Supposedly, capitalism manages without planning because the “invisible hand” of the market mediates between our self-interests, between supply and demand, without this having to be planned or prejudged in advance. But especially when we think of the role of large corporations, which even in the age of so-called globalisation plan most of the flow of goods internally, it becomes clear that economic planning never disappeared. Amazon is the largest and most popular online retailer in the world and thus, in the view of architect Clare Lyster, the epitome of contemporary logistical intelligence. This article follows the view of Amazon and logistics and searches for the potentials of the appropriation of planning techniques. Special attention is paid to the warehouse, known at Amazon as the fulfilment centre, as a place where essential aspects of logistics and the interplay of algorithmic management and logistical media become visible. Phillips and Rozworkski claim: “Amazon offers production and distribution techniques that are just waiting to be seized and repurposed.” In my contribution, I address this rather bold assumption. So how is Amazon planning and what might be appropriated? A look at algorithmic management and logistical media at Amazon should provide a differentiated answer to this question.
// Armin Beverungen (2021)
Kybernetischer Kapitalismus? Amazon, Algorithmisches Management und Aneignung
Die unsichtbare Hand des Plans Koordination und Kalkül im digitalen Kapitalismus., edited by Timo Daum and Sabine Nuss, 95–109. Berlin: Karl Dietz.