The analogue jogger and the digital jogger

May 9, 2012

In the chapter ”Postscript on control societies”, Deleuze compares what he calls ”disciplinary societies” of the 18th and 19th centuries with the emerging ”control societies” of today. The disciplinary society, he states, ”operate by organizing major sites of confinement.” He describes these two different forms of organizing society as having different inherent logics: ”Confinements are molds, different moldings, while controls are a modulation, like a self-transmuting molding continually changing from one moment to the next…” The logic of the disciplinary could thus be described as producing predetermened forms or rules, whereas the idea of the control society could correspond to a kind of regulated (even self-regulating?) system of internal forces. Deleuze also refers to the disciplinary society as being analogical and the control society as being digital. ”The old sovereign societies worked with simple machines, levers, pulleys, clocks…control societies function with a thrid generation of machines, with information technique and computers.”

Translating these ideas into the activity of jogging, the disciplinary jogger would run her or his 10 kilometers every tuesday, thursday and sunday. The route taken would always be the same, and the time elapsed always comparable. This could be described as a quite clearly defined and mechanical way of jogging. Predictibility, measurability and monotony are other traits of such an approach to running.

The jogger of the control society would probably be the person who is always carrying a step-counter and whose every move in a day becomes part of a never-ending training activity. One could imagine the step-counter being connected to information on what or when the jogger last ate, number of sleeping hours, live-feed information on pulse and blood sugar level. The step-counter, or rather computerized jogging advisor, would continually analyze the data and suggest an adequate step frequency. Possibly, it could also be updated with weather forecasts, and suggest a visit to the closest gym on a rainy day. It could also be compatible with the jogger’s digital calender, advising to make use of the 7 minutes of waiting for the bus or the slot between lunch and an afternoon appointment.

Deleuze writes ”In disciplinary societies you were always starting all over again…while in control societies you never finish anything” He goes on ”Control is short-term and rapidly shifting, but at the same time continous and unbounded, whereas discipline was long-term, infinite, and discontinous. A man is no longer a man confined but a man in debt.” As in the case of the jogger it is a matter of being tied to a static but legible scheme or being in constant debt to a flexible but slightly incomprehensible computerized network system.

– Cecilia Lundbäck


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