Pleasing Little Sisters: Affective (Self-) Control Systems
“Within the family metaphor, the closest image of an affective system is not one of a powerful big brother, but of a pleasing little sister,” writes Rosalind Picard, the author of Affective Computing (1997). This figure of the little sister (re-)imports not only a long tradition of attributions into the world of technology – women as helpmeets, women as invisible assistants, as naturally more sensitive, harmless and undemanding companions, but also the image of women as (technical) seductresses – but additionally it reshapes the ‘image of technology’ as such. Whereas Sadie Plant, one of the co-authors of The Cyberfeminist Manifesto (1991) was claiming the digital space as a new realm of activity for women – never having being included in the history of the western male subject, women are now already acting very adequately as the first – real – cyborgs – rhizomatic, multifunctional and technically fully instructed – today’s situation has merged this cyborg figure with the above mentioned figure of the little sister. I would like to argue that we are facing today a new relational organizing power via affect and technology restructuring the psychic and societal scene likewise.