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RE: <nettime> : Re: New Media Education and Its Discontent
Nato Thompson on Wed, 8 Oct 2003 20:54:40 +0200 (CEST)


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RE: <nettime> : Re: New Media Education and Its Discontent


"the irony of this all is that most 'new media' programs -- as in the
ones suffering from discontents (and they certainly do, in large part
because their terrain is ageing 'in internet years') -- are more akin to
polytechnic programs than humanities departments. as such, they
*do* tend to be more practical than philosophical in their orientation.
but many among their faculty were weaned on new-economy expectations
about their own careers and therefore tend to see themselves in terms
that are more philosophical than practical. as a result, i suspect that
many of the discontents diagnosed stem not from students but, rather,
from the teachers for whom the faithless description 'training HTML"

I think that Ted Byfield's quote above really hit the nail on the head.
"New Media" depts. Suffer from the polytechnic field they are inevitably
engulfed in. Many students have already decided that entering into this
department is a career move and hardly have the patience to hear about
esoteric "intellectualism" as they are quite convinced that it will have
next to know applicability in their plan (which is generally an accurate
statement.) I don't believe it is advisable for Trebor to generalize his
experience to a demonization of American students vs the ever so
valuable European "will to learn". I mean lets face it, the US academic
system is so vast and varied that it is inevitable that the student
"consumer" approach will pervade. (not that I support such an approach
necessarily).

However, I do think that Trebor's concern over anti-intellectualism is
very important to raise. With the Schwarzenneger victory over in
California, we see yet another example of the "working class
millionaire". He may be rich but he plays everyday people in films and
tv. Even when Bush Jr. was running for election, his PR team managed to
present an image of a schlepping working class guy who managed a
struggling oil company and down-and-out baseball team. While it seems
absolutely insane for this to be believed: it is! He appeared far more
working class than Gore let alone the stiff, consumer advocate Nader.
Somehow, class tension tends to manifest in a skepticism towards stuffy
intellectuals. 

"Intellectuals" (and I don't have nearly as much antipathy for them as
Mr. Flagan) could really use a PR team. But what would that require?
Possibly having things to say that are important to everyday people.
Maybe having a visible platform to discuss ideas (Possessing some aspect
of popular media might be nice.) Maybe being relevant and possessing
humility. 

Looking into Alexis De-Tocqueville in his Democracy in America, you find
a clear analysis of this dilemna. And I feel it is a dilemna. Currently,
we are witness to the incredible advantage the right wing has in
positioning themselves as the "everyday people's" party. It is used over
and over again. "Contract with America??????" 

I don't particularly think those weened on October magazine and Critical
Inquiry have even conceived of themselves as bowing down to a people's
critical theory but it would be nice. Or not. I am not sure. Ok. Some
intellectuals might be a waste of time. But for those that are not,
alas, new strategies are in order! Generally I find the likes of Michael
Moore who manages to popularly voice critique a signpost for radical
strategies. For intellectuals. I suspect this issue is larger than the
classroom.

Tip top,
nato

-----Original Message-----
From: monica ross [mailto:Monica.Ross {AT} ncl.ac.uk] 
Sent: Tuesday, October 07, 2003 11:43 PM
To: nettime-l {AT} bbs.thing.net
Subject: <nettime> : Re: New Media Education and Its Discontent

Re: Tue, 07 Oct 2003 Are Flagan <areflagan {AT} transcodex.net>:

 "This is why your
>readymade-for-teacher-conference aphorisms about "educators who educate

>people to think for themselves" stink of the implicit move toward 
>intellectual narrowing and oppression that in turn invokes your 
>frequent anti-intellectual charge."

isn't the logic of this sentence a bit like saying that people who
encourage free speech"stink of the implicit move toward intellectual
narrowing and oppression" ? what is all this fear of thinking as a valid
activity in itself? furious students are usually furious about being
 <...>

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