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What is protocol?

Alexander Galloway’s 2004 book ‌Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization offers an insight into protocol where it intersects with two historically specific technologies: the digital computer and the distributed network.

A few key elements:

Protocol is a system of distributed management that facilitates peer-to-peer relationships between autonomous entities.

Protocol’s virtues include robustness, contingency, inter-operability, flexibility, heterogeneity, and pantheism.

A goal of protocol is totality. It must accept everything, no matter what source, sender, or destination. It consumes diversity, aiming instead for university.

Facilitated by protocol, the Internet is the mostly highly controlled mass media hitherto known.

Code is the only language that is executable, meaning that it is the first discourse that is materially affective.

Protocol creates a (physical or not) system of organization, which makes adhering to the protocol appealing. The user actually “wants” to follow the protological behavior, for a number of different reasons: it makes sense, it is virtuous, it is effective.

Natural language (such as French, English, or any other), largely disseminated, is a remarkable form of protocol: it is self-willingly spoken, advocated for, conformed to—hence “pantheism”.

Language, being code, is executable—but it can, just like computer code, also be hacked, trafficated.

Studying language also means studying a kind of protocol: a distributed code that can be used by anyone, with all its powers and weaknesses.