[-empyre-] OSW: open source writing in the network

xDxD.vs.xDxD xdxd.vs.xdxd at gmail.com
Fri Jan 13 04:35:17 EST 2012

hello everyone and first of all i wanted to thank Simon, Penny and Smita
(and everyone at empyre) for hosting this discussion (and us :)  )

Tiziana was saying, about publishing and the production of subjectivity:

> in which ways do open practices of publishing, writing and
> reading interact with the general attention economy of networked
> media, where attention is defined as a 'scarce commodity'?
> How can they be used to counteract some of the compulsive/destructive
> dynamics of Internet readership? What do your experiences tell us
> of the difference between social interaction on corporate media
> platforms and social interaction on alternative, open platforms?

as a hint on things which i intended to introduce next week, from what i
have been able to see from my experience, we're right in the middle of the
constant chase between "system" and "alternatives" which, in the last few
years, has been specifically fast.
In this scenario even the definition of "attention economy" troubles me, as
"attention" itself is changing definition three times a day.
Large operators such as Google and Facebook are constantly changing the
ways in which they rank (or at least they say they rank) the share of
attention that is evaluated to be attributed to the content you publish
online, and, for example, websites/blogs are not that important anymore, as
the unit of measure has become the single chunk of information (the "post",
the "comment", the "image") and how it is diffused/shared/disseminated on
social networks.
This is developing a whole series of ideas such as the "user generated
search engine", the concept of "personal curation tools" and things which
can be identified as a linear combination of these two things.
If you add to this the fact that there is a rapidly growing concern for the
ways in which these dynamics are entering the physical world of cities and
urban spaces, through smart cities, citizen science, volunteered geographic
information, ubiquitous social networks and the like, the scenario of
"attention" changes even more drastically.
While all this goes on, a radical mutation in language takes place, as
large operators are adopting hacking imaginaries (it's been a while, now)
for their next-step strategies.
In Italy Working Capital is a perfect example for this. Working Capital is
an initiative by Telecom Italia through which Italy's largest telco
operator is creating its research lab for innovation practically for free
by recruiting bright young hackers/researchers/innovators through
powerful/funded crowdsourcing techniques: they promote california's (and
Florida's :)  ) imaginaries and visions, give them 20k euros, send them to
study abroad and   make sure that they participate to all their
initiatives. They twit, share, like and are brought to official meetings at
the institutions, on exhibit of how Italy has its own Silicon Valley. (this
is happening while the same organizations promote initiatives such as the
"Nobel Prize to the Internet").
These people openly speak about their activities and strategies in terms of
creating a "digital class", bringing back visions of McKenzie Wark's vector
If you go on Working Capital's website now on
http://www.workingcapital.telecomitalia.it/ you will see that it has been
It has been hacked by those same young people who are on WC's roster, on
OilProject ( http://www.oilproject.org/pagine/ChiSiamo/ ), an open
education project funded by Telecom and participating to WC.
Nothing new, you could say.
In all this, attention is changing shape, as is hacking, "free" (as in beer
*and* in libre), "open".
The idea of "publishing" has major role on all this, evolving the meaning
of the term to include updated versions of it referring to ubiquitous
practices and performative approaches.
As when "free" (and hacking) becomes corporate's next-step (current step,
actually), "publish" becomes "squat" (or "occupy").
The whole scenario is designed for the production of subjectivity.
Controlled production of subjectivity for what concerns power structures
(the iPhone's success is probably due to the fact that it is a perfectly
designed *empty* product/platform, in which all
technologies/interfaces/services are tailored for "filling it with
yourself" using content and apps, just like Facebook etc. Too bad that it
happens within a controlled environment.)
Subjectivity squatting existing scenarios for what concerns the
Occupy is an *empty* movement, in the sense that the recent discussion here
and on other lists about the "lack of goals" brings up really focal topics,
as if you think about it the scenario is like really similar to the
iPhone's empty interface and aesthetics: it is an infrastructure for
subjectivity; it is built so that people can put in their own
meanings/aesthetics/goals and easily change them and
remix/mashup/recontextualize them. And to stratify them one on top of the
And this, for what concerns my area of action, is also one of the most
interesting ways in which "publishing" works nowadays.

> What is it that in your opinion ultimately defines the quality
> and affective texture of communication on succesful open platforms?

And here i would really find useful if we could imagine definitions for the
phrase "successful open platforms".

all the best to you all!

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