Discussion:
A Reflection on the Activist Strategies in the Web 2.0 Era
(too old to reply)
Tatiana Bazzichelli
2009-01-14 14:16:24 UTC
Permalink
Hi,

I would like to share with the IDC readers a personal review of
the past Activism-Hacking-Artivism Camping, the first collective
meeting of the Italian aha at ecn.org mailing-list, which focuses
on hacktivism and netculture. I would also like to propose some
reflections on social networking vs. freedom of communication in the
Web 2.0 social platforms, which was a much discussed issue during our
meeting.

*A Reflection on the Activist Strategies in the Web 2.0 Era*
Towards a new language criticism
by Tatiana Bazzichelli

// A networking art platform //

The ahaCamping took place on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of October 2008
at the S.A.L.E independent exhibition space in Venice (The Salt
Warehouses, Dorsoduro 187-188). It was organized and managed directly
by the subscribers of the AHA mailing list (aha at ecn.org), which is
hosted by the Italian independent server Isole Nella Rete (Islands in
the Net). The AHA mailing list is the core of the networking project
AHA:Activism-Hacking-Artivism (www.ecn.org/aha), which I founded in
Rome in 2001 and later developed in Berlin from 2003 to 2008.

The AHA project is a networking art platform created to promote
hacktivism and art on the Internet related to the Italian net
culture and underground movement. AHA project has contributed to the
creation of a network of relations and practices through exhibitions,
conferences, workshops and international meetings. The project
received an Honorary Mention in the Digital Communities category of
the Prix Ars Electronica, at the ARS Electronica Festival in Linz (AU)
in September 2007. The key aspect of the AHA project is the community
of the mailing list aha at ecn.org, created on the 30th of December
2002. The mailing list is moderated by three women: Eo_Call, Lo|Bo
and me (T_Bazz), and it is part of the neighbourhood mailing-lists of
Nettime. The aim of the aha list is to encourage participants to think
about art as an open network of practices and interventions, providing
the possibility of sharing ideas, creative works and projects on art
and hacktivism.

// The AHA Camping and the development of Hacker Ethics //

In March 2008 we had the idea of organizing the ahaCamping. During
Turin's Share Festival (www.toshare.it/eng), some members of the AHA
mailing-list met to discuss the topics of a future common initiative.
Subsequently, we discussed the purpose and details of the Camp on the
mailing-list, as well as on an open wiki platform later developed by
the subscribers themselves: the ahaCamper (www.ecn.org/aha/camper).
The core themes of the ahaCamping were the analysis of Web 2.0
platforms, the relationships between artistic activities and media
strategies, the issue of surveillance in the net and urban space,
the Post-Fordist analysis of the precarious collective movement, the
experimental artistic possibilities offered by social networking, and
the concept of porn and sexuality as an open platform of intervention
for fluid (and queer) identities.

The AHA Camping was inspired by the (mainly Italian) activity of
organizing Hackmeetings, the annual national hacker meetings, which
take place in different Italian city every year (www.hackmeeting.org).
The basic idea of hacker ethics (for the Italian community) has a
strong political and activist meaning and it is strictly related
to the idea of sharing knowledge, developing free software and
fighting for social and political rights. The Italian Hackmeetings are
therefore different from other International experiences, such as for
example the CCC Camp in Berlin. The entrance fee for the hackmeetings
is minimal and they are organized directly by the participants (which
are part of the Hackmeeting mailing list).

The Spanish hacker scene has adopted the same "bottom-up
strategy" since 2000 (see www.hacklabs.org/en and
www.sindominio.net/hackmeeting) as well as some international hacker
meetings called Transhackmeeting, which took inspiration from the
Italian ones. The first Transhackmeeting took place in Pula, Croatia,
in 2004, and the last in Oslo in 2007 (www.transhackmeeting.org).

The AHA community decided to meet in Venice last October, inspired
by the same background which has animated the hacker and activist
scene since the beginning of ?90s (from the Cybernet BBS networks
to the Italian Social Center scenario). To set up the meeting, we
worked together with the S.A.L.E. collective, an independent local
exhibition space, which is at the core of many student social and
political activities in the city of Venice.

After three days of workshops and talks, much interesting input was
developed but one of the most interesting discussions concerned the
definition of our project as a "networking platform", as the word
"networking" has been completely overused after the emergence of the
Web 2.0 phenomenon. Since 2001, AHA project has been defined as a
social network which critically deals with art and activism. What
does it mean to speak about networking and hacktivism today? I have
been asking myself this question for many months as I have begun to
analyze the emerging of the Web 2.0 phenomena and the actual meaning
of "network effects".

In the definition of "Web 2.0" offered by Tim O'Reilly (first realized
in 2004 and then revisited in 2006), "Web 2.0 is the business
revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet
as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on
that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications
that harness network effects to get better the more people use
them. (This is what I've elsewhere called 'harnessing collective
intelligence')".

But where is the real revolution? As Dmytri Kleiner discussed in
the article "Info-Enclosure 2.0" (Mute Magazine, January 2007),
"The Internet has always been about sharing between users. In fact
Usenet, a distributed messaging system, has been operated since 1979!
Since long before even Web 1.0, Usenet has been hosting discussions,
'amateur' journalism, and enabling photos and file sharing (?)". It is
clear that Internet as a place of open and free sharing has already
existed for quite a while. At the same time, notions of interaction
and collective participation have been central to 20th-century art.
The concept of networking has been practiced since the '50s ? for
example, with the mail art experiments and, at the beginning of the
'80s, the Neoist-Network-Web visionary project and the idea of "open
situations". In the hacker and activist scene of the mid-'90s, the
concept of sharing knowledge and collective construction of data has
been fundamental to the creation of free software and the development
of the GNU/Linux operative system.

// A battle of language //

The crucial point is that today we are facing a battle of language.
The real business revolution is the transformation of language.
I personally attended the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin in 2007 and
analyzed many presentations of the same event in 2008, and what
I found incredibly surprising was that the language used by
Tim O'Reilly and the other speakers was very close to the one
used by the hackers in the '90s. Concepts like openness, Do It
Yourself, sharing and social networking are now widely used by
the inventors, developers and users of platforms like Facebook,
YouTube, Flickr, MySpace, Del.icio.us etc. Sentences like ?Open
your data and services for re-use by others, and re-use the
data and services of others whenever possible?, which once
could have been perfect examples of what is literally called
hacker ethics, are used today by Tim O'Reilly to define Web 2.0
(http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2006/12/web-20-compact-definition-
tryi.html).


On the Tim O'Reilly Radar website is a section for "Open Source":
http://radar.oreilly.com/open_source/ in which we can read: "The
open source paradigm shift transformed how software is developed
and deployed. First widely recognized when the disruptive force of
Linux changed the game, open source software leverages the power of
network effects, enlightened self-interest, and the architecture
of participation. Today, the impact of open source on technology
development continues to grow, and O'Reilly Radar tracks the key
players and projects. O'Reilly has been part of the open source
community since the beginning--we convened the 1998 Summit at which
the visionary developers who invented key free software languages
and tools used to build the Internet infrastructure agreed that
?open source? was the right term to describe their licenses and
collaborative development process".

It is therefore obvious that the real business revolution of Web 2.0
is in the strategy of opening new models for the venture capital to
solve the dotcom crisis of the early 2000. And the first step towards
reaching this goal appears to work on re-appropriating the language
used in the first phase of networking culture and to create a new
rhetoric to describe the diffusion of a cloud of networking platforms.
Unfortunately these platforms of networking are not open at all as
they pretend to be, but they are controlled by business companies
mainly based in the Silicon Valley headquarters. This is something
similar to what already happened in California twenty years ago, when
one of the first collective IT amateur experiences, the legendary
Homebrew Computer Club (1975-1976), which promoted the motto "Computer
Power to the People", gave rise to twenty-three of the Valley's major
computer companies.

Another example of the re-appropriation of language is shown in a
recent post by Tim O'Reilly: "Thoughts on the Financial Crisis"
(http://radar.oreilly.com/2008/10/thoughts-on-financial-crisis.html).
Facing the current world-wide economical crisis, he suggests "working
on stuff that matters". After the emergence of issues like the oil
price shock, global warming, the decline in US and European economic
competitiveness and innovation, the proposal is "to have robust
strategies" and work on saving lives, reduce our reliance on oil, be
prudent in what we spend money on, and get socially active ? and do
this using the lesson learned from social networking. These strategies
recall some of the claims of activist and political groups active
among the underground culture in the '90s.

// Towards a new language criticism //

Last winter Bruce Sterling assumed that Web 2.0 is already dead,
reconstructing its short and glorious life during a video conference
in Turin (see http://dams.campusnet.unito.it). But considering the
increasing number of users in MySpace and Facebook, we should still
assume that something is going on. What would a valid strategy of
radical action be today after a new rhetoric of business has taken
over many of the original hacker and activist arguments? How should
hackers and activists respond to this appropriation of imaginary?
The answer is to reinvent new subversive strategies for discovering
"the bug in the system" by creating a new language criticism. Future
reflection on activism and hacker culture should therefore include
a deep study of the language and rhetoric of presenting conceptual
models and dynamics of networking.

This is what we discussed among other topics at the AHA Camping,
reflecting on the ability to face creatively the present development
of social (commercial) communities. My position is not to refuse
the very popular social networking platforms because commercial and
closed; rather, it is to try to construct new artistic and activist
experiments at the core of their system. It is necessary to criticize
the media, applying the Hands-On hacker attitude in new territories
of intervention. Tim O'Reilly is learning from hackers, but hackers
should be able to reinvent their strategies once again.

A new language criticism is needed!

Tatiana Bazzichelli

www.ecn.org/aha
www.networkingart.eu
http://au.dk/imvtb at hum

More info on ahaCamping:
http://isole.ecn.org/aha/camper
John Postill
2009-01-15 23:11:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tatiana Bazzichelli
Future
reflection on activism and hacker culture should therefore include
a deep study of the language and rhetoric of presenting conceptual
models and dynamics of networking.
For some time now much of our sociological imagination has been reduced to a
small set of entwined metaphors such as network, community and public sphere.
Instead of searching for terminological fixes to the growing complexity of our
world that play on these metaphors I would advocate an 'open lexicon' that
draws more profusely from the rich sociological and anthropological heritage
in order to find new terms for new social phenomena.

Browse any social science glossary and you will find a wealth of perfectly
usable or recyclable terms that we hardly ever find in discussions of
activism, new media, Web 2.0 and so on, e.g. the venerable notion of 'action
set' = 'a group of actors who operate for political purpose, but without a
unified, corporate identity' (see also 'action group') (Barnard and Spencer
1996, Encyclopaedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology).

I have written about the paradigmatic prevalence of community/network-think
here:

Postill, J. 2008 Localising the internet beyond communities and networks, New
Media and Society 10 (3), 413-431
http://nms.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/10/3/413

All the best with this initiative, and I look forward to a fruitful dialogue
on this question

John

Dr John Postill
Senior Lecturer in Media
Sheffield Hallam University
Sheffield S11 8UZ
United Kingdom
j.postill at shu.ac.uk
http://johnpostill.wordpress.com/
john sobol
2009-01-16 16:06:47 UTC
Permalink
Tatiana,

thank you for that wonderfully concise overview of your group's
ambitious activities.
Post by Tatiana Bazzichelli
Future
reflection on activism and hacker culture should therefore include
a deep study of the language and rhetoric of presenting conceptual
models and dynamics of networking.
will yield more arcane talk and less urgent action. Not that more
talk is a bad thing per se, but I would argue that intellectuals have
been obsessed with nomenclatures for decades now, whereas the heart
of the matter (language as enacted worldview and indeed, as world) is
technological not lexicological, mundane not obscure. It is far too
easy to get caught up with rarified terms and definitions, which can
be ? and are ? argued to death, and thus fail to see what lies in
front of our nose.

For example, John's suggestion that we make use of the term 'action
set' suggests that by doing so we will have learned something new.
But I would argue that many names are interchangeable in practice,
whereas what is not interchangeable are the lived dynamics of people
engaged in activism (or anything else for that matter). Whether you
call a network an action set or a team or a movement or a mob or a
community or a cell or anything else matters not a whit to that group
when it is actually enacting its collective will.

Specialized language is for specialists, and is inherently exclusive.
In my opinion plain language is preferable if one's goal is to
understand and be understood, and especially if one hopes to effect
meaningful change. (Although for very specialized situations
specialized language may occasionally be required.)

Poetic language can do the trick too if it is worthy enough. ideally
one's plainest language is also one's most poetic. I am reminded here
of Muhammad Ali's statement when giving a commencement speech at
Harvard. In response to the question: "What is your philosophy?" Ali
replied with two words: "Me. We."

Now 'that' is a deep study of the language and rhetoric of networking.

John


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Tatiana Bazzichelli
2009-01-20 15:03:51 UTC
Permalink
Hi everybody,

thank you very much for your answers and suggestions!
My idea of a "new language criticism" was of course a provocation. I
naturally think that it does not make sense to look for a new enemy or
to re-create a new wave of static definitions.
Anyway, my proposal is to try to analyze the social networking
phenomenon starting from a critic of collective art, referring to the
first developing of networking practices and the activities of the
grassroots movements in the 90s (and in the 80s, if we consider the
practice of networking not only as technologically determined).

My point is that in the last half of the twentieth century Avant-garde
art practices from Fluxus to Mail Art and Hacker Art have promised the
creation of collaborative art and the production of new models of
sharing knowledge. Today, these narrow practices have inspired the
structure of the Web 2.0 platforms, reaching for the first time a huge
mass of Internet users. This is of course good, because these platforms
increase possibilities of sharing knowledge. But at the same time, I
think that they don't give what they promise, and it is _also_ a matter
of language.

It is difficult to consider them "open" because they are vertically
managed and it is also difficult to define them "social", because
actually the way of sharing internal information is quite simple and,
most of the time, superficial. I would better say that they are a
powerful data bank or data archive.
I agree with Michael when he writes: "you can use the Web 2.0 meme,
which is very popular and understood, but fill it in with your own
proposals and values."

But in my point of view hacker ethic and techniques of networking
developed in grassroots communities have being used since the beginning
as a model to increase the market of users in the Web 2.0.
It is of course good to "customize" these platforms with our own values,
but people should be conscious that in doing this, they are producing
economic value for others.

Btw, the proposal of Michael is of course a good strategy if we aim to
create successful critical and creative routes that involve
"alternative" channels, compared to those dominated by the economy of
the market and by commercial information. But instead of simply add our
values and contents - that is what these platform are based on, we
should think about how to create new critical imaginary within them. For
example, situationist, multiple singularity and plagiarist projects in
the web 2.0 could be an interesting field of "study" and action...
Possibility could be to think about inverse-dynamics of control of data
and information --- I am sure artists and activists are great in doing this.

Best,
Tatiana
Post by john sobol
Tatiana,
thank you for that wonderfully concise overview of your group's
ambitious activities.
Post by Tatiana Bazzichelli
Future
reflection on activism and hacker culture should therefore include
a deep study of the language and rhetoric of presenting conceptual
models and dynamics of networking.
will yield more arcane talk and less urgent action. Not that more talk
is a bad thing per se, but I would argue that intellectuals have been
obsessed with nomenclatures for decades now, whereas the heart of the
matter (language as enacted worldview and indeed, as world) is
technological not lexicological, mundane not obscure. It is far too
easy to get caught up with rarified terms and definitions, which can
be ? and are ? argued to death, and thus fail to see what lies in
front of our nose.
For example, John's suggestion that we make use of the term 'action
set' suggests that by doing so we will have learned something new. But
I would argue that many names are interchangeable in practice, whereas
what is not interchangeable are the lived dynamics of people engaged
in activism (or anything else for that matter). Whether you call a
network an action set or a team or a movement or a mob or a community
or a cell or anything else matters not a whit to that group when it is
actually enacting its collective will.
Specialized language is for specialists, and is inherently exclusive.
In my opinion plain language is preferable if one's goal is to
understand and be understood, and especially if one hopes to effect
meaningful change. (Although for very specialized situations
specialized language may occasionally be required.)
Poetic language can do the trick too if it is worthy enough. ideally
one's plainest language is also one's most poetic. I am reminded here
of Muhammad Ali's statement when giving a commencement speech at
Harvard. In response to the question: "What is your philosophy?" Ali
replied with two words: "Me. We."
Now 'that' is a deep study of the language and rhetoric of networking.
John
------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Michael Bauwens
2009-01-26 13:26:43 UTC
Permalink
Hi Tatiana,

I agree very much with your point of inserting the critical imaginary, and in a way, this is precisely what I'm attempting, however imperfectly, with the peer to peer narrative that I use through the p2p foundation,

but I think that there is one more missing element, i.e. using the tools at our disposal, not just for a critical imaginary, but for a counter-construction of new forms of life, relationships, work et... and it is my, I guess optimistic, opinion, that we are in the midst of such reconfiguration.

But first is letting go of the hold of a 'permanent capitalism' in our own consciousness,

Michel



----- Original Message ----
From: Tatiana Bazzichelli <t.bazzichelli at mclink.it>
To: john sobol <john at johnsobol.com>
Cc: idc at mailman.thing.net
Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 10:03:51 PM
Subject: Re: [iDC] A Reflection on the Activist Strategies in the Web 2.0 Era
Hi everybody,
thank you very much for your answers and suggestions!
My idea of a "new language criticism" was of course a provocation. I
naturally think that it does not make sense to look for a new enemy or
to re-create a new wave of static definitions.
Anyway, my proposal is to try to analyze the social networking
phenomenon starting from a critic of collective art, referring to the
first developing of networking practices and the activities of the
grassroots movements in the 90s (and in the 80s, if we consider the
practice of networking not only as technologically determined).
My point is that in the last half of the twentieth century Avant-garde
art practices from Fluxus to Mail Art and Hacker Art have promised the
creation of collaborative art and the production of new models of
sharing knowledge. Today, these narrow practices have inspired the
structure of the Web 2.0 platforms, reaching for the first time a huge
mass of Internet users. This is of course good, because these platforms
increase possibilities of sharing knowledge. But at the same time, I
think that they don't give what they promise, and it is _also_ a matter
of language.
It is difficult to consider them "open" because they are vertically
managed and it is also difficult to define them "social", because
actually the way of sharing internal information is quite simple and,
most of the time, superficial. I would better say that they are a
powerful data bank or data archive.
I agree with Michael when he writes: "you can use the Web 2.0 meme,
which is very popular and understood, but fill it in with your own
proposals and values."
But in my point of view hacker ethic and techniques of networking
developed in grassroots communities have being used since the beginning
as a model to increase the market of users in the Web 2.0.
It is of course good to "customize" these platforms with our own values,
but people should be conscious that in doing this, they are producing
economic value for others.
Btw, the proposal of Michael is of course a good strategy if we aim to
create successful critical and creative routes that involve
"alternative" channels, compared to those dominated by the economy of
the market and by commercial information. But instead of simply add our
values and contents - that is what these platform are based on, we
should think about how to create new critical imaginary within them. For
example, situationist, multiple singularity and plagiarist projects in
the web 2.0 could be an interesting field of "study" and action...
Possibility could be to think about inverse-dynamics of control of data
and information --- I am sure artists and activists are great in doing this.
Best,
Tatiana
Post by john sobol
Tatiana,
thank you for that wonderfully concise overview of your group's
ambitious activities.
Post by Tatiana Bazzichelli
Future
reflection on activism and hacker culture should therefore include
a deep study of the language and rhetoric of presenting conceptual
models and dynamics of networking.
will yield more arcane talk and less urgent action. Not that more talk
is a bad thing per se, but I would argue that intellectuals have been
obsessed with nomenclatures for decades now, whereas the heart of the
matter (language as enacted worldview and indeed, as world) is
technological not lexicological, mundane not obscure. It is far too
easy to get caught up with rarified terms and definitions, which can
be ? and are ? argued to death, and thus fail to see what lies in
front of our nose.
For example, John's suggestion that we make use of the term 'action
set' suggests that by doing so we will have learned something new. But
I would argue that many names are interchangeable in practice, whereas
what is not interchangeable are the lived dynamics of people engaged
in activism (or anything else for that matter). Whether you call a
network an action set or a team or a movement or a mob or a community
or a cell or anything else matters not a whit to that group when it is
actually enacting its collective will.
Specialized language is for specialists, and is inherently exclusive.
In my opinion plain language is preferable if one's goal is to
understand and be understood, and especially if one hopes to effect
meaningful change. (Although for very specialized situations
specialized language may occasionally be required.)
Poetic language can do the trick too if it is worthy enough. ideally
one's plainest language is also one's most poetic. I am reminded here
of Muhammad Ali's statement when giving a commencement speech at
Harvard. In response to the question: "What is your philosophy?" Ali
replied with two words: "Me. We."
Now 'that' is a deep study of the language and rhetoric of networking.
John
------------------------------------------------------------------------
_______________________________________________
iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity
(distributedcreativity.org)
Post by john sobol
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https://mailman.thing.net/mailman/listinfo/idc
http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/idcnetwork/
http://rss.gmane.org/gmane.culture.media.idc
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2457237647
Share relevant URLs on Del.icio.us by adding the tag iDCref
_______________________________________________
iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity (distributedcreativity.org)
iDC at mailman.thing.net
https://mailman.thing.net/mailman/listinfo/idc
http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/idcnetwork/
http://rss.gmane.org/gmane.culture.media.idc
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2457237647
Share relevant URLs on Del.icio.us by adding the tag iDCref
John Hopkins
2009-01-26 18:43:46 UTC
Permalink
hei Michael
Post by Michael Bauwens
but I think that there is one more missing element, i.e. using the tools at our disposal, not just for a critical imaginary, but for a counter-construction of new forms of life, relationships, work et... and it is my, I guess optimistic, opinion, that we are in the midst of such reconfiguration.
hasn't there been a constant effort of counter-construction, counter-use of the Master's tools? Every time someone purposefully uses language in a new way, to circumscribe their own idiosyncratic world view, this is a counter-construction. Of course, it is critical to use the re-formed tools to create new lived practices. It would seem that this has gotten more difficult given the pervasiveness of the Market, but surely these are constants in the human struggle for authentic autonomous be-ing.
Post by Michael Bauwens
But first is letting go of the hold of a 'permanent capitalism' in our own consciousness,
I think the new US regime will force us to face the fact that there are MANY many deep onion-skinned levels to the affects of 'permanent capitalism' in our self-systems... (for example, what is consumer capitalism "with a friendly face?")

Jh
Michael Bauwens
2009-01-28 11:00:09 UTC
Permalink
Yes John, of course, there have been many constant attempts at reconfiguration, and while they have not lead to any total victory, they have been the basis of most social advances; for example, there would be no social security, without the prior mutualism of the workers;

It is of course true that 'capitalism' and the 'market' pervades everything, but so do the desires and actions for alternatives ...

Assuming someone has a psychological problem, would we want to spent our lives doing a psycho-analysis, or would we at some point rather go on with the business of creating our lives.

Assuming that an infinite system of growth is incompatible with the survival of our planet, would be then not be better to assume, despite it's present wounded vivacity, that the animal is dead already, and go on with the business of creating the life we want, even if we know we can only make a number of small advances?

I think one of the for me powerful analogies that Negri used in Empire, was the example of the christian communities, who didn't fight the emperor, but busied themselves creating alternative infrastructures, and when the old macrosystem collapsed, became the vehicle that the new overlords had to adapt.

What I propose to do is to rigorously note the manyfold attempts at more autonomous living through p2p infrastructures in media, energy, and money, interconnect them to a maximum extent, change the forms of consciousness and paradigms (they are changing without us of course, but we can put some grease in the system)

By all means analyse, by all means resist, but only that?

Michel



----- Original Message ----
From: John Hopkins <jhopkins at tech-no-mad.net>
To: idc at mailman.thing.net
Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 1:43:46 AM
Subject: Re: [iDC] A Reflection on the Activist Strategies in the Web 2.0 Era
hei Michael
Post by Michael Bauwens
but I think that there is one more missing element, i.e. using the tools at our
disposal, not just for a critical imaginary, but for a counter-construction of
new forms of life, relationships, work et... and it is my, I guess optimistic,
opinion, that we are in the midst of such reconfiguration.
hasn't there been a constant effort of counter-construction, counter-use of the
Master's tools? Every time someone purposefully uses language in a new way, to
circumscribe their own idiosyncratic world view, this is a
counter-construction. Of course, it is critical to use the re-formed tools to
create new lived practices. It would seem that this has gotten more difficult
given the pervasiveness of the Market, but surely these are constants in the
human struggle for authentic autonomous be-ing.
Post by Michael Bauwens
But first is letting go of the hold of a 'permanent capitalism' in our own
consciousness,
I think the new US regime will force us to face the fact that there are MANY
many deep onion-skinned levels to the affects of 'permanent capitalism' in our
self-systems... (for example, what is consumer capitalism "with a friendly
face?")
Jh
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John Hopkins
2009-02-02 16:52:24 UTC
Permalink
Hi Michael... et al (sorry this reflection was delayed by work at transmediale... or, maybe call it play with a very enjoyable crew of people)
Post by Michael Bauwens
It is of course true that 'capitalism' and the 'market' pervades everything, but so do the desires and actions for alternatives ...
this would seem to be an expression of the innate conflict between individual life and collective life...
Post by Michael Bauwens
Assuming that an infinite system of growth is incompatible with the survival of our planet, would be then not be better to assume, despite it's present wounded vivacity, that the animal is dead already, and go on with the business of creating the life we want, even if we know we can only make a number of small advances?
Interesting, though, this could be perversely parallel to the view of the Christian Right in the US or at least it can have a very similar outcome -- they assume that the "Second Coming" and the ensuing Apocalypse is right around the corner -- so that there is no reason to deal with any environmental or social issues because everything will be taken care of, so, let's keep the status quo of "us" (because things still, for "us" are pretty good, after all)...
Post by Michael Bauwens
I think one of the for me powerful analogies that Negri used in Empire, was the example of the christian communities, who didn't fight the emperor, but busied themselves creating alternative infrastructures, and when the old macrosystem collapsed, became the vehicle that the new overlords had to adapt.
I have always taught that opposition leads to a profane propping-up of the existing structures -- even the constant naming of a regime is detrimental to an underclass, as that naming itself gives power (by giving attention) to that which is named... Better to completely ignore 'regime' and make a new path for life... this non-naming, non-attention (not giving life-time/life-energy to the powers-that-be) is a primary mechanism for bringing a regime down...
Post by Michael Bauwens
What I propose to do is to rigorously note the manyfold attempts at more autonomous living through p2p infrastructures in media, energy, and money, interconnect them to a maximum extent, change the forms of consciousness and paradigms (they are changing without us of course, but we can put some grease in the system)
yes, this is fundamental networking in the sense of opening alternative pathways for attention which subsequently (hopefully) open up new ways of living and be-ing...
Post by Michael Bauwens
By all means analyse, by all means resist, but only that?
As the son of a military-industrial operations analyst, personally, I believe that the time for analysis is over. The thinking patterns of analysis brought us to this very problematic here/now. We, as humans, know what has to be done, it is to live and live fully, completely in the moment...

we are walking on parallel pathways, and it's always empowering to see others giving attention to life, not to analysis...

jh
Michael Bauwens
2009-02-03 23:18:25 UTC
Permalink
Hi John,

I think we are mostly on the same page ... and I assume you know that my position is altogether different from that of the Christian Right ...

Michel

Here's a meditation on political change, from the concluding chapter of David Bollier's Viral Spiral, a history of the emergence of the contemporary commons movement:


Three Types of Citizenship
In his book, The Good Citizen, sociologist Michael Schudson describes the evolution of three distinct types of citizenship over the past three centuries:


- When the nation was founded, being a citizen meant little
more than for property-owning white males to delegate authority to a
local gentleman ? and accept his complimentary glass of rum on election
day. This ?politics of assent? gave way early in the nineteenth century
to a ?politics of parties.? Parties conducted elaborate campaigns of
torchlight processions and monster meetings; voting day was filled with
banter, banners, fighting and drinking?. The third model of
citizenship, ushered in by Progressive reformers, was a ?politics of
information.? Campaigning became less emotional and more educational.
Voting was by secret ballot.

We are heirs to the ?politics of information,? a model of
citizenship that presumes, like economics, that we are rational actors
who, if armed with sufficient quantities of high-quality information,
will make educated decisions and optimize civic outcomes. But as Walter
Lippmann noted and Schudson echoes, ?if democracy requires
omnicompetence and omniscience from its citizens, it is a lost cause.?
Life is too busy, fast and complex. A new type of citizenship is
needed. Schudson offers a fairly weak prescription ? the ?monitorial
citizen,? a watchdog who vigilantly monitors the behavior of power.

[edit]
The Fourth Type of Citizenship
But it is precisely here that the Internet is offering up a new,
more muscular model of citizenship. I call it history-making
citizenship. The rise of the blogosphere over the past ten years is
emblematic of this new paradigm of citizenship. So is
citizen-journalism, free software, Wikipedia, the open educational
resources movement, open-business models like Jamendo and Flickr, and
the Creative Commons and iCommons communities. In one sense, the
citizenship that these groups practice is ?monitorial? in that their
members spend a great deal of time watching and discussing. But
?monitoring? barely begins to describe their activities. The commoners
have the ability ? rare in pre-Internet civic life ? to publish and
incite others to action, and then organize and follow through, using a
growing variety of Web tools. With the advent of blogs, Meetups, social
networking, text-messaging and many other digital systems, citizens are
able to communicate, coordinate, organize and take timely action on a
wide range of matters, including matters of public and political
concern.


I call the new sorts of citizen behaviors ?history-making?
because ordinary people are able to assert moral agency and participate
in making change. This capacity is not reserved chiefly to large,
impersonal institutions such as corporations, government agencies and
other bureaucracies. It is not a mere ?participatory citizenship? in
which people can volunteer their energies to larger, more influential
leader, political party or institution in order to help out. It is a
citizenship in which the commoners themselves choose projects that suit
their talents and passions. Dispersed, unorganized groups of strangers
can build their own platforms and social norms for pursuing their
goals; instigate public action that would not otherwise occur (and that
may clash with the practices of existing institutions); and push
forward their own distinctive agenda.


These behaviors exist in some measure in offline realms, of
course, but they are a growing norm in the digital republic. A few
examples will suffice to make the point. The Web helped create and
propel a handful of cause-oriented candidacies ? Howard Dean, Ron Paul,
Ned Lamont* ? who rapidly raised enormous sums of money, galvanized
large numbers of passionate supporters, and altered mainstream
political discourse. Although none prevailed in their races, Barack
Obama made a quantum leap in online organizing in 2008, raising $50
million in a single month from supporters via the Internet. Obama?s
candidacy was buoyed by the rise of the ?netroots? -- Web activists
with a progressive political agenda ? whose size and credibility enable
them to sway votes in Congress, raise significant amounts of campaign
funds and influence local activism. The stories are now legion about
blogs affecting political life ? from the resignation of Senate
Majority Leader Trent Lott after he praised the racist past of Senator
Strom Thurmond at his 100th birthday party, to the electoral defeat of
Senate candidate George Allen after his uttering of an ethnic slur,
?macaca,? was posted on YouTube.


Citizens are now able to initiate their own policy initiatives
without first persuading the mainstream media or political parties to
validate them as worthy. For example, a handful of citizens troubled by
evidence of ?hackable? electronic voting machines exposed the defects
of the Diebold machines and the company?s efforts to thwart public
scrutiny and reforms. (The effort has led to a nationwide citizen
effort, www.blackboxvoting.org, to expose security problems with voting
machines and vote counting.) An ad hoc group of activists, lawyers,
academics and journalists spontaneously formed around a public wiki
dealing with the lethal side effects of a best-selling antipsychotic
drug Zyprexa, and the manufacturer?s allegedly illegal conduct in
suppressing evidence of the drug?s risks. (Prosecutors later sought a
$1 billion fine against Pfizer.)


The Web is giving individuals extra-institutional public
platforms for articulating their own facts and interpretations of
culture. It is enabling them to go far beyond voting and citizen
vigilance, to mount citizen-led interventions in politics and
governance. History-making citizens can compete with the mass media as
an arbiter of cultural and political reality. They can expose the
factual errors and lack of independence of New York Times reporters;
reveal the editorial biases of the ?MSM? ? mainstream media ? by
offering their own videotape snippets on YouTube; they can even be
pacesetters for the MSM, as the blog Firedoglake did in its relentless
reporting of the ?Scooter? Libby trial (Libby, one of Vice President
Cheney?s top aides, was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury
in connection with press leaks about CIA agent Valerie Plame.)
Citizen-journalists, amateur videographers, genuine experts who have
created their own Web platforms, parodists, dirty tricksters and
countless others are challenging elite control of the news agenda. It
is no wonder that commercial journalism is suffering an identity
crisis. Institutional authority is being trumped by the ?social
warranting? of online communities, many of which are themselves a kind
of participatory meritocracy.

History-making citizenship is not without its deficiencies.
Rumors, misinformation and polarized debate are common in this more
open, unmediated environment. Its crowning virtue is its potential
ability to mobilize the energies and creativity of huge numbers of
people. GNU Linux improbably drew upon the talents of tens of thousands
of programmers; certainly our contemporary world with its countless
problems could use some of this elixir ? platforms that can elicit
distributed creativity, specialized talent, passionate commitment and
social legitimacy. In 2005, Joichi Ito, then Chairman of the board of
the Creative Commons, wrote: ?Traditional forms of representative
democracy can barely manage the scale, complexity and speed of the
issues in the world today. Representatives of sovereign nations
negotiating with each other in global dialog are limited in their
ability to solve global issues. The monolithic media and its
increasingly simplistic representation of the world cannot provide the
competition of ideas necessary to reach informed, viable consensus.?
Ito concluded that a new, not-yet-understood model of ?emergent
democracy? is likely to materialize as the digital revolution proceeds.
A civic order consisting of ?intentional blog communities, ad hoc
advocacy coalitions and activist networks? could begin to tackle many
urgent problems.

Clearly, the first imperative in developing a new framework
to host representative democracy is to ensure that the electronic
commons be allowed to exist in the first place. Without net neutrality,
citizens could very well be stifled in their ability to participate on
their own terms, in their own voices. If proprietary policies or
technologies are allowed to override citizen interests (Verizon
Wireless in 2007 prevented the transmission of abortion rights messages
on its text-messaging system, for example ), then any hope for
history-making citizenship will be stillborn.

Beyond such near-term concerns, however, the emerging
digital republic is embroiled in a much larger structural tension with
terrestrial ?real world? governments. The commoner is likely to regard
the rules forged in online commons as more legitimate and appropriate
than those mandated by government.

Again, David R. Johnson:


- The goals of a successful legal organism must be agreed
upon by those who live within it, because a legal system is nothing
more than a collective conversation about shared values. When it ceases
to be that kind of internally entailed organism, the law becomes mere
power, social ?order? becomes tyranny, and the only option, over the
long term at least, is war. Organisms can?t be repaired from the
outside. But, with reference to interactions that take place primarily
online, among willing participants who seek primarily to regulate their
own affairs, that?s exactly where existing governments are situated ?
outside the vibrant, self-regulating online spaces they seek to
regulate. Their efforts to engineer the Internet as if it were a
mechanism are not only fundamentally illegitimate but doomed by the
very nature of the thing they seek to regulate. They are trying to
create social order, of course. But they have not recognized?that order
in complex systems creates itself.

The commoner is likely to regard the rules forged in online
commons as more legitimate and appropriate than those mandated by
government. After all, he or she is likely to have had a more
meaningful personal role in crafting those rules. Now, of course,
people live their lives in both online and terrestrial environments;
there is no strict division between the two. That said, as people?s
lives become more implicated in Internet spaces, citizens are likely to
prefer the freedoms and affordances of the open networked environment
to the stunted correlates of offline politics, governance and law.


Indeed, this may be why so many activists and idealists are
attracted to online venues. There is a richer sense of possibility.
Contemporary politics and government have been captured by big money,
professionals and concentrated power. Professor Lessig cited such facts
in announcing his plans, in 2007, to address the systemic corruptions
of U.S. democracy and policymaking. In the digital republic, the ethic
of transparency deals harshly with institutional manipulations,
deceptions and bad faith. They literally become part of your ?permanent
record,? forever available via a Google search. More fundamentally,
however, the digital republic has a fundamental respect for everyone?s
ability to contribute. It respects the principle of open access for
all. The ?consent of the governed? really matters."

[edit]
A new kind of power
The viral spiral, after years of building its infrastructure and
social networks, may be approaching a Cambrian explosion, an
evolutionary leap.
History suggests that any new style of politics and polity
will arrive through models developed from within the edifice of
existing law, markets and culture. A revolutionary coup or showdown
with existing institutions will not be necessary. Superior working
models ? running code and a healthy commons ? will trump polemics and
exhortation.


Ideological activists and political professionals are likely
to scoff at this scenario. After all, they are suspicious of
distributed political power, if not hostile to it. They prefer the
levers of consolidated power (laws, court rulings, police powers) that
are within their sphere of influence to the dispersed, sovereign powers
of an online multitude. The latter is highly resistant to capture and
control, and in that sense, profoundly threatening to the traditional
configurations of political power. We have already seen how the
mandarins of journalism, politics and business are quick to lash out at
the non-credentialed masses who dare to put forward this own
interpretations of the world.


However necessary it is to engage in the official governance of
a nation, however corrupted, the commoners have shown that their
functioning commons can be powerful levers of change in their own ways.
A commons of technical standards for the Web ? how mundane! ? can
achieve more than most antitrust lawsuits. A common pool of information
can prevent a company from reaping easy monopoly rents from the control
of a public good. Instead, the company must ?move upstream? to provide
more specialized forms of value (e.g., sophisticated graphing of the
information or data analysis). A commons may also be affirmatively
helpful to businesses, as Eric von Hippel has shown, by aggregating a
body of aficionados into a social community that aggregates customer
needs and preferences in highly efficient ways: the commons as a cheap
form of R&D and marketing.


In either case, the rise of a commons can be disruptive not
just because it changes how market power is exercised, but because it
may disperse power to a broader community of participants. Recall
Johnson?s observation that a commons is a ?self-causing legal order?
that competes with other legal orders. Individuals who affiliate with
an online community may acquire the ability to manage their own social
relationships and group identity.


This is not just a form of marketplace power. It is a form of
political power. In effect, a group may be able to neutralize the power
of corporations to use brands to organize their identities. By
developing its own discourse and identity, an online community can
reject their treatment as a demographic cohort of consumers. They can
assert their broader, non-market concerns. As a group of commoners,
they are less susceptible to propaganda, ideology and commercial
journalism as tools for organizing their political allegiances. They
have greater civic sovereignty.

?Free cooperation aims at distributing power,? argues Geert Lovink, a Dutch media theorist:


- I am not saying that power as such disappears, but there is
certainly a shift, away from the formal into the informal, from
accountable structures towards a voluntary and temporal connection. We
have to reconcile with the fact that these structures undermine the
establishment, but not through recognizable forms of resistance. The
?anti? element often misses. This is what makes traditional,
unreconstructed lefties so suspicious, as these networks just do their
thing and do not fit into this or that ideology, be it neoliberal or
autonomous Marxist. Their vagueness escapes any attempt to deconstruct
their intention either as proto-capitalist or subversive.

This can be disorienting. Energies are not focused on
resisting an oppressor, but rather on building innovative, positive
alternatives. In Buckminster Fuller?s terms, free culture is mostly
about building new models that make the existing models obsolete.
Instead of forging an identity in relation to an adversary, the
movement has built an identity around an affirmative vision and the
challenge of becoming. People feel fairly comfortable with a certain
level of ambiguity because the whole environment is so protean,
diverse, evolving and dynamic.

The beauty of this ?ideological straddle? is that it
enables a diverse array of players into the same tent without inciting
sectarian acrimony. (There is some, of course, but mostly at the
margins.) Ecumenical tolerance is the norm because orthodoxies cannot
take root at the periphery where innovation is constantly being
incubated. In any case, there is a widespread realization in the
networked world that shared goals are likely to require variable
implementations, depending on specific needs and contexts.


It may appear that the free software hacker, blogger, tech
entrepreneur, celebrity-musician, college professor and biological
researcher have nothing in common. In truth, each is participating in
social practices that are incrementally and collectively bringing into
being a new sort of democratic polity. French sociologist Bruno Latour
calls it the ?pixellation of politics,? which conjures up a pointillist
painting slowly materializing. The new polity is more open,
participatory, dynamically responsive and morally respected by ?the
governed? than the nominal democracies of nation-states. The
bureaucratic state tends to be too large and remote to be responsive to
local circumstances and complex issues; it is ridiculed and endured.
But who dares to aspire to transcend it?


Sooner or later, history-making citizenship is likely to take
up such a challenge. It already has. What is the digital republic,
after all, but a federation of self-organized communities, each seeking
to fulfill their members? dreams by developing their own indigenous set
of tools, rules and ethics? The power of the commons stems from its
role as an organizing template, and not an ideology. Because it is able
to host a diverse and robust ecosystem of talent without squeezing it
into an ideological strait-jacket, the commons is flexible and
resilient. It is based on people?s sincerest passions, not on remote
institutional imperatives, and so it has a foundational support and
energy that can out-perform ?mainstream? institutions.


This, truly, is the animating force of the viral spiral: the
capacity to build one?s own world and participate on a public stage.
(Cicero: ?Freedom is participation in power.?) When such energies are
let loose in an open, networked environment, all sorts of new and
interesting innovations emerge. Since an online commons does not have
the burden of turning a profit or supporting huge overhead, it can wait
for serendipity, passion and idiosyncratic brilliance to surface, and
then rely on the Internet to virally propagate the fruits.


at the level of social practice, the commoners are gradually
building a very different moral economy that converges, from different
paths, on a new type of civic order. In Code, Lessig called it ?freedom
without anarchy, control without government, consensus without power.?


It is not entirely clear how the special capacities of
bottom-up networks ? a ?non-totalizing system of structure that
nonetheless acts as a whole,? in Mark Taylor?s words ? can be
integrated with conventional government and institutions of power. It
is easy to imagine a future confrontation in the political culture,
however, as the citizens of the digital republic confront the stodgy
bureaucratic state (corporate and governmental). The latter will have
the advantages of constitutional authority and state and economic
power, but the former are likely to have the advantages of social
legitimacy, superior on-the-ground information and creative energy. How
the digital republic will confront the old regime, or supplant it
gradually as archaic institutions collapse over time, is the stuff of
future history."



----- Original Message ----
From: John Hopkins <jhopkins at tech-no-mad.net>
To: iDC at mailman.thing.net
Sent: Monday, February 2, 2009 11:52:24 PM
Subject: Re: [iDC] A Reflection on the Activist Strategies in the Web 2.0 Era
Hi Michael... et al (sorry this reflection was delayed by work at
transmediale... or, maybe call it play with a very enjoyable crew of people)
Post by Michael Bauwens
It is of course true that 'capitalism' and the 'market' pervades everything,
but so do the desires and actions for alternatives ...
this would seem to be an expression of the innate conflict between individual
life and collective life...
Post by Michael Bauwens
Assuming that an infinite system of growth is incompatible with the survival of
our planet, would be then not be better to assume, despite it's present wounded
vivacity, that the animal is dead already, and go on with the business of
creating the life we want, even if we know we can only make a number of small
advances?
Interesting, though, this could be perversely parallel to the view of the
Christian Right in the US or at least it can have a very similar outcome -- they
assume that the "Second Coming" and the ensuing Apocalypse is right around the
corner -- so that there is no reason to deal with any environmental or social
issues because everything will be taken care of, so, let's keep the status quo
of "us" (because things still, for "us" are pretty good, after all)...
Post by Michael Bauwens
I think one of the for me powerful analogies that Negri used in Empire, was the
example of the christian communities, who didn't fight the emperor, but busied
themselves creating alternative infrastructures, and when the old macrosystem
collapsed, became the vehicle that the new overlords had to adapt.
I have always taught that opposition leads to a profane propping-up of the
existing structures -- even the constant naming of a regime is detrimental to an
underclass, as that naming itself gives power (by giving attention) to that
which is named... Better to completely ignore 'regime' and make a new path for
life... this non-naming, non-attention (not giving life-time/life-energy to the
powers-that-be) is a primary mechanism for bringing a regime down...
Post by Michael Bauwens
What I propose to do is to rigorously note the manyfold attempts at more
autonomous living through p2p infrastructures in media, energy, and money,
interconnect them to a maximum extent, change the forms of consciousness and
paradigms (they are changing without us of course, but we can put some grease in
the system)
yes, this is fundamental networking in the sense of opening alternative pathways
for attention which subsequently (hopefully) open up new ways of living and
be-ing...
Post by Michael Bauwens
By all means analyse, by all means resist, but only that?
As the son of a military-industrial operations analyst, personally, I believe
that the time for analysis is over. The thinking patterns of analysis brought
us to this very problematic here/now. We, as humans, know what has to be done,
it is to live and live fully, completely in the moment...
we are walking on parallel pathways, and it's always empowering to see others
giving attention to life, not to analysis...
jh
_______________________________________________
iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity (distributedcreativity.org)
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https://mailman.thing.net/mailman/listinfo/idc
http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/idcnetwork/
http://rss.gmane.org/gmane.culture.media.idc
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2457237647
Share relevant URLs on Del.icio.us by adding the tag iDCref
Michael Bauwens
2009-01-20 12:21:39 UTC
Permalink
Dear John,

I'm mentioning your essay on the 25th on our p2p blog.

Just in case of interest,

- we have been collating 'relational research' items at http://p2pfoundation.net/Category:Relational

and keep an active delicious tag on http://del.icio.us/mbauwens/P2P-Intersubjectivity,

Michel



----- Original Message ----
From: John Postill <jpostill at usa.net>
To: t.bazzichelli at mclink.it; idc at mailman.thing.net
Sent: Friday, January 16, 2009 6:11:03 AM
Subject: Re: [iDC] A Reflection on the Activist Strategies in the Web 2.0 Era
Post by Tatiana Bazzichelli
Future
reflection on activism and hacker culture should therefore include
a deep study of the language and rhetoric of presenting conceptual
models and dynamics of networking.
For some time now much of our sociological imagination has been reduced to a
small set of entwined metaphors such as network, community and public sphere.
Instead of searching for terminological fixes to the growing complexity of our
world that play on these metaphors I would advocate an 'open lexicon' that
draws more profusely from the rich sociological and anthropological heritage
in order to find new terms for new social phenomena.
Browse any social science glossary and you will find a wealth of perfectly
usable or recyclable terms that we hardly ever find in discussions of
activism, new media, Web 2.0 and so on, e.g. the venerable notion of 'action
set' = 'a group of actors who operate for political purpose, but without a
unified, corporate identity' (see also 'action group') (Barnard and Spencer
1996, Encyclopaedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology).
I have written about the paradigmatic prevalence of community/network-think
Postill, J. 2008 Localising the internet beyond communities and networks, New
Media and Society 10 (3), 413-431
http://nms.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/10/3/413
All the best with this initiative, and I look forward to a fruitful dialogue
on this question
John
Dr John Postill
Senior Lecturer in Media
Sheffield Hallam University
Sheffield S11 8UZ
United Kingdom
j.postill at shu.ac.uk
http://johnpostill.wordpress.com/
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(distributedcreativity.org)
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Share relevant URLs on Del.icio.us by adding the tag iDCref
kranenbu
2009-01-17 22:29:43 UTC
Permalink
Hi
Post by john sobol
Poetic language can do the trick too if it is worthy enough. ideally
one's plainest language is also one's most poetic. I am reminded here
of Muhammad Ali's statement when giving a commencement speech at
Harvard. In response to the question: "What is your philosophy?" Ali
replied with two words: "Me. We."
Now 'that' is a deep study of the language and rhetoric of networking.
Best I've read in a while!

Mayber we best all go chew pine gum :)

Dempsey chewed pine gum to strengthen his jaw, "bathing his face in beef
brine to toughen the skin," as he wrote in his Autobiography.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g1epc/is_/ai_2419200300

It seems to me Obama has chewed up about 80% of all the poetry in the
world for 2008 and 2009 too and I sure hope he'll be able to make it work
for all of us. It was a very strong voodoo, that it was.

With the rest of all the rhetoric left to us, I agree we should get as
mundane as possible,

Salut! Rob
Curt Cloninger
2009-01-20 21:40:05 UTC
Permalink
Hi Tatiana (and all),

It seems less important to adopt a new theoretical language of
resistance. If all that differentiates hacktivists from corporate
entrepeneurs is the nomenclature they use, then perhaps the original
tenets of such hacktivism were not as resistant as they could have
been.

de Certeau's critique of the ways in which modern academics analyse
media seems relevant. He observed that media was either analysed in
terms of its content ("information") or in terms of its delivery
mechanisms ("television" in his case, in our case "networks.") What
was lacking was a way to talk about the creative
reception/consumption/use happening at the consumer end of the line
-- how were the "users/consumers" modulating institutional input in
the practice of their lives? They weren't merely passive receivers.

youTube and mySpace aren't so radical in their underlying
architecture. As you point out, the interweb has always been 2.0. If
anything, these corporate instantiations of that technical truth only
serve to commodify and capitalize on the utopian "dream" of
many-to-many publishing freedom. So maybe that "dream" in and of
itself wasn't all that tactically resistant (since it's now being
marketed back to us with limited banner-ad interruptions.) youTube
and mySpace are radical in their mass distribution and ease of use.
They shift the "tactical" conversation away from
specialist/artist/hacktivist as strategic producer (of code,
platforms, networks, distributed communities) and back toward
everyone as tactical consumers/useres. The wrinkle since de Certeau's
time is that a youTube "consumer" has a lot more media agency than
de Certeau's television "consumer." The youTube "consumer" finally
begins to possess at least the potential agency of a proper "user"
(hobbyist, prosumer, or whatever). cf: http://oliverlaric.com/5050.htm

So I don't think we need new nomenclature as much as we need a new
realization that tactical "resistance" on the corporate 2.0 web may
look a whole lot more like tactical consumption than it looks like a
denial of service attack on a government server (although that is
still possible). de Certeau provided early net theorists with a model
and a vocabulary of "tactical media." But early net activists weren't
ever really consumers. de Certeau's model was just an analogy. Now we
have actual consumers that have been afforded the agency of
"reading," reblogging, and remixing their various memex trails of
consumption through the "information" of the network. de Certeau is
no longer applicable merely by analogy.

This new platying field can lead to a different kind of "hacktivist"
work -- work that (in the nomenclature of Galloway/Thacker) relies
more on hypertrophy than overt (or even covert) "resistance." The
danger of this new kind of work (massively distributed "weak" tactics
of consumption) is that it can act as a kind of placebo. As Nato
Thompson warns, "The problem with accepting this sensibility is that
it can lead to fairly privileged forms of resistance, like slacking
at work or taking a meandering walk home. I am a fan of these more
benign tactics, but not convinced they lead to anything but personal
therapy."

Hopefully we will get to work out some of the details here in March:
http://medialab-prado.es/article/3er_encuentro_inclusiva-net_comunicaciones_seleccionadas

Best,
Curt


Curt Cloninger
Assistant Professor of Multimedia Arts & Sciences
The University of North Carolina Asheville

+++++
Home: http://lab404.com
Garden: http://playdamage.org
Archive: http://deepyoung.org
School: http://mmas.unca.edu
Post by Tatiana Bazzichelli
My position is not to refuse
the very popular social networking platforms because commercial and
closed; rather, it is to try to construct new artistic and activist
experiments at the core of their system. It is necessary to criticize
the media, applying the Hands-On hacker attitude in new territories
of intervention. Tim O'Reilly is learning from hackers, but hackers
should be able to reinvent their strategies once again.
A new language criticism is needed!
--
Ryan Griffis
2009-01-22 03:51:22 UTC
Permalink
Hi,
Curt's points are well made i think in this discussion, and (with
Nato) hits the nail on the head in terms of the problems of de
Certeau-ian notions of tactics as resistance. But i wonder about this
collapse of a range of behaviors into the smooth container of
"consumption". Perhaps i don't understand what you're getting at Curt
with this difference between "tactical media" and "tactical
consumption? de Certeau was never wholly in the realm of analogy...
his theoretical understanding of "tactics" was based on realized
behaviors, not just representations of them - following from
Lefebvre's "spatial practices". And his ideas about "mediators" in
the form of "linking agents" were likewise rather concrete regarding
media - applicable to web2.0 "social software", but also to zines and
pamphlets (see _The Capture of Speech and Other Political Writings_,
1997) But again, maybe i'm misunderstanding something?
Stuart Hall and Raymond Williams' earlier ideas of media reception
and production are i think of value here (and too often left out,
IMHO) especially in bridging the political gap between the media
apparatus and content in a way that doesn't merely merge them, but
binds them in a dialectic.
Brian Holmes' short essay from a few years back (that i just
discovered in his more recent "Unleashing the Collective Phantoms"
book), "Liar's Poker" on the contradictions within aesthetic
"activist" practices is worth a read. Opening with the line "when
people talk about politics in an artistic frame, they're lying," it
goes after the "performative codes" (to use Hall's term) at play in
"political art."
http://www.springerin.at/dyn/heft.php?id=34&pos=1&textid=1276&lang=en
It ends with:
"The rising fortunes of interventionist art, the multiplication of
exhibitions devoted to sociopolitical issues and activist campaigns,
are proof enough that something political is at stake in the artistic
field. And the stakes keep rising, as artists, curators and critics
vie for radicality, relevancy, effectiveness and meaning. But one
must constantly question what kind of currency we\'ll get when the
chips are cashed in...
What is ultimately at stake is the very definition of autonomy, which
can no longer be established in the sphere of representation alone.
Right now, the greatest symbolic innovations are taking place in self-
organization processes unfolding outside the artistic frame. And it
is from the reference to such outside realms that the more
concentrated, composed and self-reflective works in the museum take
their meaning. The only way not to impoverish those works, or to
reduce them to pure hypocrisy, is to let our highest admiration go
out to the artists who call their own bluffs - and dissolve, at the
crisis points, into the vortex of a social movement."
Reading Brian's essay reminded me of a Raymond Williams statement
from "The Long Revolution" that I has always stuck in my head:
"To put on to Time, the abstraction, the responsibility for own
active choices is to suppress a central part of our experience."
Best,
ryan
Curt Cloninger
2009-01-23 01:44:59 UTC
Permalink
Thanks Ryan,

I don't mean that de Certeau's own applications are metaphorical or
analogical. Of course he means them to be exactly the opposite. I'm
saying that a lot of "tactical media" theory and work has applied his
ideas by way of analogy rather than directly (although I admit that's
a pretty broad generalization).

Let's say there is a gradual continuum between strategic production
and tactical use (de Certeau prefers "use" but I'm not afraid to say
"consumption"). A tactical media artist who uses tactics to make
something that she calls "art" is by definition no longer de
Certeau's tactical user/consumer. She is a producer (she has moved
further down the continuum toward strategic production). I'm not
saying there's anything ethically wrong with this. I'm just saying,
it's less like an artistic approach to the practice of life and more
like analogically adapting de Certeau's tactical approaches to life
as a means of making art. In pointing out this distinction, I'm
uninterested in the old ontological differences between art and life.
I'm really interested in the efficacy of a practice.

I will check out Hall and Williams.

This resonates with me:
"Artists who call their own bluffs - and dissolve, at the crisis
point, into the vortex of a social movement."

It makes me think of negative theology (Eckhart, Marion, even Beckett).

But it's tricky to perform.

Here is the full Thompson essay (2006):
http://journalofaestheticsandprotest.org/3/thompson.htm

+++++++++

Latour changed my mind about "political" art (particularly "We Have
Never Been Modern" and "Making Things Public"). To understand
politics in terms of shared matters of concern, gathered in and
inextricable from things (not just Heideggerean bridges and jugs; but
light, sound, language, even "networks") -- "politics" thus
understood finally begins to matter to me as an artist.

Best,
Curt
Lucia Sommer
2009-01-23 20:37:14 UTC
Permalink
Thanks Curt and Ryan and everyone for this discussion. I appreciate the
important distinction you're suggesting between tactical media production
and a more-passive (although de Certeau would say more-"dominated" rather
than "passive") use/consumption here, Curt. I would only disagree that even
this production would still not be strategic, according to de Certeau. He
was very clear that to produce strategy requires the luxury of having
colonized space -- something reserved for proprietary power. The rest of us
only ever have access to the tactical, which instead takes advantage of the
medium of time. Quoting de Certeau:

"I call a strategy the calculation (or manipulation) of power relationships
that becomes possible as soon as a subject with will and power (a business,
an army, a city, a scientific institution) can be isolated. It postulates a
place that can be delimited as its own and serve as the base from which
relations with an exteriority composed of targets or threats (customers or
competitors, enemies, the country surrounding the city, objectives and
objects or research, etc.) can be managed."

For de Certeau, strategy is exclusive to institutional proprietary power.
This is contrasted with tacticality:

"... a tactic is a calculated action determined by the absence of a proper
locus ...The space of a tactic is the space of the other. Thus it must play
on and with a terrain imposed on it and organized by the law of a foreign
power. It does not have the means to keep to itself, at a distance, in a
position of withdrawal, foresight, and self-collection: it is a maneuver
"within the enemy's field of vision,"... and within enemy territory. It does
not, therefore, have the option of planning, general strategy and viewing
the adversary as a whole within a distinct, visable and objectifiable space.
It operates in isolated actions, blow by blow. It takes advantage of
opportunities and depends on them, being without any base where it could
stockpile its winnings, build up its own position, and plan raids ... This
nowhere gives a tactic mobility, to be sure, but a mobility that must accept
the chance offerings of the moment, and seize on the wing the possibilities
that offer themselves at any given moment. It must vigilantly make use of
the cracks that particular conjunctions open in the surveillance of
proprietary powers. It poaches them. It creates surprises in them. It can be
where it is least expected. It is a guileful ruse... In short, a tactic is
the art of the weak."

What better definition of tactical media could we find? We could say,
following your important insight here, that there is something like a
gradual continuum between tactical production and tactical use/consumption,
and that the tactical media artist is a tactical producer -- to distinguish
this activity from a more-dominated, or more-passive use/consumption.

Best,
Lucia
Post by Curt Cloninger
Thanks Ryan,
I don't mean that de Certeau's own applications are metaphorical or
analogical. Of course he means them to be exactly the opposite. I'm
saying that a lot of "tactical media" theory and work has applied his
ideas by way of analogy rather than directly (although I admit that's
a pretty broad generalization).
Let's say there is a gradual continuum between strategic production
and tactical use (de Certeau prefers "use" but I'm not afraid to say
"consumption"). A tactical media artist who uses tactics to make
something that she calls "art" is by definition no longer de
Certeau's tactical user/consumer. She is a producer (she has moved
further down the continuum toward strategic production). I'm not
saying there's anything ethically wrong with this. I'm just saying,
it's less like an artistic approach to the practice of life and more
like analogically adapting de Certeau's tactical approaches to life
as a means of making art. In pointing out this distinction, I'm
uninterested in the old ontological differences between art and life.
I'm really interested in the efficacy of a practice.
I will check out Hall and Williams.
"Artists who call their own bluffs - and dissolve, at the crisis
point, into the vortex of a social movement."
It makes me think of negative theology (Eckhart, Marion, even Beckett).
But it's tricky to perform.
http://journalofaestheticsandprotest.org/3/thompson.htm
+++++++++
Latour changed my mind about "political" art (particularly "We Have
Never Been Modern" and "Making Things Public"). To understand
politics in terms of shared matters of concern, gathered in and
inextricable from things (not just Heideggerean bridges and jugs; but
light, sound, language, even "networks") -- "politics" thus
understood finally begins to matter to me as an artist.
Best,
Curt
_______________________________________________
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--
Lucia Sommer
60 College Street
Buffalo, NY 14201
(716) 359-3061
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Curt Cloninger
2009-01-23 22:20:50 UTC
Permalink
Thanks Lucia,

I suppose I am saying that once a "tactical media artist" puts work
in a gallery, a museum, or an arts festival, then that works gains a
strategic component -- because galleries, museums, and festivals, and
the practices of art production that surround them, fall within the
institutional realm that de Certeau is describing (although some of
these institutions and organizations are admittedly more fluid/agile
than others). And again, there is nothing ethically wrong with this.

I am trying to problematize de Certeau's binary distinction. Yes,
there is a continuum from the weak tactical consumer to the stronger
tactical artist producer, but that same continuum continues on toward
the systematic institutional producer, and I don't think simply
calling onesself a "tactical media artist" excludes one from being
considered a strategic media producer. Nor should it. Nor should we
always rule out stategic institutional production as ethically off
limits or pragmatically ineffectual. An artist can and should
implement a combination of multiple production
approaches/tactics/strategies (and indeed, this has often been the
case, regardless of what tactical media artists and theorists have
claimed).

Beyond mere resistance, could we push toward modulating and
inflecting both ourselves and "the man" until the whole binary system
was tweaked into something heretofore unknown?

To quote pithy media theorists ZZ Top:
"Jesus just left Chicago and he's bound for New Orleans /
Working from one end to the other, and all points in between."

Best,
Curt
Post by Lucia Sommer
What better definition of tactical media could we find? We could
say, following your important insight here, that there is something
like a gradual continuum between tactical production and tactical
use/consumption, and that the tactical media artist is a tactical
producer -- to distinguish this activity from a more-dominated, or
more-passive use/consumption.
Ryan Griffis
2009-01-23 22:47:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Curt Cloninger
I suppose I am saying that once a "tactical media artist" puts work
in a gallery, a museum, or an arts festival, then that works gains
a strategic component -- because galleries, museums, and festivals,
and the practices of art production that surround them, fall within
the institutional realm that de Certeau is describing (although
some of these institutions and organizations are admittedly more
fluid/agile than others). And again, there is nothing ethically
wrong with this.
I am trying to problematize de Certeau's binary distinction. Yes,
there is a continuum from the weak tactical consumer to the
stronger tactical artist producer, but that same continuum
continues on toward the systematic institutional producer, and I
don't think simply calling onesself a "tactical media artist"
excludes one from being considered a strategic media producer. Nor
should it. Nor should we always rule out stategic institutional
production as ethically off limits or pragmatically ineffectual. An
artist can and should implement a combination of multiple
production approaches/tactics/strategies (and indeed, this has
often been the case, regardless of what tactical media artists and
theorists have claimed).
i would quickly add to Curt's fluidity/continuum model the object of
institutions. While there are dominant institutions that occupy space
in a (seemingly) hegemonic manner - including museums, etc - there
are counter institutions that colonize space (although, i'm not
really keen on using that word in all instances) out of both
necessity and desire and that can't be reduced to the tactical. i can
understand the desire for tactical media to take on and try to embody
the position of "the weak", but i think TM can be located in a
broader field of cultural and political power, where it's tactical in
more ways than one, i.e. "making due" with cultural capital in place
of political power - part of the point of Brian's essay pointed to
earlier.
i think Curt is maybe after the matter of concern that such tactics
are supposed to address, to go back to his reference to Latour? Which
is hard to discuss in the limited vocabulary of tacticality...

ryan
marc garrett
2009-01-24 16:41:28 UTC
Permalink
Hi Ryan & all,

I would include furtherfield.org as an alternative to the more
traditional institutions - yet just like individual, experimental
artists need support from their communities, I would argue that we do
also...

marc
Post by Ryan Griffis
Post by Curt Cloninger
I suppose I am saying that once a "tactical media artist" puts work
in a gallery, a museum, or an arts festival, then that works gains
a strategic component -- because galleries, museums, and festivals,
and the practices of art production that surround them, fall within
the institutional realm that de Certeau is describing (although
some of these institutions and organizations are admittedly more
fluid/agile than others). And again, there is nothing ethically
wrong with this.
I am trying to problematize de Certeau's binary distinction. Yes,
there is a continuum from the weak tactical consumer to the
stronger tactical artist producer, but that same continuum
continues on toward the systematic institutional producer, and I
don't think simply calling onesself a "tactical media artist"
excludes one from being considered a strategic media producer. Nor
should it. Nor should we always rule out stategic institutional
production as ethically off limits or pragmatically ineffectual. An
artist can and should implement a combination of multiple
production approaches/tactics/strategies (and indeed, this has
often been the case, regardless of what tactical media artists and
theorists have claimed).
i would quickly add to Curt's fluidity/continuum model the object of
institutions. While there are dominant institutions that occupy space
in a (seemingly) hegemonic manner - including museums, etc - there
are counter institutions that colonize space (although, i'm not
really keen on using that word in all instances) out of both
necessity and desire and that can't be reduced to the tactical. i can
understand the desire for tactical media to take on and try to embody
the position of "the weak", but i think TM can be located in a
broader field of cultural and political power, where it's tactical in
more ways than one, i.e. "making due" with cultural capital in place
of political power - part of the point of Brian's essay pointed to
earlier.
i think Curt is maybe after the matter of concern that such tactics
are supposed to address, to go back to his reference to Latour? Which
is hard to discuss in the limited vocabulary of tacticality...
ryan
_______________________________________________
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http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/
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http://rss.gmane.org/gmane.culture.media.idc
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Share relevant URLs on Del.icio.us by adding the tag iDCref
Curt Cloninger
2009-01-24 18:04:49 UTC
Permalink
Thanks Lucia,

I'm admittedly hijacking and redefining what de Certeau strictly
means by "strategy." I think artists can and do practice a form of
"weak" strategic production. I think about Shepard Fairey evolving
from this work (
Loading Image... )
to this work (
Loading Image... ,
Loading Image... )
). Not that Fairey is a very good example of someone purposefully
controlling his own influence, but his influence has shifted from
tactical to strategic.

I'm not proposing a leftist utopian revolution, but I am goading for
something beyond "making due" with perpetual "resistance." I'm
wanting to talk about something in the middle of these two extremes
(or something that rapidly moves back and forth between them). I
agree with Ryan's post regarding "the matter of concern that such
tactics are supposed to address." To simply be tactically resistant
doesn't de facto constitute efficacy (or radicality, or interesting
art).

Yes, failure. Right on. And not just a mimetic re-presentation of
failure, or a syntactic definition of failure, but the real-time
performance of failure. And I woul add (among thousands of
potentially efficacious artistic moves) -- mind control, massive
pseudonymous meme distribution, hypertrophy, institutional critique
as abstract expressionist brushstroke, perpetual self-undermining as
talisman, curation as personal introspection,
Loading Image... ,
http://us.st12.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/museumjt_2035_11671824 ,
Loading Image... .

Best,
Curt
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