[-empyre-] Free cooperation

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

 When talking of social change I think of the reworked notions of the public
sphere from Jürgen Habermas and Nancy Fraser to the digital commons. In the
US the everyday is deeply embedded with networked technology and therefore
much of the politics is directly or indirectly related to technology. In
"Computer Lib/ Dream Machines" Ted Nelson passionately demands that
"everybody must understand computers now!" so that we are not dependent on
the "computer priesthood" that keeps expert knowledge to themselves. And the
formats, the social network architectures available very much determine what
kind of conversations people have. Discordia, as a collaborative weblog
allows for multiple conversations to be held at the same time and in
different languages. Large mailing lists shape communities of learning, of

Howard Dean raised millions of dollars through web-based forums. Online
voting is heavily debated in the United States right now. For now, all these
proposals are put on hold by the legislatives. What will be the equivalents
of the road blocks in the South of the US and pregnant chads in Florida in
the virtual realm? Who owns the networks in which we communicate? Who owns
the protocols that allow us to network? Who owns the cables, the hardware
behind the networks? Lawrence Lessig's work around the creative commons is
born out of the concern that larger and larger areas of the Internet will
soon be fenced off.

Open content formats have the potential for broad participation in the
knowledge commons; collection and distribution of knowledge. Freely
accessible initiatives like Wikipedia will become more comprehensive than
classical encyclopedia in a few years already. Furthermore, news reports on
websites of independent media centers have seen millions of visitors and
thousands of contributors.

>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.

We are exotic to others and to ourselves- but communication can be done
online and off. Chest to chest conversation succeed faster, are more
efficient in many ways. Online working together is a lengthy procedure
with myriads of opportunities.

>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.

Today I interviewed Tony Conrad and asked him about his collaborative
projects.  Many years ago he worked as part of a collaborative team that
included LaMonte Young. They produced a sound piece. The individuals agreed
to a crediting system in which they each owned shares in the collaboration.
Later, when LaMonte Young found a collector who bought a recording of the
piece - Young received 2 shares because he initiated the sale and the others
all received one share. I think it's good to address issues of crediting
early on. Collaborations are always based on rules, laying supine underneath
or acknowledged. 

>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.

Conrad prefers to talk of animation rather than collaboration.
In the mid-80s out of a context of identity politics he realized himself as
animator- instead of striving for an individual practice he wanted to
"animate"- to enable others, "mainly women and minorities" he says.
He draws parallels between the function of the teacher, artist, and parent.

In the early 90s, together with two others he placed himself every Friday at
noon on the steps of Buffalo city hall, equipped with two cameras and
posters demanding support for public access TV. They called it "studio on
the street" and would literally grab (and not let go) passers-by who had to
tell them about their lives, what is on their mind right that moment.  That
was TV on the spot with the goal to turn passers by into producers, to give
them a voice. You too can make TV- here you are. After 70 minutes of filming
they would go and edit it down to 59 minutes- literally everything went on
air on public access TV. They soon realized that people who made it to city
hall that time a day usually were minorities and were predominantly
unemployed. They also realized that people with a job are not allowed to
talk. After 2 years they realized that not enough people had become
producers and so they stopped.

Not much later, a split group of "8 mm news collective," also based in
Buffalo protested the "P4W" prison for Women in Kingston, Ontario (Canada).
They made this an initiative exclusively by women for women. However, many
women in the P4W prison were native American- with different tribal
backgrounds. The women from Buffalo were confronted with rich frictions
between these tribes and realized that they could not relate to this
situation, that they could not represent the women in prison.

Kanarinka wrote:
>possibilities are for explicitly temporary alliances -- what the
>implications are ( for a "group", for an individual's commitment and
>motivation to contribute) of accepting this temporality as a starting
>point and a necessary condition of collaboration and cooperation.

Laclau and Mouffe look for ways in which people with multiple identities and
agendas can unite just for a very brief time to get something done: maybe
the creation of a kindergarten or any other specific issue. In this context
the emphasis is on short-term action because once the topic is solved, ie.
the kindergarten is founded, the alliance can split.

>the agenda of the person using it. "Collaborator" in many languages stands
>for a sympathizer with Fascists in Germany.

Marius Watz:
>This transfer of knowledge from the underground to the dominant culture is
>a time-honored tradition, and is only possible due to the "collaboration"
>of actors close to the underground.

This corporate absorption indeed takes place but I don't think it is
inherent to collaborations.

John Hopkins:
>I would position the 'underground' as the site of what Martin Buber
>termed "genuine dialogue" -- the site of inspiring and inspired /
>energized exchange between two human beings -- or in the case of
>larger communities, the distributed/collective sites of exchange
>between each individual (a network).

"Genuine dialogue" is quite a fascinating soul-full concept by the Jewish
theologian Martin Buber. And yes, meetings among friends should have this
aspect of a human encounter full of presence, guided by a creative mind
instead of a reactive one. But honesty, transparency and centered presence
is a lot to ask of a dialogue and is a little bit burdened by religious
connotations. There is a difference between friends meeting each other and a
group of people cooperating on a project.
>Once  one steps away from those sites (and leaves the actuality of
participation), then there is a
>parasitic dynamic (taking but not giving) -- which is a core
>component of re-production and re-creation. Basically corporate

The idea of forced cooperations is described by Christoph Spehr. He talks of
free cooperation but acknowledges that cooperations are not ideal. He
demands for them to be free: for each participants to be able to quit and
leave taking with her what she put in. More about this later.

>confronted by.  "Experiences" attenuated (and largely amplified) by a
>heirarchic social structure whose existence is based on a process of
>concentration of energies and a consequent re-distribution of those
> energies in a 'collectively' mandated form such as (Guy DeBord's)
> spectacle -- the hollow amplified social event...

 This is an interesting connection, John. How would a non-hierarchical
investment of energies look like, one that refuses the bombastic event?
Spontaneous celebrations, random kinds of energy bursts
unrelated to any material interactions? I'm really curious, troubled and
excited about your implicit fusion of cooperation and religious morality. I
was deeply moved by G. Hage last week at Transmediale in Berlin who talked
about the politics of hope for migrants who should see the full
potentialities of their lives: deeply exacerbating but at least as



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