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

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