Re: [-empyre-] Self-programmable media activism; just cheap talk?

Hi Robby and Friends"

Robby, you asked: "The important question is what do you do when you get folks to
"concentrate" on your issues. Do you have them concentrate some more, talk some more, thread some more? Or do you direct this concentration towards kinds of
presences that functionalize your collectivized power at the site you choose for your intervention?"

Good questions. I think the answers can change, depending on location (social, culture and geographical) and on the issue and on factors involving the demographics of those in the group.

Generally, with my work (specifically an ongoing community art project), I have found it necessary to use both traditional and new media to communicate and to display work due to diversity of people involved and where they are comfortable working.

I am monopolizing tonight so I will not take up more of everyone's time with this, but I am open to discussion of your questions.


----- Original Message ----- From: <>
To: <>; <>; <>
Sent: Tuesday, November 29, 2005 6:27 PM
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Self-programmable media activism; just cheap talk?

Alex (Marc) etc...

I am not asking asking for us to quallify past decades, I am asking us to
quantify. If there has been failure to succede
where goals were clear it has been despite the effort of multiple movements
and multiple organizations and multiple
actions and activities that have attempt to intervene (politically or
socially) directly at the sites of crisis. Whether you
find one historic model valuable over another, that is up to you. Here I am
generally interested in presences, not
grading them.

That protests today are multiple rather than singular, this is the effect
of democraticazation in social movements and
within society at large. This is the same type of democraticizaiton that
allows you to express your own particular
brand of dissent online. As far as I can see, the only difference between
you and those folks is that you have enough
tech savy to aviod politiquing in the park.

The important question is what do you do when you get folks to
"concentrate" on your issues. Do you have them
concentrate some more, talk some more, thread some more? Or do you direct
this concentration towards kinds of
presences that functionalize your collectivized power at the site you
choose for your intervention?

As to the rest of what you say, I feel you are misreading and
mischaracterizing my posts.


Original Message:
From: Alex Killough
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 13:24:24 -0800
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Self-programmable media activism; just cheap talk?

Of course the Internet and digital technologies have accomplished
stuff on
the individual and personal level, my
point is that we need to recognize and qualify what it has been
capable of
doing in the social/political spectrum on
the group and social level. In my first post I suggested a comparison
between equal dates (64-68/01-05) as a point
of comparison. In my estimation the effects of self-programmed
on the political spectrum (with a goal
towards producing effective manifestations of radical presences) has
ameliorative at best.

...and the result of all those protests and sit-ins and the '68 democratic national convention/weathermen/sds? how much better off are we now for the efforts of the meat-space organizers? i'll agree that the early part of that movement, and particularly the civil rights movement, were extremely important in the US, but exactly how much have things changed? we're still segregated, still pushed around by increasingly powerful corporate interests, spied upon in ways Hoover would have drooled over, still at war.... been to a left-wing physical realm protest recently? from my experience, there is no filter, no focus, and no organizing principle, with the exception that folks don't like the powers that be (i am in the US, San Francisco, so my view may be a bit skewed. I also grew up in TX, which makes for even weirder contrast). instead we get: anti-war, anti-racism, pro-choice, pro-palestine, anti-imperialism, etc. etc. And I am in agreement with a lot of this rhetoric, but can we perhaps choose one battle at a time?

To me this is where the virtual community is a relevant alternative,
for the following reasons:
I can get a lot more people to my website than I can to Dolores Park
(protest central for SF).
I don't need some kind of song and dance routine by a politically
inclined performer to attract an audience.
I can concentrate, and help maintain concentration, on a central issue
(email threading is great for this, right?)
People will and do engage in discussion (the fact that we are doing so
right now...)
And in terms of where the battle is to be fought, I would assume on the
turf we haven't completely lost yet (OK, clear argument that cyberspace
is an absolute commodity, but given the fact that we are still trying
to figure out what to do with it/ how to define it, there is some hope
yet. See recent Times article on Chinese bloggers. Wait, probably
can't, nyt charges for everything, but you get the point).
You may have noticed that meat-space is pretty much entirely
commodified, including the protest space, which even in its most
'radical' requires the purchase, somewhere along the way, of black
hoodies (or equivalent 'protester-chic' garb), bricks, and liquor
bottles. And probably escape mechanisms, food, places to hide, etc.

More importantly
if this is the future of education, society as
a whole will suffer. While the school gives them coping skills, it
them no room to look at the world, recognize
their space within it, and than ask how they can make it better.

Perhaps better to question whether institutionalized education is really the best means to begin with, as we are seeing the results more and more become prisons (primary) and factories (secondary). (a bit hypocritical on my part as I make my living teaching also, but the flaws are even more apparent when you are in the seams every day).

And with all honesty, most of what I have learned that I apply to my
teaching and artwork comes from personal research, and has for some
time (pre-undergrad, so 13 or so years now from when I started working
on web pages for Los Alamos research ...shudder). I think a lot of
folks would find this to be the case, and for me the internet has been
(with the exception of guidance from about 5 or 6 exceptional
professors during my secondary and graduate education) one of the few
spheres where my educational needs have been best served- through lists
like this, through wikis, blogs, howtos, FS/OSS, online books and
tutorials- I can learn what I need when I need it, and I can help pass
on to others both this information and the means by which I attained
the info.

 If the Internet is a
democratizing, accessible space, than why are
their very few real world manifestations of political or social
or otherness?

one of the more publicized of such events was the ouster of Estrada from the Phillipines by protestors organizing by SMS. Just because liberals in the US can't concentrate on any one issue for more than five minutes doesn't mean the rest of the world has to follow suit...

At any rate, I will tell you the cops and national guard have walkie
talkies, SMS, GPS, and better. So if you are really looking to not
receive a quick beating at the next multi-protest, it might be useful
to at least know which direction they are coming from. And technology,
connectivity, and letting go of the idea that communication is purely
physical might help in this.

Hope this is not to ranting.

Alex (who feels a lot _less_ isolated in this realm)

Original Message: ----------------- From: Christine Goldbeck Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 21:08:06 -0500 To:, Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Self-programmable media activism; just cheap talk?


I don't find new media communications (art making and receiving, for
example) to be alienating. Perhaps, because in mapping the cultural
of my geographic location, I AM alienated.

There was an old computer about the house. Until yesterday, it was
in the cellar on a shelf, to which it retired after having been used by
various family and friends. It is the machine on which people learned
operate a computer and the device that opened new worlds for each of
users. It's been an amazing process to record and to ponder.

One woman formed an online club for mothers and went on to finish her
and acquire certification as a medical assistant. Another user, to
whom I
also passed along an old digital camera, learned to process and design
images. His work recently won a photo contest and he loves his new
hobby of
documenting old industrial landmarks.

Yesterday, the computer went to a woman who will be 50 in March. She
was a
seamstress. When her factory closed, she became a baker for a
chain. Her earnings are palty and her cost of living keeps increasing.
During her recent visit, I introduced her to a computer. She visits to
borrow print books from my library. I showed her ebooks and word
She got hooked and we set up the computer in her apartment yesterday.

This is hardly alienating. It is expanding experiences and learning for
in rural places who by circumstances (economic, social, cultural, etc
find themselves confined.

As to self-programmable media activism, have you been reading about
so-called citizen journalists and their impact on Pennsylvania
It is a fascinating case study. Essentially bloggers and podcasters
about two historic changes in our political history.

Best to all,
Christine Goldbeck

----- Original Message ----- From: <> To: <> Sent: Monday, November 28, 2005 3:26 PM Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Self-programmable media activism; just cheap talk?

Christina Mcphee wrote...

" Still, are you saying that, beyond the self reflexive environment of
list, that the live'ness - perhaps, the lived-ness,
of print media especially independent alternative press media, is
still so
much a touchstone to the reality of physical
life: to touch / to read/ to hear/ to think/ to speak?.   The physical
presence of media made the hard way.  "

Yes, I am saying that...
I am wondering what we have lost by making digital media (as opposed to
more tacticle media made the hard way)  a (if
not the) central methodology in the activist/artist/media-practitioners
tool kit. Thinking like this may be antithetical
and counterhistorical, but I think it is an important question to ask.
my post, and specifically, I touch on blogs vs
newspapers, because I have experience working in both media, but I
these comparisons are legitimate  to make
between all older methodologies of social organizing and the new
forms which have come
to replace them.

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