Jean Lievens: Social Media Killing Peer-to-Peer

Collective Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence, IO Impotency
Jean Lievens
Jean Lievens

deadSwap Artistic Statement

A major impact of the commercialization of the Internet has been the undermining of its peer-to-peer architecture. As Capital must always control the circulation of value in order to appropriate surplus, its champions view peer networks as a threat. The Web, although it sits on top of the Internet, is not a peer-to-peer technology but rather a client-server system where the interactions of the users are controlled and mediated by that site’s operators.

With such centralization and control, the operators are in the position of capturing the value created by the users of these sites by way of selling this audience of users as a commodity to publishers of marketing and propaganda.

More importantly, the Capitalist-financed operators of such sites, can sell the data of the users, which often includes significant personal and demographic details, raw data for biometrics and detailed relationship graphs, to those that want to use this data to study, manipulate or control these users. These private, centralized services can also silence and lock out any user from participating or act to prevent any type of usage that is contrary to their own interests.

The new “Social Web” has fundamentally replaced the peer-to-peer Internet, and remaining peer communications technology has become marginal or even contraband as participants on peer networks face increasing legal attack and active sabotage from groups representing the interests of Capital.

The Internet is dead. In order to evade the flying monkeys of capitalist control, peer communication can only abandon the Internet for the dark alleys of covert operations. Peer-to-peer is now driven offline and can only survive in clandestine cells.

deadSwap is an offline file sharing system where participants covertly pass a USB stick from one to another. The route of the USB memory stick and the identity of the other participants is not known by the users but controlled by local, independently operated SMS gateways that are kept as a carefully shared secret by their users.