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RE: <nettime> NNA critical openings and closings
werboon on Thu, 8 Jun 2006 04:26:46 +0200 (CEST)

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RE: <nettime> NNA critical openings and closings

There was a passionate point raised near the end of NNA, that just when
people begin to critically say something on/about nettime, discussion
quickly gets shut down, generally through the invocation of 'highbrow
theory' and/or 'academic references'. And while this is true to a certain
extent, people do hide behind references and theories, they are also
increasingly inclined, in our ever expanding open social order, to hide
behind forwarded information; not taking a position one way or the other,
just forwarding. Sadly for us, both on and off nettime, without positions,
collective critical engagement will wane and ultimately vanish, not just
here, but everywhere.

And so in the spirit of position-taking, I contend that with more and more
social noise blaring out of internet-boom-boxes we are moving towards
entropy and inertia; we are increasingly inclined to neither hate, nor love,
just to open up more. With every passing moment, the diversity and variety
of stories we tell and access about anything and everything are opening
infinitely. And the more stories we are exposed to, the less inclined we are
to take positions. How could we? Knowing that so many view things so

Today, we value information openings and fear closures against social noise;
we fear the -isms they may produce. This is life in open social order, in
cybernetic ecumenical society. And we are not here by chance. There is a
legacy to this project, of which the internet is but one component. This
legacy traces back to cybernetics and the mass adoption of a mathematical
philosophy that is based on undertsanding both humans and machines as 'open
information processing systems'. Through a variety of mapping techniques
based on notions of feedback loops, cybernetics seeks to model
socio-technical organizations and environments in order to subject them to
simulation and experimentation with the aim of predicting movement and
behavior, and ultimately controlling it. While early adoption of such
mathematical philosophy was exclusively military, such notions quickly
extended to questions of social order, leading to a series of initiatives
spearheaded by the US government since the mid-40s to 'connect' people
globally in the hopes of eliminating what an Adorno study on 'Racism in
America' called the 'authoritarian personality'.

Simply put, the idea was that the more 'open' and 'connected' people are,
the less inclined they will be to take extreme 'authoritarian' positions of
hate. The adoption of cybernetics as a basis for a worldwide social order
was cemented at the Macy conferences in Chicago in the mid 1940s, which were
attended by cybernetic and psychological luminaries including Norbert
Wiener, Gregory Bateson, Margaret Mead, von Neumann, von Forester and Kurt
Lewin, as well as the CIA. These conferences ultimately gave rise to a
series of 'open' social experiments including the LSD experiments at
Harvard, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and also ARPANET. Contrary to
many accounts of the impetus for ARPANET, the idea of an 'open social order'
to encourage a world without hate was the fundamental goal behind the advent
of the internet's predecessor, not fear of nuclear disaster.

So, where I agree with Tobias to a certain extent, that there is an
intimidation factor at play on nettime, my greater fear is that critical
discourse is not just waning on the list, but throughout digital cultures
and societies overall and this 'critical' inertia is a factor of an
anachronistic term that merits re-emergence; information overload.

And so, I take a position on the future of nettime-l: I think nettime-l is a
good closure, as it stands, and language aside, it should not branch off
into nettime jr., nettime sr., or whatever more, and heaven forbid, the
blogosphere, with all its wide-openeness and capital co-optability. There is
already enough noise from too many such openings. Rather, we need to take
advantage of new openings that emerge from within the list itself, like NNA;
and perhaps more importantly, we need to take more positions and provide far
less information, in life as much as lists.

Think twice about what you forward. Is it a good opening, or merely more

Take a stand nettimers! Take positions! Make closures! FUCK THE NOISE! at
least fleetingly...and keep doing it HERE!


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