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Re: <nettime> [Fwd] A Spit in the Ocean
Eugenio Tisselli on Wed, 15 Feb 2012 20:47:48 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> [Fwd] A Spit in the Ocean


Hi Jaromil, all,

Jaromil, thank you for sharing Hellekin's note. I can relate to her withdrawal, but only at a deeper level (technologically speaking)

You know better than me what the open source movement has done to empower connected communities in the past years. But I think that, with hardware, we have pretty much hit a wall. I'm not talking about having cheap or free hardware (or even open source hardware), but conflict-free devices. Even if I can't live without a connected device, right now I just don't see myself fighting for nettiquette and freedom, or against commodification and marketization, within a medium whose material existence implies the thrashing of natural environments and people's livelihoods. As you may know, there is quite a scramble right now to see who can manufacture and sell the cheapest computer in the market. But where does that cheapness come from? Illegal Tantalum mines in Eastern Congo, or the black markets that derive from them? Slave labor in Asian assembly plants? I don't mean to disqualify the current fight for the Internet... but the kernel is poisoned, if you know
 what I mean. I believe that something has to be done to bring all responsible entities and corporations to trial, before we can continue seeing our digital tools as means for empowerment.

So, as Hellekin, I have also chosen to withdraw: in my case, I have stopped creating works of e-Literature, something I did for the past ten years. Some months ago, I published a note, "Why I have stopped creating e-Lit", which basically says:

"As of today, I have decided to temporarily stop creating new works of e-Lit. I feel that the issues involved in creating artworks with computers are too important to be ignored. So I call for a truly trans-disciplinary, cross-sector research on electronic literature: one that also involves a profound understanding of its environmental and economic effects. One that doesn't ignore the social and cultural contexts which are being effectively destroyed for the sake of our technology. I am thinking specifically about Africa, and many other places around the world in which land is being grabbed and exploited, and where societies are being condemned to suffer so that we, the lucky ones, can remain connected. Is it a mere coincidence that e-Lit is not being produced or studied in those places? I don't think so."

My intention was not to draw attention upon myself: whatever I do or stop doing is of little importance. But what I wanted to do was to bring my community's attention to the practical lack of discussion and interrogation about ethics & hardware from within the field of "Digital Humanities" (I'm framing e-Literature within the broader scope of "Digital Humanities": please excuse me if any of you find this inappropriate)

My note was originally addressed to the e-Literature community, and was published at Netartery (http://netartery.vispo.com/?p=1211) ... it's also available on my Facebook profile as a note. If you wish to read my note on either site, make sure to read the comments as well... (yes, I've received some harsh criticism. And I still mean what I said)

I'm also sharing my note in nettime (see below)


Best wishes,
Eugenio.

---
Why I have stopped creating e-Lit (originally posted on Facebook on 25/11/2011)

It all started quite innocently. On January 2011, I traveled to Tanzania with the purpose of working with a group subsistence farmers, and engage them in the creation a collaborative, online knowledge base of their practices, needs and innovations. My intention was to propose this knowledge base as an interface for cross-sector communication between farmers and agricultural researchers. I developed an architecture which follows a functional and aesthetic program that seeks to include both forms of knowledge, wanting to interweave the audiovisual narratives of the farmers (oral tradition and observation) together with the text-based analyses of scientists.
?
I was motivated to create this project upon reading the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science, Technology for Development (IAASTD) Report, a 600-page document published by an international team of agricultural scientists in 2009. One of the innumerable contributions of this report is the acknowledgment that scientific knowledge, by itself, is not able to provide solutions to the incredibly complex challenges that agriculture is facing around the world. As the predominant knowledge system, science has failed to stop poverty and hunger. It has failed to link these problems to other non-scientific fields, such as the global markets and political instability. It has also neglected other forms of knowledge, such as the one that farmers have passed on from generation to generation across centuries. By becoming the dominant knowledge system and by resisting to engage in true interdisciplinary, cross-sector research, most scientists have
 effectively become the blind leading the blinded.
?
As I learned these lessons, I tried to find out how they could relate to a field in which I have been an active contributor during the past decade: Electronic Literature. A very popular "catch-phrase" started to run around in my mind: "think out of the box". I immediately transformed it to "think out of the book". All of us who have created works of electronic literature, and also those who study it, know that e-Lit strives to exist out of the book. But my new catch-phrase referred not to the book as an object, but as a metaphor to describe the scientific-academic system of knowledge that has formed around e-Lit. It became an invitation for me to stop thinking exclusively from within our discipline, and ask myself:
?
"What the hell am I doing?" Do I even know?
?
These are my thoughts: I refuse to go on creating works of e-Lit only for the sake of exploring new formats and supports, and I strongly disagree with studying e-Lit exclusively from within the academic field of Literature. By its own definition, electronic literature "lives" within electronic media. But have we, as an academic community, realized what electronic devices are doing to the environment? Do we know where the minerals that are necessary to manufacture computers come from, and under what conditions they are extracted? What about the slave labor involved in the manufacturing process? Have we deeply studied the economic implications of using computers as literary tools, in a time in which all our economic systems are collapsing? In one word, are we being responsible? I have seriously asked these questions to myself.
?
As of today, I have decided to temporarily stop creating new works of e-Lit. I feel that the issues involved in creating artworks with computers are too important to be ignored. So I call for a truly trans-disciplinary, cross-sector research on electronic literature: one that also involves a profound understanding of its environmental and economic effects. One that doesn't ignore the social and cultural contexts which are being effectively destroyed for the sake of our technology. I am thinking specifically about Africa, and many other places around the world in which land is being grabbed and exploited, and where societies are being condemned to suffer so that we, the lucky ones, can remain connected. Is it a mere coincidence that e-Lit is not being produced or studied in those places? I don't think so.
?
I am not saying that you should stop too. I deeply respect and admire the work of the international e-Lit community. I believe in individual freedom, and because of that I also expect (and hope) to be challenged. My words do not mean that we should go back in time and flatly declare that electronic literature (or computers, for that matter) is unsustainable. I will always be in love with writing and programming, and I sincerely believe that it is neither possible nor desirable to "think inside the book" again, both literally and metaphorically. But what I really need to express, before I can continue creating e-Lit, is that I feel an urgent need to achieve a more complex and holistic vision of what I am doing and reflect on its implications, unless I agree to just blindly collaborate in the vertiginous destruction of our world. I finally wish to reach out to those of you who also feel this need: let's think out of the book together.


 De: Jaromil <jaromil {AT} dyne.org>
Para: nettime-l {AT} kein.org 
CC: hellekin {AT} riseup.net 
Enviado: Lunes, febrero 13, 2012 6:59 P.M.
Asunto: <nettime> [Fwd] A Spit in the Ocean
 


...ripples...




----- Forwarded message from hellekin -----

Date: Mon, 13 Feb 2012 02:56:16 +0100
From: hellekin <hellekin {AT} riseup.net>
Subject: A Spit in the Ocean

?  A Spit in the Ocean

?  I'm going to reach 1000 followers soon. To all of you, I want to
?  say thank you for the conversations we've had and the attention you
?  gave to me.
 <...>


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