Global Frequency’s Standing-Reserve

One thing that stood out to me as we talked today about the aspects of the Global Frequency organization was how each agent was called upon in each crisis. It struck me that the organization seemed to be using the people not as individuals but as resources to be utilized. They were brought “on” to the frequency because of the knowledge and expertise they represent. To follow the internet analogy, each person is like a Wikipedia article of the knowledge they possess or skill they have.

Their value also is determined by their proximity to the crisis in each issue. One notable example is with Sita in the London bomb issue. The organization tracks the activities and locations of all of its agents and Aleph will activate anyone who is in the area who can respond. Event though Sita doesn’t have the expertise to disarm a biological weapon, she is called to stop the event. Aleph then requests the agent in the CDC to give knowledge on the virus, Ebola in this case.

One final point is how each person is referred to by number. Instead of giving their name when called, they refer to themselves by their identifying number. This lends a dehumanizing aspect to their relationship with Global Frequency.

All these things in my opinion point to the notion that even though Global Frequency is an organization that in the end is trying to fix the messes left behind by previous generations, they are regarding their agents as instruments of the frequency.

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5 Responses to Global Frequency’s Standing-Reserve

  1. dfw1alskare says:

    These are awesome observations! I wanted to build on what you said, especially the last bit about how the members of Global Frequency are “instruments” as opposed to humans. This reminds me a lot of the concept of posthuman that we spoke about in class and how these people are, in one way or another, cyborgs or no longer human. Also interesting to note that though they are all used as Wiki pages, the agents represent multiplicity in a society that Haraway sees in her utopia. These people all just exist among one another and provide the knowledge or expertise they have to offer to their community, to Global Frequency.

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  2. KAK249 says:

    I am interested in how you brought up that Global Frequency utilizes its agents as resources (as opposed to individuals). I do not agree. I feel that every agent was carefully watched and individually chosen for a highly specific reason. I like how you pointed out how Sita is unfamiliar with disarming bombs. This is one of the only examples in the comic where the person who is physically closest to the crisis is NOT a specialist. Many of the other crises “conveniently” have the specialist nearby.

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  3. specifictortoise says:

    The Frequency is very interesting in the way it uses people. Even though it’s not entirely uncommon in Sci-Fi settings, it’s still a bit unsettling when the “heroes” treat people like assets. On one hand, there’s bound to be internal conflict, and we do see many of the agents complain about being called on, but I can also see the other side of it. I’d imagine some of these people are just happy to be doing something that matters with the skills they have. Many of the agents are also shown complaining about their “normal” lives, and even the ones who try to refuse the call end up helping anyway.

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  4. shhairah says:

    I think what you’re all saying has merit, especially this idea that the agents are/aren’t just resources. I understand what kak249 is saying about seeing these agents as more than simply resources, however I feel that lostmythics is right in this idea, because the agents are being utilized by their numbers. However, I also, I feel it’s necessary to keep in mind there are a thousand and one agents, and as such for many of these major places that they are bringing up there would be more than a single agent in their area so each person is being used for their abilities (not all the time, but often), even if they are just a number.
    But this is also a thought on identification numbers… each student at Pitt has three different numbers associated with them: email address/number, peoplesoft number, and 2P number on IDs. So this idea of resource vs. actual human can be played into our own lives as well and beyond just these Global Frequency agents.

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  5. danwillisdan says:

    specifictortoise pointed toward something really interesting: the idea that some of these agents are aware that they’re being treated as standing-reserve, and that that can be a source of internal conflict for some of the more complexly characterized agents in the book. A couple of the other blog posts mentioned Takshi, who on page 2 of issue #9 insists to Aleph, “You’ve got one thousand other people on the global frequency, just waiting for the call to mount a rescue operation. Call someone else.” His disdain for those agents who willingly sacrifice their lives away to be constantly on call is reinforced by the fact that he is in bed, possibly sleeping, when he gets the call. His being treated as distant standing-reserve made him feel replaceable and undervalued.

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