[-empyre-] on feminism and the cyclical nature of tools and technologies

Randall Packer rpacker at zakros.com
Thu Feb 26 07:48:58 AEDT 2015

Greetings Melinda!

I wanted to jump into this conversation because it has in fact surprised me
that the text-only mailing list forums are still the most vital and dynamic
space for dialogue, even though the Internet and the Web have advanced
dramatically since the 1990s and early 2000s. I am not sure if it is the
medium that is the problem, but rather the intent. The intense focus and
seriousness of debate found in mailing list forums are simply not the
purpose of social media, which reaches out to a broader audience and thus a
more heterogenous group. That said, the tools available today are far more
favorable for discussion revolving around new media art and theory, in which
examples of work can be more integrated and woven into the discourse.
Perhaps it is simply that the new technologies are far more complex to use,
and thus are co-opted by institutions with commercial intent. However, if a
group of artists and thinkers decided to create an online forum in say,
Wordpress, as a multi-site or a network of RSS feeds, it could be
revolutionary. Imagine a network of bloggers whose posts are aggregated and
feed into a single site that also includes various social media feeds. Such
tools are out there but they seem too ³off the shelf² or corporate or
commercially-driven for the kind of focused debate that is typical of the
mailing list communities.

In sum, the Internet is no longer a domain dominated by the
experimentalists, it is for the world, but I suspect that with the right
intent and determination, that a new kind of forum and social space could
emerge and become a force to reckon.


From:  Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com>
Reply-To:  <muratnn1 at yahoo.com>, soft_skinned_space
<empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
Date:  Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 11:12 AM
To:  soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
Subject:  Re: [-empyre-] on feminism and the cyclical nature of tools and

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
Melinda, I share your feelings that early forms such as listserves and
chatrooms--for me they were listserves--were better media for creating
communities and for the in-depth exchange and discussion of ideas than later
forms. For instance, I developed lasting friendships with poets I first met
in the Buffalo Poetics list during its early years. It led to the legendary
Carboro poetry festival near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, organized by the
equally legendary Patrick Herron where he brought a number of the poets on
the list together for four days. Some of us fought, argued; but developed
our ideas in these discussions, created forms based on them. To me, blogs
that originally replaced lists are a more solipsistic form, disguised as
advances, progress in the web world. As for Facebook, chat rooms became



On Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 9:34 AM, Melinda Rackham <melinda at subtle.net> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> hello again..
> Of FemTechNet Anne wrote  ³Our mantra became:  ³WHO you learn with is as
> important as what you learn.² What a wonderful initiative. Tracey posted many
> great project links as well. Reality creates Reality - the world is still
> owned by a few men who maintain the privilege of themselves and other men.
> Feminism has been using tools and technologies for 150 years with some good
> success, however we saw it at the Academy Awards:  70% of the stories we see
> are stories of men where women do not speak to each other except to talk about
> men, and women still only earn 40% of male wages in the entertainment
> industry.
> Writing is a tool. I recall years ago Australian video/performance art pioneer
> Jill Scott impressing on me the importance of writing on and citing other
> women. I particularly like the simple cut and paste tools of Elvis
> Richardson.. she cuts names out of art magazine with scissors and pastes them
> on boxboard monuments with glue to graphically illustrate the inequalities in
> writing on women artists.  http://www.elvisrichardson.com/Versus.html
> Peer groups are a tool. Womens networked groups provided access to
> technologies and sistas -  dinners, in person meet ups, mentoring,
> introductions, and practicalities of art practice like travel and residences
> sublets and house swaps etc. Old Boys Network OBN - a cyberfeminist alliance
> initiated by Cornelia Sollfrank in 1997 in Berlin,  http://www.obn.org ; and
> the international FACES - "an international mailing list that connects women
> activists, artists, critics, theoreticians, technicians, journalists,
> researchers, programmers, networkers, web designers and educators: women who
> share an interest in the media and communication arts" have done this for many
> years. http://faces-l.net/
> Mentoring and nurturing are tools. Which takes me back to early learning
> spaces on the internet. Before user friendly software interfaces or university
> courses it was all about shared quests in localised (but geographically
> global) communities -  you learnt from like minded strangers on BBS or IRC
> chat or list-serve.  And in turn you taught others. Miss Despoinas Hackspace
> has been home-brewed in Hobart (at the bottom of Australia) by Nancy
> Mauro-Flude since 2008. Its a " salon for experimental research, radical
> aesthetics, media design, production and exchange underlined by modes of maker
> culture. "  Teaching others to make it and break it. http://miss-hack.org/
> I've just hookedup via crackbook with some women I went to University with 20
> years ago. It was 1995 and we taught ourselves to hand code HTML and curated
> an online show - Wollongong World Women Online WWWO, and taught 30 other women
> how to make a web page which was in the show. Our Australian site was part of
> The World¹s Women Online! a project developed by Muriel Magenta at Arizona
> State University for presentation at the 1995 the Fourth United Nations World
> Conference on Women in Beijing. At that time when women made up less than 10%
> of internet users, just introducing the internet on a computer to another
> woman was a massive technological tool for art and change. The web site is
> dead, but we think we can put about 20% of it back together form our bit of
> files. Archiving, leaving a legacy, is a tool.
> One of the reasons I've strayed away from online culture over the past years
> is that apart from small pockets it sometimes seems like a soma delivery
> system. Where I've strayed to is back into local geographical communities,
> learning from peer environments and in turn sharing my technical and knowledge
> skills to strengthen networks and allow more advocacy reach. I won't post any
> links here as they are private communities, but they involve basic human needs
> like Shelter in affordable housing; identity and dignity in addressing the
> ongoing physical and psychological trauma of market driven forced Adoptions
> practices; and the rights of children in the era of "rent a 3rd world womb"
> surrogacy.  I use off the shelf space like groupspaces.com
> <http://groupspaces.com>  - easy to modify, easy to maintain by anyone with
> minimal technical knowledge, and have all the basics a group needs for sharing
> communication in both imagery and texts. It could be something better, faster,
> slicker, free, open source, but thats not the important aspect of this tool.
> A tool is context specific. I am writing my memoir which explores the gulf
> created when a child and mother are forcibly separated at birth. I was removed
> from my 20-year-old unmarried mother at birth, and then lost my only child to
> forced adoption aged 15. In writing it I use the same Nuance Dragon voice
> recognition software that Simon uses in his Crosstalk project. It works for me
> as I need to speak from my belly - engaging my emotions freely in this highly
> personal project. If i'm typing with my critical editorial fingers on keyboard
> the flow is different.I  like the jaw/skull bone pick ups you describe Simon,
> sounds particularly good for gnashing of teeth...
> So tools and technologies don't need to be new, specialised, expensive or
> complex, and often the more straight fwd the longer lasting and more far
> reaching their outcomes. Thats why I used the rather daggy list serv format
> for -empyre-  with plain text messages. It was, and still is, easy to use,
> easy to contain, easy to search, and has no distractions.  In 2002 I  was
> hoping -empyre- would a space were it was "safe" to make propositions which
> left one a little giddy or vulnerable - but I guess the reality is text based
> interaction becomes performative in a knowledge based economy and status
> anxiety precludes these sorts of risks. Maybe I'm wrong?
> Melinda
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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