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Re: <eyebeam><blast> Other

Re: Josephine Bosma's reply to Olu Oguibe:

"Also when one takes a closer look at what the real 'other' is on the
net, it is not so much found in social and political structures as we
know them off the net, but the way the net transforms all issues. The
net itself is the 'other' everyone here is trying to deal with.

"Like the issues around 'equal' rights for women and whatever minority
group (non westerners are a minority on the net) also the question of
the preservation of the uniqueness of certain national and personal
features does need a special focus."

I am fascinated by--and simultaneously both agree and disagree
with--Josephine's viewpoint. It seems to me that the net both reproduces
*and* transforms the nature of life off line. Those who are marginalized
off line (people of color, queers, women) remain marginalized online.
But, oddly enough, the net still offers the democratizing potential of
the niche audience that many of us thought cable TV's hundreds (if not
thousands) of channels once promised. As an art-type now trying to chart
the commercial terrain of creating online commercial community and
content, its clear that unless you've got unlimited resources, a
specialized audience becomes the only viable focus. Art, for instance,
is too large a subject to create a site or email list about. But when
coupled with those identity-related modifiers to which we are so
strongly attached (Jewish, gay, Nigerian or female, but not Protestant,
American, straight or male), meaningful discourse is possible.

Ah, those net paradoxes! In the same way that online communities seem to
stimulate off line socializing, perhaps Other cultures are strengthened
through the increasing hegemony of the mainstream. I have no doubt that
the Disney-fication of life offline is mirrored online. But sometimes
that image is warped, as if relected in a funhouse mirror.

Robert Atkins

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