prices at will but also filter the software they provide to give its "universality" a particular twist depending on commercial and ideological interests.
Visit Inside Higer Ed to read the excerpt in full.