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<eyebeam><blast> Notes from the Boiler Room

I am honored to be the guest of the week of this distinguished list, so
let me just jump in here before I start sucking my fingers again:

Geert Lovink wrote:

>Too many academics, with no experience in the field of programming or
>the day-to-day economics, are still defining the terms of the

I really don't want to sound anti-academic, but the sentiment is not at
all unfamiliar.  Sometimes working at The Thing feels like shoveling
coals in the bowels of an Ocean Liner while the Congress on deck is
dancing.  I also agree with Geert that practise comes first and
criticism second. Somebody recently mentioned they wanted to do a
discussion board about "protocols" and to this day I don't know whether
they were talking about red carpets or ftp.  I do however disagree with
Geert about the value of art as a  tool for the better understanding of
the emerging cyber economy/culture.

Granted, traditional art practice is not of much use here, but one
should take into account how the role of the artist has changed when
working in networked terrain.  As Alex Galloway has pointed out in a
recent article at http://www.rhizome.org: "An artist isn't just an
artist any more. These days,  with new technologies, it seems that an
artist must also be a designer, and a programmer, and a business person,
and a publicist."

Talking about business , now what's that got to do with art?  A whole
lot, as the recent demise of adaweb illustrates.  I don't really want to
get into the debate about the benefits of sponsoring versus "autonomy,"
let me just point out some political as well as aesthetic implications.
There's a real difference between hitching your waggon onto AOL (as
adaweb was more or less forced to do) , and going about business in a
manner of, as Keith Sanborn recently phrased it in this memorable jewel,
"putting some shards of glass in the cake to make them cough up blood."

What then is it that distinguishes enterprises like <plug> name.space,
nettime, The Thing </plug> from many of  of the other contenders?  They
are all models of economically self sufficent network projects that
sofar successfully resisted the onslaught of cultural homogenization
brought  to you by the likes as AOL, Disney, Time Warner and the rest of
the lot.  If you want to do your projects in a shopping mall, fine, some
might find that even interesting, but it's definitely not to everyone's

This eyebeam list is a good example. It could have been hosted by any
network, but it's hosted on thing.net and thereby contributes to
building a sustainable alternative network.  Knowing Jordan's
perversity, he probably would have more fun having AOL as a backdrop,
but  here it is, nonetheless!  Thanks Jordan!

Well, I guess there are plenty more reasons why art is still important,
but it's party time in NYC and I am out of here.

Wolfgang Staehle
http://www.thing.net if you don't know it by know!

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