Re: [-empyre-] My $37.93 worth...

Here goes my $13.53. :)

henryWarwick wrote:
I think everyone involved
with criticalartware is doing important and valuable work, and I
unequivocally commend their efforts.

Well, thank you! We had a great time at SFPCS, and there was a great deal of good discussion [in/around] the event!

Irony is a kind of statement that requires a double audience, where one
group hears but does not understand, and the other that, when more is meant
than what was said, is aware of both that meaning and the other group's
incomprehension. Here is a useful chart I pulled out of Fowler's Modern
English Usage and modified it a wee bit a long time ago:
irony | exclusion | state facts | mystification | The Inner Circle

I disagree slightly with this definition of irony. I think irony has less to do with "The Inner Circle," mystification and exclusion than with double meanings, unintended meaning, and very specific kinds of [contrast/disparity]. Irony itself does not require a "double audience." Also, for all the disparaging of irony in our culture, it should be remembered that irony is a key implement in the toolbox of wit and humor.

Now, liken is building a community, but it is [is it?] a community of an
Inner Circle - its interface and structure work on principles that are
several light years ahead of the ongoing paradigm in almost all other
internet communities I've dealt with

That's very flattering! But certainly not true. Liken is a logical extension of wikis and similar "knowledgebase" applications. It makes a number of really obvious incremental improvements over some of those models, but it should be relatively easy for someone to understand without having seen its predecessors.

At the same
time, it assumes a fair amount of computer skills on the part of the
community members [does it?]. (OR:not)

Definitely not. If liken starts to seem too complex, try browsing it with liken basic for a while. It should be accessible through just about any web browser, including your phone:
What may seem challenging to some people is our default interface.

"criticalartware version 3.1415926535 introduces liken, the new substructure
of the [application/platform]. "

"Within criticalartware, we are building an application to map the
intersections, ruptures, influences, leaks, reinforcements and slippages
between subjective histories and social moments. "

- with such rigorous and specific language that strays from standard common
English vocabulary and syntax, an exclusion is made - between those who hear
and don't understand, and those who hear and do understand and understand
the lack of understanding (hence the humour of the irony).

Or are these also very [obvious/incremental] changes to the English language? Does anyone on the list actually have a hard time understanding the above quoted sentences -- or even find them rigorous?

liken is building [optimally] a community of people who understand computers
and have the time to build their own interfaces, who understand that they
can optimise their experience in liken by manipulating the code in liken.

Well, no one has built an interface yet, and it's certainly not an expectation for all our users. We simply provide the possibility.

liken is building a complex interconnected database of information. To
access this database requires one submit to the liken paradigm, an
inherently simple one, and one that shares similarities to other public
information systems (wikipedia).

Absolutely. It is inherently simple, and it is similar to existing models. However, I don't believe that we require anyone to submit to a paradigm, any more than the web requires one to submit to a paradigm. I don't know what that paradigm would be, except that it in some way involves a computer. Like the web, a liken [interface/plug-in/application] could exist as an interactive sound piece in a gallery, a 3D game on the Playstation 3, an eBook, etc. The only common paradigm is the microprocessor.

that while we live in an Aristotelian world of science and
machinery, and we use the machines to surround ourselves with a Platonic
world of ideas, spirits, and metaphysics; where some of the most advanced
digital imaging software used is found in "The Lord of The Rings" and "Star

I personally do not buy into any Platonic ideals about technology, and I think it's extremely dangerous to go down that path. Surely one thing that liken demonstrates is that there is a disconnect between human ideas and the actual technology available. Vannevar Bush's ideas about the Memex were about 40-50 years ahead of the technology they resemble. criticalartware continually points to the [synchronicity/continuity] between the discussions happening in the early video moment and the current artware scene. Human ideas are massively hyperthreaded and far-reaching -- the actual technology of the time informs us only superficially.

Also, I hasten to note how problematic the word "advanced" is when you talk about software. Visual effects software, such as that used in The Lord of the Rings and the new Star Wars movies, is designed only to get a look which is "close enough," fast to render, and "cool looking." It is almost without exception *not* the most technically sophisticated software in the field; visual effects code is typically pulled from academic papers, simplified, modified, and hacked into the pipeline. The most technically "advanced" (which is what I assume you mean by "advanced") digital imaging is taking place at Universities.

A problem arises: Technology should be used for human needs and interests,
even when these interests are at best metaphysical and philosophical - or at
worst, superstitious entertainment in the irony of fiction. [?]

This is a problem how? I'm not sure what you mean by "superstitious entertainment in the irony of fiction," but clearly we can see that the continuous slow creep of technological advancement [inspires/frightens] artists of every generation, even if the [possibilities/promises] are constantly just out of reach. We see that the discussions of one decade continue to the next, regardless of the technology and buzzwords used. Where's the problem?

liken excludes those who have no interest in liken or its technology. It
does so through a statement of fact(?) It does this through a mystifying
interface cluttered with broken or snippets of icons and highly contexted
use of English(?) It does so for the benefit of the Inner Circle: i.e.: the
liken community(?)

When someone has no interest in a thing, it does not follow that the thing is excluding them. Our default interface, developed by jonSatrom, is not usual, but neither is it so otherworldly. Once inside liken, the extent of the "broken... snippets" is as a border for the actual content. Perhaps we should develop a more neutral default interface after all, just to deflect some of these concerns. We never dreamed that people would be so resistant to a few fragmented icons, but apparently it's an insurmountable mental road block for some folks. To me, this is profoundly, devastatingly depressing.

Where it maps least is in the community itself. Perhaps at this juncture, we
can say that net art is dead. Where is the astonishment? Or perhaps it
existed with too deep a sense of irony and perished like Dadaism, or perhaps
it never existed in the first place. If so, would it be possible that the
kind of community building that liken provides is the new art

i don't know. I don't know where ends, New Media begins, or where liken fits into any of that. One of the design goals of liken was to simultaneously categorize and destroy categorization. That's why we have a mix of classification schemes which are both conventional (rigid hierarchy, keywords/metatags) and unconventional (organic growth, autotags, liki links, autolinks, etc).

It is not the
metaphysics itself that is of interest, but it is the community that is
formed to create it, much like here, in this little precious text world of
empyre, that the real work resides.

Yes, but you must know from Zen practice that community is both everything and nothing. The community is just a group of water droplets caught airborne together before rejoining the rapids.

And that community, shaped and defined by the technology becomes
the art work, IMNSHO

It's a bit too simplistic to call the community the artwork and call it a day. Aside from the architecture itself, there are individual posts, collaborative threads and likis, the potential for alternate interfaces, and so on.

In this
way, liken becomes another tool in the arsenal of opposition, using the
tools of information collection, distribution, and linkage so as to resist
the continuous atomisation of the Age of the Individual [in an overcrowded
planet of clocks gone mad].

Surely criticalartware and liken both were created as tools in the arsenal of opposition against singularity, linear history, and short term memory loss in the art world. I'm not sure about the age of the individual and clock planets. :)

If criticalartware had the kind of default UI found at, would it change?

I think you mean, but just in case, I sketched out a liken interface modeled on ! You can find it at:


Or do you mean and are very different animals.

Is there a more optimal structure
for representing the data than the default?

Good question -- that's what I've been asking. That's sort of what got us into the whole cartographic space of wormholes and dolphin guides.

 Is it possible to develop
reporting mechanisms?


Can liken be as useful as soundCommons or Sevcom? OR
googlemail? Could liken be indispensable as an online classroom tool for a
graduate school as a forum for theory and information?

Yes, yes, yes and yes. :)

Can we *please* stop twiddling our thumbs over "new media"?

Another yes

How can liken | criticalartware scale its community? Is it scalable?

The community is so diverse already that I can't see why it shouldn't be able to scale further. As more and more interfaces are added and more interviews are posted, perhaps people will be encouraged to check it out. I'm excited to see how seemingly unrelated conversations will intertwine and crossbreed.

Basically, the
Closed shops have an advantage: they can test their stuff to death and spend
huge amounts of time on unified GUIs, workflows, and design principles. With
FOSS, everything is up for grabs, and frequently the GUIs are hideous, the
workflows are poorly thought out, and the software is too frequently poorly

That's true sometimes, but other times, FOSS can be far superior to closed source software. Look how amazing Firefox is in terms of the interface, speed, size and functionality. Closed shops have the disadvantage of having to adhere to a specific schedule, and are often forced into shipping a product containing many known bugs. You pay to bug test their software, and the turnaround time for bugfixes is much longer than with FOSS.

But really, to me the aspect of FOSS that's relevant to criticalartware is the idea of artistic concepts being FOSS. There is no "Closed shop" in the art world -- everyone's source is revealed.

Thanks Henry for your post! I think you raise a lot interesting questions, and I hope I'm not alone in offering my thoughts!

- ben

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