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Re: <nettime> Blogpost: Louder Voices and Learning Networks
John Hopkins on Sun, 26 Jun 2011 20:06:45 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Blogpost: Louder Voices and Learning Networks


good musings!

some back at you...

This all seems really quite straightforward and even somehow
commendable in that it suggests that knowledge is being disengaged
from the older top-down authoritarian structures and institutions
which so many have come to distrust or even despise. And of course,
these networks are (or at least appear to be) immaterial and
placeless-existing or taking their form and substance through
invisible wires, the ether, software such as Facebook, or other
seemingly virtual products, themselves the outcome of the digital

I am not sure of the relationship of this paragraph to the intentions
of the Mobilityshifts conference, but as a framing of the contemporary
situation, it contains what I feel is a widely-held false-hood:
this being the de-materialization of digital networks. This is
the illusion! Networks and the communications carried by then are
not illusory. They require massive displacements of energy and
resources to construct, maintain, and use. Each user gives a certain
fragment of their life-energy (not returnable!) to these networks.
Large and ever-increasing social constellations tap these shared
energies. Social networks, no matter the mediatory technologies, and,
actually, *including* the entire set of mediatory technologies that
support them are not an illusion, they are very real techno-social
deployments that, in their real-ness, cause great distortion to the
global environment. Given, life always causes a distortion to its
environment, humans seem to have excelled in such distortions to their
own ultimate peril and the peril of numerous other life-forms!

Pragmatically, Mobilityshifts is simply the next generation of
academic conference which exerts a field of relevancy to itself
(academe) (as I think you suggest later in your full posting) with
the usual structure of insiders/outsiders and those 'in the know' and
those not. Nothing unusual in that: the addendees will be the usual
spectrum of academics (with random others) for whom these events are
platforms to establish tenure, reputation, (i.e., the "louder voices"
that you posit), within academia and the rare atmospheres of global
techno-social culture. In the sense that these events are largely
about limited groupings of people talking to each other, the effects
outside of those groupings are limited, so, perhaps no big worries
about overt influence, but as you say, the accumulation of exclusive
and 'loud' dialogues across a spectrum of socio-political cadres
does probably lead to actual 'policy' directions (which are often

Perhaps, as I routinely feel, moving through this incarnation, that
actual change (to our cumulative way of going) lies far from the
expressed rhetorics of change and (r)evolution that surface with
increasing frequency amongst the globally privileged. So far, in
fact, that it will effectively negate any change to business-as-usual
and the eventualities of human-driven global climate shifts will be
the only source of (r)evolutionary 'change.' Biological evolution
is driven by environmental pressures, not knowledge-based policy
implementations. Further deployments of more and more complex and
pervasive techno-social infrastructures (euphemistic 'solutions' to
our 'problems') are brute drivers of ever-widening environmental

The relevancy of any balanced dialogue (which includes far more
than mere knowledge) has to supersede the imposed structures of
elite large-scale social encounter and rediscover the true site of
(r)evolution is the granular, immediate, and genuine dialogue of


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