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<nettime> the next layered digest [medosch, kanarinka, galloway, de vrie
nettime's_metaphorical_archaeologist on Mon, 26 Feb 2007 19:07:14 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> the next layered digest [medosch, kanarinka, galloway, de vries (x2)]


Re: <nettime> the next layer or the emergence of open source culture
     Armin Medosch <armin {AT} easynet.co.uk>
     kanarinka <kanarinka {AT} ikatun.com>
     Alexander Galloway <galloway {AT} nyu.edu>
     "Kimberly De Vries" <cuuixsilver {AT} gmail.com>
     "Kimberly De Vries" <cuuixsilver {AT} gmail.com>

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Subject: Re: <nettime> the next layer or the emergence of open source
From: Armin Medosch <armin {AT} easynet.co.uk>
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2007 12:22:45 +0000

Hi Kimberley

thanks for your your detailed feedback. this text is a draft and some
phrases or sentences are not as well considered as others. I definitely
dont want to sound paranoid because I am not. Maybe I get carried away a
bit rethorically at the end but I dont really see the need to 'hide' the
political content. what I try to say, the beauty is, it happens anyway,
even if it is not being seen as that. 

>From a European point of view I dont think there are political
witchhunts for people in academia going on, not yet at least. But what
does the job pretty well of weeding out the baddies, the not so
ideologically well adjusted, are 'self selecting' economic measures. ma
courses closed down for low student numbers, cuts, etc. it is one of the
ironies particularly here in Britain that much talkied about values of
education get systematically undermined by the way the system is
constructed. 

The intended book will still take a while. This text is an attempt of
getting a meta-view, away from the detail. I have made interviews with
free software developers and artists and I will make them accessible  on
the theoriebild.ung.at wiki, at least in excerpts, slowly and bit by
bit, cause its lots of work to edit them into some consumable shape.   

regards
Armin

On Mon, 2007-02-19 at 22:04 -0800, Kimberly De Vries wrote:

 <...>
> Well, give how poorly American students are (allegedly) doing in
> science, maybe this threat has a limited future, in the US, that is.
> But I wonder, if remaining unrecognized is so important, wouldn't it
> be better not to draw attention with articles like this?  I hope this
> doesn't sound like heckling, but in fact large corporations and also
> some political groups have really gone after people/companies/groups
> they saw as threats.  Should we actually behave in a more
> conspiratorial way in order to protect the Open Source movement?
> 
> Anyway, it sounds interesting.  When do you expect it to be finished
> and released?
> 
> Thanks,
> 
> Kim
 <...>

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From: kanarinka <kanarinka {AT} ikatun.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> the next layer or the emergence of open source culture
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2007 11:29:24 -0500

>>  The historic roots could be seen as going back to the free and independent
>>  minded revolutionary artists and artisans in 19th  century.  More recently,
>>  it is based on post-World-War-II grassroots anti-imperialist liberation
>>  movements, on bottom-up self-organised culture of the new political
>>  movements of the 1960ies and 1970ies  such as the African American civil
>>  rights movements, feminisim,  lesbian, gay, queer and transgender
>>  movements, on the first and second wave of  hacker culture, punk and the
>>  DIY culture, squatter movements, and the  left-wing of critical art and
>>  media art practices.  ...........  Open Source Culture needs to be
>>  constantly aware of capitalisms propensity to adapt, adopt, co-opt and
>>  subjugate progressive  movements and ideas to its own goals. The 'digital
>>  revolution' was already  stolen once by the right-wing libertarians from
>>  Wired and their republican allies such as Newt Gingrich and the posse of
>>  American cyber-gurus  from George Gilder to Nicholas Negroponte.

I am reading an interesting book ("From Counterculture to  
Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of  
Digital Utopianism") which is not line with what you are saying above  
and goes against the commonly held assumption that "capitalism"  
commodified an otherwise pure cultural force. The author Fred Turner  
tracks how computer technology became "liberating" and how digital  
utopianism was always hand-in-hand with various forces: corporate,  
market-driven, scientific, and institutional. He also shows how Wired  
came out of leftist libertarian New Communalist politics and long  
practices (on the part of Stewart Brand) of creating networked spaces  
of social utopianism, discussion and exchange between various actors.

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From: Alexander Galloway <galloway {AT} nyu.edu>
Subject: Re: <nettime> the next layer or the emergence of open source culture
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 10:50:25 -0500

On Feb 17, 2007, at 3:43 AM, Armin Medosch wrote:

 >Open Source Culture is about creating new things, be they software,
 >artefacts or social platforms. [...] Creativity is not just about work
 >but about playfulness, experimentation and the joy of sharing.

+ + +

Thanks for this interesting polemic. First a minor point: can you please
qualify the "we" in "First 'we' had media art"? Who is the we? One can
only assume that by "we" you mean happy-go-lucky nettimers? The sorts of
people who attend net art conferences? Lefty westerns in Euramerica who
hand out Ubuntu disks on the street? I think I know who you mean, but
some precision in your clarion call would be helpful.

A more thorny problem however is this question of "the new." This
strikes me as inadequate for any progressive polemic today. If you
maintain this position, fine, but you will have to make your peace with
a number of formidable socio-political critiques that have emerged in
recent years. I'm speaking of the growing list of authors and critics
who recognize that "the new" is precisely the location of exploitation
and valorization in today's economy, not an escape from it.

Armin's post recalls the German romantic poet Friedrich Schiller who in
1795 in his "On the Aesthetic Education of Man" put forward a notion of
play as integral to human evolution and liberation. But by the early
twentieth century, Adorno is on record critiquing this position:
"Playful forms are without exception forms of repetition," wrote Adorno
in his "Aesthetic Theory." "In art, play is from the outset disciplinary
[and] art allies itself with unfreedom in the specific character of
play. [...] The element of repetition in play is the afterimage of
unfree labor" (pp. 317-318).

The work of Pierre Bourdieu would also undermine your position. There
are certainly reasons to be skeptical of his work, but one must admit
that Bourdieusian theory essentially scuttles any notion that
intellectuals or knowledge workers are "creating" and working in
communities free from capitalization and exchange. Bourdieu's
pseudo-deterministic "fields" of cultural production indicate that there
are indeed new modes of capital that exist entirely within the
superstructure.

Similarly, Alan Liu's "The Laws of Cool" would also cast doubt on your
claims. While I find his reading of digital art unsatisfying, his
assessment of knowledge work and capitalist cultures of creativity is
excellent. In my view it's the best book on the subject, at least the
best one that doesn't treat creativity and "the new" as simply a
question of political economy (as someone like Manuel Castells does).
For Liu it is entirely a question of aesthetics and cultural production.
Liu also does the extremely valuable task of providing an overview and
critique of recent management theory. This body of
literature--exemplified by Tom Peter's 1992 book "Liberation
Management"--also casts doubt on your credo due to its explicit
endorsement of "chaos," "flexibility," "change," "innovation,"
"diversity," "the next" as central virtues of the new economy. The
management consultants know that creativity is highly valorizable. In my
view this mode has been hegemonic in the economy since the 1990s, and
central but not yet dominant since the 1970s. (The work of Hardt and
Negri on immaterial labor is also important here, but this material is
likely more familiar to nettimers.) Technology-wise, Google, Flickr,
Myspace, youTube, del.icio.us, etc. are all examples of what you call
"playfulness, experimentation and the joy of sharing," but I hope we can
admit that all these are at the same time extremely shrewd new models
for production and exploitation. (Example: Google makes money based on
lots of very small amounts of unpaid "creative" labor performed by
billions of web users. This is what exploitation looks like under
post-Fordism.)

Additionally, there are a number of people in art history who suspect
the uninterrogated category of "the new." I'm thinking of Rosalind
Krauss' "The Originality of the Avant-Garde" and Peter Burger's "Theory
of the Avant-Garde."

But on the other hand, there are a number who agree with you about the
essentially liberatory and progressive nature of "the new." Derrida and
others from the '68 generation would be important figures here. But in
the contemporary debate, McKenzie Wark's book "A Hacker Manifesto" might
be the best endorsement of the resistive and progressive nature of "the
new." In his view, hackers are those who "produce new concepts, new
perceptions, new sensations, hacked out of raw data" (p. 2). Wark's work
is extremely evocative in general, yet this point is problematic for the
reasons hinted at above.

Perhaps it might help to divide the rhetoric of your piece between (1)
creativity, play, and the new, and (2) the gift, the public domain. The
second group of terms strike me as still fundamentally corrosive for
capitalist valorization (even if capitalism might still rely on "common"
entities like protocols or natural resources to grow and prosper).
Furthermore, I think you can make your same argument, while avoiding
pie-in-the-sky proclamations about the miraculous advent of "the new" or
the liberatory potential of the knowledge labor of the creative classes.

Finally, in this age of dotcom boosterism, I'm surprised you selected a
phrase like "The Next Layer" to describe your project. This sounds more
like a Vista service pack, no?

... with warm regards from the evil empire,

-ag

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Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 11:07:36 -0800
From: "Kimberly De Vries" <cuuixsilver {AT} gmail.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> the next layer or the emergence of open source culture

Hey Armin,

On 2/21/07, Armin Medosch <armin {AT} easynet.co.uk> wrote:

> thanks for your your detailed feedback. this text is a draft and some
> phrases or sentences are not as well considered as others. I definitely
> dont want to sound paranoid because I am not. Maybe I get carried away a
> bit rethorically at the end but I dont really see the need to 'hide' the
> political content. what I try to say, the beauty is, it happens anyway,
> even if it is not being seen as that.

I don't mean you should hide it, but maybe mention/document some
examples when you talk about various covert deals made between
groups--just claiming they exist won't convince a reader who doesn't
already agree, and I assume you would like to persuade them.

I think in the US, at least, people are sometimes so reluctant to
believe these things that you have practically club them over the head
with evidence.

> >From a European point of view I dont think there are political
> witchhunts for people in academia going on, not yet at least. But what
> does the job pretty well of weeding out the baddies, the not so
> ideologically well adjusted, are 'self selecting' economic measures. ma
> courses closed down for low student numbers, cuts, etc. it is one of the
> ironies particularly here in Britain that much talkied about values of
> education get systematically undermined by the way the system is
> constructed.

I think that is a problem in the US as well, especially since
educations has been underfunded since probably the 70s--perhaps not
coincidentally the point at which it was most closely allied to civil
rights and anti-war movements.

And now in Arizona, a state-level House committee has approved
legislation that would ban any public school educator or college
professor from advocating for or against a political candidate in
class, or advocating for a social, political, or cultural issue that
is part of a partisan debate.  If this passes, I can't imagine what
they will talk about or write about in History class, or composition,
or really any of them.  I guess we can all just switch to multiple
choice tests.

> The intended book will still take a while. This text is an attempt of
> getting a meta-view, away from the detail. I have made interviews with
> free software developers and artists and I will make them accessible  on
> the theoriebild.ung.at wiki, at least in excerpts, slowly and bit by
> bit, cause its lots of work to edit them into some consumable shape.

Perhaps you should make that aim explicit and say more about how it
will help?  I'll be interested to see the interviews.  How many people
have you spoken or will you speak to?


Best,

Kim

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Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2007 18:33:29 -0500
From: "Kimberly De Vries" <cuuixsilver {AT} gmail.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> the next layer or the emergence of open source culture

Armin,

Sorry for being unclear earlier.  I was thinking of passages like this:

"The 'digital revolution' was already stolen
once by the right-wing libertarians from Wired and their republican
allies such as Newt Gingrich and the posse of American cyber-gurus from
George Gilder to Nicholas Negroponte. "

And this:

"The
education system has been turned into a sausage factory where engineers
are turned out who construct their own digital panopticons. Scary new
nano- and bio-technologies are created in secret laboratories by Big
Science."

In the US, some people will nod in agreement when reading this, but by
no means all, and probably most people would question many assumptions
implicit in these statements.

I personally agree that coding really can't help but be political,
given the current debate about copyrights and IP, etc.  (among other
things) and also with your ultimate proposal that the cocoa coop and
hack-lab should unite.  I am just pointing out that some of these
underlying assumptions will probably provoke considerable resistance
in some readers.  You might persuade more of them if you unpack those
genral statements a bit and offer some concrete examples.

Best,

Kim

On 2/23/07, Armin Medosch <armin {AT} easynet.co.uk> wrote:

> On Thu, 2007-02-22 at 11:07 -0800, Kimberly De Vries wrote:
>
> > I don't mean you should hide it, but maybe mention/document some
> > examples when you talk about various covert deals made between
> > groups--just claiming they exist won't convince a reader who doesn't
> > already agree, and I assume you would like to persuade them.
>
> Sorry, but I dont get this any more. Where do I talk about 'covert deals
 <...>

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