[iDC] The Lure of Internet2

John Hopkins jhopkins at neoscenes.net
Sat Feb 18 16:23:16 EST 2006

Trebor said:

>Provocative? Reading your response we seem to largely agree. I am fond of your

pro-voca -- to inspire speaking (unfortunately that speaking is being 
transcribed here ;-)  -- yes, I knew we were in agreement -- so I 
hope you open some eyes at CAA -- I gave up on them pretty much after 
visiting the '96 meeting, also in Boston.  I was trying to apply for 
US positions and was making to stupid mistake of submitting html 
portfolios on floppy disks to the few 'new media' positions 
available.  I noted a recent job offer for a new media position at 
Beloit College required slides (diapositives) -- I dropped them a 
line asking incredulously if this were actually so -- yup!  And to 
think this was the case across the US just a short decade ago...

>suggestions for panels. "The Telephone: Radical Educational Practice" and "The
>Modem: Aiding Transformative Learning." Large bandwidth, available in
>educational contexts could be useful for easy access to open archives, for
>example. Open archives matter a great deal. Projects like CCmixter would
>equally benefit. But bandwidth or equipment are not an all-out 
>solace! They are
>not the answer to everything. And, it does not mean that meaningful, 
>work will be produced.


>Yes. However, sometimes using the AccessGrid makes sense, never mind its
>original intention. We can use our devices against the grain of the intentions
>of their inventors. That does not just hold true for the Internet but also for
>AccessGrid and I2. I2 is expensive, elitist in its institutional limits of
>access, and it is hard to use (you describe the lengthy procedure). 
>work on AG could be fascinating.

but the fascination is not rooted in the fact that it happens 'on' 
AccessGrid -- at least I would presume -- the fascination relates to 
the energy content of the work itself, right?

>However, I don't have a problem with artists doing strange things with
>bandwidth. There is nothing wrong with that. Bandwidth is just another
>available ingredient for cultural production. It matters if you want to work
>with networked VR, for example. But it is merely one aspect on the palette of
>experimentation. I2 is not the hot new thing. Internet2 is not the next
>technological wave that throws you magically on the shore of art 
>world success.

I think there is a fundamental principle going on here -- that is, 
the position that one takes in the social heirarchy definitely 
affects the creative outcome.  Placing one-self higher and higher in 
the food chain causes greater and greater (more rigid) defining of 
one's possibilities of expression -- this is the nature of hierarchy. 
So that, although 'higher tech' appears to offer more possibility 
(often sold as greater "freedom") it does, in fact do the exact 

I could use the example of Kodak and T-Max film -- (don't let the 
material involved fool you, this principle applies to technology in 
general).  Kodak, in the process of refining its cost-to-profit on 
silver-based films in the 1980's (when the price of silver fluctuated 
between USD 5 and 40), developed a technology that would effectively 
create a 2-dimensional film emulsion -- flattening out the normally 
3-dimensional crystal grains.  This reduced the amount of silver 
needed by about 75% -- an enormous savings!  Kodak marketed this film 
under the "freedom" banner -- promising that it would give superior 
negatives no matter the exposure and development conditions, etc, 
etc...   Students in my Master Printing class at the time were 
required to purchase a couple bricks of film (20-roll packages of 
matched emulsion) that they were to use during the semester.  They 
first had to do a standard exposure and development test for the 
film.  I advised using Tri-X or equivalent conventional film (with 
3-D grains), but some students, convinced by what they knew, chose to 
buy T-Max instead.  In the course of the testing, to their dismay, 
they discovered that they could over- and under-expose the film by up 
to 5 stops in either direction (changing the Light received by the 
film by a factor of 1: 1000) and still get essentially the same 
negative.  This we dubbed the Ideal Kodak Negative.  What Kodak had 
done, in the process of "freeing" the photographer from 'worries' 
about getting a 'bad' negative, was to wrest control of the material 
from the hands of the user.  With the ideal envisioned by the 
institution becoming the standard.  period.  I think, looking closely 
at promises of greater 'freedom' that accompany new technologies, one 
will find similar principles in operation.  They may be subtle, but I 
think the principle holds up pretty well.  And, to top it off, the 
shareholders were pleased by the huge reduction in costs at the time! 
The film sold for 50% more than Tri-X, and cost about 40% less to 

I have other examples, and I'm sure some of you might think of others.


to Hana's post:

>I think the interest in Internet2 is that alot of Universities
>and institutions have invested in the system (and have had the
>system for a while) and are still trying to find interesting


>be addressing at CAA in your panel, Trebor, and I am
>interested to hear what the consensus is on Internet 2.  I am
>connecting a class that I am teaching in Philadelphia with one
>in Tokyo via Internet 2.

Hana -- I'd be most interested in precisely how you are using I2 -- 
exactly how the students are interacting, why, with what outcomes, 
and such.  I would agree that iChat can be more useful -- a lower 
technology that is relatively more accessible (technologically, 
financially, hierarchically) to the students (for example).  I 
believe the lack of interesting projects stem from the greater 
strictures applied to users of this 'higher' technology by dint of 
the technology's 'higher' position in the institutional (and social) 
infrastructure.  See my next posting about what I see as an 
under-riding principle...

and an ending note:

I suppose also one important point -- that praxis in not here, hidden 
somewhere between the lines of text, so to speak.  Praxis is the 
accumulation of what one does in life -- and most specifically the 
accumulated energies of momentary intersections of human-to-human. 
At least, that's where I locate my praxis -- not in my feeble 
opinions about this or that , nor in critique of particular social 
formation. ...


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