[iDC] Re(2): REFRESH! conference, some impressions (panelism + powerpoint)

Simon Biggs simon at littlepig.org.uk
Mon Oct 24 12:38:50 EDT 2005

Jon, et al,

I asked a class of my students, many years ago, what they thought the most
important disciplines were for them to study so as to complement their
practice. One said computing, another anthropology. One asked me what I
thought. I said philosophy. Then I asked him what he thought. He said
history. I did not have to think very hard to recognise immediately that he
was right and the rest of us were wrong.

History is the discipline that is able to contain all others. It offers us
the means to analyse and evaluate what we know and how we know it, what we
have done and why we have done it and, even, what we will do and why we will
do it. It also allows us to evaluate the way in which we evaluate things,
thus allowing its own relativisation (there is no "true" or single history).

It is nice to learn something from your students from time to time.

As for Marxism and Feminism - I find it strange you speak of them in the
past tense. Where I am they remain vital and necessary analytical approaches
in understanding our society and establishing value. They are discourses
that remain profoundly valid in historical address. To suggest that they are
only of historical interest is to misunderstand the value of the
meta-narrative each of these discursive modes derive from.

To propose that the media, or any technology, somehow replaces analytical
thought in the assessment of value is close to arguing for technological
determinism. Technology influences our lives but the relationship between
technology, ourselves, our histories and our futures is deviously complex
and relational. Technology is part of the network of elements made by us and
from which we are made. No one part determines events. For us to get a
handle on this complex intertextual web is just what Marxism and Feminism
are useful for.



On 24.10.05 17:22, "idc-request at bbs.thing.net" <idc-request at bbs.thing.net>

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>    1. Re(2): REFRESH! conference, some impressions (panelism +
>       powerpoint) (Jon Ippolito)
>    2. Re: Re(2): REFRESH! conference, some impressions (panelism +
>       powerpoint) (Anna Munster)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2005 13:54:46 -0400
> From: "Jon Ippolito" <jippolito at umit.maine.edu>
> Subject: [iDC] Re(2): REFRESH! conference, some impressions (panelism
> + powerpoint)
> To: idc at bbs.thing.net
> Cc: Joline Blais <Joline_Blais at umit.maine.edu>
> Message-ID:
> <fc.004c4d1923692e7c004c4d1923692e7c.2369308e at umit.maine.edu>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> Lily,
> Thanks for your question. Marxism and Feminism were revolutionary discourses
> that nevertheless failed to change the way history and other academic
> disciplines "do business." By that I mean that even in universities where
> Marxist or Feminist
> influence scholarship, the broadcast paradigms are still in place: professors
> "instructing" students, scholars competing for publication in prestigious
> journals, antisocial media like print and PowerPoint enforcing the one-way
> flow of information.
> I think new media hold out the promise to topple these behavioral hierarchies,
> rather than merely change the subjects taught according to them. Whether this
> effort succeeds I think has a lot to do with whether we as a group of scholars
> and activists
> point out the hypocrisy of preaching decentralization from PowerPoint slides
> or closed-access journals.
> Joline Blais and I describe our work in Still Water as teaching students to
> cheat productively. Much of this work consists of awakening our students to
> the broader political potential of the everyday technologies they currently
> use for pirating
> software or meeting friends on Saturday night.
> That said, I'm also curious how others on this list see the question you
> raised.
> jon

Simon Biggs
simon at littlepig.org.uk

Professor, Art and Design Research Centre
Sheffield Hallam University, UK

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