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Re: <nettime> report_on_NNA
t byfield on Sat, 10 Jun 2006 07:58:25 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> report_on_NNA

eduardo {AT} navasse.net (Thu 06/08/06 at 01:38 PM -0700):

> But what really bothers me is this, that the current discussion on  the
> nettime list is really about nettime and nettime and nettime...



gita {AT} ping.ca (Thu 06/08/06 at 01:29 PM -0400):

> the effects were fairly obvious from the frenzy that's been triggered.

The list's peculiar (and boring) tendency to lapse into obsessive self-
regard has two sources: a few who seek to shroud it in a sort of 31337 
mystique in order to burnish their reputations, and a small chorus for 
whom the word "moderation" appears to pose a serious health risk. But, 
happily, a quick search of the archives shows that moderation hasn't been 
ginned up into an 'issue' for years now. Something like half of the list's 
current subscribers never directly experienced the 'mod wars.' I have no 
idea what that collective fact *means*; nor does anyone else. That's what
makes it fun -- and what makes these retrospective paroxysms so un-fun.

If the archaeology of this thread doesn't interest you, read no further.

geert {AT} xs4all.nl (Thu 06/08/06 at 10:12 AM +0200):

> To correct Ted (with whom I have not been in direct contact for many
> years), I left the nettime-l moderation group early 2000. I wrote down
> my version of the nettime history till 2000 in my book Dark Fiber. I am
> indeed one of the founders of nettime and take credit for that work from
> 95-99, yes.

Familiar enough to merit no comment, but then this:

geert {AT} xs4all.nl (Fri 06/09/06 at 08:33 AM +0200):

> competent people on nettime-l who can do this job. I did that work in
> 95-99 and rotation means that's it up to others to do the moderation,

In taking credit for '95-'99, what's unfailingly passed over (then,
and for SEVEN YEARS since) is sharing it -- or, better yet, shutting 
up about it. The idea that whatever might make nettime valuable could
have been 'founded' by anyone is silly, and the idea that that sort of 
trivia means anything when weighed against thousands of contributors'
efforts over more than a decade is even sillier. Yet it's ubiquitous -- 
and exaggerated too. Cui bono? 

For the last ~two years of this '95-'99 period, Geert did nothing in 
terms of running the list. That's why pious lectures on "rotation" are 
so boring: in practice, he evolved into a sort of celebrity CEO -- the 
Lee Iacocca of nettime, if you will. Despite fantasies of a moderator 
c*b*l sacrificing baby emails etc, many of the ~ethical stances that
have done much to shape how nettime unfolded were efforts to sidestep 
those sorts of ambitions -- institutionalization, top-down projects, 
consolidation of the archives under a single license, applications for 
awards and grants, collaborations that required some  sort of executive
function, etc.

To say this plainly is not to deny that Geert made any contribution --
OF COURSE HE DID, most notably his relentless evangelism for the list, 
in word and deed. But if one unpacks that activity, one stumbles into
the maze of nettime's pseudo-mystique: its murky paternalism, its rep
for elitism, its self-mythologizing, its conflation of person with 
project and substance with self-promotion. This is not conjecture.

The "moderation group," which consisted of people who had moderated the
list if only briefly, 're-fell apart' in May 2000 after a rump crew, of 
which Geert was a part, tried but failed to come up with any coherent 
reason or plan for revanchist projects like turning nettime to an invite-
only list. What was left were basically two groups: those who maintained 
the list and those who didn't -- a distinction which, even by that time, 
was old and bitter. Then as now, whenever a working-class mod had the 
temerity to publicly question a Founding Father, the rote response was
a proclamation: "Rotation! It's time for you to move on!" -- as though 
moral authority springs from a mythical aristocratic event but doesn't 
accrue over time through daily labors. In this topsy-turvy (and all-too-
familiar) view, whatever legitimacy might trickle down to usurpers can 
always be undermined as arrogation ("It isn't *really* theirs, you see -- 
they just took it and won't let go..."); and droll psychologisms swoop in
to play a supporting role ("So what exactly *does* this mean to you...?" 
-- double-bound with "How dare you, a moderator, say *or even think* such 
a thing!"). 

In eight years of experimentation, a number of people have 'rotated' in
and out. The reasons they left ranged from disillusionment to scheduling
issues to, of all things, soul-destroying levels of network latency. We
consistently saw that it's not a viable program. So, with each repetition, 
calls for rotation in the abstract become emptier and emptier -- demands
that someone *else* to do something. It's just pseudo-political posturing 
decked out in the garb of some idyllic past when nettime was, basically, 
a bohemian club. To hold that up as the standard against which 'actually 
existing' nettime fails is the kind of slop one would expect from a codger 
rocking angrily in a squeaky chair and grousing about Kids Today. 

As for Geert's version of nettime's history in _Dark Fiber_, my response 
-- which looks at the issue from more of a *historiographical* standpoint 
-- is here:



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