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

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Wed Jan 25 00:42:41 EST 2012

Hi Joss & all,

One particular term you mention 'gate-keeping', strikes me as a 
significant subject worth exploring further. Especially when there 
existsr various models, practical solutions explored by many, forming 
their own cultural and independent economies involving open publishing. 
I think if we pull in some examples of 'open' publishing, in respect of 
motives and drives for doing such things, we can at least begin to 
appreciate the need for a wider development of free and open publishing.

Just sidestepping here, a recent free publication I have recently 
enjoyed reading is, The Student Handjob "so radical... it’s fucking 
bodacious" That's their strapline not mine, and it's free. Worth reading 
if like myself, you're interested in keeping up with the current 
dialogues of critical and activist education in the UK 

Getting back to things. If we focus on the shifting values and dynamics 
of free and open publishing, their processes areas of distribution, and 
what this means culturally. One group I have been following who are 
deeply involved in this is OSP (Open Source Publishing). A graphic 
design collective that uses only Free, Libre and Open Source Software. 
They "test the possibilities and realities of doing design, 
illustration, cartography and typography using a range of F/LOSS tools." 
Matt Fuller interviewed Femke Snelting a member from the group 
Snelting says "I think the blurring of boundaries happens through 
practice. Just like recipes are linked in many ways to food (tasting, 
trying, writing, cooking), design practice connects objects to conditions."

I agree with Snelting's comment. For if we are to get some kind of grip 
on what publishing is, we need appreciate what the reasons behind 
publishing are in the first place. If we mainly consider publishing in 
terms of facilitation and function alone, we lose the stories that can 
inspire others to engage themselves in creating their own methods of 
publishing. And gate-keeping is a historical and contemporary situation 
which we can all relate to, perhaps universally. It is the situations 
themselves that people experience which define and instruct their 
motives for publishing. One of my own fascinations around this is how 
others find ways around systems to get their message out there and heard 
to a larger audience or potential collaborators. Sometimes to make this 
happen, it involves activities of illegality or instances of grass root 
manoeuvrings. This also means that boundaries will be blurred due to the 
nature of redefining one's or a groups place by finding an alternate 
space to have a publication made concrete, seen by others.

Your comment

 >What can it mean to express political agency, to ‘act’ or to make
 >oneself present in the sense that Hannah Arendt uses it, in this context?

Feels poignant, especially now. Hannah Arendt wrote an interesting book 
'On Revolution', which it seems you've read. Where she proposes the 
French Revolution was not successful and the American Revolution was. 
Not only contentious because of her criticism on Marxist thought, but 
also seen as re-introducing the much earlier politics by the 
conservative Edmund Burke. This also links directly to another writer 
Mary Shelley author of 'Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus'. Where 
she lived through the wrath of Burke and the post French Revolution 
backlash. Shelley's rebellion against her own parent's ideas as well as 
other radicals, seems to take on echoes of Burke's own fears. Rousseau's 
dream of humanity- the noble savages, claiming power at grass roots and 
breaking away from the chains of a corrupted civilization, ended in 
himself anguishing about the death of many across Europe. The 
combination of Shelley's own personal doubts on Revolution and war, and 
considerations of Burke's very public discourse against her own father 
were key influences in the writing of Frankenstein's content.

In regard to contemporary and independent publications as agency, a 
group I'm been interested in, called 'University For Strategic Optomism' 
(http://universityforstrategicoptimism.wordpress.com/). As an active 
argument against their education being 'privatised, corporatised and 
commodified'. Have taken it upon themselves to create their own (peer 2 
peer) PhD'S. "based on the principal of free and open education, a 
return of politics to the public, and the politicisation of public 
space. As our university buildings are being boarded up we inhabit the 
bank as public space. Not just a public space but the proper and 
poignant place for the introductory lecture to our course entitled 
‘Higher Education, Neo-Liberalism and the State’." They took their 
research readings of various peer on the subject of neo-liberalism out 
of the 'official' realms of traditional universities, into physical 
environments and read them publicly inside Banks to mid-large audiences. 
Of course, creditation in this respect is not an option in normal, 
academic terms. But then, I have never believed the notion that an 
academic is immediately an intellectual or a critical thinker by 
default. But, we all know this don't we ;-)

I see this form of publication as part of the tradition of leafleting 
and as the natural exponential growth of networked culture and its 
influence in creating alternative hi-tech frameworks for distribution. 
Exploiting the idea and very practical solution of bypassing gatekeeping 
situations in creating one's own context as an alternative to the limits 
of official representation/distribution. "While e-commerce will always 
depend upon legal regulation, 'interactive creativity' among Net users 
has little need for courts and police." Barbrook 

Wishing you well.

> *
> Dear Smita, Marc, Simon and everyone.
> Many thanks for inviting me to join this fascinating, rich and varied 
> debate - I must confess so much so that frankly I'm not sure where to 
> start. I am not an expert, or anything like it, on IP or collaborative 
> authorship or open models but the context in which these issues have 
> come up certainly raises questions close to my own research interests, 
> which I guess is where I might be the best placed to offer a couple of 
> initial thoughts that I don’t think have been directly addressed so 
> far. One area which I have reflected on in some of my writing is the 
> character of publicness in a digital and networked environment. It 
> strikes me that the move into collaborative approaches that aim to 
> overcome the notion of a single author (and all the baggage that 
> entails) and ownership as a meaningful and useful legal concept 
> (whatever the broader implication for subjectivity, economics, and 
> society) raises real questions with regard to politics, as a process 
> of making public.
> To publish, as a process of crossing a clear boundary between a 
> private and public forum,  that is to ‘make public’ assumes a distinct 
> arena into which one can place private thoughts. This borderline has 
> up until ubiquitous distributed computing rested with formal or quasi 
> formal intermediary institutions that act as filters or gatekeepers - 
> or in other words, publishers. Such a policing is indeed necessary to 
> justify the very existence of pubic life as a distinct arena that 
> ‘represents’ us, and in that sense is the essence of the democratic 
> life of the bourgeois state. However, as the cost of publishing has 
> been reduced to something close to zero for a good number of 
> individuals and organizations, capital, and its concomitant bourgeois 
> state, have significantly diminished in their ability to filter and 
> legitimate the work of a professional class of public intellectuals 
> and cultural critics. The presence of such gatekeepers is also needed 
> to enable the creation of value sufficient that a class of public 
> intellectuals can a) make a living and b) make themselves distinct 
> from everybody else for whom public life only exists to the extent 
> that they are consumers and/or processors of public knowledge or 
> public reason. Yet now this process seems largely reversed, in that 
> the filtering process takes place after ‘publication’.One clicks 
> though to a recommended blog post as readily as story in /The 
> Guardian/ if it comes well recommended. One of the implications of the 
> ‘massification’ of the Internet as discussed by Tiziana in an earlier 
> post, is precisely the generalization of this post-public filtering. 
> On the surface this suggests a form democratization, open publishing 
> platforms, or even Twitter and such like, enabling anybody to chip in, 
> in that sense I wonder to what extent this erosion - if developed far 
> enough, can become a real radical and challenging political moment, 
> simply in its undermining of a privileged realm of ‘representation’?
> However, I also wonder just as FLOSS in the realm of economics, as 
> Dimit and others have argued in earlier posts, can readily be 
> recuperated by capital, so - perhaps - new forms of what might be 
> referred to a distributed publicness, can be readily recuperated by 
> the ‘post-publication’ filtering mechanisms put in place to enable 
> them to be manageable and shared, given the broader context of 
> neo-liberal definitions of choice as little more than a market of 
> ideas. In particular automated reputation systems that contribute 
> towards power-law distributions in scale-free networks, clustering 
> around ever more dominant hubs. In that regard for me the compelling 
> question that this raises is whether the shift from an official 
> policing of the boundary of publicness, towards an algorithmic 
> cybernetic policing, indeed the disappearance of the notion of 
> ‘public’ as meaningful term at all, requires a recalibration of 
> thinking about publishing? Or its value as a term at all. This must 
> also include ‘open’ publishing given that publishing itself is a 
> concept that still contains a trace of the process of a filtered 
> ‘making public’ and perhaps is becoming an oxymoron . Though at this 
> point I’m a bit too tired to think this through properly. But I do 
> also think this in itself requires a re-engagement with the key 
> question of subjectivity, political subjectivity in particular, again 
> an issue raised by Tiziana. What can it mean to express political 
> agency, to ‘act’ or to make oneself present in the sense that Hannah 
> Arendt uses it, in this context? One to sleep on I suspect. Apologies 
> for a rather incoherent post but hopefully I can pick up some more of 
> these points, and some more developed reflections on previous posts, 
> in the next day or two.
> Cheers, Joss
> From:*empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au 
> [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] on behalf of SK Edinburgh 
> [skheriaedin at gmail.com]
> *Sent:*23 January 2012 09:39
> *To:*soft_skinned_space
> *Subject:*[-empyre-] OSW: open source writing in the network
> Hello everyone!
>  A warm welcome to this week’s guests: Marc Garrett and Joss Hands.
> Thanks to Simon, Penny, Tiziana, Dmitry, Salvatore and Adam as well 
> all other discussion contributors for their thought-provoking comments 
> in the last two weeks. I have, as a lurker, really enjoyed the 
> comments, examples and references.
> My research interests are in exploring and investigating artists’ and 
> users’ perspectives on creation, dissemination and exploitation of new 
> forms of content and their relationship with authorship and copyright.
> I’d like to focus this week’s discussion on intellectual property, 
> economics and open models of writing and publishing. Collaborative 
> authorship does not sit very well within the copyright framework 
> (Seville 2006) and open-source models focus on sustaining 
> collaborative production within the boundaries of existing IP regimes 
> (Biagioli 2011). It’d be interesting to explore thoughts (and 
> experiences) on IP and development of open models of writing and 
> publishing; how does it hinder and can it help, ever?; the motivations 
> behind the use/development of open-models and the value attributed to 
> such use; role and meaning of collaborative authorship for the 
> participants. While several points in relation to these have come up 
> in a number of posts in the last two weeks, it’d be great to develop 
> them a bit further!
> Best,
> Smita
> On Sun, Jan 22, 2012 at 10:31 PM, Simon Biggs <simon at littlepig.org.uk 
> <mailto:simon at littlepig.org.uk>> wrote:
> >
> > Welcome to the third and last week of this discussion about open 
> source writing and publishing on empyre. Firstly I would like to thank 
> Adam Hyde, Salvatore Ianconesi, Penny Travlou, Tiziana Terranov and 
> Dmytri Kleiner for the dynamic discussion they have established over 
> the past two weeks, as well as all empyre members who have posted 
> emails to the thread. I hope everyone can remain engaged as we move 
> into the third week.
> >
> > To recap the theme: in a globalised and highly mediated context we 
> wish to focus empyre discussion on how writing and publishing are 
> currently evolving in the context of global networks. We hope to 
> engage a debate about open models of writing and publishing and gain 
> insight into how changes in notions and practices of authorship, 
> media, form, dissemination, intellectual property and economics affect 
> writing and publishing as well as the formation of the 
> reader/writerships, communities and the social engagement that must 
> flow from that activity. Specifically, we wish to look at examples of 
> open publishing, whether they be FLOSS manuals, copyLeft or 
> CopyFarLeft or other publication models, in order to look at new 
> methods for knowledge making and distribution. We also wish to 
> consider how communities of shared-value emerge through such 
> initiatives and how their members are able to identify themselves to 
> one another and others.
> >
> > This week's facilitator is Smita Kheria and our guests are Joss 
> Hands and Marc Garrett.
> >
> > Marc Garrett is an activist, artist, writer and co-director/founder 
> (with artist Ruth Catlow) of internet arts collective 
> http://www.furtherfield.org (since 96) and the Furtherfield Gallery & 
> social space in London. Through these platforms various contemporary 
> media arts exhibitions and projects are presented nationally and 
> internationally. Marc also hosts a weekly media arts radio programme 
> on Resonance FM, co-edited the publication "Artists Re: thinking 
> games" and is editing a new publication "Conversations As We Leave The 
> 21st Century". He is currently undertaking a PhD at Birkbeck 
> University, London.
> >
> > Joss Hands is a lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University where he is 
> Director of the Anglia Research Centre in Digital Culture 
> (ARCDigital). His research interests are at the intersection of 
> technology, new media, politics and critical theory. His focus has 
> been in two main areas. The role of technology in providing an arena 
> for the expression of dissent and the organisation of resistance 
> movements and the role of technology in more formal democratic 
> procedures, specifically the role of the Internet in contributing 
> towards the development of deliberative democracy. He has recently 
> completed a book on digital activism, "@ is for Activism: Dissent, 
> Resistance and Rebellion in a Digital Culture", published by Pluto Press.
> >
> > Smita Kheria is a lawyer and lecturer in law at the University of 
> Edinburgh. Her focus of interest is intellectual property law and 
> issues around authorship, especially concerning artists' practices 
> with new media. Smita is an associate of SCRIPT: the AHRC Research 
> Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology and is 
> Supervising editor (Intellectual Property) for SCRIPT-ed, the journal 
> of Law, Technology & Society.
> >
> >
> > best
> >
> > Simon
> >
> >
> >
> > Simon Biggs
> > simon at littlepig.org.uk <mailto:simon at littlepig.org.uk> 
> http://www.littlepig.org.uk/ @SimonBiggsUK skype: simonbiggsuk
> >
> > s.biggs at ed.ac.uk <mailto:s.biggs at ed.ac.uk> Edinburgh College of Art, 
> University of Edinburgh
> > http://www.eca.ac.uk/circle/ http://www.elmcip.net/ 
> http://www.movingtargets.co.uk/
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
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