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The StackOn Software and Sovereignty$
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Benjamin H. Bratton

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262029575

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262029575.001.0001

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User Layer

User Layer

(p.251) User Layer
The Stack

Benjamin H. Bratton

The MIT Press

This chapter discusses the sixth and top layer in The Stack, the User layer. It describes how Users initiate chains of interaction up and down layers, from Interface to Earth and back again. It sees the “user” as a contemporary mediated image of the self, one that is often reduced to narrow and utilitarian frames, but also open to a diverse variety of possible human and non-human agencies. The user position can both over-individuate that agent’s sense of self and also radically multiply it. For example, data generated by Users and producing traces and shadows of their worldly transactions, initially creates a high-resolution portrait of a single user (for example as seen in the Quantified Self movement) but as overlapping external data streams are introduced, the coherency the user’s subjectivity is dissolved by the overdetermination by external relations and forces. Any durable politics of the User must understand this dynamic of platform sovereignty.

Keywords:   User, User-centered design, Quantified Self, Mirror-Stage, Robotics, Automation, has the effect of discrete unity Animals and Computation, Lacan, Big Data, Agency

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