Josh On

They Rule

Abbild der Macht

They Rule 2001_screenshot_map: the seven most powerful [link 01]

They Rule 2001_screenshot_map: the seven most powerful



‘They Rule’ ist ein Online-Tool, das es Anwendern ermöglicht, kartenartige Darstellungen der miteinander verflochtenen Direktorien der Top-100 Firmen der USA im Jahr 2001 zu erstellen. (...) Ziel war es, ein Bild der ‚inzestuösen’ Verbindungen einer sich abschottenden, herrschenden Gesellschaftsschicht zu zeigen. (...) Als visuelle Darstellung physischer Realität wird es dem Anwender möglich gemacht, Verbindungen zu sehen, die sonst nicht so offensichtlich gewesen wären. Als digitale Darstellung dieser physischen Realität wird es dem Nutzer ermöglicht, mit der Darstellung jener Realität im Zeitverlauf interaktiv umzugehen und Stück für Stück Aspekte davon offen zu legen. Da es sich um eine Online-Darstellung handelt, hat man die Möglichkeit, sich vom begrenzten Datenbestand des Projektes abzusetzen und mit externen Quellen in Verbindung zu treten.
(Josh On)

KünstlerInnen / AutorInnen

  • Josh On, artist and designer


Vereinigte Staaten, 2001


They rule ist hauptsächlich die Arbeit von Josh on. Er erhielt Unterstützung von Amy Balkin (Künstlerin), Amy Franceshini (Künstlerin – Futurefarmer), and Walter Logeman (Psychotherapeut). Sie gaben Design-Anregungen und arbeiteten mit an der Recherche.

Eingabe des Beitrags

, 19.05.2004


  • künstlerische Arbeit


  • Themen:
    • Vernetzung |
    • Soziale Systeme |
    • Information
  • Formate:
    • 2D |
    • interaktiv |
    • Computergraphik |
    • Internet
  • Technik:
    • Flash


Inhaltliche Beschreibung

They Rule aims to provide a glimpse of some of the relationships of the US ruling class. It takes as its focus the boards of some of the most powerful U.S. companies, which share many of the same directors. Some individuals sit on 5, 6 or 7 of the top 500 companies. It allows users to browse through these interlocking directories and run searches on the boards and companies. A user can save a map of connections complete with their annotations and email links to these maps to others. They Rule is a starting point for research about these powerful individuals and corporations.


Technische Beschreibung

They Rule is presented in Flash and makes use of PHP to connect to a MYSQL database.

Particular skills and resources necessary to realise the project:
Programming, design and anger
(Josh On)



Reactions to and evaluation of the project:
The project received a really positive reaction. I am not sure that any major consequences came from the project. I think it may have been intriguing to see just how much corporate interlock there was, but that just leads to confirming suspicions, or to a dismissal of its significance. They Rule is not as didactic as many of the projects that I have done and that has meant that much of the appreciation has been from a technical point of view.

The political dimensions of They Rule play a similar role to a political cartoon. In that respect its relation to physical political activity is pretty low. As a visual representation of a physical reality it allows you to see connection that might not have otherwise been so apparent. As a digital representation of this physical reality it allows users to interact with a representation of that reality over time and reveal aspects of it piece by piece. As an online representation it allows people to launch off from the restricted dataset of the project and connect with exterior sources.

(Josh On)

Theorie / Forschung

Innovative aspect of the project and particular research interest:
The field of sociometry is nearly a hundred years old and I am sure there are plenty of examples before that. Jacob Moreno is the first person that I know of to map social relations as a series of connected nodes. As for the desire to show the relations of the ruling class, people struggling against ruling classes have always wished to expose their inner corruption. Karl Marx, provides the best basis for understanding the particular cruelties of our current oppressors. Both of these aspects of They Rule – the mapping of human relations and the exposing of capitalist relations - have been done before. If there was any innovation it was to put these things together, and allow people to play with it for themselves. (Josh On)

Updates and follow-up projects:
Josh On about They Rule version 2004: I am really excited by it. I am taking away some functionality and expanding other parts. Amy Balkin and I are also discussing a similar project with a non-profit organization.


  • Referral Web
    » http://www.cs.washin…es/kautz/referralweb/ [link 02]
    » [link 03]
    » [link 04]
  • Visual Thesaurus
    » http://www.visualthe…com/desktop/index.jsp [link 05]
  • AFL CIO – executive pay watch
    » http://www.aflcio.or…rateamerica/paywatch/ [link 06]
  • › Medienkunst und Forschung [link 07]

» [link 08]

  • › They Rule 2001_screenshot_map: Old girls network [JPEG | 61 KB ] [link 09]
  • › They Rule 2004_screenshot_Find Path between two companies [JPEG | 27 KB ] [link 10]
  • › They Rule 2003_screenshot_connection between two companies [JPEG | 33 KB ] [link 11]
  • › They Rule 2004_screenshot_connection between two companies_extended [JPEG | 49 KB ] [link 12]