Velocity runs through any consideration of capitalist development, from the carrier birds used to share information that Benjamin mentions were in use in the 19th century, to the edge provided by hyper-fast fibre optic cabling used for high-speed transactions (HSTs) in the current period. Further speed is added by the use of software algorithms for financial market decisions, eliminating time wasted on human hesitation and reflection. Conversely, in the sphere of consumption, time spent on purchase is reduced by the replacement of barter, arguably a social interaction. Whatever its purpose, to barter has a social dimension missing from, e.g., making an automated purchase in a supermarket.
In the first of a three part series examining the relevance of Walter Benjamin today, Jim Fearnley deliberates over the timeless Arcades Project.