[iDC] The Participatory Challenge

John Hopkins jhopkins at neoscenes.net
Thu Jul 6 17:52:57 EDT 2006

>I think that at this point we should not be naive how new and emerging
>technologies have a huge liberating potential. The neo-liberal capitalism is
>quite aware how an investment in technology is a tiny cost for all the
>information they can collect with the help of it. In a virtual community you
>can hide to other participants using another name or profile, but you cannot
>escape the big corporations who, based on your digital footprints you leave
>each time you use the www know you better than you know yourself.

I couldn't agree with you more Ksenija.  And to add a couple 
additional points about 'liberation' -- What about the complete and 
utter linkage that operating a computer (wifi or hardwired makes no 
difference) into national / hyper-national systems of consumption -- 
the primary being the generation and re-distribution of energy in the 
form of electricity.  While some hail battery / wireless-ness as an 
awesome release, it does nothing to release us from anything -- it 
simply creates an illusion of and perhaps absolute appearance of 
distance from the social structure -- distance which is erroneously 
translated into "avant" or "radical" praxis base.

Of course, one can say, oh, but I use a portable solar panel to 
charge my wifi batteries -- but those devices, aside from being 
extremely toxic to produce, are completely tied into that energy 
system on the production side, at least.

All these things lock us into relationship with a huge social 
infrastructure that is as centralized and dominant as any previous 
form of governance, one which demands

I can give another personal story -- one year ago I had a very bad 
accident while visiting my mother's house in Arizona.  I had 
shattered a vertebra in my back.  Aside from the fact that 
coincidentally the  motherboard on my laptop had just the day before 
crashed as well, the network was of basically no use.  The many 
friends, colleagues, collaborators which I have woven into my 
personal network over the years across many countries and other 
borders may well have been on the moon.  I was fortunate that my 
sister lived nearby and nursed me back to health for a couple months 
after radical surgical intervention.   A month later, when I could 
even manage to look at my computer, it was nice to receive 'get well 
cards' and other demonstrations of empathy, which gave me hope in the 
many months of rehabilitation, but not more than that...

The Internet is great as a tool for increasing ones interdependence 
on a greater socialized system that characterizes this period of 

When the power fails, that interdependence is of little-to-no value. 
Only full and continuous 'cooperation' with that greater system 
insures the production of value within the network as well as one's 
continued 'privilege' of participating...


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