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Re: <nettime> Request to Nettime to be part of DISTRIBUTED CREATIVITY on
t byfield on Sun, 28 Sep 2003 00:21:53 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Request to Nettime to be part of DISTRIBUTED CREATIVITY online forum with Eyebeam


areflagan {AT} transcodex.net (Sat 09/27/03 at 01:01 PM +0200):

> > So, please tell me if Nettime is interested in this for one week in
> > November/December.

> Who would actually decide and how, on what grounds, would they -- or she or
> he -- decide? Or will this be the first (?) vote in nettimeocracy? Or will
> it be polled on the basis of yeah or nay from the focus group of whoever
> opines on the subject? Or will the gateway moderators ultimately weigh in to
> speak for and on behalf of the subscribers? Or will the founding fathers
> invoke their constitution to join this proposed union? Your presumptions
> voiced in the one sentence above raise many questions about the nature of
> community, about distribution versus hierarchy and, even, creativity.

backstory: beth sent me an invitation for nettime to participate, under  
the reasonable assumption that nettime is more or less like other organ-
izations 'in this space,' as they say: an entity that, if not legally 
then at least logically, is corporate -- with a head or group of heads 
capable of making decisions for the whole. my response was that if eye-
beam wanted to invite me and state that i'm one of nettime's moderators, 
that'd be fine because it's a mere statement of fact; but neither i nor
any (or all) of the mods could make any executive decision on behalf of 
nettime beyond deferring to nettimers themselves. thus, if eyebeam's goal 
was to invite nettime, then they'd have to ask nettime. she was a bit 
perplexed by this, and not because she didn't 'get it'; on the contrary, 
she did get it -- and recognized how quizzical it was to make a request 
of a group of people that's defined by some collective activity yet has 
no defined mechanism for acting as a corporate entity. who do you ask? 
all of them. what if some say yes, some say maybe, and some say no? well, 
that's what it is. (i'm not literally recounting our conversation.) 

lest it sound like i'm making nettime out to be some utopian TAZ that
'just works' with the imaginary frictionlessness of the 'markets' or the 
blogawful's 'the conversation' or whatever -- it certainly isn't any such 
thing -- i did stake out some basic territorial issues. for example, one 
concern was that, if 'nettime' somehow agreed to participate, there was
a risk that it could be (seen as having been) temporarily 'hijacked' as 
an eyebeam communications channel. over time we've adopted some pretty 
flexible ways of negotiating the variable tension between being ~focus-
less, on the one hand, and ephemeral focuses, on the other: mutably named 
digests that tacitly steer away from 'threadlock,' open, ad-hoc pseudonyms 
(like the roving_reporter), *ograms (ivograms, etc), the new, autonomous 
nettime-ann announcer list, and so on. so, i said, it might make sense to 
digest the eyebeam cross-traffic, either from the very beginning or on an 
ad-hoc basis. 

so, to answer your question, yes, a 'gateway moderator' already did (but
not 'ultimately') weigh in to speak for -- but not on behalf of -- the 
subscribers; but to say, in the main, 'ask them.' as to the 'founding
fathers,' i don't know, except it seems that nettime has evolved a con-
stitution closer to the british model than the american paper-fetishist
model. the downside is, of course, that it relies on a kind of benign de-
spotism -- though benign janitorialism would be more accurate. the (bleh) 
'upside' is that the paranoiac fears of control expressed so vigorously 
by critics of moderation several years ago seem -- i'm biased, of course 
(duh) -- to have said more about the limits of their imagination than any 
real threat. what went largely unspoken when the 'mod wars' dominated the 
list was the context, which was a trend (e.g., among amsterdam net.lumin-
aries) to 'privatize' purportedly 'public' forums in the service of, for 
example, careerism. i suppose it's debatable whether the 'nettime project' 
has in fact 'transgressed into an ordinary majordomo mailinglist,' though
i'd be more inclined to debate the 'transgressed' bit. but there was never 
any guarantee that those critics who so zealously spoke 'on behalf of' 
nettimers wouldn't have continued to do so -- and turned it into an entity 
with a for-sale sign hung around its neck like a stuf^W i mean *archived* 
albatross. as things stand, it can't be sold: the buyer would have to make 
the check out to 'nettime,' which in a very real sense doesn't even exist.

cheers,
t

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