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Re: <nettime> [Fwd] A Spit in the Ocean (or the limits of social network
august on Sat, 18 Feb 2012 09:47:28 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> [Fwd] A Spit in the Ocean (or the limits of social network paranoia)

Heya John,

Thanks for the thoughtful response.  I comment inline below:

> I think one of the reasons that the focus on directly 'opposing' a
> large dominant techno-social infrastructure deployment with a small
> techno-social infrastructure deployment is problematic lies in its
> basic incomplete premise: it doesn't address the de-evolution of
> human encounter and relation in general.

First, I don't think I am focusing on directly 'opposing' anything at the
moment.  Actually, it sounds like you are calling for an opposition of sorts
that situates preference for meat-space over cyber-space. ...with which I can
sympathize. If anything, and maybe I haven't been clear, I am suggesting
running alternatives, not oppositions.  I am suggesting creative research and
development ...something that is seriously lacking in the public institutions
such as our Universities that I think should be focusing on this "problem".

Secondly, I certainly don't want to position myself as taking the side of
smaller infrastructure over larger ones. I have doubts about the pertinence of
size in software networks.  We could ponder in many dimensions about what that
would mean in a size-less virtual world of networks and software.  I think the
relevant term is scalability, not size. 

If anything, I want to question the nature of centralization and privatization
in these would-be "open" and public comm systems.  For example, the WWW is
essentially a distributed system, arguably less distributed than the internet
itself because of the imbalance between server and client infrastructure.
However, the current mainstream web2.0 systems create an extra overlay network
on top of this that demand that all communication flow through their private,
for profit, surveillance centers.  Both the web and the internet have less
centers and more multi-directionality than does television or print where the
means of production are bound by serious technical limitations.

Part of this central-hood and private-ness is in the technical protocols and
standards and licenses themselves.  Part of it is from larger macro-structural
environments and pressures.  All of them mix and influence one another on some
level.  Unraveling all that at once is something beyond me and not something I
am suggesting.

> Also, a 'technical' solution, while it pleases the hacker aesthetic
> locally, does not address at all the effects that the technical
> 'box' applies globally (i.e., the misery spread via the extractive
> minerals industry, for example, necessary to prop up *any* kind of
> server *anywhere*).

Are you trying to hint at a bias against hacker aesthetics?  I might understand
what you mean.  However, we can attribute the previous openness, flexibility,
and stability of the internet to an almost aesthetic-less hacker motive.  It
does take a special person to admire the beauty of protocol and API design.
However, the hackers and engineers who built the internet had very different
priorities and motivations than do the current ones who seem to be churning out
thousands of redundant and useless academic research papers -much of which is paid
for by public/taxpayer money.  

I also believe you are thinking of the 'technical' in too limiting of terms.
Maybe that is why you put it in quotes. I believe what you want to address is
the box of 'progress'.

> Much effort in my teaching and facilitation is to reset the conditions in a
> grouping of people so that -- on a sliding scale from highly-mediated human
> connection to less-mediated human connection -- people value less mediation
> more.  This rather than valuing the latest technological implementation of a
> mediated communications tool as more valuable.  I firmly believe that if we
> gave more attention to the humans who are in most proximal to us instead of
> the remote 'tele'Other the world would be a better place. 

I'm not so sure about this.  Wouldn't this potentially lead to cliques and
tribes and in-breeding of ideas.  I'm okay with the postal system. I'm even
okay with the interstate highways.  Although, I do wish there were serious
limits on automobiles, especially in the city.

The question of more or less mediation can go on down to sub-atomic particles:
thoughts mediated by languages mediated by speech mediated by air molecules
mediated by atoms and who knows what else is down there.   I get your point,
but I don't think I or anyone else is suggesting that electronic communication
is a more preferable or less preferable way to communicate than letter writing
or art or hand-holding or sex.  Well, maybe sex is better given the proper
consensual circumstances.  Unfortunately, I admit sometimes an email would have
been better.

Or, are you really suggesting that email somehow deteriorates so-called
un-mediated communication on a person to person level? 

 (this suggests
> that, practicing what I preach, I leave nettime altogether, eh!?) But it is

This is what I mean about the opposition you seem to be proposing.  I'm willing
to accept certain technical realities of my time.  I want to roll with the
development and guide it in better directions. I think opposing it directly
is a loosing battle. 

In other words, I don't want to tune in and drop out, I want to tune the
channel to something else  altogether, one that serves the commons and not
private capital.

How to do this?  I don't know.  Work from inside the system out?  dunno.

I'm not just suggesting that technologists create new algorithms for the
network.  I'm suggesting we also need new algorithms at the social level that
create more interesting and politically aware technologists - those that are
willing to think outside of the axiomatic boxes of property and progress. We
need new algorithms that generate policies that reward cooperation over hording
and competition.  We need new political algorithms and social techniques that
shape the economic flow to be more balanced and less biased.  The ones we have
now are not sufficient. I am _almost_ convinced we would all be wealthier, not
just financially, if we were to achieve something like that.  No doubt, my
motivations are partly selfish because of this.

I'm generalizing here, so please, if you are a technologist of sorts and take
offense, I would love to meet you.

> not an all-or-nothing game, it can be implemented at any level at any point
> in time. Indeed the dynamic of choice, when choosing where to give our
> attentions, is a crucial awareness to learn -- because it is the *where* we
> focus those immediate attentions on that becomes *empowered*.

well said.

thanks for listening to my speculation.

best -august.

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