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

Yvonne Martinsson yvonne at freewheelin.nu
Fri Oct 9 09:56:54 EST 2009

Hi Anna,

The reason I responded to the discussion was mainly that I thought it  
was sidetracked by whether to choose a wiki or a blog for the  
networked book. I find it more interesting to read the contributors  
response to what a networked book is and how they relate to  
collaborating on writing a text that is not encyclopaedic and factual  
but rather an ongoing thought, a theory in progress and so on.  
Networked  collaboration is, I'd say, another Web 2.0 hype which is  
why it's interesting to read real responses. The question is if it,  
in the final analysis, turns culture into a concensual homogeneity  
where the voices of the other cannot be heard.

Same goes for templating and customization of web pages and, as you  
say, software shapes culture which is precisely why we have to have  
take a critical stance and not accept uncritical assumptions that  
turn into concensus that turns into truths. Who determines the shapes  
culture takes? We, that is the users, or the software engineers?  
Isn't it one of the great illusions of the internet that a bit of  
customization of templates contributes to cultural diversity and  
heterogeneity while we actually all learn to speak in one voice. As  
form is content, one could even claim that Mr Themes is our most  
prolific author.

I have today implemented my first Wordpress install and it's a  
strange feeling being so at the mercy of a templating system. I apply  
a ready-made form that steeps us all into the same mould. There is  
not much room for creativity and hence for development, but it's we  
who should develop the internet and the shape writing and other  
cultural expressions take. Hence the software we choose matters,  
unless we want to reinvent the wheel and start from scratch by  
developing our own blog for instance.

These two issues, how people respond to networked collaboration and  
how software not only shapes culture but also our thinking and modes  
of expression, are somehow interrelated. Are we moving towards  
heterogenous cultures of different voices or are we shaped into  
becoming one global homogenous mass? And, where is our responsibility?


8 okt 2009 kl. 22.25 skrev Anna Munster:

> Hi Yvonne,
> thanks for your post. You are right to point out that the initial  
> attraction of wiki's was the 'real time' collaborative edit  
> function and you also stated that:
> <Both formats rely on the same technology.>
> That's possibly true as well but that's also like saying everything  
> on the web used to rely on HTML. That doesn't mean we had a  
> homogeneous web in terms of its architecture or 'technics'. I use  
> the word technics here as opposed to 'technology' because I am not  
> so much interested in the wiki or blog software per se. Rather I am  
> interested in the ways in which that software 'shapes' forms of  
> culture because the culture deploys it 'prosthetically'. Please  
> note I am scare-quoting these words because in the history of media  
> studies they  take on a deterministic flavour, which isn't what I  
> want to invoke. Instead I see technics as the ongoing  
> interrelations between cultures and technologies (shaping and  
> prostheses are processual rather than pre-formed actions and  
> things), out of which modes of doing media arise. So, the  
> interrelation between the architecture of wiki's (which is  
> sprawling at the back end of things), their uptake by, initially  
> small collaborative project-based groups
>   and collectives, their 'capture' by an encyclopaedic urge  
> (Wikipedia), their sharing of a resource by a mass heterogenous  
> user base consisting of a meshwork of open and closed systems and  
> practices (again Wikipedia/media)....this constitutes the (ongoing)  
> technics of wikis.
> Blogs, on the other hand, have a very different technics and,  
> especially, their uptake due to the 'templatization' of the web  
> under web 2.0, would have to be one of their most salient aspects.  
> Olia Lialina's work on this is very good (http://www.contemporary- 
> home-computing.org/vernacular-web-2/), as is Geert Lovink's book  
> Zero Comments.
> Insofar as your comment goes:
> < It's an industry.>
> I couldn't agree more!!
> best Anna
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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