The Fractal Production of Value

Fractal Production of Value: Transitioning From Real to Digital Value Structures

WATCH OUT! The value epidemic is here.

Note: I wrote this at some point in college and just recently found it while on the plane to MIT. It was first called “A Brief on Internet Architectures”. It was originally meant to be a sort of white paper on value creation online.

I miss this way of thinking. There will only be more like this. Better sourcing to appear soon. A short bibliography is thus:

Baudrillard’s “After the Orgy” was the basis of this article.

Rheingold, Howard. _Virtual Reality_. New York: Simon & Schuster,
1992, was also used.

The Fractal Production of Value

The Fractal Production of Value


Like the galactic evolution of a galaxy, social dust dissolves under gravity, and the system tends to order itself.

“If I were asked to characterize the present state of affairs, I would describe it as ‘after the orgy’. The orgy in question was the moment when modernity exploded upon us, the moment of liberation in every sphere.” (Baudrillard “After the Orgy”, 2)

“At the fourth, the fractal (or viral, or radiant) stage of value, there is no point of reference at all, and value radiates in all directions, occupying all interstices, without reference to anything whatsoever, by virtue of pure contiquity”.

“At the fractal stage there is no longer any equivalence, whether natural or general. Properly speaking there is no law of value, merely a sort of epidemic of value, a sort of general metastasis of value, a haphazard proliferation and dispersal of value.”

These are viral values, viral marketing, organic marketing.

The microphysics of value creation: At the digital level, the macro becomes the micro. The physics of the large become the physics of the small. The general relativity of space-time/internet time intertwine to force value creation to act like particle sites. The shape of space makes matter move, and matter shapes space. Matter, in the digital space, is content, and the shape of space is the shape of the spaces that hold that content.

Metastatic: Value begins to produce at a rate not unlike cancer.

“If value is produced around difference, difference is constantly obliterated by competitors.” Values are constantly reset; and differences are constantly obliterated.

Marx says that the real downfall of market economies will be at the heart of value production. Value is developed in increasingly faster ways on the Internet, where it takes less time and money to eliminate difference and create products that are simple value constructions. It is the ultimate liquid modernity because products may be created digitally. The containers that store value are digital information architectures which do not require steel beams or concrete but intellectual, digital architects that may be outsourced to India or China.

The big revolts will come at the cultural level – that we’ve turned all of culture into economic value, and then erased that value more and more quickly by the annihilation of differences.

Culture is now “what I’m doing” and “what I’ve found”. Consumers seek to be different when everything is the same. Same clothes, same thoughts same jobs give way to different things. But it is the constant negotiation of new values and appropriating those as quickly as possible that is the contradiction: the most popular new values are consumed in masse at relatively the same time as clothing is consumed regionally, but values can be accessed from the ultra-local, and a million copies can be accessed at a time. The waste that a value creates when it is destroyed becomes larger and larger, though the waste itself becomes smaller and smaller.

In this paper, I use internal to mean the digital, and external to mean the real world, and anything that is not liquid. For instance, the phrase ‘internal value construction’ denotes the manufacture of digital values in the hyperspace of the Internet. External means the actual electronic equipment (servers, wireless that

Difference must be obliterated increasingly quickly online, or death. This logarithmic increase of the speed difference elimination means can be called a “difference annihilation velocity”. Moore’s law of increased computing speed can be explained fractal production of value. Increasing the real-world means of digital production increases the internal (digital) difference annihilation velocity.

Now that the consumer has been sufficiently educated, he has become a sign worker. He can manufacture his own signs and viral media. He does this for free, and is selected for his ability to make conformist or nonconformist signs with the most value. In the Attention Economy, value means the most visits to a site, the sign with the greatest social gravity.

French anthropologist Marc Auge Imbuing the sign with a brand attached to a history, relational, identity makes the sign and actual place in space.
Social gravity towards a site, then, acts like a planet with its own gravitational field. If the pull and mass is large enough, the planet will ignite under its own gravity and turn into a sun. After this, the remaining social dust will form into planets circulating about it. An asteroid belt may form as well.

Binary star systems. Like two stars can exist at the center of a solar system, two sites may exist in the center of a site system. They can compete for attention of the planets or of themselves. They can be two companies competing for two companies sharing those that orbit them: flickr (yahoo) and google…ect.

There is no silence except where the gravity does not touch. All must flow forward, or along with the shape of space. Each new value shapes the further distances that value can go.

How did the universe begin, and how does it end? How did the Internet begin? And once it began, it expanded more and more until the end could not be seen. Time and space expanded until it could not anymore. Then gravity began to take control of the stuff of space, and pulled it together to make galaxies, suns, and eventually, planets.

How will the universe end? Two solutions have been proposed by physicists. One, that the universe will end up expanding indefinitely, and two, that the universe will reach the end of its expansion and gravity will take it back to a singularity. The end point of the universe is more likely the second solution. In fact, the fact that galaxies have formed even as the universe is still in a period of expansion is a sign that gravity’s overarching force will collapse all space and time back into itself over time.

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle

“Once again we are put in mind of microphysics: it is as impossible to make estimations between beautiful and ugly, true and false, or good and evil, as it is simultaneously to calculated a particle’s speed and position.”

“Just as each particle follows its own trajectory, each value or fragment of value shines for a moment in the heavens of simulation, then disappears into the void along a crooked path that only rarely happens to intersect with others’ paths. This is the patten of the fractal – and hence the current pattern of our culture.”

Strategic journalists (SEO-educated bloggers) are the particle generators. They situate themselves at the intersections of value creation and dissemination.

Baudrilliard’s notion of the end of the social. The social exists only as a dead afterthought. Text as voice, delayed in time and space, separates actual socialization from real time socialization. Text messaging, twitter messaging, e-mails. Books were the old form of it. Scripts. Plays. Now all are mediated by the interface that is technology.

“Could it be that all systems, all individuals, have a secret urge to be rid of their ideas, of their own essences, so as to be able to proliferate everywhere, to transport themselves simultaneously to every point of the compass?”

All are constituents of this new universe, seeing out “new life, new civilizations. To go where no one has gone before.” This is the essence of the constant new – finding strange new things. Rewriting over old ones.

Shooting directional values – vectors in space, cut off by other conflicting trajectories which modify those trajectories and either combine with them to amplify or decimate their ability to progress on their vectoral path.

“In any event, the consequences of a disassociation of this kind can only be fatal. A think which has lots its idea is like the man who has lost his shadow, and it must either fall under the sway of madness or perish.”

“Value is being produced in a rambling manner – willy nilly – discursively. A system of value which floats above reality, like oil on water; never really attached”.

The effort to reproduce a system of value becomes new. New ways and upgrades on the means of producing value. New ownership of these values. Those who compete to create new values, and those who compete to create new systems and better ways of creating new values more quickly. A double layer of value creation. The means and the ends go hand in hand. The structure and the end product, both in competition in their own spheres.

A whole range of informative products, trying to quickly discern trends for those who do not have the time to discern them.

If you continue to obliterate difference, nothing will have value. We’re right in the midst of constant value creation. A book cannot stop as a book. If enough attention gathers on it, it must be marketed as an experience, a series of goods and products and events. It becomes holy, and relational relics about, where the book is simply a myth – a biblical story of the creation of an idea, with a Geneses and characters and morals. The best books are always placed on the alters of bookstores, and people go to pray to them – especially children. They are the new consuming peasant masses, looking to bright colors and shapes and greatness before they can look to text. The products speak a fantasy language that they cannot resist. They worship – they sit in religious exctasy in front of the monitor again and again.

We’re right in there; every day, every month, every year, the cycles of products; of important things to consume and upgrade.

Imagine a series of concentric circles with really powerful, consequential objects on the slow-moving outside rings (such as new innovations: steel production) and then the fast moving, little innovations driving the outer rings into faster development?

As the fractal of value production expands, the differences become tinier and tinier. They also become more specialized. We’re now to the point that the tiny fractal differences are ruling our everyday lives at a totally saturated difference market at the middle class level. As more and more blog and use twitter, the amount of competitive media messages increases, leading some to produce more to get more “followers”. Some sit back and read RSS feeds and become addicted to the ‘great content’ of others that is constantly refreshing. So much so that they cannot keep up if they were to research the Internet for sites of interest by themselves. If they did so, they would miss out on feeds, or time.

Time negotiation in special niche groups is difficult. Once the user gets absorbed into the niche group, it is difficult to see that anything else exists. Media saturation becomes intense and specially-target media messages are concentrated and absorbed by the user. They become specialized, and rooted into place; unable to get out of the groove they are stuck in.

Definition of Rhizome: ( I cannot for the life of me determine this yet. I’ve read a billion papers and I do not yet understand it).

How could Moodle become more rhizomatic?

I am beginning to outsource my education. During college, I began to develop my own vocabulary with which to describe my observations of the world I lived in. The problem was that this vocabulary was often misunderstood or glossed over by my professors, who often did not have the time or the patience to determine if concepts were correct beyond the expected social vocabulary of the class. Once I was able to find papers, blogs, and other sources online (especially conference proceedings and journal articles) , I realized that the words I created and the diagrams I’d come up with already existed, and that most professionals were using similarly created vocabularies.

It is important, when you are immersed in the creation of your own vein of thought, not to give up because you do not see it in your vicinity. If not for the Internet, I may have given up, only because I’d fallen prey to the all-to-common sociological condition that makes people think reality is the world around them and what they sense. This sociological condition is constantly exploited by advertisers and experience economy gurus to ensure that consumers really do believe that the world around them is the only world that exists.

“On all sides were witness a kind of fading away of sexuality, of sexual beings, in favor of a return to the earlier stage of immortal and asexual being reproducing, like protozoa, by simple division of the One into two and the transmission of a code. Today’s technological being – machines, clones, replacement body parts – all tent towards this kind of reproduction, and little by little they are imparting the same process to those being that are supposedly human, and sexed.”

This trend can be seen in the effect of dichotomies “husband and wife” breaking down to form anti-dichotomous urban nomads.

Companies do this with expanded product lines that seek to keep the company reproducing itself, reproducing its workers, and ideas, the viral creation of value; once attention is gathered, it keeps expanding so that the company can wring out all of the value in the attention sponge. Markets are oversaturated as quickly as possible while the attention is still there, because attention leaves so quickly.

The objects that we are used to dealing with

Now – minimize sexuality, maximize reproduction of locating and creating value at the nexus of particle generation at the fractal state.

“Today, metonymy – replacing the whole as well at the components, and occasioning a general commutability of terms – has built its house upon the dis-illusion of metaphor.”

All these forms of liberation become partial forms, so that we live in a partial simulated liberty, and thus “every individual category is subject to contamination, substitution is possible between any sphere and any other…”

Breast implants, product switches and cyborgian augmentation devices, upgrades and switch-outs. Isolating the body part in the advertising space.

“Sport itself, meanwhile, is no longer located in sport as such, but instead in business, in sex, in politics, the general type of performance.”

Performance is the term of optimum value. The performance of a processing chip, of a bag, or a website that’s been search engine optimized.

“All these domains are affected by sport’s criteria of ‘excellent’, effort and record- breaking, as by its childish notion of self0transcendance.”

Transcending the former self with the next best self. Transcending the self with a self that is better than the previous self, because that previous self is less capable than the future self when compared to others. Taking th cell phone (the ability to hear far and near) and extending it’s coolness with an upgrade. Extending the power of speed, browser performance, omniscience, connectivity, omnipotence, with special upgrades. It all becomes a game of accumulating skill and power against nearby opponents. In a system of increasingly detached and fragmented communities, the citizen seeks to recreate parents or a feeling of importance (his own value by allying himself with an increasing array of established value).

Consumer exhaustion – the need to differentiate the self against a monochromatic undifferentiated background of consumer exhaustion. The new Mastercard ad – “The Priceless Things in Life” shows a consumer realizing his own saturation – no longer receiving value from traditional methods of consumption. (Note: I used to have a video link here, but the original video was removed by Mastercard due to a bunch of parodies that were made about it. So — I posted something similar here).

The rate of differentiation increases until all events become marketable; all thoughts, all moments, all actions. The consumers market these events to themselves, trying to net the social attention that all humans need through non-human ends. An endless show and tell and show again. Linking to other sites simply to get more traffic to your site. Advertisers being able to target markets with decreasing liability over time.

The things which before produced value in culture begin to fall apart in their own muck. As a consumer – a spectator – you have a role in that. The attention economy means that even looking at a thing is consuming it, because your vision is tracked by the interface you use to view it. Before, word of mouth and Nielsen ratings helped advertisers and tv stations understand their view counts. Now, every time you click on an ad, map, or video online, your data and attention is tracked.
Harbinger, indicator

The overproduction of value creates consumer exhaustion, and products and ‘experiences’ must colonize inward. The fractal creation of value does not only mean the production of values with smaller and smaller differences between them, but that the actual place that these values are created in must also become smaller and self-similar.

The Internet is the next iteration of the space of fractal value creation. It is a light space because products and attention experiences may be created and tracked more easily. The existence of advertisements that show consumer exhaustion are a sign of the new digital economy – where values created online can be consumed online, or ordered online, or tracked online, which reduces the time/personnel liability of marketers.

At the right intersection (particle trajectory) “everything can become sexual, anything csn be an object of desire: power, knowledge”.

“When everything is sexual, nothing is sexual any more , and sex loses its determinants. When everything is aesthetic, nothing is beautiful or ufly anymore, and art itself disappears.”

Then what value are things gauged against?

Difference Vectors – now organic, sustainable, fair trade, all natural.
You have to really communicate that difference if you’re going to market that difference.

“Each particle follows its own trajectory”.

A new universe was created the moment modernity exploded on us. And now, in that “perfect realization of the whole tendency of modernity, and the negation of that idea and that tendency, their annihilation by virtue of their very success, by virture of their extension beyond their own bounds…”

Hypersaturation creates a risk of implosion. When the real world has become hypersaturated, it implodes into the Internet and hypersaturates every surface of every page on it. Every time

Old discourses don’t cne to an end – they get mined, dispersed, split up into pieces – diffused – fractalized.

“Art has been dissolved within a general aestheticization of everyday life, giving way to a pure circulation of images, a transaesthetics of banality.”

The subatomic system of culture. The recognition of that process – given that political dimension as well – harnessed in different spheres.

In his book on An Introduction to Supermodernity, Marc Auge points out that reality is being broken up into smaller and smaller chunks. Every time a photo is taken – every time a piece of reality is represented digitally, that image becomes an avatar of that experience. If it is a dispersed photo, it becomes a brand of that experience.

There is never silence in communication. Even in a tribe, many actors are talking at once, comparing signs and symbols, and acting on them. It is the same online – the same since the beginning of symbolic exchange – this means since the beginning of the universe, in which subatomic particles exchanged data with each other.

“Communication ‘occurs’ by means of sole instantaneous circuit, and for it to be ‘good’ communication is must take place fast – there is no time for silence.” Silence in communication means letting the other communicators get again. In business, it means the death of a company, the death of a product, the death of the consumer’s desire for your product. The brand is always communicating to the consumer, whether or not the consumer is actively purchasing. It acts outside of a person. It is removed from the company but tied completely to it. It is a more compressed version of a Facebook profile, where people advertise themselves according to a series of characteristics, photos, and alliances. Facebook participants are branded according to a set of values that they define. They are their own marketing agents.

“Howard Rheingold claims that many users of VR
technology undergo what he calls a “conversion experience,” a
moment in which the sense of having moved into a wholly fictional
reality grips the person with the certainty of a new found faith” (Rheingold, 14, in Virtual Reality).

The movie theater, the website, the tv show and its character fansites. These are the VR’s that need no headset, just content and community. The Internet is the new VR. VR does not have to be embedded, it just has to be something with more interaction than a TV set. When the user sits closer to the screen, their attention becomes greater and greater.

Image credit: Magnetic structures from Flight 404

One Comment

  1. Posted October 19, 2009 at 9:34 pm | #

    I am under the impression that I will never write anything better than this. A sort of sadness has befallen me. At least my future self can have something to fall back on.

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