Category: art

Miscommunication Technologies with @dmytri & @baruch at @BerlinAtonal

Baruch Gottlieb and I will be giving a talk about Miscommunication technologies at Berlin Atonal today.

http://www.berlin-atonal.com/

Below is a text written by us about the series of artworks originally published in “Disrupting Business,” Edited by Tatiana Bazzichelli & Geoff Cox and published by Autonomedia – Data Browser 05.

http://networkingart.eu/2013/10/disrupting_business/

Miscommunication Technologies
Telekommunisten Artworks 2009-2013
Dmytri Kleiner, Baruch Gottlieb

The development of communication technologies is not merely a neutral process driven by discovery, progress and innovation, but an intensely social and political process where choices are made in ways that fundamentally influence the reproduction of the class conditions of the societies that produce these technologies. Communications technologies embody and perpetuate the social relations of their mode of production.

The Miscommunication Technologies series of artworks by Telekommunisten explore these social relations by creating technologies that don’t work as expected, or work in unexpected ways. The artworks in the series allow the embedded social relations to be critically experienced and confronted. The series employs parody, juxtaposition, exaggeration and reductio ad absurdum to bring aspects of these relations which are normally hidden from view, into the foreground.

The Miscommunication Technologies artworks illustrate some of the real world challenges faced by anyone or any group which would like to challenge the dominance of capitalist models of production. Miscommunication Technologies take a light-hearted approach to an intractable reality: capitalism is not only the system by which maximum value is extracted from social production, it is also the current global system which, in its unsatisfactory yet somewhat reliable manner, provide vital services we depend on every day. Any challenge to capitalist hegemony must be prepared to provide for the same social needs which will persist any system.

The illusions of the early Internet as a panacea platform for the emancipation of human intelligence and collaborative spirit emerged because it was financed for use-value, not exchange-value. It’s early developers were universities, NGOs, hobbyists and, prominently, the military. The contributors to the early Internet built the platform according to what could be seen as a product of a communist credo, “from each according to ability, to each according to need.”

As Richard Barbrook described in “The::Cyber.Com/munist::Manifesto” “Within the Net, people are developing the most advanced form of collective labour: work-as-gift.” Information and software spread freely across the network. This, to many people, created the impression that a new society was emerging, for instance, “The Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” by John Perry Barlow stated “We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.” Barlow’s EFF co-founder, John Gilmore claimed that “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” implying that The Net existed beyond the jurisdiction of States, or even the organisations that operate it, as it can simply “route around” those that would seek to interfere with the freedom of exchange on the network.

This might have held true to some extent during the initial stages of commercialisation of the Internet, since the first commercial ventures, “Internet Service Providers” or “ISPs” did not develop their own communications technologies, but only provided access to the public Internet, and the decentralized, open technologies that ran on it, such as email and usenet. The exchange value these ISPs were capturing was collectively created. Each ISP was independently earning income by being a part of a common platform, not owned by anybody as a whole, but composed of the mutual interconnections of the participants. Though made up of parts owned by public and private organizations, the platform as a whole functioned as a commons, a common stock of productive assets used independently by the ISPs and their users.

In parallel to the Internet, “Online Services” like CompuServ emerged from the capitalist imagination, they were financed for exchange value, by profit seeking investors, and as such did not employ a mesh topology like the Internet, but rather employed a star topology. Users could not communicate directly with each other, but only through the central servers of the operator, which could not be “routed around.” This was required by profit-oriented business models, since control of user interaction and user data is required to monetise the platform, for instance by charging fees or selling advertising.

Part of what fed the illusion of the emancipatory potential of the then-possible Internet was the fact that the platform made Capitalist-funded “Online Services” like CompuServ and AOL obsolete. This happened largely because of the explosive growth made possible by it’s distributed infrastructure, allowing the ISP industry to develop as a kind of petit-bourgeois industry of small producers. ISPs were a cottage industry of mom and pop telecoms of sorts. The design of the Internet allowed anybody with a connection to the internet, to provide a connection to others, thus the barrier of entry to becoming an ISP was relatively small, just an upstream connection, some computers, modems and telephone lines.

During the early days of the public Internet the communistic petit bourgeois ISPs prevailed over the feudalistic haute bourgeois Online Services, making it seem momentarily that the superior technical architecture of the Internet, combined with the cultures of sharing and gift economies would be able to surpass and even transcend Capital.

Both personal and commercial users migrated en masse to the internet. For instance, in a letter to their customers that is still available online the software company BASIS international, “The Big Little Software Company,” writes “By the end of 1997, BASIS plans to move completely off CompuServe (CSi) and onto the Internet. This is a logical consequence of the many changes that have taken place in the online world over the past few years.” In their letter, BASIS spells out a lot of these changes; “While our CSi presence has served the company well in the past, its pay-to-access structure is increasingly harder to justify with the Internet providing almost limitless content at a negligible incremental cost. People are moving away from CSi in significant numbers, making it a less effective platform from which to address our current and future customers. We believe that moving our existing support infrastructure from CSi to the Internet will give us better access to our customers and our customers better access to us” and goes on to explain how it will now use open platforms like email, Usenet and IRC instead of CompuServ’s proprietary and centralized applications. How ironic that now web 2.0 platforms have companies and individuals returning to centralized, proprietary systems for their support and communications. The reason for this is not because centralized platforms where superior all-along, but because they are they only kind of systems that are funded by capitalists.

While ISPs invested in bringing Internet access into households and offices worldwide, they did little to actually develop the communications platforms used on the network, these were largely developed within the gift economy of the users themselves. The ISPs were even less able to take over the provision of long-haul data transmission, dominated by international telecommunications conglomerates. Most ISPs got their start by simply connecting shelves full of consumer grade modems to consumer grade computers running free software, providing connectivity to an upstream internet provider for end-users who were using freely available communications platforms.

Thus, while the emergence of the ISPs and the rapid mainstream adoption of the Internet were spectacular, they were not able to capture enough profit to scale up and take over the more investment-heavy infrastructure of Internet provision. The end was already apparent in beginning. Well-financed telecommunications conglomerates would soon replace the mom & pop ISPs, either buying them up, or driving them out of business by providing “broadband” services which delivered internet to the home along with telephone service, leaving the remaining ISPs as just resellers, providing service over telecom managed circuits.

As Internet usage grew, technically-oriented users became the minority. The general Internet user became what Clay Shirkey eventually called “everybody”. This had a significant impact on the culture of sharing and tolerance. The first wave of “everybody” to arrive was when AOL, in an effort to remain relevant, allowed it’s users to access the Internet, this epoch has been called “The Eternal September” since then. The Jargon File, a glossary of hacker slang, describes this as “All time since September 1993. One of the seasonal rhythms of the Usenet used to be the annual September influx of clueless newbies who, lacking any sense of netiquette, made a general nuisance of themselves. This coincided with people starting college, getting their first internet accounts, and plunging in without bothering to learn what was acceptable. These relatively small drafts of newbies could be assimilated within a few months. But in September 1993, AOL users became able to post to Usenet, nearly overwhelming the old-timers’ capacity to acculturate them; to those who nostalgically recall the period before, this triggered an inexorable decline in the quality of discussions on newsgroups.”

The Jargon File, mentions “Netiquette,” a quaint term from the innocent times of net.culture, yet Netiquette was not simply a way of fitting-in, like table manners at an exclusive dinner party. The cultural context of that Internet that made acculturation necessary was its relative openness and lack of stratification.
Netiquette was required, because the network had relatively little constraints built into it, the constraints needed to be cultural for the system to work. There was much more to this culture than teaching new users how to not abuse resources or make a “general nuisance of themselves.” Netiquette was not so much about online manners, it was rather about how to share. Starting from the shared network resources, sharing was the core of the culture, which not only embraced free software and promoted free communications, but generally resented barriers to free exchange, including barriers required to protect property rights and any business models based on controlling information flow.

As dramatic as the influx of new users was to the old-timers’ net.culture, the influx of capital investment and its conflicting property interests quickly emerged as an existential threat to the basis of the culture. Net.culture required a shared internet, where the network itself and most of the information on it was held in common. Capital required control, constraints and defined property in order to earn returns on investment. Lines in the sand were drawn, the primitive communism of the pre-September Internet was over. The Eternal September began, and along with it, the stratification of the internet began.

Rather than embracing the free, open, platforms where net.culture was born, like Usenet, EMail, IRC, etc, Capital embraced the Web. Not as the interlinked, hypermedia, world-wide-distributed publishing platform it was intended to be, but as a client-server private communications platform where users’ interactions were mediated by the platforms’ operators. The flowering of “Web 2.0” was Capital’s re-engineering of the web into an internet accessible version of the online services they were building all along, such as the very platforms whose mass user bases where the influx that started the Eternal September. CompuServ and AOL most notable among them.

The gift-economy model of software development that developed platforms like email and usenet was unable to compete with a quickly growing Venture Capital start-up scene pushing Web 2.0 platforms. Like the profit-oriented Online Services before them, these start-ups were also compelled by the the profit motives of their investors to implement a centralised topology, a star topology, because once again, the central control of user data and interaction was required to monetise the platforms. We have moved from a world CompuServ and AOL to a world of Amazon and Facebook. Scratch off the Facebook logo and you’ll find the CompuServ logo underneath.

The OCTO P7C-1 prototype premiered at transmediale 2013 was produced by Jeff Mann, Jonas Frankki, Diani Barreto, Baruch Gottlieb and Dmytri Kleiner with raumlaborberlin. OOCTO exemplified this problematic. OCTO, the fictional venture capitalist start-up promised to build the next dimension of the Internet, the physical dimension of communication through a pervasive pneumatic tube network. The utopian rhetoric of the OCTO boosters is exuberantly cliché, promising all manner of human empowerment and positive transformation, and conveniently leaving behind in the shadow of bold promises the fact that this technology will be completely centralised and completely transfused with invasive security and monitoring technologies.

OCTO P7C-1 presented the situation on several parallel levels. First, the actual working prototype, the P7C-1 allowed visitors to send capsules around the entire Haus der Kulturen der Welt. The P7C-1 stations were integrated everywhere at transmediale and used by staff and visitors alike. Use of the system was purposefully complicated, every capsule having to be sent through a central station in coordination and at the mercy of the operators positioned there. P7C-1’s cumbersome, labour-intensive and privacy-agnostic factuality flew in the face of the transcendent promises unflaggingly issued from the fictional directorship of the fictional OCTO company. The constant work of managing the central station, end-stations and tube network is labour theatre, unlike the internet where the physical labour is hidden, the labour in OCTO P7C-1 is presented as a central theatrical aspect of the work. OCTO the company, provided the second layer, the social fiction, constantly driving home the lesson that there is a price for the convenience of every new technological utopia under capitalism, and the price will be extracted from those who are promised to benefit.

We have moved from administering our own email to using the centralized email services of giant entities like Google and Yahoo, which, as part of their mere functioning, parse and analyse private contents. Massive data sets have proven as useful for optimising AI applications such as automatic translation as any improvement from the (academic) information science community. Access to these storehouses of real-time contextual semantic data is the nec plus ultra of contemporary web profit models.

The revolutionary Internet that inspired Barbrook, Barlow, Gilmore and many others has become a dystopia, a platform whose capabilities and pervasiveness of surveillance and behavioural conditioning and influence surpass the wildest dreams of the tyrants and technocrats of previous eras. As we will see again and again, despite claims that culture and economy has gone ‘immaterial’, the rules of access to the physical technology of the internet conditions the forms of services which are eventually at the disposal of users.

Whereas OCTO is the archetypal network startup with a unabashed agenda of market sector conquest, Thimbl appears as the light at the end of the long dark tunnel of centralised hegemonic corporate dominance of the Internet. Developed by Dmytri Kleiner, Jonas Frankki, Rico Weise and Mike Pearce with contributions from a small community that developed around it, including Anthony Shull, Silja Neilson, Mark Carter and Fernando Guillen ,Thimbl is made out to be a distributed, peer-to-peer alternative to microblogging platforms such as Twitter. Thimbl appears as an analogue of projects like Diaspora, also launched in 2010 like Thimbl, Diaspora is a purely altruistic project with no profit motive and only the idealism of freedom of information.

The tragedy of projects like Diaspora is that they are not really a viable replacements for capital-funded projects like Facebook, for economic and political reasons, not technical reasons. Therein lies the message of Thimbl. Anyone who has some understanding of the elementary server architecture of the Internet can use Thimbl, because it is based on a protocol originally developed in the 1970’s called Finger which allowed users to post public “project” and “plan” messages akin to status updates. The free-access, non-commercial functionality of finger harkens back to the period when the Internet was still being developed for use value. By retrieving finger, Thimbl indicates how users today are allowing corporations to benefit from the value of their social interactions for services which, in principle, could be used freely and for free. Thimbl shows that all that is necessary to provide a microblogging experience like Twitter is available for free and built in to the Internet right now, but, precisely because they are freely available, technologies based on protocols like finger will never be developed to the extent that they offer the satisfactory user experience of competitive commercial platforms.
Unlike the highly centralized OCTO, capital will never fund a project like Thimbl because it will not generate sufficient ROI. Thimbl is an economic fiction or social fiction. Making it work is not the greatest challenge, making it financially viable is. Thimbl does not provide investors with the ability to control it’s users or their data, and as Thimbl’s Manifesto states “This control is required by the logic of Capitalist finance in order to capture value. Without such control profit-seeking investors do not provide funds.”

For Thimbl, or any other platform with a similar vision, to become a real alternative to the capitalist financed platforms like Facebook and Twitter, we need more than running code, even more than a small, perhaps dedicated, user base. To get beyond this and actually break the monopolizing grip of centralized social media we need to match their productive capacities. We need financing on a similar scale. so that the development, marketing, and operations budgets are comparable and sufficient to compete. Just like science fiction becomes reality when science transcends the limitations that existed when the fiction was imagined, for economic fiction like Thimbl to become reality society will need to transcend the political and economic limitations that we currently face. We can write code, we can write texts, we can create artworks, but as a small network of artists and hackers, we can’t change the economic conditions we work in by ourselves.

Free, distributed platforms are very practically suited to the work of radical communities, both symbolically as a matter of solidarity, and also practically, since support for privacy and cryptography is often desirable. These platforms should, in a meritocratic economy of technological product, become prevalent, but instead they are marginalized by the current ‘owners’ of the Internet. Free, distributed platforms cannot provide the same ease-of-use, the so-called user-experience (UX) provided by capitalist platforms because they simply lack the work-time to generate such quality. The result is that radical programmers pride themselves on the superiority of the software and bemoaning the state of things which prevents that such software become prevalent. Radical programmers are motivated to campaign on the level of code for a freer, anarchist, egalitarian Internet, but they are not motivated to confront the political and economic realities which prohibit the social adoption of these technologies. This generates much frustration and defensiveness, rather than the commitment to dedicate some small quanta of their formidable imaginations and intelligences to the problem of ownership.

Miscommunication Technologies show-up the improvisatory economic structures of network-optimism in the way they inevitably ‘fail’ to deliver the seamless networked experience they provocatively advertise. The schism between the promise of utopia and the reality of a system which requires much spontaneous effort on the part of users even to provide a modicum of functionality, playfully points to the immense work still needed to produce conditions which will support a radically different model of industrial communications as it prioritizes the generation and cultivation of direct interpersonal engagement between a community of users.

General concern regarding the censorship and surveillance on commercial online platforms is growing, and these concerns are opportunities to to introduce political topics by arguing that these features are not unintended side-effects of these platforms, but central to their business models, and that platforms that do not surveille or control can not and will not be financed by capital, but only by collective or public undertaking as an expression of priorities which diverge from capitalism. Once this becomes clearer, concern over privacy settings on Facebook can be directed towards capitalism itself, instead of the idiosyncrasies of that platform or it’s founders.

Privacy and surveillance, at the same time, become wedge issues to de-legitimize alternative networks and services for the general public. Under the banner of security and ‘quality’, corporations have lobbied governments to favour centralized ‘unfree’ network applications built on the still free but ever fading-from-view Internet. We have seen often enough how products like Bitcoin can be impugned to ‘enable elicit activity’, cast as disreputable, until completely controlled and regulated by capital-concerned governments. Without acknowledging the systemic necessity, under the capitalist financing regime, of a centralized Internet, citizens’ legitimate concerns about corporate encroachment into private and personal spheres is co-opted to generate unfavorable opinions about technologies which could help disrupt the dominance of capitalist priorities of control.

It is worthwhile to re-emphasize that the Internet itself is not immaterial. The Internet is only accessible through hardware which needs to be built according to unfree and often unfair industrial production rules. The industrial production of electronics is a quintessentially capital-intensive undertaking requiring global flows of materials, which, under capitalism take place in extreme conditions of competition and extraction of labour value. Any challenge to how the Internet is run, or what it is available to be used for must also challenge how it is produced and reproduced.

iMine, an experimental art-app/game produced by Baruch Gottlieb in 2011 with Horacio González Diéguez and Cocomoya, prior to Baruch’s work with Telekommunisten, is now integrated into the Miscommunication Technologies series. iMine is a game that can be played on a smartphone building the reality of labour exploitation in the mining industries needed to produce the minerals required to make the device being used to play the game into the experience of playing the game. iMine does not try to make the gameplay enjoyable or directly educational but seeks to create an experience of bleakness and drudgery, true to that of the mine workers, not to entertain the user with the story of the mining, but evoke the experience of the miner. At the heating heart of the emancipatory digital device, are highly hierarchic systems of production and control. iMine is dismalware.

The gameplay is designed from the start to be stripped down to the mere basics Someone who wants to play first creates a new miner giving it a unique name and a country. After this simple registration the only thing left to do is repeatedly thrust the phone as if it were a shovel into the ground. The website keeps track of the global iMining action going on at any particular time, and also features an extensive resource section with information on mining and the political and economic enjeu in global supply chain for minerals necessary in portable computing device production. After having been developed and premiered at LABoral,

Miscommunication Technologies thus indicates that there can be no uniquely technological fix. Colonial wars and security states, corporate rule and centralization will persist despite the best intentions of emancipatory technologists, and worse, the best and most innovative technologies are not only appropriated to perpetuate capital but to this end they are incomparably better funded than had been the visionary projects of their emancipatory inventors. The technologies which become dominant, become dominant in the form dictated by the prevailing conditions of capitalist production under which we labour today.

The free, distributed platforms, that can not be controlled or censored, can not exist on any large scale under capitalism. Not for technical reasons, in fact the technology that enables such interaction is in many cases well-described and readily available, but for social and political reasons. The productive capacity that is required to build and support them will not be provided by Capital, thus so long as Capital is the dominant mode of production, it will produce platforms that reproduce itself, thus platforms than enable the accumulation of wealth by engineering control and extraction into communications systems.

R15N, originally developed as Jessycom by Dmytri Kleiner during a residency at the Israeli Center for Digital Art, was premiered as R15N in collaboration with Jonas Frankki, Jeff Mann, Baruch Gottlieb, Rico Weise and Mike Pearce at transmediale 2011. R15N is a project which pushes to absurdity the emancipatory rhetoric of mobile networked computing. Events like the antiglobalization protests in Copenhagen or the political upheaval often referred to as ‘arab spring’ generate much enthusiastic hyperbole about how new realtime networks employing mobile devices can become an unstoppable democratising force. R15N points to the economic predilections built into the provision of network connectivity may work against such emancipatory agendas.

R15N retrieves an obsolete form of social networking, the ‘telephone tree’ and dresses it up as the lastest thing in robust circumventionist networking. Perfect for planning a flash mob, R15N easily becomes a nuisance as phone calls multiply rendering the commitment one made to one’s community by joining the network a near-constant obligation to participate.

Whereas iMine proposes that critical games or critical media can only do so much to challenge the economic exigencies underlying an unacceptable status quo, and that the materiality (itself) of networked utopia is the key to understanding its injustices, R15N suggests that circumventionism will not fundamentally challenge intolerable social conditions without the concurrent care and effort being dedicated to actually building up strong communities which have committed to working together toward transforming society, as users of R15N are constantly reminded, the system depends on your competence and diligence.

Miscommunication Technologies are artworks with a principal purpose, that of engaging people in provocative networked experiences in which they inadvertently but necessarily confront the unadorned material and economic conditions under which such experiences are made possible.

Anti-Capitalism: The Musical! and The Panel! // Galway, Ireland.

I’ll be in Galway, Ireland, this weekend, to particate in a panel to discuss the themes in “Anti-Capitalism: The Musical!”

The Panel is free to attend. All are welcome. Please pass it on.

Anti-Capitalism: The Musical!

Venue: The Cube, NUI Galway
Áras Na Mac Léinn
NUI Galway National University of Ireland, Galway
University Road
Co. Galway
Phone: +353 91 524411
URL: http://www.nuigalway.ie/

choreographed & composed by Deirdre Murphy

A fairytale of musical theatre, using circus, song, and dance to create a near-future political reality similar to our own. A large scale theatrical narrative with a cast of 15 dancers, singers, circus performers, actors and a live band, it uses acrobatics, plot twists, assassinations, and intrigue to tell the tale of a heroic group of everyday acrobats, aided by the Greek-chorus style narrations of a powerful triumvirate of fairy godmothers.
‘Social criticism wrapped in wit, glee and stunning physical & vocal performance’.

Anti-Capitalism: The Panel!
Sunday, March 30 at 2:30pm

A panel of speakers from various backgrounds lead an open discussion on issues raised by Anti-Capitalism: the Musical!

Since the financial crash of 2008 the world has entered into a new depression. While some in the top 1% have remained comfortable, the .01% of the richest in the population have become much richer. At the same time that the broad mass of the population is struggling to make ends meet. Unemployment, underemployment, emigration and the misuse of internships are serious problems. Climate change and other environmental problems which at one time seemed to be on the agenda have disappeared from public discourse.

We will explore what we can do and how to get involved in doing it.

Chair: Gavin Mendel-Gleason
panel speakers: Deirdre Murphy, Dmytri Kleiner, John Bissett

Scratch-off the Facebook logo, and you’ll find the CompuServ logo underneath.

During the summer I traveled to the Monostori Fortress near Komárom, Hungary to attend IslandCQ 2013 “Crisis! Re/Constructing Europe.” This text is for the IslandCQ 2013 publication. Rather than simply transcribing my presentation, I have created this text to cover some of things we talked about, and to expand upon them and take the topic further. This text is a remix and extension of three previous texts, two from my blog, and one co-written with Baruch Gottlieb.

Remixing and forking both software and text is an approach I have used for years, and indeed most of my texts contain fragments of other texts, some of which I have written myself, some co-written with others. I inherited this technique from the long history of radical art, from practitioners of cut-up, like Brion Gysin and William Burroughs, to Dada and The Situationists International, and into my own generation with the Neoist Network.

The Internet and free software, to me, were a natural extension of my already existing support of free communications and anti-copyright. When I encountered the Internet for the first time I immediately embraced it, its distributed architecture, its capacity for allowing free speech, and perhaps most significantly, its culture of sharing. The Internet embodied the social relations to match my political and artistic convictions.

However, when I encountered the Internet, though I didn’t know it, it was already dying. It was clear to me that there were challenges, to be sure, but I didn’t yet realize how bad the prognosis was. To me, my fight to save the Internet was against the cencorius desires of other users and the timidity of the small companies providing internet services. This was a fight that seemed winnable. However, what I didn’t know at the time, was that the real fight was against Capitalism, and as such, the inevitable end of the Internet was already evident.

A good example of my early participation is a text I posted on Usenet, it was republished on Wired Magazine’s HotWired site, which claimed to be the world’s first commercial web magazine. In it, I argue that sysadmins working for internet service providers should focus on keeping their servers running, and sanction users that are abusing system resources, but not interfere with content, because if they did so, if they assumed the role of online censor, they would jeopardise the spirit of the Net, and also jeopardise the viability of their own service.

In some way I was right, assuming the Net worked the way we thought it worked, worked the way that John Perry Barlow thought when he wrote “We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity,” or the way John Gilmore thought when he wrote “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it,” or the way Richard Barbrook thought when he wrote “Within the Net, people are developing the most advanced form of collective labour: work-as-gift.”

Unfortunately, I wrote my article in September. The 790th day of September, 1993, to be exact. What would have been October 31st, 1995 on the pre-September calendar.

The Jargon File defines “The September that never ends” as “All time since September 1993. One of the seasonal rhythms of Usenet used to be the annual September influx of clueless newbies who, lacking any sense of netiquette, made a general nuisance of themselves. This coincided with people starting college, getting their first internet accounts, and plunging in without bothering to learn what was acceptable. These relatively small drafts of newbies could be assimilated within a few months. But in September 1993, AOL users became able to post to Usenet, nearly overwhelming the old-timers’ capacity to acculturate them; to those who nostalgically recall the period before, this triggered an inexorable decline in the quality of discussions on newsgroups.”

Once the internet was available to the general public, outside of the research/education/NGO world that had inhabited it before September, the large numbers of users arriving on the untamed shores of early cyberspace “nearly overwhelmed the old-timers’ capacity to acculturate them.” The Jargon File mentions “netiquette,” a quaint term from the innocent times of net.culture, yet netiquette was not simply a way of fitting in, it wasn’t like table manners at an exclusive dinner party. The cultural context of that Internet that made acculturation necessary was its relative openness and lack of stratification.

Netiquette was required, because the network had relatively little constraints built into it, the constraints needed to be cultural for the system to work. There was much more to this culture than teaching new users how to not abuse resources or make a “general nuisance of themselves.” Netiquette was not so much about online manners, it was rather about how to share. Starting from the shared network resources, sharing was the core of the culture, which not only embraced free software and promoted free communications, but generally resented barriers to free exchange, including barriers required to protect property rights and any business models based on controlling information flow.

As dramatic as the influx of new users was to the “old-timers” net.culture, the influx of capital investment and it’s conflicting property interests quickly emerged as an existential threat to the basis of the culture. net.culture required a shared internet, where the network itself and most of the information on it was held in common. Capital required control, constraints and defined property in order to earn returns on investment. Lines in the sand were drawn, the primitive communism of the pre-September Internet was over. The Eternal September began, and along with it, the stratification of the Internet began.

Rather than embracing the free, open platforms where net.culture was born, like Usenet, email, IRC, etc, Capital embraced the Web. Not as the interlinked, hypermedia, world-wide-distributed publishing platform it was intended to be, but as a client-server private communications platform where users’ interactions were mediated by the platforms’ operators. The flowering of “Web 2.0″ was Capital’s re-engineering of the web into an internet accessible version of the online services they were building all along, such as the very platforms whose mass user bases were the influx that started the Eternal September. CompuServ and AOL most notable among them.

The Eternal September started when these Online Services allowed their users to access Internet services such as Usenet and email. Web 2.0 replaced Usenet and email with social platforms embedded in private, centralized web-based services that look and work very much like the old Online Services.

Scratch-off the Facebook logo, and you’ll find the CompuServ logo underneath.

The Internet is no longer an open free-for-all where old-timers acculturate new-comers into a community of co-operation and sharing. It is a stratified place where the culture of sharing and co-operation has been destroyed by the terms of service of online platforms and by copyright lobbies pushing for greater and greater restrictions and by governments that create legislation to protect the interests of property and “security” against the interests of sharing.

The culture of co-operation and sharing has been replaced by a culture of surveillance and control.

Much later that September, the 6,820th day of September, 1993, to be exact, I gave a talk with Jacob Appelbaum at the 6th annual Re:publica conference in Berlin. In part, I responded to the earlier presentation by Eben Moglen, the brilliant and tireless legal council of the Free Sofare Foundation and founder of the FreedomBox Foundation, who gave a characteristically excellent speech. However, in it was something that just couldn’t be right.

Moglen claimed that Facebook’s days as a dominant platform are numbered, because we will soon have decentralized social platforms, based on projects such as FreedomBox, users will operate collective social platforms based on their own hardware, retain control of their own data, etc. The trajectory that Moglen is using has centralized social media as the starting point and distributed social media as the place we are moving toward. But in actual fact, this transformation had already occured very long ago.

During the twilight of the CompuServ era, both personal and commercial users migrated en masse to the Internet. For instance, in a letter to their customers that is still available online the software company BASIS international, “The Big Little Software Company,” writes: “BASIS plans to move completely off CompuServe (CSi) and onto the Internet. This is a logical consequence of the many changes that have taken place in the online world over the past few years.”

In their letter, BASIS spells out a lot of these changes: “While our CSi presence has served the company well in the past, its pay-to-access structure is increasingly harder to justify with the Internet providing almost limitless content at a negligible incremental cost. People are moving away from CSi in significant numbers, making it a less effective platform from which to address our current and future customers. We believe that moving our existing support infrastructure from CSi to the Internet will give us better access to our customers and our customers better access to us.”

It goes on to explain how it will now use open platforms like email, Usenet and IRC instead of CompuServ’s proprietary and centralised applications. This letter was published around the same time HotWired reposted my Usenet article.

Contrary to Moglen’s trajectory of social media, the fact is that we already had distributed social media, we already abandoned the centrally controlled platforms such as CompuServ and AOL, and moved to the Internet, and despite this, our decentralized platforms have since been replaced, once again, with centralized social media. Why? Because Capitalism.

The Internet is a distributed social media platform. The classic internet platforms that existed before the commercialization of the web provided all the features of modern social media monopolies. Platforms like Usenet, email, IRC and finger allowed us to do everything we do now with Facebook and friends. We could post status updates, share pictures, send messages, etc. Yet, these platforms have been more or less abandoned. So the question we need to address is not so much how we can invent a distributed social platform, but how and why we started from a fully distributed social platform and replaced it with centralized social media monopolies.

The answer is quite simple. The early internet was not significantly capitalist funded. The change in application topology came along with commercialization, and this change is a consequence of the business models required by capitalist investors to capture profit. The business model of social media platforms is surveillance and behavioral control. The internet’s original protocols and architecture made surveillance and behavioral control more difficult. Once capital became the dominant source of financing it directed investment toward centralized platforms, which are better at providing such surveillance and control, the original platforms were starved of financing. The centralized platforms grew and the decentralized platforms submerged beneath the rising tides of the capitalist web.

This is nothing new. This was the same business model that capital devised for media in general, such as network television. The customer of network television is not the viewer, rather the viewer is the product, the “audience commodity.” The real customers are the advertisers and lobby groups wanting to control the audience.

Network Television didn’t provide the surveillance part, so advertisers needed to employ market research and ratings firms such as Nielson for that bit. This was a major advantage of social media. Richer data from better surveillance allowed for more effective behavioral control than ever before, using tracking, targeting, machine learning, behavioral retargeting, among many techniques made possible by the deep pool of data companies like Facebook and Google have available.

This is not a choice that capitalists made, this is the only way that profit-driven organizations can provide a public good like a communication platform. Capitalist investors must capture profit or lose their capital. If their platforms can not capture profit, they vanish. The obstacle to decentralized social media is not that it has not been invented, but the profit-motive itself. Thus to reverse this trajectory back towards decentralization, requires not so much technical initiative, but political struggle.

So long as we maintain the social choice to provision our communication systems according to the profit motive, we will only get communications platforms that allow for the capture of profit. Free, open systems, that neither surveil, nor control, nor exclude, will not be funded, as they do not provide the mechanisms required to capture profit. These platforms are financed for the purpose of watching people and pushing them to behave in ways that benefit the operators of the platform and their real customers, the advertisers, and the industrial and political lobbies. The platforms exists to shape society according to the interests of these advertisers and lobbies.

Platforms like Facebook are worth billions precisely because of their capacity for surveillance and control.

Like the struggle for other public goods, like education, child care, and health care, free communication platforms for the masses can only come from collective political struggle to achieve such platforms.

This is a political struggle, not a technical one.

The Many Tentacles of Octo P7C-1 at @transmediale #BWPWAP

Though Telekommunisten has been a participant in transmediale in some capacity for several years now, this year, as a partner of the festival, was by far our largest involvement to date.

The Octo P7C-1 installation, was not only loud, active and physically huge, occupying the entire building with about a kilometer of tubing, 8 end stations and the P7C-1 central operating station, but the project was also the largest collaboration, both with the number of members of the Telekommunisten network involved, and the number of partners involved.

Kristoffer Gansing and Tatiana Bazzichelli came to us in August of 2012, since R15N was the Official Miscommunication Platform of the previous year’s festival, they wanted to work with us early, as a partner, to plan the Miscommunication Platform for the upcoming transmediale, they shared the #BWPWAP theme with us, and asked us if we could do something with a pneumatic tube theme, since we had discussed our mutual admiration for the technology and interest in Berlin’s system on previous occasions.

None of us knew yet what Octo would become.

As the latest installment in the Miscommunication Technologies series, certain components of the artwork where evident from the beginning. Octo is perhaps the most clear demonstration of a centralized topology possible, and so the idea of Octo as a global domination minded start-up seeking to capture physical delivery by offering a business model based on control of user data and interaction. Once again, Telekommunisten designer-in-chief Jonas Frankki, created the graphic identity of the work, brilliantly using a cartoon octopus with a peculiarly neutral expression to express both the topology and global domination ambitions of the start-up.

However, Octo is more than just a social fiction or electronic telecommunication system, its very physical, and actually engineering a large scale pneumatic post system was the largest undertaking Telekommunisten has attempted to date.

Fortunately, electronic artist Jeff Mann, inventor-in-chief, had some experience with this. Jeff’s work draws out tensions between notions of utopian industrialism, personal theatre, and the evocative enigma of electronic equipment.

Jeff invented what was to become the Octo P7C-1 system, suggesting that we could use plain-old vacuum cleaners and drainage pipe to build the system. We demoed Jeff’s concept at a ReSource Transmedial Culture event and it was clear that this was not only going to work as pneumatic system, but also as a wonderful sculptural and audio installation. It was everyone’s first glimpse of Octo. We where all convinced and excited.

Next, we needed to prove the concept to Raumlaborberlin, the transmediale architects, and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

Using one of the Shop-Vacs that was later to be installed in the central operating station, we propelled a full 500ml can of beer through 50m of drainage pipe stretched across the Podewill courtyard, up into a 3rd story window, and down the hall.

Amazingly, it worked! Not only did it work, but it looked and sounded great.

Over the next next few months, right up to the last minutes before transmediale 2013 opened it’s doors, we worked with the HKW and Raumlabor, who designed the chaotic alignment of the tubes throughout the building, and created the 8 end stations. Jeff, drawing on his research into the nature of technological life and its cultural representation, designed and built the beautiful P7C-1 central operating station, which was almost certainly photographed more that Mount Fuji during the run of the festival.

And though the physicality of the work is on a scale much larger than any previous Telekommunisten work, the performative aspect of Octo was also more prevalent.

Telekommunisten director-in-chief, Baruch Gottlieb directed the many facets of the project towards a coherent whole, bringing new emphasis to the performative fiction aspect of Telekommunisten’s work though the lens of his concept of the biographical chronicle of labour. All the transmediale volunteers that operated the central station and attended to the end-stations, and all building maintenance staff that was constantly adjusting tubes throughout the building extended the work as labour theatre. Baruch worked closely with long time member of the Telekommunisten network, Diani Barreto, to create the character of Octavia Allende Friedman, CEO of Octo Corporation, a character which Diani played to great affect, both in person at Transmediale, and online, as a social media power house, who amassed well over a thousand friends and followers in just a couple of weeks.

It was also our first time working with Julian Gough, who played the role of Octavia’s personal biographer, a role we all hope we he will reprise as the legend of Octavia goes on.

As usual, Telekommmunisten Chief Communication Officer Mike Pearce, helped make our message simple and concise, while Chief Operations Officer Rico Weise handled our administrative work.

Although you kinda had to be there to really get it, we’ve collected some pictures and videos here:

http://telekommunisten.net/octo

I can’t thank everybody enough for helping us pull this off!

We’re very interested in showing the work again, so we encourage adventurous curators to contact us.

And yup, I’ll be at Stammtisch tonight at 9pm, so come have a drink with us.

http://bit.ly/buchhandlung

Kind Regards,

Dmytri Kleiner
analyst-in-chief
Telekommunisten.

Today: Octo stakeholder debriefing /// stammtisch

Octavia Allende Friedman has left Berlin, jettsetting on, where to? Hong Kong? Milan? Havana? Perhaps only her personal biographer knows for sure.

Meanwhile, members of the Telekommunisten network will be present as usual, at Cafe Buchhandlung, to greet one and all and raise a drink to a successful launch of Octo P7C-1 at transmediale.

Many deserve a cheer for their amazing contributions to Octo.

Jeff Mann, chief inventor and head of pneumatics, creator of the P7C-1 prototype, contributed decades of research into pneumatics and art
machines to his vision for the tubular system, and his master creation, the P7C-1 central operating station.

Jonas Frankki, Chief Designer, head of graphic identity, created the powerful branding and corporate identity that so perfectly expresses the numerous layers of the project.

Baruch Gottlieb, Chief Director, head of labour dramaturgy, for tirelessly directing the many facets of the project towards a coherent whole.

Diani Barreto, Chief Executive Performer, head of social representation, who brought the project persona to life online and at the festival.

And thanks to our Chief Communication Officer, Mike Pearce, who works towards bringing our often complex, perhaps even convoluted message, to the general public by adding simplicity and concision.

Behind the scenes, Rico Weise, Chief Operations Officer, manages the ever expanding administrative flow.

Not to mention our valiant team of ‘yellow-shirts’ the OCTO central and remote station volunteers, taking the smooth running and efficient delivery of OCTO P7C-1 to heart and ensuring we made a great demo for our current and future investors!

Please come and celebrate with us, share, retweet, all are welcome!

Cafe Buchhandlung is at Tucholskystr. 32

Here is a map: http://bit.ly/buchhandlung

9pm on.

TODAY: Octo Investors Meet & Greet at Cafe Buchhandlung /// Erzatz Stammtisch

This evening we’re having a informal Meet & Greet for Octo Investors and members of the Telekommunisten Network, if you’re an Octo investor or thinking of becoming one, come by and have a drink and chat with us. psychomedia analyst DJ Podinski of XLTerestrials will provide musical entertainment along with a special performance of three Yidish Workers’ Songs by the brother of Octavia Allende Friedman, CEO Of Octo Corp.

The event will take place at

Cafe Buchhandlung
Tucholskystr 32
map: http://bit.ly/buchhandlung

Starting about 10pm.

Octavia Allende Friedman will be in attendance along with members of the Telekommunisten network.

Please join us and pass this information on. Don’t miss out on the investment opportunity of the epoch!

http//www.octopost.me

R15N at Mal au Pixel in Paris

Missed stammtisch last tuesday, I’m in Paris with Baruch Gottlieb to set up R15N is Paris for Mau au Pixel.

–> http://bit.ly/XlImWa

This is the 5th R15N exhibition, after Tel Aviv, Berlin, Ljubljana and Johannesburg. Though Baruch and I are in Paris representing the project, it is a project of Telekommunisten, and was created with Jonas Frankki, Jeff Mann and Mike Pearce, along with the organizations that have supported and exhibited the project, including the Israeli Centre for Digital Art, Transmediale, Aksioma, A MAZE and Mal au Pixel.

And, of course, the international network of R15N subscribers! R15N depends on your participation and diligence! So please keep your accounts active and be attentive to messages passing through the system.

Baruch and I will also participate in the “Network Hacks” panel on Saturday, along with our friends and collegues, Alessandro Ludovico, Danja Vasiliev, Julian Oliver and Timo Toots.

There is a sense of “Network Hack” in R15N, in that it was in part inspired by the power asymmetry in the mobile phone network that results from credit avialability. In most parts of the world, including all the location R15N has been presented in, recieving calls on mobile phones is free, but making them requires credit. Thus, for those that don’t have money for phone credit, their mobile is not so much a freedom-enabling communications device that allows them top stay in touch wherever device, but largely a control-tether, that allows parents, schools and employers to keep tabs on them whereever they are.

As R15N initiates all the phone calls as it bridges subscribers together to pass on messages, it is is free to use for all the participants, so it’s a hack in the sense that it can be used without any phone credit.

However, of course, this hack is an illusion, since the calls aren’t really free, but rather paid for by Telekommunisten out of the exhibition budget it recieves from the organizers of R15N exhibitions. It is, like many of the Miscommunications Technologies, a social fiction. Imagining ways communication networks could work if the primary motivation for building them was something other that profit.

So long as investment in communications platforms comes from profit-seeking private financiers, these systems will always be mechanisms for control, and not enablers of freedom.

R15N reveals the volitilaty of information in networks, with every subscriber participating in the passing-on of the data, it becomes clear how vulnerable data is whenever it passes through an intermediary.

As each R15N subscribers knows, whenever a call is not answered, either due to technical failure or lack of diligence on the part of the subscriber, information is lost, and that even when the call is succeeds, the information is subject to the interpretation of the intermediary, who can change or ammend it, record it, and share it outside of the network.

While apparently less drastic, information is just as vulnerable when passed through intermediaries such as social media monopolies as it is when distributed by way of R15N subscribers.

The opening is tomorrow, so please join the community by calling +33 1 81 97 97 11 to sign up, or +33 1 81 97 97 22 to activate/deactivate your account if you are already a subscriber.

I will be back at Stammtisch next tuesday, however the R15N exhibition will continue at La Gaîté Lyrique until the end of the year.

Eternal September // @A_MAZE_Festival

Last month was a long and busy month that started in Canada and ended in South Africa.

Along the way, SecuShare’s {1} Daniel Reusche and I agitated for decentralized social platfors at Berlin’s Campus Party {2}, I presented the first Octo demo {3} at the latest reSource transmedial culture {4} event with Jeff Mann, Jonas Frankki and Baruch Gottlieb, also, Baruch, Jonas and I built the Miscommuniction Station {4} as an online project of the Abandon Normal Devices Festival.

Finally, Baruch and I traveled to the A MAZE / INTERACT festival {5} to present and represent iMine {6} and R15N {7}.

Now I’m back in Berlin and looking forward to tonight’s Stammtisch. And it’s September.

Tuesday, Septemeber 6944, 1993 to be exact {8}.

6944 days, or 19 years and 9 days after the Eternal September began.

A MAZE was fantastic, and the Braamfontein district of Johannesburg where the festival took place was an incredible place, not only to enjoy a great party in a really unbelievable community, but also to reflect on where we are now, nearly twenty years since the commercialization of the internet began to deliver a year-round flow of “newbies” to the Internet 1.0 that nobody yet called “the web”.

The Jargon File defines “The September that never ends” as “All time since September 1993. One of the seasonal rhythms of the Usenet used to be the annual September influx of clueless newbies who, lacking any sense of netiquette, made a general nuisance of themselves. This coincided with people starting college, getting their first internet accounts, and plunging in without bothering to learn what was acceptable. These relatively small drafts of newbies could be assimilated within a few months. But in September 1993, AOL users became able to post to Usenet, nearly overwhelming the old-timers’ capacity to acculturate them; to those who nostalgically recall the period before, this triggered an inexorable decline in the quality of discussions on newsgroups. Syn. eternal September.”

Once the internet was available to the general public, outside of the research/education/ngo world that had inhabited before September, the large numbers of users arriving on the untamed shores of early cyberspace “nearly overwhelmed the old-timers’ capacity to acculturate them.”

Even in Africa, you’d have to go pretty far out of your way to find a community where it’s not September yet. Internet access is certainly not as ubiquitous, reliable or fast as it is it “the West,” but the African people do use the Internet, and are part of its culture.

The Jargon File mentions “Netiquette,” a quaint term from the innocent times of net.culture, yet Netiquette was not simply a way of fitting in like table manners at an exclusive dinner party. The cultural context of that Internet that made acculturation necessary was it’s relative openness and lack of stratification.

Netiquette was required, because the network had relatively little constraints built into it, the constraints needed to be cultural for the system to work. There was much more to this culture than teaching new users how to not abuse resources or make a “general nuisance of themselves.” Nettiquette was not so much about online manners, it was rather about how to share. Starting from the shared network resources, sharing was the core of the culture, which not only embraced free software and promoted free communications, but generally resented barriers to free exchange, including barriers required to protect property rights and any business models based on controlling information flow.

As dramatic as the influx of new users was to the “old-timers” net.culture, the influx of capital investment and it’s conflicting property interests quickly emerged as an existential threat the basis of the culture. Net.culture required a shared internet, where the network itself and most of the information on it was held in common. Capital required control, constraints and defined property in order to earn returns on investment. Lines in the sand where drawn, the primitive communism of the pre-September Internet was over. The Eternal September began, and along with it, the stratification of the internet began.

Rather than embracing the free, open, platforms where net.culture was born, like Usenet, EMail, IRC, etc, Capital embraced the Web. Not as the interlinked, hypermedia, world-wide-distributed publishing platform it was intended to be, but as a client-server private communications platform where users’ interactions where mediated by the platforms’ operators. The flowering of “Web 2.0” was Capital’s re-engineering of the web into an internet accessible version of the online services they where building all along, such as the very platforms whose mass user bases where the influx that started the Eternal September. CompuServ and AOL most notable among them.

The Eternal September started when these Online Services allowed their users to access Internet services such as Usenet and EMail, Web 2.0 instead replaced Usenet and EMail with social platforms embedded in private, centralized web-based services that look and work very much like the old Online Services.

Scratch-off the Facebook logo, and you’ll find the AOL logo underneath.

The internet is no longer a open free-for-all where old-timers acculturate new-comers into a community of co-operation and sharing. It is a stratified place where privileged users have preferential access, including broadband at-home, servers online, users who can control there own “domain,” can run their own mail and web services and access the internet as a whole, including the old platforms such as Usenet and IRC. New users, who may have broadband at home, but have no services and need to use online services like facebook or gmail to communicate at all, subject to the terms of use of those companies. Users who have no broadband at home, and rely on internet cafes and libraries. And at the lowest tier, Users who can only access the mobile internet, on locked-down iPhones and other smart phones, where apps stores control the available apps users can us, and the apps tightly control the users that use them. And of course, each bit of data is paid for from the users’ precious mobile airtime.

As the African people finally cross the digital divide, the once-vibrant cyberspace they arrive in has already been colonized, enclosed and captured by the profit motive. The culture of sharing and co-operation destroyed by the terms of service of online platforms, by copyright lobies pushing for greater and greater restrictions and by governments that create legislation to protect the interests of property and “security” against the interests of sharing.

The culture of co-operation and sharing has been replaced by a culture of surveillance and control.

We once believed that perhaps getting the Africans onto our Internet would help them in their struggles, now perhaps we can hope their capacity for struggle will allow us to find ways to make the Internet a transformational force again. Yet, like the urban centers of cities like Johannesburg, once access is finally won, the centers have been abandoned. The common squares and open markets have already been deserted in favour of protected suburbs and gated communities. Access is allowed not to extend freedom and welcome, but to facilitate exploitation.

If the modern Internet can’t be the liberating force early net.culture believed it could be, maybe we can hope that as the African people come online, their experience in working within environments where inequality, repressions and privilege rule will bring a transformational consciousness to us. They might be our last hope.

If you’re in Berlin this evening, join us at Cafe Buchhandling {9}, while we reminisce and reflect on the unforgettable experience we had in Johannesburg at AMAZE / INTERACT. I’ll be there around 9pm.

{1} http://secushare.org
{2} http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GW_imx0z3LY
{3} http://telekommunisten.net/octo/
{4} http://project.arnolfini.org.uk/miscommunication-station
{5} http://www.amaze-festival.de
{6} http://i-mine.org
{7} http://r15n.net
{8} http://www.eternal-september.org/?language=en
{9} http://bit.ly/buchhandlung Continue reading

Radical Openness and #LiWoLi 2012

Tomorrow I head to Linz, Austria to participate in LiWoLi 2012.

LiWoLi: 24-26 May 2012
Location: I/O Stadtwerkstatt, Kirchengasse, Linz, Austria
LiWoLi is a community festival, open lab and annual meeting spot for artists, educators and developers using and creating Free Software (FLOSS), Open Hardware and Open Design in the artistic and cultural context. This event is all about sharing artistic skills, code and knowledge within the public domain and discussing the challenges of an open practice.
This year’s edition will have a special focus on artworks that can be created, performed or exhibited outdoors and in public space. Like every year, numerous activities such as lectures, workshops and audiovisual performances will take place during the course of this three-day festival.

Thinking about “the challenges of a open practice” gets me thinking about what “radical openness” could mean. On the surface, it could just mean really, really, extremely, very open. But that’s a overly colloquial understanding of the word radical, as in “totally rad,” as opposed to “radical critique.”

Extreme or drastic is not necessarily radical. Radical requires a fundamental transformation, change so deep it goes to the root, the “radix”. Radical has the a same linguistic root as “radish,” the edible root vegetable of the Brassicaceae family.

Thus, to be radical, a practice has to get at the root, to work towards a fundamental transformation, no matter how moderate or gradual.

Radical openness would not necessarily mean being as open as one could be, but rather working towards removing the fundamental obstacles to openness that exist, perhaps even in ways that are not open, or less open than we might like.

To be open, we need to be safe and we need to be alive.

To be safely open requires us to have the freedom and privileged to speak our mind, to do as we please. When what you want to say, or do is unwelcome by powerful forces, perhaps because what you are saying
or doing is something they consider threatening to their interests, you can not be safe. So long as inequality and intolerance exists in society, any chance we have to get the freedom to pursue radical openness requires us to have privacy, requires us to be able to chose
when and with whom to be open. Not having privacy means that we will have less openness.

Radical openness requires privacy.

To be alive we require food and shelter and the necessities of life, and in a capitalist society, what we do, our practice, is largely formed by our participation in the labour market, in order to obtain such necessities. As such, not only the practice, but what becomes of the results of our work, is determined not by our own wishes, but by the logic of capitalism. This logic means that in most cases we can not chose either the conditions of our labour nor the terms of distribution of what we create. For the masses, openness in terms of their productive life is simply not a practice they can chose. This means that the degree of openness that we can have is not determined by individual choice, but by collective struggle.

Radical openness requires collective struggle.

In this light, radical openness can only mean the collective struggle for a more open society, which is a society where open practice is not threatened by repression or economic consequence.

Which means that radical openness must be closed to violations of privacy and to economic exploitation.

I’ll be at stammtisch {2} this evening around 9pm as usual.

{1} http://liwoli.at
{2} http://bit.ly/buchhandlung

Arts & Economics Group // Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 19:00h

Y o u a r e c o r d i a l l y i n v i t e d t o t h e :
————————————————–
Art & Economics Group comeback at West Germany, Berlin
hosted by Gitte Bohr

Quarterly Forum 2012, Q2

Presented by:
Tanja Ostojic / David Rych / Dmytri Kleiner
On behalf of the A r t & E c o n o m i c s G r o u p

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 19:00h

West Germany, Skalitzer Straße 133, Berlin-Kreuzberg
————————————————-

Program:
– One day exhibition of Art-bonds 2007-2012
– Quarterly report
– Theoretical lecture by Diego Castro
– Auction of the special edition of art-bonds designed by Diego Castro
– Discussion

After a break due to the economical recession, the come-back of the Quarterly Workshop of the Art &Economics group will be held on
Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 19:00h at “West Germany” in Berlin-Kreuzberg. This will be the first in a series of quarterly discussions held this year.

The Art & Economics Group, established in Berlin in 2007 by Tanja Ostojic, David Rych and Dmytri Kleiner, investigates the intersection of art and political economy. For the first two years Art & Economics Group Quarterly Forums were regularly hosted by Project Room 35 and Wooloo
Productions Berlin. After a break due to the economic recession and the closure of those two art spaces, Quarterly Forums have since 2010 been hosted by the Museum of American Art Berlin and at other different venues.
The program of the Quarterly Forums (QF) includes: quarterly report, guest of the evening, auction of special edition of art bonds designed by the guest of the evening, and discussion. Topics include political economy as a theme in art, the economics of art production and economic activity as an action based art practice.

Among the guests we had before are: Diego de La Vega, Alex Nikolic from Slum TV, former artist Goran Djordjevic, Stefan Kurr, Wooloo.org, etc.

Our guest of the evening Diego Castro (*1972 in Hanover) is a German-Spanish artist and researcher. His artworks, mostly drawings, video and installation, deal with political, historical and social issues. He is currently working on his PhD thesis on a critique of participation in art and as a leitmotif within the framework of post-fordist work ethics. In his theoretical lecture of the evening he will address the problem of the economic value of participation and of participation as labour.

Looking forward to discussing with you!

Yours sincerely,

Art & Economics Group

Contact: Art & Economics Group: tostojic@web.de
Gitte Bohr: gittebohr@gmx.de / www.gittebohr.de
Diego Castro: www.diegocastro.de

Location: Gitte Bohr @ West Germany, Skalitzer Straße 133, Berlin-Kreuzberg
(entrance next to “Effendi-Optik”), U8/U1 “Kottbusser Tor”
Gitte Bohr – Club für Kunst und politisches Denken
www.gittebohr.de