nettime's_digestive_system on Wed, 14 Oct 1998 10:29:25 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Re: on moderation and spams (several messages)

From: Matthew Fuller <>
Subject: a proposal

What concerns me here is to open-up a situation where the 'community'
which nettime 'free' ostensibly intends to make its intervention on behalf
of, isn't actually done a disservice by the instigation of this list. 
There is an opportunity now to meet the obvious demand (of whatever size)
for a zero or low filtration channel that works in some kind of
relationship with nettime-l. 

        One political banner that has been raised over the start of this
mailing list is Freedom of Speech.  Freedom of Speech is as clearly a con
in this case as elsewhere. It is a rhetorical manoeuvre that worked well
in the context of the Eighteenth Century in defining a potential political
subject against monarchy and colonialism.  It is not nuanced enough to
deal with this context.  As a historical refrain Freedom of Speech is a
metaphor for interfacing a political/ technical reality that it largely
misses. That is why the demands for a completely unfiltered mailing list
ring entirely true when taken solely on their own ideological terms but
founder into absolutism or bad design when attempts to realise them are

        People constructing mailing lists should look closely at what they
are doing: creating systems of enunciation. This is what we need to make
happen with regard to this matter - a close attention to the implicit
politics of the technology. 

        We need to look at what collaborative filtering, networks, etc.
actually mean and can be made to do.  In the context of a list or lists
focused on critical thinking about networks, coupled with the technical
abilities of people to go beyond rhetoric into actual construction, one
would hope that this might be done with the careful attention it deserves.
This is not a call for a technocratic solution.  The tools to deal with
this situation already exist and can be developed in the texts, people and
machines on the list. 

At the moment it seems unclear whether the intention behind
is to maintain any relationship with nettime-l, or any of the other
variations on the list.  If not, it might well be useful to make it clear. 
Obviously a first step towards this would be to immediately stop the
compulsory subscription of nettime-l subscribers to the new list. 

If the intention for the launch of this new list is in fact to provide a
channel for all the material which is filtered from nettime-l, and not for
instance to start a new list with other foci of attention, or to merely
duplicate what nettime-l already does, then arrangements need to be made
to make sure that happens in a thorough and open manner. 

As one of the people involved in moderation of the nettime-l list, but not
here or anywhere else speaking on behalf of the group, I am quite happy to
state that the filtering is minimal and careful.  However, since the
demands have been made to remove filtering from the list and someone is
clearly prepared to provide server-space for this to be done there is an
obvious opportunity for this demand to be met. 

Perhaps what is needed first is for people wanting a strictly unfiltered
mailing list for critical writing on the net and related areas to decide
what they actually want, and what relationship, if any, it should have to
the current nettime.  If no relationship is wanted, then it might well be
useful to change the name of this list from and to make this

        There is of course the possibility that the initiation of this
list is purely designed as a temporary intervention without any commitment
to continued work on the list.  This would be a waste of everyone's time. 


Working on the assumption that there is not just a desire but an actual
commitment to continue a connection between nettime-l and,
what I suggest is that it is possible to find a way for to
become the unfiltered channel to nettime-l that has been discussed but
never implemented, rather than split off into a separate list. If it is
done well, this is a good opportunity to distribute the work and
infrastructure involved and to satisfy the demand for a list with none or
little filtering as well as for a filtered list. 

If this is to be the case I guess the key question is how do we ensure that:

- (whether destined for filtering or not) posts don't slip through the cracks
- multiple postings are unnecessary
- the 'free' list receives all the material that is filtered from 'nettime-l'

Subsequently, it might of course be necessary to look at filtering levels
for the unfiltered list.  Bounce messages, requests for unsubscription,
and spam from entirely irrelevant address harvesting senders, etc. etc. 

This could be a relatively simple process.

1.  Texts destined for both lists would be in the first instance mailed to
the nettime-l address.
2.  Posts that are unfiltered from the nettime-l list would have their
headers stripped and text formatted as usual and sent to this list.
3.  Posts that would normally be filtered from nettime-l would, instead of
being deleted, be forwarded to the address.  The headers of
these posts could subsequently be stripped and the text formatted at
whatever level is deemed useful by the moderators of the list.
It might in time be seen to be necessary to introduce some level of
filtering in this context.

This model still allows for people to post solely to, allowing
the possibility of 'self-filtering' from nettime-l.  So long as there was
clarity in the footer / FAQ etc. of both lists  about the function of the
two channels ensuring that this is not done by mistake this should not pose
any problem.

        An alternative to this is to revert back to one mailing list and to
open a distinct unfiltered channel if it is clear that there is an actual
demand for, and commitment to, maintaining this channel.

It is useful that dissatisfaction with the nettime list has been matched
with the technical capacity to act.  Now what is needed is for this act not
merely to evaporate into a gesture, but to match itself again with thought,
communication - and more construction.

First though, allow people to unsubscribe.

Matthew Fuller

From: Peter van der Pouw Kraan <>
Subject: Re: Welcome to Nettime.Free!

>Revival of the Nettime Community!

I follow this list a while out of curiosity, but also feel offended, because
I never subscribed to it. I would have preferred to get one announcement
only and then to have the free choice to subscribe or not.

>Once again, there is an OPEN LIST for Nettime, free of
>any unwanted censorship, 

Sounds somewhat surprising to me. You mean in this list there will only be
the wanted censorship? Then again you have the problem what is tolerated and
who will decide. There is no reason to expect that everybody will agree
about everything. Different opinions about what is acceptable are inevitable
on a mailinglist with many members, it's inherent to the mainlinglist as an
open social system. Also without a moderator. It just depends on
coincidental events when the discussion about this starts. And imo it's very
easy to play jerk and provoke this discussion with some very unwanted mail. 

> hidden agendas, personal tastes,

It's rather common that members of communities have their own agendas. And
messages about, media, etc without personal tastes just seem
impossible to me.

>anal-retentive book editors/librarians, respiratory diseases,
>and other information-hostile elements that have corrupted
>the intial mission of the nettime list as established by the
>founders of Nettime in Venice, June, 1995.

Are some personal conflicts fighted here over the back of nettime members
who, like me, have no clue what this is about?

>No more digestion/indigestion...just free flow of information!

Please no. I find free flow of information as presented here a naive
concept. As if you just would open a tap on Internet and the free flow of
information streams out. Yes in the sink. The problem is that I only want
relevant information. And I haven't got all the time of the world to sort it

More theoretical: a community exists because of a meaningfull
communication among the members and with an environment. This takes place
in a limited amount of time. What selection takes place, what is filtered
out, constitutes the character of a community. And there is a fysical
limit on the amount of communication: time. Within this limit the relevant
information has to be sent and received. Selection is a vital condition
for a community not to die in information overload. No selection, no

The point is not whether selection takes place or not, but how. The ideal
situation is that selection takes place at the source: contributors
voluntarily restrict themselves to the subject of mailinglists, newsgroups
or debates i.r.l., are clever enough to understand what the subject is,
and there is an agreement about what belongs to the subject. But ideal
situations tend to be seldom. An open mailinglist is an extremely
vulnarable proces of communication. So how to keep it working, how to

Sometimes a have the feeling that the naivity of the sixties got a revival
among Internet-enthousiasts and that the founding of is one of
the symptoms.

Peter van der Pouw Kraan (


Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 16:15:52 -0800
From: "Michael H. Goldhaber" <>
Subject: Moderation in all things? Re: <nettime> on moderation and spams

I too would like to express my support and thanks to the Nettime
moderators, or filterers. Obviously, to be able to use a delete button
wisely, one has to have some idea of what one is deleting, and that takes
scarce attention. By taking on that task, nettime filterers put us in
their debt, even if, inevitably, were any other one of us the filterer,
that person would surely choose a little differently. Any active listserv
and its overall output can be of value only if it is in the hands of only
a few guiding intelligences at any one time, and it is to those minds that
at least some of the attention to the list must go. 

There is a deep point here, and not always such a pleasing one: that pure
democracy can never operate, except at an extremely small scale. No matter
how much everyone on the list might support notions of equality and
democracy, thoughts which some think quite important will get shut out.
Trust must be placed in some few, no matter how they ended up as
moderators; of course, the trust is highly conditional; if they abuse it,
we stop paying attention. Yet while they have it from anyone, they have
real and unequal power, as do those whose work they find worthy of

I also want to agree with Josephine Berry. We lurkers (as I usually have
been of late) help make the list workable, by refraining from seeking
attention when we feel we have little to add. 

Finally, all that said, no matter how unreasonable the position of the
"" founders might be, its (apparently) brief insurrection did
generate a burst of intellectual excitement, and it ultimately probably
increases the value and solidarity of nettime. Utopian extremism has its
value too. 

Michael H. Goldhaber


Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 00:49:23 +0100
From: "Erich Moechel" <>
Subject: unsubscribe both lists

dear owners.nettime socalled free or not

if any of ur mailers accepts this message (standard mime encoded always a
problem) would u please unsubscribe me. I am tired of one artsy fartsy
party accusing the other of being nomenKlatura. there has been clos 2 no
collective text filtering the last year but extensive manifestoing &
behaviour of certain protagonists a lesser pr/agency would be ashamed of.
This is not the list Pit Schulz & Frank Hartmann pointed me 2 in 96. I
never contributed much -confess: except flaming mr barlow once that was
truly easy ;) cu somewhere else erich

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internationale hacks--.-zensur im netz
crypto--.-IT mergers--.-monopole
& die universalitaet digitaler dummheit
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Certified PGP key 
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Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 17:02:34 -0400
From: Jennifer Hicks <>
To: nettime's_digestive_system <>
Subject: Re: on lurking

At 09:58 PM 10/13/98 +0100, Josephine Berry eloquently wrote:

>No, but SERIOUSLY: most of us know how great the fear threshold is to
>posting, but that doesn't mean that LURKERS are a bunch of labotomised
>victims sucking pre-chewed life through a straw. 

Brava! Brava!  

Jennifer Hicks...
with full mental capacities and living life in its undigested form, who
choses to unlurk when intelligence in its many forms are recognized. 

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