"[E]ven beyond the fields of technology and philosophy, the concept of the network has infected broad swaths of contemporary life." (p. 25)


Networks, of course, are not new. Anyone studying the trade routes of ancient Rome or those European colonizers will readily admit the importance and salience of networks in world affairs and in the constitution of subjectivity. Thacker and Galloway arguably risk undermining this historical component and the racial, territorial, and exploitive baggage that have created the conditions for Western networks and their spawn to emerge (which include "terror" networks). Indeed, the authors evacuate the term "network" of any geographic specificity. The term can be applied to U.S. imperialism as well as to the various terrorist networks like Al-Qaeda, which are at least perceived to have originated in the East and Middle East.

For Thacker and Galloway, this risk is buttressed by their distinction between "disciplinary societies," which rely on subjective agency and material semiotics to "manipulate" their "subjects," and "societies of control" (a phrase borrowed from Deleuze): "non-human" networks that rely on abstract "codes" or "protocol" to "modulate" their "nodes" (p. 35). European colonialism from the sixteenth through twentieth centuries obviously belongs to the first category (disciplinary socieites). Or does it? To separate slave-owning United States, for example, from the economically and militarily prosperous United States of today (whose Department of Defense helped to create the Internet) potentially undermines the authors' project to establish "an ontology of networks—and not simply an ideology or a technology of networks" (p. 12). Do the ideological issues surrounding internet access for "underpriviledged" students not affect the political ontology that Thacker and Galloway seek to map out? That is, are networks not as ideological as they are ontological?

But as the authors assert, their work is not meant to replace ideological analysis or traditional modes of resistence. Rather, it is intended as a supplement and an update to our current understanding of networks (p. 82). And in this respect, The Exploit is a thoroughly innovative and important work for rhetoricians and computer theorists to contextualize such key terms as "multimodal," "virus," "digital code," and "cyborg." Thacker and Galloway make apparant that these terms do not simply result from the morphology of language; these are terms now understood paridigmatically. It is the network paradigm that comes across most clearly in The Exploit: A Theory of Networks.