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Re: <nettime> choose-your-own adventure: a brief history of nettime
t byfield on Wed, 4 Nov 2015 18:49:12 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> choose-your-own adventure: a brief history of nettime

David, I agree that it's always great to see how Brian situates ideas with incredible breadth. Maybe you should've asked him to write an essay about nettime for your tactical media anthology. :^)

But I want to question your account of the time. The rubble of the twin towers was an anthill compared to the mountains of sanctimony that've been heaped on "9/11." The least we can do is try to unearth a few ideas that weren't crushed beyond recognition by the conversion of that Very Large Exercise in Bad Judgment into decades of war. Recovering those ideas will be an important part of the larger project that Eric articulated so well.

Less than a week after the VLEBJ, I sent a message to this list describing how 'local' experiences had already been swept aside by an imported schmaltzy jingoism.[1] Far from 'reeling,' for many people and purposes things in NYC were pretty much back to normal within weeks. The N5M4 TML took place more than a year later, in December 2002.[2] By that time Geert was able to open his essay "Tactical Media After 9-11" bluntly: "It is tempting to portray '9-11' as a turning point" -- i.e., it wasn't.[3] And if you look back at nettime's archives in the months following the VLEBJ[4] you'll see that the list's busy and brilliant resilience was as clear as ever.

[1] http://nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-0109/msg00125.html
[2] http://www.tacticalmediafiles.net/n5m4_journal/index7e86.html
[3] https://www.nyu.edu/fas/projects/vcb/case_911/reverberations/lovink.html
[4] http://nettime.org/Lists-Archives/

My own sense is that the NYC TML's 'VCB' (OMG WTF LOL ETC) was heavily shaped by institutional agendas. That's not to suggest it was somehow 'bought and paid for' by the host (NYU) or the Rockefeller Foundation (a major sponsor) or anything of the sort. Instead, I just mean that the people and projects, as well as the overall framing, had moved a few steps away from gritty, idiosyncratic 'activism' and closer to 'civil society.' (That was a prominent criticism of N5M4 as a whole.) That context, more than 'reeling from 9/11,' accounts for muffled, arm's-length quality of the collective snapshot.


On 4 Nov 2015, at 5:07, David Garcia wrote:

Great to once again be able to tune in to Brian's imaginative sweep. Just to add to Brian's example below important but informal collaborations connected to nettime I would definitely add all (except edition 1) editions of Next 5 Minutes festivals of Tactical Media. Nettime acted like an important additional room in which the issues that informed the content of the festival sometimes sourced, debated and developed. In the last edition the content development was disegregated and developed through Tactical Media labs (TML) in various countries. I'll just recall one because it left an interesting legacy which still feels potent. Its the NYU TML took place in the heart of the city shortly after 9/11 and so of course the and its organisors were still reeeling and the planned event had to (in every sense) pivot. The result was a so called Virtual Casebook in which many regular nettime contributors (and many more who were not) generated a series of responces to the attack which, whatever its limitations, still represents a collective snapshot of that moment refracted through the subjectivities of this community (yes I dare to use the C word). In my opinion remains a valuable way to re-connect to that moment. Its sill worth re-visiting as a snapshot in time:

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