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Stingless and making no honey

Author: joe

Friday, 29 July, 2011 - 21:50

The drone is a male of the bee species, "stingless and making no honey".

drone (n.)
O.E. dran, dræn "male honeybee," from P.Gmc. *dran- (cf. M.Du. drane; O.H.G. treno; Ger. Drohne, which is from M.L.G. drone), probably imitative; given a figurative sense of "idler, lazy worker" (male bees make no honey) 1520s. Meaning "pilotless aircraft" is from 1946. Meaning "deep, continuous humming sound" is early 16c., apparently imitative (cf. threnody). The verb in the sound sense is early 16c. Related: Droned; droning.
 
Harper, D., 2010, Drone, in Online Etymological Dictionary, [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=drone]

The stingless, unproductive bee is an idler, feckless and lazy. What does he do but bumble and buzz, with a deceptive lethargy, the wings beating hundreds of times every second: what an expenditure on inactivity. His bumbling is a monotony, a drone, the long low hum of the sustained repetition of difference, working into the hertz of audibility. The drone is reproduction, mediation, perception, sensation, representation, simulation.

The "sightless gaze" of the unmanned system tends to acquire exceptional power since its bearer cannot be pinned down. The reinforced gaze of the embedded eye acquires its power precisely because it can.
 
Perhaps it is both that turn out to be equally "unmanned" -- the latter being more insidious because it traffics in the guise of its opposite.
 
Crandall, J., 9 April 2003, Unmanned - Embedded Reporters, Predator Drones and Armed Perception, [http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=378]

The drone as idler is adopted to signify the drone as mindless worker: one is unproductive, the other is not. Why the apparent contradiction? The unproductive effort of one points to the futility of existence; the productive effort of the other points to servitude, the mindless repetition of actions controlled by another, a master. The drone is thus pointless through self-indulgence, or powerless through exploitation. The drone is alienated and emasculated.

The singular telescope of Gallileo has evolved into a bug-eyed drone from Northrop-Grumman. It is no longer a research instrument, but an extension of society. Technology is no longer something that can be banned or controlled. Fear of the Swarm is forever joined to love of the Swarm. As Drone Ethnography has liberated our epistemology, from the popular mindset to high level government actors, the drone-mythos captivates our imaginations. The more we use it, the further we leave the point of no return behind us in the slipstream.
 
Rothstein, A., 20 Jul 2011, Drone Ethnography, [http://rhizome.org/editorial/2011/jul/20/drone-ethnography/]

The drone as unmanned craft is an extension of the mind and body of human beings at war, a distribution of cognition into the framework of equipment. The drone is a delegation of responsibility to the machine, which is at the same time a means of tuning our actions to the agency of technology. The drone is the war of analysis in aerial surveillance, fetishistic transference at 50,000 feet. We watch the machine watching us control the machine controlling us. Drones.

The unmanned system does not eliminate the human so much as redistribute the agencies of warfare. The capacities of sensing, dispatching, analyzing, and alerting -- the intelligence and skill required to interpret and store information and act on the results -- are shared by an affiliation of actors, however algorithmic, organic, or systemic. The focus is on their performative practices within the functional organization of the system. It is a matter of how they are maintained as dynamically stable entities -- sustained, naturalized, and rendered discrete -- and the programs through which this is accomplished.
 
Crandall, J., 27 Jul 2011, Unmanned, email to nettime-l{AT}kein.org, [http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-1107/msg00095.html]

Categories: drone, male bee, alienation, powerlessness, mediation, agency, machine, fetishism,
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