> ! < on Fri, 5 Dec 2008 22:12:53 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Call for support: Pirates of the Amazon, taken down by Amazon.com

> Say, if art students of another university used their technological
> savvyness and artistic inclinations to capture data from an ATM as cards


This is simply not an apt comparison as KMV pointed out. Here's what I wrote
for Florian as projects like these interest me greatly:


What does it mean to connect two things together? Much of critical scholarly
work relies upon the process of citation: taking a piece of X in order to
link it to Y, and thereby revealing the ways in which X and Y relate to each
other. Without the ability to cite things, to sample them and to link them
together, the process of scholarly work, if not writing and creative action
itself, is obliterated before it begins. What does citation mean on the
internet? It means not only 'sampling' as we commonly grasp it, but the
ability to hyperlink. What is critical scholarly work on the internet? Such
work no longer only takes the shape of a discourse or commentary, an essay
posted somewhere or a blog; such work is increasingly taking the shape --
and has for some time -- of a website or other piece of software that
demonstrates the principles it wishes to investigate. Such is the software
project [ pirates-of-the-amazon.com ]. By linking the BitTorrent search
engine [piratebay.org] to [Amazon.com] in such a way to reveal the 'links'
between paid and free content, a critical operation is opened between the
two sites that, in its turn, opens a debate over the evolution of property
in the 21st century. Such critical scholarly work in the shape of software,
Firefox add-ons and other methods demonstrates its force precisely when it
is able to carry out what it conceptualizes. Thus we must ask what is
achieved when such work is not only attacked by the corporate entity in this
discussion, Amazon.com, but when the service provider is pressured to in
turn subject pressure on the scholarly researchers to censure, remove and
shut down the project. This is nothing less than the censorship of a
critical scholarly text -- a kind of book-burning of the 21C. That it takes
on a very different form today illustrates how censorship itself is no
longer about *what* you write, or *where* you get it from, but how the
nature of the citation itself -- from written text to resampling code &
providing links to controversial methods of property redistribution -- has
shifted with the digital era. While such censure demonstrates the value of
critical online work such as [ pirates-of-the-amazon.com ], it is also all
too frighteningly effective in silencing the possibility of debate over
precisely these questions of property, citation, hyperlinking, and sampling.

-- tobias c. van Veen
McGill University, 5 December 2008


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