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The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  112 ratings  ·  14 reviews
A comprehensive political and design theory of planetary-scale computation proposing that The Stack—an accidental megastructure—is both a technological apparatus and a model for a new geopolitical architecture.

What has planetary-scale computation done to our geopolitical realities? It takes different forms at different scales—from energy and mineral sourcing and subterrane
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published February 19th 2016 by The MIT Press (first published December 18th 2015)
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Richard Thompson
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book was a big disappointment. I was intrigued by the idea of a book that would examine how planetary scale computing can displace and change government by taking over or developing parallel competing systems for things that have traditionally been exclusively the role of government, such as currency and identity management, and how software gives government new roles and capabilities and changes the idea of what government is and does. But despite the title and cover copy suggesting that t ...more
Alexander Smith
Jun 18, 2017 rated it liked it
One thing that's certainly impressive with this book is the sheer mass of interdisciplinary synthesis required to understand this book. If you are looking for an encyclopedia of work on the relationship of everything to the "agent" this is your book.

That said, there's no way to justify half of this book as being reasonable theory. Mostly the author speaks in prose, with little thought to justification outside of outdated news and popular interdisciplinary design and Continental philosophy refere
Gevorg Yeghikyan
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not unlike many in the contemporary academia, Bratton is too weary and careful to advocate for a new vision of the order of things. He goes on and on and on without really hitting the bull's eye.
The idea of the Stack is a very powerful one. However, Bratton fails to deliver a strong argument and takes the reader into a foray of descriptive statements and rhetorical questions. The book will certainly disappoint the genuinely interested reader.
Nov 10, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: education
Rick Harrington
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: america
One hopes, or even assumes, that those on the inside of the paywall-averse surveillance capitalist cloud-polises - the empires of Google, New Microsoft, Facebook and their ilk, possibly to include the author's distaff-destroyed birthplace, Yahoo! - are reading this book, as though it were some sort of cult-classic and they the elect insiders.

Probably not though, as they are more akin to Snowden or Assange, whose bit-parts betray a kind of classification which exceeds imprisonment, within whatev
Dec 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
It is an intriguing read, but oh boy, finishing it feels like such an epic achievement. Bratton comes up with an unique perspective and great observations organized into a neat model. He has a very specific style of writing, at times poetic and mindblowing but a one that easily gets annonying. That makes the book self-servingly arcane, which is a pity, beacause it raises substanstiansial questions, which should not be acessible only to unicorns with ironclad focus or borderline masochists.
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: academic
Extremely dense and pretentious prose covers up what could have been an enlightening read on one of the most important issues in the modern world. The occasional clear spell demonstrates that Bratton can write well when he wants to, but one gets the impression his main goal is to impress sociologists (and word counters) rather than communicate genuinely with non-academic readers. That said, even by academic standards this is a verbose and poorly-written text that would benefit from significant e ...more
Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it
There are some interesting ideas here, but they are buried among somewhat confused writing and language that is arcane to the extent that it decidedly detracts from the arguments being made. While there is something Fulleresque about the scope of this work, it falls much short of a book like "Critical Path" and ultimately feels to be less than the sum of its parts. ...more
Roger Whitson
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Probably the most important work of design / theory / computation out there right now. My brain hasn't processed its implications yet, and it may never do so — maybe something else is processing my brain through this book. I'll write more when things are more clear. ...more
Vikas Erraballi
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
McLuhan meets Mackinder.
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Would give 4.5 if I could. An excellent book that could use a better editor, or just more editing.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Uno de los mejores libros sobre teoría contemporánea y futura del espacio.
Patrick Devitt
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
David Carrasquillo
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tecnología
I found this book flat out scary and terrifying. Bratton truly understands on several levels how technology works for and against society. Rarely the term sovereignty is treated the right way. I would say that to talk politics today, this book is a must. I've never read anything at this level before. It goes to detail and does not limit itself to theory. This book requires to read Marcuse's "One Dimensional Mind" before hand, at least. Basic knowledge of data bases also helps to understand bette ...more
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Benjamin H. Bratton is a theorist whose work spans philosophy, computer science, and design. He is Associate Professor of Visual Arts and Director of the Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego. He is also Visiting Professor of Critical Studies at SCI-Arc (the Southern California Institute of Architecture) and Professor of Digital Design at the European Graduat ...more

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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
30 likes · 11 comments
“Yes, you are a battery.” 2 likes
“The real nightmare, worse than the one in which the Big Machine wants to kill you, is the one in which it sees you as irrelevant, or not even as a discrete thing to know.” 2 likes
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