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<nettime> The Next Layer Unlaunched
Armin Medosch on Mon, 28 Apr 2008 11:53:36 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> The Next Layer Unlaunched



Dear Nettimers,


in August last year I quietly launched www.thenextlayer.org , a drupal
based platform for collaborative research.[1] A number of things are
coming together here. In 2006 I had started a practice led PhD at
Goldsmiths in Art and Computing. As I approached the subject of how to
organise my research, I looked around at what other people did. What
I identified was what I call 'the lonely research blog'. Many people
have a blog, usually wordpress, and if you look at it in a bit more
detail you will see that either the frequency of the posts is not that
great, that there are hardly ever responses and that generally those
sites feel lonely. Lonely researchers post apologetic things such as
"I know I have not posted anything substantial for 3 months but I am
going to be soon" etc.


Generally this is an issue with PhD's. If you do it full time or part
time, basically you have a period of 3 or more years where you dont
have an output, or a public with whom to interact. The supervisors may
be more or less sympathetic to the project, yet it stays a quiet and
lonely activity. Doll Yoko wrote about being a 'lonely long distance
runner'. I thought there is no need to be a lonely long distance
runner. So I opened up the site for other users and started inviting
hand selected people of whom I knew they had a research interest which
overlaps with my own. My thesis is simple: People with an overlapping
research interest will benefit from sharing an environment where each
of them posts research journal entries (which is our word instead of
the ugly 'blog'), reading notes, annotated links, images, audio, maps,
diagrams etc. Simply by noticing those things that other people do
laterally I will benefit. There is also the option that you find out
that someone has a much closer relationship to your work than anybody
else. In this case you might start collaborating more explicitely
engaging in what I call real peer review.


There is a co-authored piece which talks about this in more
detail: The Next Layer as a Medium for Practice-led Research
http://www.thenextlayer.org/node/382


Over the past months slowly a usage of the site evolved. A most
interesting aspect for me was and is also to design the site myself.
Over the past 2, 3 years or so I learned a bit of Linux and I managed
so far to do everything myself.


Lisa Haskel brought up the notion of 'user designed software' in this
regard http://www.thenextlayer.org/node/18 I am not a programmer but
a system such as Drupal enables me to configure a fairly complex
system. there is still much left to be done, but some small things
have already been achieved. Apart from all sorts of different 'content
types' which is drupalish for the sort of media and content formats
that you can use, such as reasearch journal (blog), image, audio,
forum etc., we now have managed to include bibliographic references
and footnotes. There is a biblio database as part of the system which
works well with BibTex - so you can import and export bib files -
and there is also a 'footnotes' function. So, apart from more fancy
social softwarish things that I hope the site will do in the future,
it currently at least allows proper working with text, you can have
nicely formated footnotes and you can reference, and there is also
a diff function for versioning - not really a wiki but wiki style
version control.

With those new functions, people have started to upload whole books on
thenextlayer.org

Adnan Hadzi and Jonas Andersson, co-editors of the Deptford.TV Diaries
II Pirate Strategies http://www.thenextlayer.org/node/418 have started
to upload some chapters. Among those first chapters is my piece Paid
in Full http://www.thenextlayer.org/node/428 which contains a mild
polemic against copyleft radicals on one hand, who want to abolish
copyright completely and work themselves into a frenzy about the
merits of bittorrent, and about institutional scroungers on the
other hand who have institutional jobs but keep asking people like
me for free work. This piece drew a response from Rasmus Fleischer
(Piratbyrån) and a response to the response by Jonas Andersson
http://www.thenextlayer.org/node/430


After some months of quiet development, recently some more momentum
emerged on the site through the taxi-to-praxi workshop held at
Goldmsiths on 21st of April. In the UK there is a big discussion
about practice led PhDs and how to link the theory with the practice.
Together with Adnan Hadzi, Jonas Andersson and Lindsay Brown we
organised a one day workshop at Goldsmiths Digital Studios. It
was attended by 35 people, one third Goldsmiths, one third other
universities, one third independent practitioners. nettime's Matt
Fuller was also there. The day tried to tackle two main issues at
the same time, one the practice-based question as such, the second
one trying to work out notions of FOSS methodologies in cvonnection
with research and using a platform like Thenextlayer.org A number of
shorter pieces are flying around which I wont link individually.


However, there is also an invited guest contribution, John
Barker on C.W.Mills' concept of Intellectual Craftsmanship
http://www.thenextlayer.org/node/427

And having invited Jaromil to the taxi-to-praxi workshop finally gave
me the motivation to write this piece Babylon by Bus - Jaromil, the
lyrical programmer activisthttp://www.thenextlayer.org/node/421 which
stems from my research project on FOSS developers with an artistic and
/ or political visions. Towards the end the piece contains some more
theoretic propositions to which I am happy to receive some feedback.


I would also like to mention that Doll Yoko shares her PhD research
with us in this piece http://www.thenextlayer.org/node/359 on Moll
Flanders, Prefiguring the Immaterial worker?


Through taxi-to-praxi the site has seen a surge in usage recently
and I think it can deal with even a few more users. therefore I
would like to invite you to join and become a fellow researcher
at thenextlayer.org if you feel what we do overlaps with your own
interest. Membership is not exclusive to PhD researchers, everyone
can join. You can register at the top left sidebar on the homepage.
Initially after registration you will not have many rights at all,
you cannot post and comments go into an approval queue. Thus, if you
are impatient send me an email and I upgrade you. Otherwise just wait
to be detected, usually I will see you within 24 hours and upgrade
you. This measure is to stop spammers from abusing the site while at
the same time avoiding captcha style access barriers. Everybody is
welcome, but I would like to add please do only register if you really
intent to post things, simply cfrom registering you wont have any
benefits If you just want to keep in touch with what is going on a
better way is maybe to subscribe to the RSS feed.


yours

armin



1 Originally the domain name was reserved for my research on the
politics and culture of free software developers. I posted an article
on this here about a year ago

http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-0702/msg00029.html
but for various reasons this book project had to be put on the back
burner. I will publish excerpts from this research bit by bit on TNL.


TNL is hosted by lo-res.org and had some financial support from
net.culture.lab Vienna.




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