Ciències Socials

Espai i modernitat: propietats, presons i fronteres (o una història del filferro espinós)

Reviel Netz, historiador i filòsof de la ciència de la Universitat de Stanford, va publicar ja fa alguns anys el llibre Barbed Wire: An Ecology of Modernity (Middeltown, CT: Wesleyan University Press; 2004) que acaba de ser traduït al castellà (Alambre de Púas: Una ecología de la modernidad. Buenos Aires: EUDEBA; 2013; traducció a càrrec de Jaume Sastre). El llibre comença així:

“Sobre la superfície bidimensional de la terra, traci línies a través de les quals el moviment s’ha d’impedir i tindrà un dels temes clau de la història. Amb una línia tancada (és a dir, una corba que encercla una figura) per impedir el moviment de l’exterior de la línia cap el seu interior, n’obtindrà la idea de propietat. Amb la mateixa línia, però per impedir el moviment des de l’interior cap a l’exterior, n’obtindrà la idea de presó. Amb una línia oberta (és a dir, una corba que no encercla cap figura) per impedir el moviment en qualsevol de les dues direccions, n’obtindrà la idea de frontera. Propietats, presons i fronteres: l’espai entra a la història per impedir el moviment” (p. xi).

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Per tal que aquestes línies – entitats abstractes – puguin exercir la seva funció, cal implementar-les físicament mitjançant diferents dispositius tècnics. Un mur o una paret acostumen a ser instruments útils per impedir el moviment de forma gairebé absoluta; les tanques el fan difícil, però no impossible. Les inscripcions simbòliques, que apel•len a normes o hàbits socials, també poden funcionar. En tots els casos, però, cal exercir una coerció basada en la força física, actual o potencial, donat que el que es mou són cossos (humans o animals) i per impedir el seu moviment cal afectar-los d’alguna forma.

Aquest llibre és la història d’un dels artefactes més utilitzats en la història recent per impedir el moviment dels cossos animals: el filferro espinós. En sintonia amb les tendències recents més innovadores en la historiografia de la tecnologia, Netz no se centra únicament en el procés d’innovació i desenvolupament sinó, per sobre de tot, en els usos de la tecnologia, en les pràctiques on esdevé peça clau, i en els seus vincles heterogenis.

Estem acostumats a pensar la modernitat com l’era de la mobilitat: des del segle XIX hem vist l’emergència i consolidació de noves i més sofisticades formes de transport (el tren, els vaixells de vapor, l’automòbil, l’avió,…) però la tesi de Netz que és les tecnologies per impedir el moviment són, de fet, més fonamentals i més importants. Els transport ferroviari requereix, per exemple, la restricció de l’accés a les estacions i en molt casos a les vies. Les tanques, murs i altres sistemes de control de la mobilitat acompanyen sempre les grans vies de connexió i transport, des de les autopistes als aeroports.
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Netz ens demostra, en una obra excel•lent i magníficament escrita, com la modernitat suposa i es recolza en l’eclosió dels sistemes de control massiu del moviment. I el primer d’ells es basa en un artefacte relativament senzill però que explota sàviament un fet primari: el ferro permet infligir dolor sobre la pell dels animals de forma barata i efectiva. El llibre explica de forma detallada amena i molt intel•ligent el recorregut sinuós del filferro espinós, des de la seva aplicació inicial per controlar el moviment de les vaques a les Grans Planes dels EEUU a finals del s. XIX, fins els Gulags de la URSS en la dècada dels 50 del s. XX, on va ser utilitzat per confinar milions de persones, passant per la guerra dels Boers (on s’inventa el camp de concentració), la Primera Guerra Mundial o els camps d’extermini nazis.

40 comments

  1. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  2. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

  3. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

  4. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

  5. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  6. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  7. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  8. I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

  9. Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

  10. Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It’s very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

  11. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.

  12. Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

  13. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  14. Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It’s very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

  15. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

  16. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  17. I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

  18. I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

  19. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

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  21. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

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  23. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  24. Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It’s very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

  25. I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

  26. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.

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