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 
> 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
> To:, 
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Self-programmable media activism; just cheap 
> talk?
> Hi:
> 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 
> 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
> processing.
> She got hooked and we set up the computer in her apartment yesterday.
> This is hardly alienating. It is expanding experiences and learning for
> many
> 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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