1. A book
By Benjamin Bratton.
2. A concept
See also Stack.
In Section 3, focus is given to the model of the Stack itself. Alongside the introduction of its fundamental assumptions, we note its complex dynamics with respect to global production networks and the sovereignty of state and non-state actors. We observe how the reproduction of infrastructure of and for planetary-scale computation depends on Fordist accumulation and exploitation in the Global South, as well as on the role of China as the Stack’s most central production and trading hub of semiconductor-based infrastructure and interfaces.
While it identifies a generic structure of planetary-scale computation, it leaves the question of hegemony and therefore of any crucial political economic implications intentionally unresolved, since the digital infrastructure is subject to competing forms of sovereignty.
Bratton proposes treating the structure of planetary-scale computation through the vertical topological model of “the Stack”. He describes the Stack as a complex system, an “accidental megastructure, a platform of platforms” comprised of six layers: Earth, Cloud, City, Address, Interface and User.
With respect to political economy, the main novelty of the Stack is the introduction of platforms as autonomous forms of organisation. A platform is defined as “a standards-based technical-economic system that simultaneously distributes interfaces through their remote coordination and centralizes their integrated control through that same coordination”
In our reading, the emergence of the Stack as an accidental megastructure reflects the tendency towards an integrated global capitalism. This form of capitalism means an intensification of labour and environmental exploitation on a planetary scale, coupled with the emergence of new forms of sovereignty (i.e. platform sovereignty).
This insight supports the hypothesis that the Stack represents an intensification of the vertical integration of global capitalism, but neither through the emergence of a new form of capital, nor through a new mutation in its mode of production13, nor from the sublation of the law of labour-value.14
2.1. What's in 'the stack'?
According to Benjamin Bratton:
Hmm. Quite general… I'm more interested in practical parts of the tech stack. Maybe they're contained in the above somewhere.