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

Yvonne Martinsson yvonne at freewheelin.nu
Mon Oct 12 17:09:31 EST 2009

Hi Jo,

I think I should answer your questions here, even though the  
discussion as such has moved on.

1) I would be the last to say that the Ndbele women are a mindless  
mass. In fact, they ensure cultural diversity as they keep the voices  
of the other heard. What I fear is that the plurality of the world  
will be lost with, for instance, streamlined blogging tools, when in  
fact the internet can be the place for the preservation and  
development of difference(s).

2) I appreciate Networked and your experimentalism, and I don't think  
it's failure. It invokes many thoughts on networking and  
collaboration. My experience though is that user contribution depends  
on volumes. Look at YouTube, for instance, a video needs maybe 20,000  
to 30,000 hits to generate 10 comments, and academia and others  
working in new media is a small target group.

3) As a reader of Networked, you might wonder why I haven't commented  
on Networked. So, let me give you one reader's response. I actually  
read Anna's chapter before Networked was officially announced. I  
reacted to her discussion on the pros and cons of a wiki and a blog  
and wanted to write a comment on the spur, but refrained as the site  
had not really gone public yet. But, this is why, comments are  
written on the spur of a moment (and what academic would risk their  
reputation by writing a hasty commment?). When Networked went public  
so much else had come in between, but then empyre came along and I  
could post thoughts that had been brewing for some time on the spur  
of a moment but in a new context. If I should be honest with myself,  
I think I also refrained from commenting because I felt like an  
appendix to the body (of an other, of the author, of the text), and  
not as a co-writer, co-producer.

I have gone back to Networked since, tried to read but, and this is  
one little, fussy detail, the font uses serif. This makes it very  
difficult to read the texts, and I gave up NOT because some texts are  
dense (I'm a trained reader) but because of typography! Instead, I  
lost myself in the source code, the 12 (!) stylesheets, the comment  
plugin... :)


10 okt 2009 kl. 02.45 skrev Green Jo-Anne:

> Hi Yvonne,
> Thanks for your thought provoking posts.
> I just want to interject that for us, the most important  
> juxtaposition is not wiki/blog, but print book/net book. Yes, there  
> are many problems regarding web 2.0 hype, but the possibilities  
> offered by these technologies present alternative modes of writing,  
> reading and publishing. Regardless of whether people choose to  
> contribute their ideas to Networked, the fact that they have the  
> option is a first step.
> Furthermore, I don't think "encyclopaedic and factual" and "ongoing  
> thought, theory in progress" are that clear cut. In my introductory  
> post, I tried to make the point that what was encyclopaedic and  
> factual for some was not so for the majority. Most people believe  
> what they read in "nonfiction" books, so what passes as fact  
> matters a lot. There's nothing scientific about selecting which  
> artists should have a place in history, yet what passes into  
> history is often given the same weight.
> <<Are we moving towards  heterogenous cultures of different voices  
> or are we shaped into becoming one global homogenous mass? And,  
> where is our responsibility?>>
> Compared to what? How much creative freedom do painters have with  
> their materials: oil/acrylic/watercolor? linen/cotton canvas? Given  
> all of the materials available in today's market, Ndbele women  
> still use beads and thread in their crafts; it is tied to their  
> tribal identity. Are they a mindless mass or are they simply  
> insuring that their customs survive. Do they feel confined by the  
> limits of their medium? I don't think so. In my opinion, WP blogs  
> offer as much or  more potential as paint/canvas, beads/thread.
> Finally, one of the motivations for this discussion on -empyre- was  
> to get the word out about Networked; I was becoming concerned that  
> so few people were leaving their comments. What can we do to  
> encourage people to get involved? How will we evaluate the  
> project's success? How long should we wait before we decide that  
> it's a failure?
> Warm Regards,
> Jo
> On Oct 8, 2009, at 6:56 PM, Yvonne Martinsson wrote:
>> 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?
>> Best
>> Yvonne
>> 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
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> Jo-Anne Green
> Co-Director
> New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc.
> 917.548.7780 or 617.522.3856
> Turbulence: http://turbulence.org
> Networked_Performance: http://turbulence.org/blog
> Networked_Music_Review: http://turbulence.org/networked_music_review
> Networked: http://networkedbook.org
> New American Radio: http://somewhere.org
> Upgrade! Boston: http://turbulence.org/upgrade_boston
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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