“Black Box versus Black Bloc” presented by Ridgway


Session Title:

  • Social Experiences (full papers)

Presentation Title:

  • Black Box versus Black Bloc

Presentation Subtheme:

  • Symbiotic Individuations




  • With around 5.5 billion requests per day, Google is the most used ‘search engine’ worldwide. Google Search identifies users online by collecting personal data––including an IP address, yet when using the Tor browser, a users’ IP address remains obscured. Black Box versus Black Bloc employs Alexander Galloway’s eponymous essay to structure the effects of Google Search (The Personalised Subject) compared to that of the Tor Browser (The Anonymous User). Departing from the ‘data subject’, I adopt the internet protocol (IP) address as an organisational hinge to show the effects of search on (us)ers––‘subjectivities of search’ and ‘agencies of anonymity’, organised into ‘collaborative collec- tives’ according to degrees of human-algorithmic interaction. The key difference is that I choose to be in the ‘anonymous Tor col- lective’, trusting my privacy to unknown human actors instead of putting trust in Google that assigns me to particular groups through their non-transparent process of collaborative filtering, without human agency.