Eric Kluitenberg on Mon, 29 May 2000 16:31:24 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] Tulipomania DotCom - Summaries of Debates

dear nettimers,

Please find below the summaries of the main debates of the Tulipomania
DotCom conference.
All further updates can be obtained from the conference web site from here.

best wishes,


Tulipomania DotCom - A Critique of the New Economy

An International Conference @ De Balie, Amsterdam, June 2 & 3, 2000
& @ Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main, June 4, 2000

General Information:

Program updates and the list of speakers can be found at the conference web

How to Register:

De Balie
Kleine Gartmanplantsoen 10
1017 RR Amsterdam

Tel: +31.20.553 51 00
Fax: +31.20.553 51 55


Registration Fees:
- Day-Tickets: DFL 35,-
- Conference Passe Partout: DFL 60,-

Tulipomania Mailing List:

A mailinglist has been installed for the days leading up, during and after
the tulipomania dotcom conference. If you would like to be informed about
the event and discuss the topics, please send an e-mail to:


subscribe tulipomania

in the body of the message.

If you wish to unsubscribe, send a mail to the same address with
"unsubscribe tulipomania" in the body of the message.



* The New Economy - Premises and Pitfalls

The idea that the global economy has undergone such fundamental changes
that it can truly be called "new" has become so widely accepted that it's
rarely questioned outside certain academic circles, critical journals and
conferences like this one. Cheerleaders on round-the-clock financial news
cable channels and naysayers on the streets of Seattle alike often base
their opposing positions on platitudes that may have once seemed radical
but now have all the shock value of a banner ad: Matter doesn't matter
anymore; electronic networks have collapsed time and space; "infomediaries"
aside, the middleman is dead; intangible assets are genuinely valuable
while tangible assets are merely a burden; in short, the industrial age has
finally given way to the information age.

Following the keynote talks, this discussion will focus on the validity of
these commonplace assumptions and on a few obvious questions: Where did
this idea of a "New Economy" come from? How "new" is this economy, really?
To what extent can -- or cannot -- faith in these assumptions make the New
Economy a self-fulfilling prophesy?

We'll also want to sort out the winners and losers, their rewards and
penalties, whether this latest chapter in economic history represents a
very real transformation or simply a mass hallucination.


* Silicon Valley as a Global Business Model

With the rise of the internet through the last decade, "Silicon Valley"
has been transformed from a quirky scattering of suburban areas south of
San Francisco into a success story of mythical and global proportions.
At last count, over 90 regions world-wide were vying to promote
themselves as 70 types of "Silicon" something: alley, valley, vineyard,
swamp, seaboard, glen, fen, mesa, plain, gulch, glacier, and even a
polder.[1] The implication is that Silicon serves as a magical meta-glue
that can bond technical innovation with financial acceleration to
produce new potentials.

In this rush to represent diverse regions as jacked into the
globalisation's medium par excellence, the only remaining trace of a
region's peculiar qualities often seems to be the dominant geological
formation appended to Silicon. Gone are any references to the social,
cultural, political, and material histories that define the region and
its peoples -- the "old" structures that the "new" logic of Siliconia
must contend with.

This panel will examine different aspects of these attempts to redefine
various entities: urban and suburban development, organisational logic,
individual values, and networked environments.



* Alternative Strategies:

The New Economy is a transnational money machine. The financial markets
enable a relatively small number of shareholders to demand ever higher
returns on their investments at the expense of virtually all other

This panel presents a number of initiatives which  take the realities of
the New Economy as the starting point of their attempts to challenge this
machine on behalf of neglected human considerations.

The complexity of this project is reflected in the variety of  targets,
ranging from individual corporations (Shell, Nike etc.) to transnational
institutions (WTO, IMF),  from the structure of the financial markets, to
the corporate lobbying of the public policy process. The heterogeneity of
targets leads to a diversity of strategies. Some advocate  radical direct
action (Seattle, Washington), others public awareness campaigns (Clean
Cloths Campaign, ATTAC),  the "infiltration" of corporations through
socially responsible investment, and shareholder activism.

The aim of this panel is not just to present the various initiatives, but
to critically examine their potentials and pitfalls and find possible
synergies among their strategies.


* Inclusion and Exclusion in the New Economy

The promise of the perfect market on a global scale by the ideologists of
the New Economy, bares traces of the old idea that the proliferation of the
Internet and digital networking structures, as if by an act of nature,
promotes a more egalitarian social and economic system. Networking is
considered to provide instant access to information and communication
resources, as well instant access to electronic markets world-wide.
Implicitly this vision presumes that in principle everybody has equal
access to the networks and the on-line databases.

While it is certainly true that digital networking can have tremendous
inclusive effects, and can help to diminish the gap between economic,
social and cultural centres and peripheries, it remains questionable if
this will happen as if by an act of nature. This panel will investigate the
new mechanisms of economic and social inclusion and exclusion that are
created by the advance of digital networking technology. To what extent
does it promote the interests of established dominant economic actors, and
what opportunities for new players on the international markets are
What does the New Economy look like from a "Southern" perspective?
What is the experience from day to day practice in creating electronic
And what could be the role of politics in this context, is there a need for
intervention or rather for laissez-faire?


* Consumer Rights

The Internet creates a transnational consumer market quite unlike any
market that existed before. Transnational transactions via the net not only
create the possibility of international niche markets with direct
interaction between producers, consumers, and specialised niche
intermediaries, they also conjure up countless problems around secure
payment systems, the consumers' fear of fraud, and issues of
accountabiltity of both producers and intermediaries. Micro payment systems
and cyber cash are still promises of the future, therefore the role of
credit card companies is crucial in the current stage of development of
e-commerce. Yet, there is no clear idea how issues of accountability,
privacy, taxation and regulation can be dealt with now, nor how they will
be addressed in the future.

In the absence of clear government policies, the role of consumer
organisations becomes increasingly important. This panel will discuss
existing initiatives to represent consumer interests in the sphere of
e-commerce. Some of the crucial issues at stake are:
How can accountability be garantueed in the digital domain?
Are on-line ordering and home delivery really benefiting consumers?
The "No-Service-Economy" of the Net.
How is the issue of privacy at stake?
What are the possible side-effects of Intellectual Property Laws?


* Nettocracy - Class Analysis of the Network Society.

Questions formulated by the panellists:

Class? Analysis? In the Networked? Economy?

There is much discussion about a "New (Technology/Internet Enabled)

Can the old categories of social analysis-class, strata, power--be used or
be used in the same way to understand the new dynamics of the New Economy?

Does the New Economy require what could be considered a new sociology?

Is there an electronic class society developing, and, if so, in what ways
does it differ from the traditional capitalist class society?

Is money becoming secondary as the basis for social division, to be replaced
by "attention" as the new "currency"--as a new medium of "exchange"--as an
alternative "commodity" in the new on-line "barter" economy?

Is an "attention" economy a post-capitalist one and if so what are its
accompanying social structures?

What happens to identity and systems of law and order if/when the
nation-state becomes irrelevant?

What happens to/with democracy in a networked world--is open source guided
anarchy scalable?

Do the sorting/indexing processes of an information society rather than the
means of production constitute the new sources of social power?

Who controls and rules the virtual world, and what are the deep links of
this to the structures of power in the physical world?

What does/would class struggle look like in a "New Economy" world?

Who speaks for whom in an the information society?"

And overall what are we to do?


* Convergence, Mergers and Monopolies

The panel on Convergence, Mergers and Monopolies has a twofold axis. On the
one hand it looks at the dynamics of ICT and media markets, and the way in
which old and new media are coming together. On the other on how these
media markets are been integrated with commerce markets (a non-benign
process often referred to as convergence). The markets involved include
Telecom companies, ISP's, Cable operators broadcasting corporations,
hardware producers, software companies, television production companies,
film producers, on-line content producers, as well as retailers and
wholesalers, producers, distributors and advertisers of all kinds of
non-media products.

The debate will shed a critical eye at market convergence by unfolding the
dichotomies often used to talk about convergence notably
domination/liberalisation, content regulation/infrastructure regulation.
The question the panel will struggle with is the potential implications of
increasing vertical integration at both sides of the Atlantic, both on a
regulatory level as well as a conceptual one. Are there in fact differences
between the market and policy frameworks in the U.S. and the E.U.? Is it
fair to say that we now have one digital economy, where e-communication and
e-commerce co-exist? Is there a middleman in such digital economy? What
forces distort and form market convergence and the emergent digital
economy? What does financial ownership mean in cultural terms? How can this
convergence economy be regulated? Should it be regulated at all?

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