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Re: <nettime> The Arpanet Dialogues Vol. II
Newmedia on Thu, 31 Mar 2011 06:20:08 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> The Arpanet Dialogues Vol. II

Fascinating . . . but why did they do it and for whom?
To answer the question you need to follow the trajectory of the preferred  
means of communication among military researchers in the Cold War context of 
the  1950's -- face-to-face conferences, often free-form and complete with 
"watchers"  taking notes.
Recall that "Communication Science" was also a priority for the CIA et  al 
in the 50's, which they funded and staffed with social scientists, many  
coming from the "psychological warfare" that dominated strategy in WW II --  as 
documented by Chris Simpson in his book, "The Science of Coercion."
As Bob Taylor (i.e. the psychologist who funded the project at ARPA) made  
clear in his Computer History Museum speech, Arpanet was always about  
"communicating" but the original plan was simply for "researchers" (i.e. those  
on military research projects) and that no one involved imagined what they 
were  doing would lead to anything like nettime.

While there were many CIA/Pentagon-funded  conferences in the 1950's, 
involving the key researchers, including those  on Cybernetics and LSD, but as 
the "big-shots" built up their labs and gained  some measure of power (i.e. 
the ability to resist being called to yet another  annual session), the 
quality of these conferences fell off.  In  addition, arguments between the 
participants increased (i.e. whatever sense  of common purpose following WWII 
One direction this took was to try to "capture" the ongoing discussions  
among the researchers without any need for travel.  Thus the Arpanet --  
best-and-brightest dialogue complete with built-in surveillance.
Another was to bring people together for a more extended period, while  
"rotating" those involved, such as the Ford Foundation backed Center for the  
Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences (CASBS, pronounced "Casbah"), modeled 
on  the IAS at Princeton.
Figuring out how these explicitly Cold War research plans "flipped" into  
something very different would require applying McLuhan's "Laws of Media" to 
the  analysis.  Any takers?
Mark Stahlman
Brooklyn NY
In a message dated 3/30/2011 4:47:24 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
felix {AT} openflows.com writes:

These are mind-boggling documents. In the first one, in 1975,  Ronald
Reagan ('call me Ron'), Marcel Broodthears, Edward Said sitting  in
military facilities around the world, testing out the first  real-time
chat over Arpanet while waiting for Jane Fonda to show up. But  she is
late the transcript stops before she, or the moderator, ever  arrives.
Beckett could not have written this  better.

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