[iDC] Re: Doing away with universities?

Trebor Scholz trebor at thing.net
Sun Feb 12 17:14:56 EST 2006

>Benefiting from a great tradition of autonomy and respect for the
>open-endedness of knowledge, universities in the different western
>countries (the ones I know, anyway) developed into pockets of
>institutionalized experimentation during the period of the welfare
>(30s to 70s). 

Right on, brother.
>I am certain that there has been real decay in the public character of
>university. I also think that part of that public character has
>migrated onto the Internet (and in that respect, I wouldn't just brush
>what John Hopkins is saying - not that Trebor was exactly brushing it

I did not discount John's notion of networked communities. But I did
question online groups as realistic alternative to the university. I
think they are not. 

>There was discussion here about open databanks. These would be so

The proposed repository for cooperation studies-- a collection of
experiences with collaboration, with a section for event-organization,
and civil society, and business, and education and art is planned and
resonated with some people on the list who wrote me to join that

Open access to knowledge, as problematic as the term is, makes sense and
we need more of it. Those who have lots to share put out quickly as that
places them high up in the hierarchy of exchange. They can easily
"out-gift" the other. And yes, the cultural and informational commons
need to be protected from privatization (CC/GPL). And you are right, the
current domination of public-opinion formation needs to be democratized.

>"the production and distribution of journalism, culture and scientific
knowledge, and to the complex resources >necessary for that
production/distribution (archives, libraries, studio and rehearsal
spaces, laboratories, university >courses, etc.)." 

This is well under way with blogs and open access initiatives such as
the Budapest one that you mention in "Three Proposals for a Real

>One of the basic social struggles is for ever-increasing access to the
things that make you dream.

Beautifully put, and yes, that's it. Education has a lot to do with
opening the field of vision. You think your life is this little narrow
area that you see lit in front of you. But there is much beyond that. We
can't see it because of the way we were socialized. We mistake a curled
up rope on the street for a snake. Surely dreaming goes down especially
well with one foot on the ground. And you are very right, Brian, that
you can only start to dream with a full stomach and TIME (away from the
three day jobs that the current administration thinks are so ideal).
Also health insurance figures into that indeed. 

>My work for the most part is unrelentingly critical, which I think
pisses Trebor off
>sometimes (I believe I have noticed that?)

No, I respect that you don't yield in determination! And yes, you piss
me off on occasion. Often it's productive and for good reasons unrelated
to you being incessant. But that makes for a good heart-to-heart over a
glass of scotch.

>What's at stake here is the capacity for imagining, feeling out and
articulating what life's good for. The university >should be a place
where very very many answers to that question are possible.

Yeah, and "He who pays the piper, calls the tune" may not always hold
true here.


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