Extrastatecraft, the Game of Go and Digitalization as an Oxymoron

In “A Thousand Plateaus”, in a chapter entitled “Treatise on Nomadology: The War Machine”, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari utilize the model of the game Go to illustrate the dispositions of the “war machine” – an array of conflict that is “exterior to the state”.

What might be the implications of this notion when it comes to the infrastructure of the internet?

Any infrastructure is a setting that controls our lives to a certain extent.

“Microwaves bounce between billions of cell phones. Computers synchronize. Shipping containers stack, lock, and calibrate the global transportation and production of goods. Credit cards, all sized 0,76 mm, slip through the slots in cash machines anywhere in the world. All of these ubiquitous and seemingly innocuous features of our world are evidence of global infrastructure. – In the retinal afterglow is a soupy matrix of details and repeatable formulas that generate most of the space in the world –“

So begins the dystopian story of the infrastructure of our time, “Extrastatecraft” by Keller Easterling. This epic book describes the prevailing conditions of the global digital and physical capitalist system.

In this book, Easterling sets out to analyze the current situation via the themes of “zone”, “disposition”, “broadband”, “stories”, and “quality”. The approach, case studies and perspective in this book are very leftist, but will carry relevance to anybody interested in these topics.

As reflected upon by Easterling, the sociologist and anthropologist Bruno Latour has written that networks and infrastructure are composed of both social and technological actors. Think about the most popular social networks. According to Easterling, they may be “conglomerates of many surprising sets of agencies”.

Whichever corporations control the algorithms of these conglomerates, however, have rapidly taken over the framework and infrastructure where we operate in our daily lives.

I would argue, in the spirit of Easterling, that the algorithm of Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, for instance, are very powerful ones, in as much as they control our current social lives and actions online.

As Easterling describes, for Deleuze and Guattari, “the war machine conquests operate in the “smooth” space of Go, instead of the “striated” space of chess.” The main distinction here is that whereas chess offers hierarchy, and each game piece operates via established hierarchical routines, Go only allows areas of black and white stones to move on a grid as each attempts to conquer ever-changing territories.

What are the implications of this notion for the 21st century and the digital industries?

Coming back to algorithms, and taking the algorithms of our most powerful social media tools as example, any attempt to run an agile and successful software company should be based on the game Go, rather than the game of chess.

My next question, then, is, how to make the algorithm appealing to masses, and  what might then be the driving values that eventually make successful companies with this operating system, as these must matter as well? Or do the values matter?

Digitalization is an oxymoron in the sense that it implies to a change, whereas now it seems that in our current economy it only adds a layer of infrastructure upon it.

I firmly believe now more than ever any aspiring startup entrepreneur must consider the social and global impact of their service and product, and play a game of Go.

Get “Extrastatecraft – the Power of Infrastructure Space”, 2014, by Keller Easterling on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Extrastatecraft-Power-Infrastructure-Keller-Easterling/dp/1784783641/

or

Get “A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia”, 1987, by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari:

https://www.amazon.com/Thousand-Plateaus-Capitalism-Schizophrenia/dp/0816614024/

A Website Makeover Overnight and Other Recent Events

So the Steps Helsinki website finally got a complete makeover this weekend!

Feel free to check the new site out at http://stepshelsinki.fi.

I am fairly happy with the resulting look and feel, as well as with the new design-related photos and colors that I used in the design.

Migrating the site over to a WordPress Business Plan as well as a complete redesign of the site was in my interests since the very beginning of this year – but I have been putting this project off for some time now, since my weekends seem to fill up with social events.

Last night, I also took the time to revamp the rest of the contents of the site, and will also shortly start writing a blog about marketing and service design and related topics in Finnish to spice up the website.

So stay tuned for that, dear readers!

Steps Helsinki now has 80 followers over in Twitter, and nearly as many followers as that in Facebook and LinkedIn combined.

Joining Twitter, finally, has been fruitful and rewarding. I still need to speed up and to boost my sales, as the two deals I was aiming for to get started with fell through before the end of the year. I am very much looking forward to closing some deals soon.

My agency will be moving in next month with Pentagon Design Oy. This is great news, as their premises are located conveniently enough in the hip Suvilahti area of Helsinki, and only a 10-15 minute walk away from my place in Kallio.

And who knows, perhaps there will be some joint efforts design projects coming up too.

The “Upea Ura!” -festival event is coming up soon. I have been planning the event as for the theme of strategic and creative thinking together with Riikka Pellikka. Our invited keynote speaker in the event as for this theme will be Anne Stenros, the Chief Design Officer of the City of Helsinki. Also, Maija Tanninen-Mattila, the Director of the Helsinki Art Museum, and Piritta Kantojärvi, the CEO of Grape People, as well as Marianne Tenhula, a Service Designer currently working at the design agency Palmu, will be giving talks.

I will be facilitating a few practical exercises during the event. Looking forward to the festival!

In other news, it seems my studies at the University of Helsinki are currently at a complete standstill since last autumn. I did give a presentation on the issue of street art and the Berlin Wall last year in an international summer school conference of the Nordic Summer University (NSU), however, my beloved master’s thesis is a work very much in progress right now.

I will just have to see if this upcoming summer may offer me a chance to work on that.

I am mentoring a group of four students and my peers this semester. Most of them are currently looking for a job. It seems to me like my university background has always come second to my studies in the university of applied sciences when it comes to getting employed and my next career moves.

I hope, nevertheless, that I can inspire this group of students to get to know their strengths in the current job market and to find an intriguing position. I think university background gives a huge advantage for many vacancies.

Like many in the academia here, I am worried that we will shortly be facing tuition fees in universities and other arrangements that will greatly affect the equality of access to higher education.

I think it goes almost without saying that a university-level education certainly gives a substantially stronger background for getting employed in many fields besides studying in a polytechnic institute. The current budget cuts in the university world of Finland may come at a cost in the long run, because we do need workforce with higher education in Finland, to boost the economy and the startup-spirit.

DYDJ and Stepping Out on an Adventure

These last two months have just flown by! And what an intense period of 8 weeks it has been! So the big news is this.

I will be opening a small marketing and service design agency, Steps Helsinki, in central Helsinki, on 4.11.2016.

My main business idea is to promote strategic service design for the Finnish companies that have so far not established their own service design departments – and the secondary business idea is to offer other agencies and big companies that would like to outsource a part of their service design tasks the chance to do so.

So the official opening and the housewarming party for the agency is in 5 days, next Friday, 4.11.2016. The invites have already gone out, and I will open the website for the agency in a few days as well. My new business cards should also arrive next week.

The new cards will state, that my new professional position is a planner and a strategist, as well as the CEO of Steps Helsinki Oy.

The very final decision to start my own business was made approximately 2 months ago, during the two-day workshop I attended called “Design Your Dream Job”.

That excellent and well-planned workshop was organized by Hellon, an award-winning service design agency operating in London and here in Helsinki, at their office.

The workshop was hosted and facilitated by a group of three ladies, Zeynep Falay von Flittner, the current Lead Designer of Hellon, plus Ida Rainio and Pamela Spokes of Hellon.

And what a ride it has been since.

I could not be happier that I had the chance to participate in the workshop, along with many other peers with university background. I found the “DYDJ” workshop an enjoyable experience, and most importantly, the workshop certainly gave me new insight into my own business idea as well as insight on my best professional skills and passions.

I must also state, that this workshop was in a fundamentally important role in pushing me towards staring my own agency, even though I had considered that option before.

Around 15 years ago, I also happened to attend the Junior Achievement study program when I was studying in Ressu Upper Secondary School in Helsinki.

Our company, Nexus Ny, consisting of four 18-year-old teenagers about to take their matriculation exam, was based on B2B idea, with the sales targeted at marketing research companies. Our company fared well, and was awarded with the “Best Company” annual award of that study program back then. I was not the CEO, though, back then, in that company, but the Sales and Marketing Manager.

The company co-founders back then were Xian Sun, Ilona Mäkinen and Gary Klaukka.

A few years later, I was also employed as a project manager by the Junior Achievement of Finland.

However, entrepreneurship, for quite a long time, has certainly not seemed like a very lucrative profession, even though some of my friends with a JA background have chosen that path early on, and have been very successful.

Take, for example, Mikko Jaatinen, a co-founder of the Nordic Business Forum.

Having given my upper secondary school times, my passion for problem-solving and my professional skillset some thought during the intense workshop by Hellon, I set myself a goal to found my own business by the end of this year.

And another happy coincidence soon came my way.

Upon walking around the Kamppi area of Helsinki, on another Friday night in September, while being on my way to the opening party of Columbia Road, co-founded by Futurice, nearby… I stumbled upon an empty office space located, in fact, on the same street, as CR.

Now, approximately 2 months later, my little agency occupies this space in the Kamppi area of Helsinki. Hope the logo will be on the front door starting next week also.

So I think it is safe to say, that once you really put your mind to the task ahead, the universe will suddenly start working on ways to ease your journey…

For those of you that are interested in my services, I will publish a website for company, at http://stepshelsinki.fi, on the day of the opening, that is, on Friday 4.11.2016.

In the meanwhile, you can skim through all the relevant details on the new agency at https://facebook.com/stepshelsinki/.