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<nettime> who's rhizoming who digest [porculus, byfield, bowman]
nettime's_fun_raiser on Fri, 24 Jan 2003 08:25:00 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> who's rhizoming who digest [porculus, byfield, bowman]

rhizome = raz le bol !
     "porculus" <porculus {AT} wanadoo.fr>
Re: FW: <nettime> rhizome: burn rate
     t byfield <tbyfield {AT} panix.com>
     "Brice Bowman" <brice {AT} bricebowman.com>

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From: "porculus" <porculus {AT} wanadoo.fr>
Subject: rhizome = raz le bol !
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 21:08:12 +0100

> best,
> mark

no, not best at all, go to hell, is there nettime becoming mark tribe voice
of what ? 'ha yes very good point' 'ha yes very good idea to put paper in wc
i dont think of it, what is your name' etc.. rhizome is a super trick even
the vendredi jour du poisson, my opinion is in rhizome office your are not
sort of people one should associate with, except those who have child and
poor husband to feed, any worker have my compassion, you as the boss, nada,
go doing some nettart in your bedroom or play videogame, talk about some
funny thing, you speak az an old people club senior who wonder if it's time
making kitty for bying diaper for some tacky netartist who spoke az if they
made some tacky war, az guyz who has already some history to tell and so
wonderfull piece of life to achieve, marchand de soupe ! pompier de service

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Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 15:50:23 -0500
From: t byfield <tbyfield {AT} panix.com>
Subject: Re: FW: <nettime> rhizome: burn rate

thanks, mark, for setting straight some of the facts. fwiw, i did note 
that my memory was probably off, and indeed it was in a few cases. i'd
hope that people took that caveat seriously, but some didn't (obviously),
so i'll apologize for getting some things wrong. some. more generally, 
though, it was a bit astonishing to read rachel's mail detecting all 
manner of innuendo about 'pilfering' this and 'embarrassing' that, let
alone some of the more salacious trolls i got along the same lines. my
point was much simpler: it doesn't make much sense to strike some heroic 
stance one way or the other on rhizome's current situation without taking 
its past into account. the fact of the matter is that entire precincts 
of the net were built as labors of love: it's far from self-evident that
anyone *should* (OR *should not*) get paid to run something like rhizome.
it's certainly reasonable for rhizome to seek funding from above or be-
low, as it were; but it's equally reasonable to point out that (to use
diplo parlance) the question of whether someone gets paid need not be 
'linked' to the question of whether rhizome continues to run. your note
to andreas suggests that you're thinking about that relation in a more 
nuanced way than a lot of these discussions would seem to suggest -- or 
at least thinking about it in a way that's more chronological than log-
ical, which is a big difference, i'll grant you. but that nuance isn't
very evident in rhizome's fund-raising rhetoric.

> rhizome started on feb 1 1996 as a mailing list, generously hosted by 
> desk.nl (thanks to walter van der cruijsen). i was still living in berlin 
> at the time. i moved to new york in march 1996 and began work on the web 
> site. the idea was to build a web-based archive for the email discussion.
> total funding for stockobjects was about $2m over four years (1996-2000).
> rhizome was never a tax shelter for stockobjects. rhizome and stockobjects 
> were separate business units of one company. members of the rhizome 
> community (among others) served as suppliers of stock animations, applets 
> and graphics for stockobjects, a new media stock library. these digital 
> objects were then licensed to commercial web developers for a fee. the 
> suppliers got part of the fee. i still think it was a good idea, but it 
> never really took off. stockobjects folded in 2000.

god (and you :) know what the finances of the larger company were, but 
it'd be surprising if that company didn't book losses stemming from its 
various business units. that, as you note below WRT legal fees, would be 
standard accounting practice. anyway, my intent in bringing up SO wasn't 
to suggest, as rachel had it, that anyone's motivation (let alone sole
motivation) in maintaining rhizome in that context was a tax write-off, 
or even that that was the 'only' relation between the two operations.
but, given the current discussions, it's worth noting that rhizome has a
long history of looking for ways to 'leverage' the work of its contrib-
utors: early on under a paid licensing scheme, later under a (mainly) un-
paid licensing scheme, and now under a subscription scheme. to date, 
rhizome's drift has been a 'frog-boiling' approach: turning up the heat 
-- in the form of imposing more and more hurdles to access -- bit by bit. 
that's fine: people make their own choices. but it's worth noting that 
drift and asking what the next (inevitable, imo) turn of the burner will 

the best guess i've heard: rhizome sells its archives to the whitney for
a seven-figure sum. not *quite* yet, but not too far off.

> the process wasn't so messy. in early 1998, adaweb and word both got shut 
> down by their corporate parents. i was getting pressure to either shut 
> rhizome down, turn it into a more commercial publication for web designers 
> (something like web monkey) or spin it off. i felt that we were doing 
> something worth-while, so i chose to spin rhizome off as a nonprofit. we 
> created a new nonprofit entity called rhizome.org and rachel went with it. 
> for most of 1998, rachel was the sole employee of rhizome.org. our total 
> budget for that year was under $30,000. it was a very tough time for 
> rhizome.org. our office was a desk in the back of postmasters gallery. for 
> part of the summer,  rachel and alex camped out at the thing (thanks, 
> wolfgang!). in 1999, i left stockobjects and became rhizome's full-time 
> executive director. i focused on developing new programs (such as the 
> artbase) and on fundraising. we grew fairly quickly from that point on.

as meta noted in starting out this thread, 'rough' is pretty relative.

> our costs are actually relatively low for a new york-based nonprofit arts 
> organization of our size (i.e. range of programs, number of people served, 
> etc.). below are actual expenses for a few other ny-based nonprofit arts orgs:
> the kitchen spent $1,646,312 in 2001
> creative time spent $965,967 in 2001
> artists space spent $721,110 in 1999
> bomb magazine spent $556,476 in 2001
> turbulence spent $138,329 in 2000
> it is difficult to compare since unlike rhizome some of these orgs have 
> physical spaces or print publications while others offer fewer programs. 
> all of these organizations do a lot with very little. my point is that 
> rhizome is in the ballpark. our funds are spent very carefully, very 
> efficiently and very effectively.

well, this says a lot, but maybe not what you intended. rhizome works, 
almost exclusively, with individual artists who are making digital work
on a comparatively flexible schedule. with all due respects, that's about 
as far as you can get from collectively produced, limited-iteration and 
tightly scheduled performances in capital-intensively outfitted physical 
spaces while still remaining within the realm of 'art.' the costs *neces-
sarily* incurred by an institution like the kitchen are ORDERS OF MAGNI-
TUDE higher than those incurred by running a website and some mailing 
lists. the same goes for creative time, which has to devote extensive 
resources to negotiating the bureaucracies involved in presenting works
in public spaces (and much besides). and the same is true, in different
though less extreme ways, for institutions that maintain public exhibi-
tions and/or publish in print, particularly schedule-sensitive publica-
tions like magazines. so, while institutions like that may be the ball-
park rhizome is aiming for, they're playing way different sports than
rhizome plays. 

sort of like the difference, say, between slashdot and a convention.


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From: "Brice Bowman" <brice {AT} bricebowman.com>
Subject: Re: FW: <nettime> rhizome: burn rate
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 19:51:24 -0800

----- Original Message -----
from: "Mark Tribe" <mt {AT} rhizome.org>
to: <nettime-l {AT} bbs.thing.net>
sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 11:04 PM
subject: Re: FW: <nettime> rhizome: burn rate

> On January 19, Ted Byfield wrote:


Mark, in my view the funds were not spent carefully and efficiently, or you
would not be in the position you are in now. I am sorry if this sounds
harsh, but since you are asking for the users to provide monetary support
via subscriptions, you open yourself up to a concern that one the money
would not be spent "carefully and efficiently; and a concern I have is that
you would come back again (and again) for more money by increasing the
subscription rate.
And at this point, I would like to reiterate something I expressed early on,
but may have been forgotten in all of my recent objections of your
requestion for monetary subscriptions, that I trully in the fullest sense of
the word, and I mean artistically here, enjoyed and respected what was
taking place at Rhizome. Thank you for that. It is a lose that Rhizome
changed, and in my opinion it will not endure in its new format because
artists (and not only in countries outside of the U.S.) do not have $5
bucks, because they busy spending "five bucks" on everything else.
Mark, in closing, not that you need to hear if from me, but I do think you
have a very interesting vision, and am keenly interested to see where you go
with it.

Brice Bowman

> >and i'm not sure i'd en- tirely believe what various rhizomatics 
> >say: for example, francis whang (director of technology) talks
> >about 'massive hosting fees,' but the FY 2000 tax forms say hosting cost

> the hosting fees on the budget are all related to the hosting of the
> rhizome.org web site--not our new hosting service. our hosting costs
> aren't that high, considering our traffic: currently around $1,000/month. 

Thanks Ted, for this posting, and Mark thank you for your follow up

Brice Bowman

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