[iDC] activism now and

john sobol john at johnsobol.com
Thu Dec 8 00:21:06 EST 2005

On 7-Dec-05, at 2:21 PM, saul ostrow wrote:

> But perhaps what is most interesting especially concerning Seattle is 
> the mix-- these demonstrations brought together the spectrum of left 
> to right  -- consequently, when we speak of activism we must speak 
> equally of this span and not think that the content  and form of 
> resistance de facto infers something progressive or even desirable --
>  Saul Ostrow

Very true.

And what of unintentional resistances, which may be the most potent 
forms of all? As when they emerge organically from an 'other' culture, 
especially newly minted communities (such as networked digitalists) 
using new tools and speaking new languages, generating (at times, such 
as now) more efficient systems of exchange and ultimately behaviours 
and values that destabilize orthodoxies and hegemonies simply by 
becoming themselves...

For a generation of plugged-in young people the belief that copying is 
not stealing is a given not a political position.  Mash-ups are pop 
music not contraband. Negativland has suddenly won, unexpectedly borne 
to victory by the noodling of teenage programmers, along with the 
infrastructural enabling of the telecom and cable industries and of 
course the US military, generous forefathers of our little chat, and 
likely spies of it as well. For a generation of kids the resistance to 
copyright is as natural as breathing, and appears to be just the tip of 
the iceberg. (Let's say gaming ends up being only as influential as the 
global film industry – which it is now larger than – has been!)  It is 
their generational wave that we will ride whether we surf or not, and 
that may be destined – unless we get lucky or busy, or both – to crash 
against some very fierce rocks. For some pioneers, as we know, it 
already has. (I believe Trebor made reference to the seminal Critical 
Art Ensemble writings of a decade or so ago in a previous post. 

Which brings us to your point Saul, or a version of it anyway, as 
in… is this a friendly beast or a dangerous one? Or, as I have asked 
myself, am I trying to start a war or stop one? Scary words to utter in 
these times I might add, but a question that I think bears uttering as 
we confront the uncertain future. Personally I have come to the 
conclusion that bridges are what we need, bridges between generations, 
between cultures, between economies. So that each side has meaningful 
stories it can tell about the other. But the persuasive and potent 
march of techne is crossing wires. And as we begin to lose more elders 
and gain more children the balance of power between technological 
classes will soon shift dramatically. Which may not be an easy series 
of transitions for any of us.

Above all other factors the baby boom caused the social revolution of 
the 60s. The demographic factor trumped everything. Now we are part of 
a technologically-defined generation that is expanding upward, downward 
and horizontally at an extreme pace of assimilation. Already a billion 
people are talking to each other online, in increasingly complex and 
previously unknown open-ended forms, moving more and more of their 
functions and identity into a massive real-time network, like bugs.

 From an evolutionary perspective this is big news.
Politically, it appears to be an active invitation to anarchy or 

Which relates perhaps to the question of activism, of how to live a 
radical vision of life in this networked age, and even offers a kind of 
answer. Suggesting that perhaps connecting people is what this (human 
life, the internet, anarchy, resistance to injustice) is all about. And 
that as visionaries, artists and engineers of 
communion/community/communication we can do nothing more potent than 
use these new networking tools as creatively as possible to connect 
people. Or, as you put it so well, Trebor, to  "support extreme sharing 
networks wherever you find them."

Means not ends is my motto. (today)

John Sobol

bluesology • printopolis • digitopia
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