nettime's_geheimnissicherheitsdienst on Mon, 2 Jun 2003 23:14:53 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> the -bold shall inherit the .net digest [henwood, lichty, balint]

Doug Henwood <>
     Re: <nettime> apres nettime-bold, le digest [byfield, jordan]
Patrick Lichty <>
     The death of Nettime?
anna balint <>
     after the 'end' of syndicate, long live syndicate

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Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 14:29:06 -0400
From: Doug Henwood <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> apres nettime-bold, le digest [byfield, jordan]

nettime's_media_asset wrote on behalf of Ken Jordan:

>* Historically, media ownership has never been as concentrated as it is
>today. Why does that matter? Because it allows a handful of people to
>control the *distribution* of information. It's simply not true, in terms of
>media, that "MOST of everything has always been pretty much effectively
>controlled by a few." Relatively speaking, perhaps. But only a generation
>ago, a good number (perhaps a majority) of major media outlets were family
>run businesses. In most cases, media companies either published books, or
>made films, or ran radio stations, etc. - but they didn't do all at once.
>Sure, there were a few huge conglomerates, but they were a minority in the
>market, a market whose culture was determined by smaller, independent
>businesses. Not that the media was ever even close to perfect; I'm not
>lamenting a long-gone "golden age" of media ownership. Far from it. The
>major media has always been owned/controlled by a *relatively* small number
>of people, who ally themselves politically with the folks in power.

Yes the media are concentrated now, but how much difference does that 
really make? And is concentration really the problem?

Excuse my provincialism for talking mainly about the U.S., but when 
were our media much better? Every major outlet was gung-ho 
anti-Communist throughout the Cold War. Government sources were 
treated as truth-tellers, and there wasn't a lot of critique on CBS 
or in the pages of the New York Times. Unions were widely scorned. 
Would family owners like the Hearsts and Chandlers any better than 
what prevails today? In the case of the Chandlers, the L.A. Times 
became a much better newspaper after the family was replaced by a 
more conventional corporate structure. Many small-town papers in the 
U.S. are owned by families or small chains and they are absolutely 

And the alternative media universe is much richer today than it was a 
generation or two ago. Maybe it's my self-interest talking, but I 
think it'd be better to give up the big media as largely hopeless and 
nurture the marginal.

Doug Henwood
Left Business Observer
38 Greene St - 4th fl.
New York NY 10013-2505 USA
voice  +1-212-219-0010
fax    +1-212-219-0098
cell   +1-917-865-2813
email  <>
web    <>

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Date: Mon, 02 Jun 2003 11:37:16 -0500
From: Patrick Lichty <>
Subject: The death of Nettime?

As to the rumored death of Nettime, and freedom of expression on the Net, I 
would posit that rumors of its mortality are greatly overrated.

This is not to say that changes are not developing.  Many of the more 
established institutions/offices in the tech art world are under siege, and 
threaten to disappear as socioeconomic changes engulf the globe.

That's a very large statement, that is almost tangential to the subject, 
but where it does engage is that stasis often leads to stagnation and 
decline. Is cancelling Nettime-bold a good idea?  Time will tell.

However what is more in question is the blanket polemic of asserting that 
totally unrestricted speech is mandatory across all parts of the Internet, 
and that any restriction/moderation/or filtering of same is tantamount to 
infringing upon the most basic of human rights.  This begs the question as 
to what constitutes the public commons in cyberspace?  As was seen with the 
YesMen's shutdown of The Thing NYC by Verio earlier this 
year, free speech is allowed only as it is considered expedient by the 
corporate and governmental entities that own the bandwidth.  Following from 
this, it can be said to reason that maillists like Nettime are technically 
not part of the public commons (and such an idea is rather odd in context 
with the Internet, as the concept as noted comes largely from Eurocentric 
political histories), and are more subject to User Agreements than 
Constitutional/Parliamentary law.  In many cases, it is my belief that the 
net community is allowed the amount of expression it has because it is in 
the best interest of the providers to allow it from consumer and logistical 

On the microscopic end, should it be mandatory that every list abandon its 
rules (if any) of moderation, and allow for an intellectual 'free market' 
system for ideas to regulate itself?  Perhaps this is a weak metaphor, but 
it seems similar to agendas of deregulation that allow for the colonization 
of markets.  One is economic, the other intellectual.  Some communities 
work well under this model when there are social contracts in place where 
the community has a strong sense of identity, or a commitment to not 
filtering conversation.  In other communities, the result is a Darwinian 
survival of the swiftest mouse, where a very small number of large posters 
create their own elite by effectively seizing the social bandwidth of the 
list for long stretches.  As I mentioned, the desirability of this is 
largely dependent on the mission of the forum, but then I ask whether any 
moderation should be tolerated on the 'net'?

There are some who would argue that moderation is socially reprehensible, 
but in many cases, this position is taken by the individuals or groups who 
are looking to monopolize the bandwidth.  For them, there _is_ something to 
lose, and that is their control of the conversation in that someone else 
has the administrative privilege to shape the discussion.

But is this any different than in meatspace?  Perhaps in part, but my 
contention is that it is perfectly acceptable to establish social contracts 
in the form of Acceptable Use Policies given that they are used objectively 
and uniformly.  Consider classrooms, meetings, or conference sessions - I 
think that few would dispute that after a discussion on the formulation of 
Oil technique in the Renaissance that insisting on beginning a heated 
debate on genetic migration of recessive traits in Canadian soybean 
populations would not be welcome.  Is this saying that in discourage such 
conversation given the parameters under which the discussion was framed 
that expression is being dampened?  I would seriously doubt it, and 
metaphorically speaking, I believe that there is an ample number of spaces 
to talk about 'soybeans' in the Net that moderation is not as problematic 
as one would be led to believe.

Can it be said that the complete, unrestricted flow of information is the 
ultimate form of freedom?  Hardly.  In many cases, a lack of filtering 
creates a milieu in which the participant in that social space becomes 
paralyzed by 'choice', which is a common corporate tactic to incapacitate 
the individual by keeping them so busy with their own 'empowerment' that 
there is no time to act for themselves as that person navigates the hall of 
mirrors placed before them by DIY insurance, health care, 500 channels of 
TV, twenty-four shades of green for your car, and a sixteen-page long 
menu.  The deluge of information and choice is all a tactical diversion to 
paralyze/pacify the masses, and is a matter of control.  To parallel the 
adage to not choose still implies a choice, to assume that to eliminate 
filtering/moderation does not imply freedom, but only its own set of 
agendas by those who can benefit from those parameters.  In some cases, 
moderation creates discursive freedom rather than discouraging it, allowing 
those interested in a given discursive space to participate with given 
parameters, much like the conversational example given earlier.

The only place, as alluded to in a previous paragraph, where I have a 
problem with moderation is when it is executed in a way that targets 
individuals excessively (i.e. - excluding them even when they are on 
topic), or act in a biased way beyond those established by the foundations 
of the group in question. But then my contention can be used as a wedge by 
interested groups to defend their positions by protesting their oppression, 
which could be valid, and therein lies another rub to moderation.

However, the place where I might look at lists under a laissez faire model 
is that of the birth and death of groups on the Net.  In my nearly 20 years 
in online spaces, the survival of a discussion group has been related to 
the health of its level of discourse, the coherence of its community, the 
quality of its content, among other factors.  In other words, if Nettime is 
truly dying then it will die because it has served its purpose and 
something else will take its place.  In that case, the gauntlet is then 
given to the individuals and groups who wished to have the alternate forms 
of communications to institute their own models and practices (that is, if 
the bandwidth providers deem it worthy of their largesse). In many cases, 
the alternate providers are often unable to amass social or intellectual 
capital to implement their models, but some will succeed, and there are the 
future 7-11's, Nettimes, Rhizomes, et al.

Therefore, I cannot agree that moderation is the equivalent to intellectual 
totalitarianism (to take up the polemic), nor do I feel it is a perfect 
solution, either.  Regardless, there are social parameters to any 
discussion or expression space, and if the rules are clear, uniform, and 
well adhered to/implemented is a modicum of sensitivity, then there 
'should' be no restriction of free ideas along the lines of discussion that 
the forum was designed to address in the first place.  

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From: anna balint <>
Date: Mon, 02 Jun 2003 19:26:18 +0200
Subject: after the 'end' of syndicate, long live syndicate

Dear Andreas Broeckmann,

thank you to call attention on syndicate, it is a list where 
hundreds of net art projects, invitation of participation 
were announced, projects were documented, where interaction
of audience-initator, individual-collective 
can take place unmediated, and without control, 
and specially without the control of a mediator hostile 
to certain identities or attitudes, or a certain kind of art.
It is the list where report, comments, theory, 
carnival culture, irony, announcements, just a note that 
'i am here, i am doing this' is equally allowed and welcome. 
There are very many moments of a live list
not dedicated to announcements only, that it is a pleasure
to remember, just to name a few: the Balettikka internettika
project of Igor Stromajer, the mailing list junk texts'
setting to music by Clement Thomas, the ever changing and
allways challenging site plein-peau site of Frederic Madre,
the 1001 mails in one night by Jodi, all the projects
of Auriea Harvey - one of the most precious artistic presence
on the net -, the ZNC browser, the white spam project, or the
song recognition competion of Peter Luining, or the excellent
work of meta, another net artist previsouly known from nettime,
and many more. 
I could even mention as a certain _fun_ the 'Notes on Sovereign Media' 
by Geert Lovink pointing to independent media not submitted to
the expectations of an audience, published on syndicate in 2002.  
And yes. Netochka Nezvanova is also on syndicate.
Once, when NN claimed that 'Peter Luining is afraid', 
Peter replied with 'Yes. But who would be not afraid
knowing that NN is only at 1027 steps distance from home?'
Paraphrasing Peters word, who would be not afraid to subscribe
to syndicate where Netochka is also present? Well, we are quite many.

Besides fun, syndicate also tries cover major events in new media
art in Europe, encourages research in this field, and not just research
and curation, but the production of media art,and experiences related
to a mailing list. Besides circulating the initiatives of institutions, 
it is meant to give room to individuals and small collectives related to  
new media as well.

>ps: for the record: the referenced list is _not_ the former Syndicate
>list which the 'western korporat fascists' inke arns and myself ran,
>but one that was started when the old list was brought down by free
>minds like anna in 2001.

>(it is _very funny_ for me that anna still believes that netochka
>nezvanova is an east european artist - long live the cyborg!)

Something about this record...

Initally, neither me, neither any moderator or animator
of the syndicate list wanted to engage in any cross-lists war, or fight,
not even when you and Inke Arns stated the 'end of the syndicate list'
and you described the curator-artist relationship with the analogy of a
blessing hand - biting the hand by the artist, which i found quite disturbing.
But neither i like to stand your accusation of killing the syndicate list,
and bring it this way again to public attention. 
Neither me, nor NN deserves to be a scape-goat, a pharmakon, a medicine 
(scape-goat in old Greek) for the decline of the list and the way you have 
left it down.
Fact is the the syndicate list lost a consistent amount of its relevance
together with the change of the policy of the Soros network. Less support,
less money, less interest went together hand in hand. 
Syndicate was a mailing list that discussed art, new media art, cultural identities, 
and policy, East and West artistic contacts after the fall of the Berlin
Wall. Started as the 'East' initiative of the V2 in the Netherlands - a concept that got
contested immedietaly by the ironical proposal of Ljudmila 'West' in Slovenia - and
based on the hope to skip the central control of information by 
post-communist conservative institutions and old fashioned curators, 
syndicate became a channel of exchange, and a series of projects supported 
financially mainly by Eastern institutions. The list  circulated not only 
the pioneering works, but described and promoted cultural 
initatives in Eastern Europe, views of nem media, it and it also became a 
communication bridge between even between people at many sides of the Yugoslav war. 
It strongly relied on the alternative scene in East Europe, on the Next Five Minutes
conference series, and the irregular meetings at different major new media
art events. Technology seemed to serve both Eastern and Western
new media criticism and art, and the mailing list became also a 
tool of promotion  of social initiatives as well besides arts.

I don't plan in any sense to get involved in the NN-Andreas Broeckmann conflict,
started when Netochka Nezvanova won the first prize in the software art category
at transmediale 01, and I don't feel motivated in any way to oppose opinions
like Karoly Toth's.

Nor i am willing to defend somewhat NN, nor to specially engage
in discussion on NN. I agreed with NN that i don't write about her, nor we
collaborate in any sense, though s/he is definitively an interesting subject,
and author.
I just insist that - opposite to Tilman Baumgärtel's opinion - one might see 
NN not just as he convergence in one online identity of different people as 
a reverse project, preceded by the postmodern game of the splitting of one 
person into diverse online identities. On the contrary,  
NN is much more the mediatised version of multiple identities, 
a phenomena of the avant-garde art known world-wide long before any 
online use of it.
Syndicate, and nettime also seemed to support previously these kind
of multiple identites, and partially these lists also grounded their 
reputation and establishment exactly on multiple names projects 
going all back more exactly to 1976, to the first meeting of David 
Zack and Monty Canstin in Budapest.

Besides that NN appeared on numerous mailinglist with French, English,
German text fragments (languages that almost all East European know), 
even if s/he is not alone, or s/he is a constructed identity,
s/he says that s/he is Romanian. S/he speaks Romanian also (a language
that West Europeans rarely speak),  s/he continuously brings up Romanian, 
and 'Ost Europa' cultural references, and explores East European 
identities and attitudes all the time. If s/he is a multiple identity, 
s/he is an East European one, that is something that certainly should get 
room on a mailing list dedicated to East-West artistic relationships, 
no matter how controversial her projects are.
NN is not only known for the Nato software (a software that for instance 
i don't even know), but for codeworks, for his/her inquiry about public 
and private mails, understanding of gender, identity, list culture, 
language and corporate actions in the field of new media, ASCII art, 
and more. S/he is not quiet at all, and many lists, specially those 
are related to new media art, prefer to coop with her, and i don't know
about any case where she was unsubsribed from a list without warning
the community. 

Together with appearing of new groups, new projects, new issues and new forms 
on the internet, syndicate gradually lost importance 
and relevance already in 2000. (NN said that the list was suffocated by 
the art maffia). What happened in terms of facts in 2001, was that
the moderators have suddenly unsubscribed NN from syndicate, and when 
list member asked where N.N. was, the moderators admitted the unsubscription. 
After further questions, they resubscribed NN, and without any attempt 
to regulate the list, by means of administration, moderation, mediation, discussion 
or whatever, they left the list. One day there were moderators, the next one there 
were no longer moderators. They handed the list over to people willing to continue 
it. Or that was the appearance. 

The people willing to continue an unmoderated version of syndicate,
never got the password to the listserv, and any use of the list's 
infrastructure was denied. Andreas Broackmann asked finally to restart 
everything on a new server, instead of using the old ones.
So it happened. Syndicate is now generously supported by Anart in Norway,
and running under the sympa software.

Without wishing the same faith for nettime, to give an analogý:
if one would take the 'difficult task, time and energy' 
and would open a nettime bold, as it seems to be encouraged, 
first the access to the mails and server would be denied, 
the moderators would disappear, and the next month there 
would be a good chance that Andreas Broeckmann 
would accuse nettime bolders with 'you killed nettime'. 

Andreas Broeckmann opened a new, moderated list, and out of the 504 subsribers
on the syndicate, 132 left for the new list together with Andreas, and 372 stayed. 
In the light of these figures, there is no ground to question the continuity of the
syndicate list. Ever since than, syndicate stays unmoderated on the 
consensus of self-moderation and filtering individually on the part of the
subsribers, as proposed by Amy Alexander in August 2001.
The list is interesting enough for 400 subsribers, and i have to state 
that the information overload did not break the group's cohesion either.
We still hope at least peaceful coexistence with other lists, and without
counter propaganda on the expense of syndicate.

One of the most sharp discussions between me and Andreas Broeckmann was 
about the syndicate archives. Knowing that every year 70% of the information 
on the internet disappears, knowing that if some information survived 
thousands years, that was due to the multiplicity of information supply, 
and to due to the fact that accessing large audience was possible by writing, 
printing the data in as many copies as possible, and seeing that nowadays 
everyone has access to information put on a single server, seeing also
for instance that the archives of the Next Five Minutes, or the
disapperenace of the Orange Open Audio Archives was erased, i wanted to ensure 
the preservation of the syndicate archives, and not just only on server in
West Europe.

Since syndicate was part of the East European collective memory, 
documenting projects, discussions between 1995-2001, 
i argued for a distributive archives that all the 500 subribers 
should have been provided with.
Andreas Broeckamnn refused to deal completely with this question, and...
somewhere in 2002 a considerable part of the syndicate archives - the 
period between February 2001-August 2001 -, documenting exactly also 
Netochka Nezvanova's mails and her questionning the authority of the 
moderators -, vanished. It just disappered.

Looking from another perspective, Syndicate was not alone to promote and support
East European art's in the entire European culture, but this issue there are still 
task to accomplish, there are promotion tasks of critical new
media culture as well, and this is something that Andreas Broeckmann might not have keep
in account when he left syndicate.
Manifesta was the first mainstream major art event that included East European 
artist in an international event, but Manifesta concentrates and promotes young artists
only. Thee research about major artistic works, alternative culture, new media art and 
their preservation the former East European block, and its inclusion in the European 
history of arts still continues to be a task.
Documenta 11, if it was a great and challenging exhibition presenting 
arts engagement with social issues world wide, and sporadically presented 
excellent artists from East Europe as well, it failed to give a retrospective 
view on the cold war from East European perspective, or to give a general
view on the last ten years in East Europe, and to report on major 
conflicts in that region, about the war in Chechnia, or still existing communist 
regimes in the former Soviet Union for instance.

There were objections about this issue also pronounced on syndicate, 
check it out, really, 

Anna Balint

2003.06.02. 9:21:53, Andreas Broeckmann <> wrote:

>it is worth checking out the list that anna balint and others 
>maintain to get an idea of what kind of list she has in mind when 
>putting forward her criticism to nettime:

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