Re: [-empyre-] Academic Aggression / Social space, art practice, network structure

It's interesting that this discussion takes place here but that, for
example, Charlotte and Axel break for a bit to have an ISEA discussion about
list culture :). One of the things affecting list communication is the
invisible backstory - in much organisational communication the historical
positions people have taken up plays a big role in the way they are
perceived. On lists, though, it's likely that conversational participants
are or have been involved in other conversations that as a reader you either
do or do not know about, and this affects list dynamics (as we've seen from
the nettime/text-artist discussions here). While that can also be the case
IRL, the effects seem to be different online.

I think this process, and the way we 'be' in many different conversations
that have different dynamics leads me to disagree with Kathy's suggestion
that a very narrow line of concern doesn't need a list (while agreeing with
many of her other points). Some level of focus is inevitable and (actually)
helpful for maintaining conversations. That doesn't mean that we're not to
be "open" to wider concerns, but I think it's important to remember that
people participate in many different conversations and communities, and it's
not necessarily possible for one space to hold all the diversity of oneself.
(e.g. I've given up waiting for nettime to get a clue about colonisation,
and I wouldn't be inviting most of the active members to a dinner party, but
that doesn't mean that a part of me isn't interested in that discussion).

What I find interesting is the latent utopian techno-determinism still
lingering in so many of the discussions around moderation and "openness". As
is usual with discussions around "freedom" undertaken by first world white
guys, it tends to flatten the discourse and subsume empirical realities in
the way lists operate. From my POV, whether or how Empyre is moderated is
less important than the fact that it was established by a woman and
maintains a female leadership-presence, with the result that - surprise! -
more women tend to post here than in most new media forums - now matter how
'open' these other spaces might be in their organisational structure. It's
not rocket science! More attention to socio-cultural diversity and less to
"rules" could be a good idea for moving the list management discussion
along. Again, some of these questions have already been addressed IRL by
people working on equal opportunity legislation for example. The more I work
in new media the more I believe that it isn't that special and that
identifying it as new (in e.g. "online social dynamics", "internet
research", etc.) brackets off a whole lot of important work that we could be
learning from... 

With regard to the academic power issue, I don't know if it makes sense to
talk about it out of a comparative relationship with other social practices.
Yes, issues (and abuses) of social power structure academic conversations
and practices, but isn't this also the case for art scenes, NGOs, factory
workplaces, government bureaucracies and political movements? (I'm reminded
of the old joke about the problem with dyslexic anarchists: they tend to
dominate the subversive paradigm). It certainly is with the ones I'm
involved with. I hope this isn't just me and the rest of you are off having
open, non-hierarchical relationships with each other untainted by social,
cultural and economic standing! My experience is certainly that there are
great people in academia, and those who are a little more ruthless... but
then it's all pretty relative as well - like wealth, there's always someone
a bit more ruthless than oneself :). Perhaps identifying oneself against the
"power game" is also a part of the psychoanalysis of entry into academia, a
means of sublimating one's own position in the sphere of cultural power.
Anyhow I guess the point of games like Sim City is that issues aroudn
scoring, negotiation, mastery, and structural analysis can be applied to all
aspects of our lives - and I'm not sure that this is just a new media issue
(or an academic one).

Thanks all for the dialogue



#place: location, cultural politics, and social technologies:

On 8/28/04 8:07 AM, "Charlotte Frost" <> wrote:

> So why does it go on so much in real
> life?! I even have a book on the PhD process which provides you with what
> might be termed in the gaming world 'cheats' such as 'working out who your
> examiner might be and properly referencing their work in your thesis'!

On 8/27/04 1:50 PM, "Christian McCrea" <> wrote:

> Etiquette is interesting between academics - theres an undertone of
> career advancement to a lot of discussion between academics working in
> related fields. "Is this person more well known than me?" is a
> subtextual gesture I've seen emerge a few times. There's respect given
> to higher-publishing-ratio writers, certainly.

On 8/25/04 8:22 AM, "kathy rae huffman" <> wrote:

> I suppose what I'm talking about here is finding some kind of deep
> kindness, and true interest in what a wider view might be -- rather than
> focus on private exchange on a very narrow line of concern -- and off
> topic.  That kind of discussion doesn't need a list.  And...If you need an
> audience, albeit silent, do a performance IRL.

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