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

Robby,.  thanks for this brilliant post. 

These are the realities that -empyre- desires this month to bring into relief so that people would try to talk about them, as difficult as the discourse is: to resist the seductive amnesia of 'digital media' as a stand in for 'utopia' (or atopia). (As Virillio observed, the speed of global digitial communication puts the  'local' and 'place', with all its political contradictions and place-specific suffering, on ice: freezes it into a tableau once seen (scene), then forgotten about, like New Orleans, an endless placeless aftermath).  Your account of the insidious and silent injustice built into the system of exchange within the online university points to the widespread loss of freedom for teachers --freedom from top down statistical management, freedom to engage students, subject to subject,  in the dynamic give and take, and mutual respect, involved in Socratic learning--: a huge problem in California; and what about  "No Child Left Behind" !! Informatics as a fascist implement:  bright underprivileged young people will be kept solidly where they 'belong' ... barely literate and semi enslaved, indentured to a system that will never reward them . 


-----Original Message-----
From: "" <>
Sent: Nov 29, 2005 12:22 PM
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Self-programmable media activism; just cheap talk?

Christine and empyre,

Thanks for the great response. However I see in your answer the
confirmation of my cynicism. 

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 technology
on the political spectrum (with a goal 
towards producing effective manifestations of radical presences) has been
ameliorative at best. 

I don't doubt that for many computers are a life altering technology, one
uniquely suited to helping individuals cope 
with the difficulties of living in a ruptured environment filled with
abandoned industrial landmarks and individuals 
downsized to the service economy. The internet seems uniquely suited to
help consumers cope with the poverty 
caused by deindustrialization and globalization; the small towns falling
apart- folks at home checking out e-books- 
the downtown library gains dust. It's kind of sad in my mind, the capital
intensive tools which served as the medium 
of so much dislocation heroically returning to the site of their triumph,
this time in the guise of an empowering 
tools, now providing comfort to the towns they left as redundant.

One of the many ways I earn a paycheck is from an online and almost
commercial university. My students all enjoy 
and benefit from their ability to earn a degree on their own time, and
often from there own homes. I do my best by 
them, which of course is top o' the line teaching (by my estimate). However
the university I work for is competing 
successfully in a race towards the bottom in higher Ed. The president of
the college is paid like a CEO, while the 
adjunct to faculty ratio is terrible. The quality of the education is
uneven, and the standards are set very low. 
However students, many of them on their second and third careers, are
presented with something that appears to 
them as a great choice. I sincerely believe that many in the college try
there best for the students, but there is only 
so much that is possible with the universities convenient one month long
semesters and online courses. Lacking the 
time and space or the ability to develop affinity and solidarity, there is
absolutely no student voice in the college- 
how it is run and what they get for their money. The students pay a lot,
ultimately getting very little from the 
institution they are supporting. To the students this school seems like a
great deal, mostly because they have very 
few other choices. But it is a raw deal for the teachers. More importantly
if this is the future of education, society as 
a whole will suffer. While the school gives them coping skills, it offers
them no room to look at the world, recognize 
their space within it, and than ask how they can make it better. 

As to blogs and the successful Pennsylvania campaigns to repeal the
lawmakers wage increase's, that's great. It's a 
sad commentary on the state of public corporate media, that they can no
longer lead on such meat and potatoes 
politics as a taxpayers revolt. My question is, has the Internet or other
self-programmed technology assisted in 
places that lead not follow the political debate? If the Internet is a
democratizing, accessible space, than why are 
their very few real world manifestations of political or social dissonance
or otherness? A peace sign in your window 
is great, but barely qualifies. The internet is filled with representations
of dissonance, yet on the streets, in the 
towns and cities, in the woods- their are remarkably few manifestations of
the dissonance that the internet would 
suggest exist in the real world. As if to document them- or to express them
online is a success enough. Every day I 
see an anti-corporate anti-Wal-Mart websites. Yet I see very few protests
or actions at malls and even fewer 
attempts to overcome corporate power by setting up massive online public
buyers coops.

In LA where I live there continues to be community vigils against the war.
Online organizing got these folks together 
at one point, but it is the social bonds that have formed within these
groups that maintain them. Otherwise right 
now in the city the struggle for the South Central Farm continues to be the
most visionary radical and fascinating 
sight of dissonance anywhere in the city. While the internet has been a
very recent source to develop external 
solidarity, this experiment in social possibility happened because 134 poor
Central American immigrants have spent 
the last 13 years developing an understanding together.  They are
effectively challenging the power structure of the 
cities developers to insist on a human scale development in the heart of a
city that wishes gentrification can be the 
solution to the multiple crisis' of homelessness, poverty, undocumented
workers and environmental degradation.

By aiding individual action to solve what appear as personal problems, I
fear that self-programmed technologies 
offer an illusion of activity where human relationships are really what is
needed to solve the problems that confront 

Original Message:
From: Christine Goldbeck
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 21:08:06 -0500
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 terrain 
of my geographic location, I AM alienated.

There was an old computer about the house. Until yesterday, it was sitting 
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 to 
operate a computer and the device that opened new worlds for each of its 
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 GED 
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 supermarket 
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 government? 
It is a fascinating case study. Essentially bloggers and podcasters brought 
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 the
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. In
my post, and specifically, I touch on blogs vs
newspapers, because I have experience working in both media, but I think
these comparisons are legitimate  to make
between all older methodologies of social organizing and the new alienated
forms which have come
to replace them.

mail2web - Check your email from the web at .

empyre forum

mail2web - Check your email from the web at .

empyre forum


This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.