[-empyre-] An "other" view of writing, performance

Lichty, Patrick plichty at colum.edu
Tue Oct 6 16:21:35 EST 2009

The other voices are not those of the authors; they're (hopefully) those of the "readers."

Yes, this is true, and a good point.  One of the great strengths of the Net, as I have seen through exploring the communities of Second Life, is how surprising open networks are in creating substantive, and emergent forms of creativity.  One thing I love about the Foucault/Barthes dialectic is the slipperiness of the reader/author continuum.

The open history is meant to allow both unknown artists/authors to add their voices, and for the original authors to revise their texts over time.
Certainly (see above), and I think it is interesting to consider the configuration of history; 1: in terms of the relation to the subjects that New Media theorists engage in context with to traditional historical writing, 2: in terms that the authors here do, 3: the notion of historiography given the time compression that technology, especially  the Net imposes (Virilio), and 4: how histories have become such that scholarship has allowed them to become closer to the moment (examples being the books written on numerous artists, like Abramovic, Anderson, Indiana), and the difference between the history and the retrospective view.

The present book is not the future book ... unless no one participates in updating and revising it. One of the most striking features of Wikipedia is how quickly history is revised as real-time events impact various texts -- a Tsunami wipes out three villages in Indonesia; the Indonesia page on Wikipedia is immediately and forever changed. Ted Kennedy dies; within moments, his Wikipedia page reflects his passing; tenses are changed; date of death is filled in.
I agree completely.  Since there are two new chapters, things seem to be headed well into this direction and it is an exciting one.  There are already two new examples I have found in terms of hypernarrative - TOC, a DVD novel, and a nonlinear novel reconstructed in space in Second Life.

The print version is a big maybe. I don't see any reason to print the texts as they are. On the other hand, if people take the time to argue with and add to the original texts, the possibility of printing a version 2.0 and, later, a version 3.0 would be worthwhile.
There is a metaphor that was handed down to me by a mentor in the 1990's - that while history/discourse is in motion, it is like throwing half-congealed gelatine on the wall.  One may drive nails in the wall to try to secure the gelatine, but to no avail.  What you have, however, is an epistemic arc (the trail), and the nails (the records/events), all of which give shape to a historiographic discourse.   I look forward to where it all goes, and heartily invite that interaction.  However, I'll go on record with a desire to go to print someday, if only that ink, cellulose and Carbon-14 are pretty safe bets.

One last point. Some of these texts are inaccessible to many in our own community. It's not that they're illiterate, it's that the language is rather dense. One can admonish readers for not being intellectually sophisticated, or one can learn to communicate with a wider demographic. My personal preference is for the latter.
I'd be the last to admonish our own community, as lists like this one are self-evident in terms of the level of sophistication.  Secondly, in my own teaching philosophy that one of the essential cornerstones of a pedagogy is that of translation.  Trying to teach Foucault to freshmen is a daunting task, but as Richard Feynman has stated, just about anything can be translated so that a freshman can get the gist.  It isn't that there isn't any lack of sophistication at all, it's the matter of culturally specific languages amongst certain communities, which opens up a Pandpra's Box of issues - intentionality, audience, modes of articulation - and that our interests are shared with a larger community, which I hope.

This is not to say that we do not live in challenging times in regards to intellectual discourse.  I have certain biases derived from deeper insights to collaborations that color my opinions towards the Wikipedia culture, so I have to recuse myself.  Conversely, we stand between the the cornucopia of excess digital production, such as the Long Tail/"free"conomics (Anderson), versus "The Cult of the Amateur" that Keen would argue conflates the expert with expertise. The nature of the regard for intellectual discourse is very much in debate at the moment.  Neil Postman believed in "public scholarship", in his use of language in great books like Technopoly and How to Watch the TV News (although he was a collaborator on that book), versus the current indictments of Western anti-intellectualism put forth by Susan Jacoby in The Age of American Unreason and Chris Hedges' The Empire of Illusion.

I am actually quite a fan of Andrew Keen, and I'll let it stand at that.

My statement of citing US literacy studies is in no means an admonition of the readership of Networked whatsoever; it is a statement that statesmen, scholars, and professionals navigate difficult waters in regards to intent, language, and audience because of the general population and the "flattening" of power and intellectual communites in light of networked societies and the democratizing functions that they serve.  I know that I am often still hobbled by having been "raised" under the general rhetorical banner of postmodernism and an academic writing tradition, even before I became one.  Again, the tensions between "New Scholarship" and more traditional forms is merely one example of a larger syndrome of articulation of thought in the larger networked society.

How I hope that my commentary might be seen is that of a series of questions regarding the way culture is produced in the culture that Networked addresses. How is history constructed, and how has it changed?  What is it to read and write in open communities, and how do they change the social/power relations when compared to the traditional academic/mass publishing traditions?  How is mass culture affecting intellectual discourse, and given that there is a general distrust for "academicism" in mass culture, when does one negotiate between a mass cultural market and more specific traditions that may be unpopular, or even currently outmoded...

These are very tough questions, and ones that I hope are salient to the discussion of Networked in a broader context, and they are submitted with the highest respect for the readers, the organizers, and our fellow writers, may they blossom in numbers.

As it was said in The Second Renaissance (The Animatrix), "Bless all forms of intelligence."
May they pave the way.


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