RE: [-empyre-] Cooperation

> How real or imagined is the potential of these open
> content formats for social change?

What sort of social change? Technology tends to work social change with or
without the consent or innovation of communities.

But you probably mean more consciously determined social change.

How many international 'communities' or 'forums' of 500+ people are there on
the net? What are the 'communities' or 'forums' about? O, a range of
artistic, social, political, business, academic etc interests, no doubt.

How many of these have started as a result of the availability of things
like email lists and other 'community' software?

Probably a surprisingly large number.

Are these communities meaningful and effectual on the scale of international
operation in which they communicate?

Some yes, some no, probably.

Predjudice and ignorance about/toward other people is accomplished largely
in their absence. So I feel that just getting to know and work with one
another internationally and across other boundaries that are not so easily
crossed without network architectures is one of the fundaments of social
change in network architectures. So much depends on the nature of the
personal relations between people, comes down to that. It does seem that the
tech is increasingly useful in fostering those, and multi-valenced
communication between people. But when we look at the world and the state of
its international relations, we see that there is an extrordinary amount of
need for people at all strata and locations to know people from other strata
and locations. Just as countries tend less to war with those whom with they
trade, so too people tend less to differ strongly when they are familiar
with where the other is coming from. We are somewhat exotic to one another,
also, across the global clouds of information and cultural differences. This
is actually a kind of enjoyable part of networked communications, and a
productive cross-fertilization of artistic approaches.

> Is this the end of the
> university
> as we know it? Will open source software become the new weapon of mass
> instruction (Lovink)?

We learn best from each other; that is not about to change. Direct
communication is critical to learning.

But so can be tele-conferencing, email, and good online resources--not as a
replacement for direct communication but a necessity like books in the
current world.

It's interesting to see the status quo of what it means to publish/be
published change much more slowly than we might have thought would be the
case several years ago. Yet while the status quo has changed little
concerning, for instance, academic publication credibility of media, the
reality of how publishing proceeds has changed substantially, with online
work coming to occupy an increasing yet still largely problematical and
unacknowleged status amid actual publications. The technological problems
have mostly been dealt with successfully, but the economic problems are
still present concerning online publication, in some instances (the
micro-payment, for instance, is still not particularly micro).

Yet I read yesterday online, for free, at in the writings of Heinrich
Cornelius Agrippa, am delighted and fascinated to come across these writings
on the Web. The net is more wondrous as time proceeds, in this regard, a
huge library of all manner of things.

>  Can the term Free Cooperation become useful as it points to a particular
> setting of collaboration? Do we need collective leadership (what about the
> German saying "too many cooks don't make for a good pie")? How can we be
> "free" in a cooperation? Who gets the credit? What are the rules
> of a given
> cooperation and how can we re-negotiate them? Whose labor remains
> invisible?
> What about competition, self-sacrifice and individual gain? What should be
> part of an ABC of free cooperation? What did we learn about
> gender dynamics
> in cooperations (man/ man, woman/ woman, woman/ man)?

I wouldn't think that the range of workable general collaborative scenarios
is endless or uninformed by the protocols of mutual enterprise. As within
networked architectures, in this regard, so without, ie, the issues that you
raise arise in collaborative spaces of all kinds, networked and not.

"It's amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the

But of course we are never entirely without self-interest in anything we do,
so the above quote (Truman?) is, oh, noble but not the whole story.

'Credit where credit is due' is a pretty good start.

Yet there are also, as you point out, aspects of competition; sometimes this
is healthy; at other times destructive, and it's a subtle difference but
concerned with mutual respect.

Concerning gender dynamics and leadership, insite and energy are somewhat
independent of gender, mainly, and active participation is seemingly the
crucial element, not gender; that emerges clearly sometimes in online
collaboration where the ideas are considered in a relative vacuum of gender
struggles. Not to say it's a non-issue, but men and women have been
collaborating successfully for a very long time. Men and men, women and
women, they collaborate too.

> As the creation of technology-based artworks requires increasingly deeper
> levels of specialization and collaboration between the technological and
> conceptual components. Collaborations between artists and programmers are
> the subject of many conferences such as "The Beauty of Collaboration," in
> March 2003 at The Banff Centre in Canada. Also the last issue of Mute
> features articles about the radical political potential of  open content
> formats, and the changes of learning as we know it.

It is getting to the point that a separation in tasks in creating digital
art can often benefit all people involved; the scale of projects gets a bit
bigger over time, it seems, as it becomes possible and desirable to create
projects that innovate both technologically and artistically, for instance.
But that rarely works without relevant cross-knowlege between those
involved. Artists who aren't at least engaged in programming, in some sense,
usually do not think/feel very productively about programmed media, though
they may have a better contribution in some other sphere. Conversely,
programmers who have not thought about the artistic aspects of programmable
media are bound to produce clunkers. It is a question of assuming power
where it is best exercised, of structures that are decentralized where
appropriate to the decisions to be made, and of shared interest and even
shared expertise, or at least some intersection, often.

Also, the ability for two people to speak honestly with one another is one
of the fundaments of collaboration. Without it, the collaboration may
proceed if it is propped up by financial arrangement or whatever, but it
will not produce much. Being able to take criticism and being able to work
it out together, and respect the necessity for honesty, this is as
challenging as ever, more or less independent, again, of gender, but most
concerned with ego, respect, and aspiration. It doesn't have to be a
no-divorce policy but there needs to be a desire to accomplish something
beyond oneself, and with others, needs to be some committment to that as an
important part of the goal. Our dependencies arise both from weakness and

Thank you for the interesting post, Trevor. I don't know whether I did it
justice in my reply, but I found your issues important ones and


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