[iDC] From Art on Networks to Art on Platforms

Trebor Scholz trebor at thing.net
Tue Jul 11 09:29:57 EDT 2006

[A few weeks ago at the Distributed Aesthetics workshop in Berlin, I
came across Olga Goriunova¹s work. I am posting her example-rich essay
about art on platforms with her permission. 

It works well in tandem with earlier posts about the idea of the
cultural context provider and our discussion about the networked public



From Art on Networks to Art on Platforms 
(Casestudies: Runme.org, Micromusic.net and Udaff.com)

Olga Goriunova, Alexei Shulgin

Web platform produced art or platform-based art of generation and
development of cultural practices is neither very new nor very old.
Mailing lists, wikis, web blogs all shook our understanding of how
cultural sphere is produced and reproduced. Geert Lovink introducing his
critical research into early days of internet culture writes: 

³Lists (and weblogs) form the communication backbones of so many of
today¹s cultural movements and cultural/intellectual undercurrents². 

Shall we distinguish a specific genre among similar only partly
technical methods of production and management of creative work,
knowledge, education, exchange, - all in all, cultural practices on the
net? Could we think of it as of the one coming after mailing lists
euphoria and decline, neighbouring wikis and blogs, borrowing some of
their features and introducing some new ones?

Such new method is something in-between a content management system,
online web site, library and a club. Such new method is based on a
networked platform, a center or one of the centers of a certain artistic
trend the life of which we would like to depict here.

What is a platform? 
A platform is a web site organized in a special way: as a relatively
simple database with artefacts, or a more complex portal built around
the database. 

A platform differentiates itself from other websites by the relations of
creative, social, instrumental, educational and historical character it
establishes and is involved into. A platform is aimed at supporting and
stimulating creative initiatives and work, and it provides a possibility
for continuous exhibition of the artefacts, often accompanied by
reactions to them, various discussions. Sometimes there is also a set of
instruments for particular kind of creative work available. A platform
often also puts efforts into translating digital creative processes into
offline and more official cultural scenes, establishing connections
between cultural movements of different times and orders. Most platforms
organize (ir)regular ³real-life² gatherings such as festivals, concerts,
workshops or those of less formal nature. 

Technically speaking, a platform should have an open database with a
user-friendly interface anyone can download from/upload to, and
instruments for contextualization and development of a practice it works
with (blog, forum, chat, ranking, voting, featuring and others).

There are various examples of platform based cultural practices and
artistic trends production, one if which is Runme.org, software art
repository, which we have been working with over the last three years.
Our practical experience with it will serve as the core example of
platform art theory presented in this article.

Runme.org is a software art repository that appeared as a side project
of software art festival Readme. In the year 2002 we were holding the
first software art festival in Moscow. We were willing to produce a
festival with logic different from the one of a ³usual² art festival and
that would fit better that mysterious software art. Software art
appeared as a reaction to long-standing tradition of regarding software
as culturally, aesthetically, socially neutral layer between human and a
computer. It could be linked to the magic of computation and poetics of
algorithms that were bothering humans from B.C. times and, in the recent
past, to the formalism of conceptual art; software art is also closely
linked to the living programmers¹ and users¹ cultures.

First Readme introduced an open database where all festival submissions
would be entered, stored and could be viewed at any moment. After the
event was over, it became clear that a new database needed to be open.
So the decision came: to build a database according to the structure of
software repositories ­ with categories and subcategories (also
parodying the festivals¹ categories structure). We decided to introduce
big amount of categories ­ this would work on uncovering the field, but
not directly, rather enlarging then reducing. The amount and variety of
categories made unreasonable any attempt to name the only best software

Runme.org has developed into an independent repository, working with
different models of presentation, development and contextualization then
an art festival.

Micromusic.net is the second example. Micromusic.net is a label and a
community that is shaped by its members; it is focused on 8-bit music.
8-bit music is low tech music originating from early home computers of
the 80-s: Atari, Commodore. Sound chips of early computers tried to
simulate musical reality, - sounds of guitar, percussions, piano.
Imperfect and restricted, the chips could only produce special funny and
easy to recognize sounds far from the original prototypes. The scarcity
has produced a special aesthetics: of coolness, romanticism and
imperfectness, the aesthetics of low tech. 

People making 8-bit music nowadays most likely had a computer in the
80-s when they were children and were playing games or creating music.
Returning to the music of the past of computer technologies, they search
for some qualities they cannot find in new technology; they come back to
their childhoods¹ favourite toys and memory shared by many people. 

Udaff.com is a Russian language based literary resource that will serve
as the third example for our study. Udaffcom is focused on publishing
short texts (³kreativ²) that could be submitted by any person; texts are
written in a specific style. Both thematics and language of kreativs are
non-normative and obscene (³mat²), spelling is wrong; texts are rather
short, intensive and full of masculine mainstream cliches on many
levels: themes, motives, figures, metaphors, etc. Udaff.com is an
extremely popular resource that managed to establish a ³literary trend²
of its own, ³literature for men², both underground (as it is
pornographic in thematics and non-normative in language, illegal or
unthinkable in official culture) and mainstream (as it reproduces
mainstream cliches).

There are other platforms that follow the model that is going to be
described, among which VJ Central (vj culture) could be mentioned. 

How does it happen? Economic conditions

There appears a web resource. It is usually built by enthusiasts and is
almost never a result of any stipend, grant or salary. Its usage is

These platforms succeed only if they appear as vivid reactions, as
outcomes of intuition and feeling that they are needed at a particular
moment of time for a particular practice. Such premises demand quite
fast response that is often not compatible with the procedure of
applying and waiting for funding. 

Another reason is that the initiators and managers of these platforms
have to be devoted fanatics, because management of big resources demands
commitment: a lot of time on a too regular basis. No budget plan can
embrace and no funding can cover the enourmous amount of work hours it
turns out to consume. 

However, different platforms find different models of supporting
themselves on a micro level: combining different flows of (rather small)
money, getting free hosting, getting prizes and funding for the
particular purposes.

Technically speaking, modern technology allows for quick production of
such systems by a few people. So the platforms are usually built over a
short period of time by a few people, usually from two to five.
Platforms also need to be flexible, open to changes according to the
needs and demands of a cultural practice it works with. Even the
initiator and the main ideologist of the resource could rather unlikely
be sure in advance what shape the platform would take. 

Some platforms and practices they support do not self-identify as
artistic and do not consider their ³hobby² as a culturally valuable and
recognized activity.

Runme.org was initiated by two people, conceptualized by eleven,
developed by four  and coded by one in three months time: from the first
mail discussing a database structure till the discovery of the idea of
the repository in the air, through discussing, designing, programming,
testing and polishing. Runme was launched in January 2003 and has, till
now, gathered over 300 software art projects. There is up to a thousand
subscribers to Runme.org newsletter.

By now it is for three years Runme has demanded filtering upcoming
projects, technical administration, taking decisions on the structural
changes, arranging featuring, and so on. Readme software art festival
(2002 Moscow; 2003 Helsinki; 2004 Aarhus), for which Runme has served as
a project submission platform, was funded by various institutional
bodies. It is through this indirect financial channels the Runme
administrators and ³experts² writing featuring texts were supported.
As for the flexibility, Runme database twofold structure -
categories/subcategories and keyword cloud - was in constant change that
will be discussed later in the text.

Web platform udaff.com visited by up to 50.000 people a day with 700.000
pages display and with a traffic of a terabyte per month was conceived
and is administrated by only one person (Udav) with another one
(Proforg) providing technical support for over 4 years (from spring
2001). At the moment one or few new kreativs and images are published
daily, as well as reports, news, reviews, cooking recipes, and various
declarations. The administrator Udav, through the mailbox of whom all
the texts and images intended for publishing pass, works as a sound
engineer at one of S.-Petersburg radio stations and gets no financial
support for his resource. He had to buy a new laptop to administrate at
any place and takes it on vacation to be connected non-stop. The
advertisement banners on udaffcom can only cover expenses for hosting.

Back in the year 1999 Micromusic.net founding members counted five
people; since then some joined the crew while others are not active
anymore as Carl explains. Micromusic¹s ³boss² is Carl. By now
Micromusic.net community counts more than 13.000 registered members and
has held tens of concerts world-wide. 

Micromusic.net web site structure has also been changing over time.
Microwarez (software tools for making micromusic) were introduced in
June 2000, ³microtext² ­ in December 2003. As Carl says he used to spend
10-20 hours a week administrating and working on Micromusic.net. He adds
that at the moment it does not demand as much time. 

Micromusic was initiated without financial aid but was receiving support
from 2000 for three years from MIGROS Kulturprozent; the same
institution has also supported the development of Microbuilder that won
the prize for best design from BAK (Bundesamt fuer Kultur). Micromusic
was and is also getting server support.

By now, as Carl says, they are also getting micro money from microshop
and about 10-20 people were donating money (with microdonations).

What are these platforms for? 
 Usually such resources appear as experimental production and management
systems focused at certain format of cultural practice: for instance,
8-bit music, obscene literature, software art, vj culture or others. 
The artefacts of a cultural practice should appear originally in a
digital form (or should be easy to digitalize without loss of some
essential qualities) and be homogenous and compatible in format: text,
digital image, piece of software or mp3 file. Being a natural part of
the digital realm such artifacts are easy to maintain in a database,
upload and download, i.e. integrate in the content management systems.
Cultural or artistic practice the resource chooses to contribute to and
represent usually exists prior to the web-site in some more or less
developed form, sometimes at the borders of distinct areas of art and
culture, in ³gray² zones, in the form of folk practices. The platform
aims at fostering creativity, detecting, discovering, defining, shaping
the field, contributing to its development, and, in sum, contributing to
materialization of a particular artistic or maybe broader ­ cultural

We at Runme.org are far from declaring that Runme has created software
art but we believe that without Runme software art in its ³official²
representation would be a much narrower and more boring thing. 
Micromusic.net also works with pre- and by-existing realm of 8-bit
music. But with Micromusic.net 8-bit music has got a wide recognition as
a cultural phenomenon. More than that, Micromusic platform has
contributed to the development of 8-bit international community and has
established higher standards for its cultural product.

Udaffcom managed to generate a completely new literary trend ­
³literature for men², characterized by recognizable style, and a special
genre of a short story with distinctive writing - kreativ. 
Udaffcom manner of spelling already started to leak into official
domains of the Russian language. In Moscow in April 2005 protesters
again the arrest of a Newsweek journalist in Byelorussia were using
posters with udaffcom turn of speech denoting critical attitude written
in udaffcom manner: ³Lukashenko, drink some poJson².
The structure of the platform / Database structure
The structure of the platform can include various elements: a system for
exchanging messages (microtalk) and an on-line radio (in the case of
micromusic.net), comments threads (in the case of udaff.com), - but it
is always centered on an administrated database with the artifacts,
everyone is invited to upload to and download from. The structure of the
database is shaped by the material it works with: music, literature,
software art, photography or software, - and by the design decisions
taken by the administrators. 

Different platforms arrived to the database formula by various roads. 

The initial list of Runme.org categories was conceived with a portion of
irony. How can one classify art, especially following the classification
principles strictly (for instance, each category should describe
exhaustively a certain conceptual phenomenon constituting a closed
integrity in itself, - so that, a piece can fall under only one
category)? In Runme classification a project could fit a number of
categories easily. Categories are not consistent: one relates to the
form, another one - to the major theme of the work, a third ­ to the way
it functions, et cetera.

Irony of the initial categories was washed out by their adaptation to
the needs of the users: offensive, negative, impudent, humorous
categories, categories nobody wanted to be identified with disappeared.
Among the categories discussed initially there were: best software
poseur, beautiful crash of the system, jodi plagiarism, competition for
suggesting categories, best festival jury (for jury), hard to use
software, best physiological reaction, best grant hoover, best
classicist vomit, modem art, dead data, emulated modernism, pixel soup,
trivial software and many others. 

The classification was and still is constantly changing in accordance to
the works submitted or the amount of works of a certain type collected.
Sometimes a project submitted asks for a category / sometimes the amount
of projects overweighs a category and demands a one of its own. Only
with time there were introduced: installation based, institutional
critique. A category such as code beauty had to disappear with only code
poetry left.

If categories and subcategories were controlled, the keywords
(irrational way of structuring or navigating through) were supposed to
be unmoderated but are also filtered. Keywords turn to play the role of
categories of the second choice. If a person prefers certain aspect of
work she might choose it as an indicator for the category, while a
secondary but important motif would be chosen as a keyword. The keywords
reveal connections between seemingly disparate projects.
There is also a part of keywords that indicate a platform the project
runs at, including software such as Windows, Mac, Linux, but also
hardware such as Amiga, Atari, and Sinclair. ³Java² and ³on-line² are
also treated as an OS in keyword list.

Udaffcom succeed to IRC channel #flex that was quickly turned into and
remained flame wars base, and fuck.ru, where obscene stories were sent
and got published. By the launch of udaffcom, fuck.ru was dead, but its
literary experiment was not.

The database of udaffcom was made more complex as more and more texts
were arriving. At the moment, one can browse the stories chronologically
and via authors¹ names. There are also a thread of kreativs¹ comments,
³trash bin² with texts that were not approved by the administrator but
still available online, and ³trash bin rules², where authorized members
publish kreativs from the trash bin they decide to be worth to be
³saved². There is also a section ³shortly about the main² ­ reviews of

Udaffcom is a complex resource, - it includes ³everyday images², movie,
game, book and website reviews, stories about life abroad, political
notes, sport and cooking discussions, a few associated projects: a
forum, an on-line radio and flash animations website. Udaffcom holds
competitions for the best design of T-shirts, postcards and stickers and
sells them. 

But despite all this richness, writing is the center of udaffcom
creative processes. Relatively simple database structure could be
explained through the lack of time and resources for complex
developments. During first year of its existence the administrator held
a survey asking whether some structural changes would be desirable.
People voted for distinguishing between pose, poetry and journalistic
pieces, introducing voting for the best kreativ, rating and creation of
³favourites² with the best texts, the so called ³incorruptible ones².
However, neither of these options were implemented, - udaffcom functions
perfectly being as simple as it is, but at the same time the lack of
certain distillation and contextualization instruments define the niche
udaffcom¹s literature has to stay within.

Micromusic.net¹s database - ³up-/downloadz² is structured in a few ways:
by time of uploading ­ ³latest micromusic releases² (usually arrive in
bunches when some of accumulated uploads pass through the admins) that
are subject to voting (they get pointz) and by number of downloads
³download_chartz² (of all files within the last 7 days). Complete lists
are also available. There is a ³hall of fame² with the top 50 tracks.
Micromusic.net¹s important elements are microtalk (a classic
³who-is-online²-list displaying the logged-in users with an extra
feature: a user can send messages to any user via the browser¹s
pop-up-alert windows), microradio that is playing while you¹re chatting
or up/downloading, microwarez with ³music toolz recommended by the
micromusic community², and microeventz with information on future and
past concerts with photographs and commentaries. And, of course, there
are many more sections to the web-site. 

There is also microinfo on any author or track available to the
registered users and a handful of cute little details, one of which was
³microswopper² running for three months in autumn 2001 that was swapping
words in a microtalk (war into sex, bye and cu into God Bless America,
micro into lsd, and some other). 

Micromusic organizes microcontests, microconcerts and releases
Micromusic on CDs and vinyl. All that creates a special atmosphere
characteristic of Micromusic.net, make the place ³cool² and the
community strong. 

How does it work? 
During quite short period of time the platform manages to attract people
interested in the sphere, who upload theirs or others¹ works. The
resource accumulates a significant number of artifacts representing the

How it happens that people inhabit the platform and start to identify
with it, using it to express themselves, is hard to fully explain.
Whether the reputation is important, or the right self-presentation, or
the website¹s design, the correct mode of working with arriving
projects, right moment, right structure, and of course, lively and hot
theme - a lot of factors contribute to the platform¹s coming-into-being. 
Projects arrive and get presented. People start browsing, reacting to
the accumulated works, providing new ones and participating in
discussions, joint projects or offline meetings, concerts, festivals,
releases and other forms artistic practice formation and the community
life take. By active participation, users of the platform shape the
practice and build a discourse around it. Conscious efforts of the
platform originators and administrators aimed at the formation,
distillation and contextualization of the practice also play an
important role. 

The platform changes according to the input, unites the work of many,
works on its development and introduction into other (more open to wider
audience or more official) domains of culture and finally start
representing a cultural practice. Becoming a centre or one of the
centers of the trend, the platform turns into the fertile soil on which
the bud of artistic trend or cultural practice enters the full bloom
stage, making a change on the cultural landscape. 

In the case of Runme, it was important to take into account the nature
and some essential qualities of software art. 
Runme was planned to be a platform working with software art, a practice
more or less exclusively dealing with software that more or less
exclusively runs on a computer. Software is sold on the CDs and
distributed via networks. A usual place for finding software on the net
is or was software repositories. A familiar metaphor of software
database was used on purpose when working on Runme.org: online database
would be more relevant to the nature of software art and easier to be
accepted and get active. 

Software art drew lifeblood from folk cultures of programmers, and a
number of its masterpieces was obtained as ³objects trouv s². The
bringing in of found objects from the cultures of programmers was
necessary for building a fuller understanding of software art, its roots
and qualities. The usual curatorial system of ³inviting² artists to
contribute could never work with such projects. On Runme the policy was
to upload or link projects available on the net without necessary
permission of the author. If the author did not reply to an invitation
to join, the project was uploaded or linked. No one so far in the
history of Runme objected to this policy. Authors that do not reply,
usually either do not update their web pages (unparented pages, old
accounts), or their projects are half legal or illegal, or the authors
are too busy in other circles to be interested in something they do not
understand or find important (art context in our case). 

The two described policies: structure metaphor and important aspect of
uploading policy allowed for building wide and open, not necessary
institutional context for software art that in turn has led to raising
interest and popularity of the phenomenon more people could relate
themselves to.

Micromusic.net is an example of a resource that became popular due to
extremely friendly, welcoming, warm and relaxed atmosphere it exhales. 
Apart of the right moment, hard fanatic work, cool topic, and other
reasons, Micromusic¹s design decisions are the model of the atmosphere
production: online radio, messaging tool, bright funny colors, animated
figures make the user feel she is in a cool club enjoying a beer,
talking to some friends and listening to nice music. 

Imagine a children¹s room in bright yellow and blueŠ always pretty tidyŠ
dozens of kidz are hanging out here. u wanna know what they¹re doing?
well, what all kidz do: make friendz! play! talk! quarrel! disappear 2
have a snack! These kidz come whenever and stay as long as they want. 
Micromusic core team itself is a faithful bearer of this culture: when
giving a public talk, they go to sauna first, to get relaxed enough to
be able to relax the audience; and when giving a concert, they ask for a
sofa on stage as for an important part of performance equipment. 
The openness of micromusic platform is another answer. Anyone can become
a member of micromusic community, any track that is good enough (in the
eyes of qfs ­ quality filter system) gets published and can allow the
author to become microfamous. Power struggles and fame thirst are
substantial traits of any community, aren¹t they?

All in all, micromusic is cool, and it¹s cool to be micromusic. 

Tracing the roots of udaffcom success, it should be noted, that the
platform managed to invent or form a new literary trend, ³literature for
men². These are ³love-novels for men² of kind, analogues to those
belonging to the ³love-novels for women². This niche of Russian literary
production is not covered, and could not be covered due to its
non-normative vocabulary and obscene thematic. 
Ideology of udaffcom and its literature, shared by large groups of
contemporary Russian men of socially active age is partly mainstream and
partly countercultural, as it was mentioned earlier in the text. For
some users udaffcom becomes an initiation into ³adult life², for others
­ a place to relax, for the third party it gives a possibility to
resist. Many users report that they visit udaffcom at work where they
have to ³be professional², functioning in almost totalitarian conditions
of the office environment. Swearing and being sworn at on udaffcom helps
them to survive a working day. 

Far from being an obscene flame environment, udaffcom fosters
creativity, it asks for and promotes creative literary production and
allows for ³creative swearing² in the literary forms admired by many
fans. Since non-normative vocabulary - ³mat² udaffcom adepts use is not
a part of official Russian language and could never become (similar to
this, the taboo against open publishing of the image of phallus in the
public domain would, most likely, never be broken), using this
non-normative vocabulary in the literary creation has something of the
act of a rebellion. Such technique is present in Russian literature in
the works of Eduard Limonov, Victor Pelevin, Vladimir Sorokin, and some
others. Succeeding the techniques of acknowledged masters, udaffcom
users self-identify as ³counter-cultural writers². 
The possibility to join the club of countercultural writers and readers
is the answer to the question of udaffcom success.

The answer is filtering
Every platform has a filtering mechanism. Filtering works invisibly at
the back-end but it is always present. Right filtering is a key to
success: it can make the resource desirable to be a part of, and then it
is accepted by the users. 

Filtering is carried out in a quite strict manner by a few people with
consistent judgements of taste and decisions. The way filtering is
organized decides the destiny of the project: filtering is usually quite
absolutist to keep up the quality of the resource, and also quite
democratic to allow for a variety of works and approaches.

Runme is filtered by four people. It would be very hard to formulate the
real criteria, apart from the formal ones (these are usually expressed
in FAQ), the project have to fit to get in. It is most likely the case
for all platforms¹ filtering procedures. At Runme the per cent of
non-accepted projects rise to 33% (more than 150 projects rejected over
three years), that is a surprise taking into account the administrators¹
feeling of serving as generally quite ³mild² filters. 

Udaff texts are filtered by only one person over 4 years, and it is his
own taste that is the only reason he takes into account.
Micromusic¹s qfs (quality filter system) is formed from two board
members and two invited members of the community. They listen to
uploaded tracks and decide which ones get released on the web-site.
Usually tracks get marks according to which they pass or not, but
sometimes there is a need to discuss a piece. At Runme there were cases
when not only administrators in the course of the discussion arrived at
decisions opposite to the initial ones of the majority but also authors
of rejected works engaging into mail conversations with the
administrators managed to convince the crew to include their piece.

Distinction and reward
The ideology of platforms producing art is often expressed through
technical means. It becomes especially clear with the system of
distinction and reward. 

Such systems are important mechanisms of shaping and developing the
cultural practice. By building systems of voting, for instance, it
becomes possible to rank projects and distill the most popular with
subsequent public presentations, releases and promotion of the latter.
This is the case with micromusic: the hall of fame, for instance,
consists of top 50 downloaded tracks. To become a microstar is a dream
of the community member: 

Having a charting track on micromusic is a big ego boost I can tell you,
and if course I wanted to make another hit, and even get to number 1! 

Other platforms refuse from ranking by the users and develop their own
mechanisms of distinction and reward ­ such as we have done on

Runme continuously served as a submission platform for Readme software
art festival. Readme decided to abandon the system of winners and
losers, and to fight the idea of the first, second and third prize,
which we have found ridiculous and harmful as applied to arts. 
Readme experts would select works they like most from the Runme database
and write small texts ­  features on them.  Featured woks appear in the
³featured² section. 

Each year the experts would use the same Runme database with the new
projects uploaded after the previous edition and the projects that went
through selection process already. This would give the jury and the
artists the second possibility.

For the first time 47 projects were selected and featured (the second
time the number was 32). 47 ³winners² is a radical concept for the
festival, but usual for a platform. 

Udaffcom does not have any reward system at all. At the beginning
different options were thought of: voting for the best story and rating.
They remained on paper and were never implemented due, probably, to the
lack of time or motivation. Certain hierarchy of authors is still built,
of course, but it is invisible and distributed as a ³word of mouth².
The absence of any system of distinction is still an obstacle in the way
of introduction of udaffcom literature into other domains of culture.
Possibly, system of distinction could also help to increase quality of
udaffcom creations. Best texts could be united into paper publication. 
But anyway, udaffcom finds a way to influence both offline and online
cultures, though by atoms, small moments of adoption, rather then
through wide establishment and promotion of its own trend as an integral
and unique artistic phenomenon.

³Folk practices² 
Folk in the age of digital technologies widely available to people has
entered into a revival phase. Digital folk being a wide layer of culture
below the radar inspires many artistic practices and informs academic
research into customization and mundane life of digital objects.
Pit Schultz writes about digital folk: 

 ³Folk Š is more about structural simplicity without getting into
formalisms. And even those formalisms, fractals, Š html, become a
signature of a certain 'rural' culture, insofar as it is not established
but ubiquitous, not fully commercially organized but productive. It is
the small form, the stupid dialogue, which then suddenly gets put into
the spotlight as pulp, trash, etc. (Folk) as a strategy to refresh
authoritarian regimes of quality control, which just represent social
structures (economical, political). Š

 Folk also has to do Š with low threshold of entering an ecology of
micro-production, which can lead to new patterns again. Š The
unimportance of a specific folk work, it's similarity to countless other
works, is a feature. Naivety is not, because it is as hard to be
informed as to keep uninformed todayŠ The element of innocence is rather
the absence or resistance to put itself into a certain set of quality
control mechanisms. (Folk) shows a richness of a certain kind, which can
be only called cultural. 

The aspect of watching some tribal, authentic somehow less alienated
type of digital culture is not taking in account, that most of more
elaborated work comes out of such backgrounds or is informed by it, that
there is no other, and trails of these folkloristic myths are defining
not the backbone but the background of digital culture.²

Folk practices put into quality control and contextualization mechanisms
are partly transformed into or help to initiate and foster more
established fields of cultural production. Here platform-based art
become one of these mechanisms. 

Runme¹s one aim was to bring recognition to the folk cultures of
programmers and users that inspire software art. Gathered with
inevitable errors of translation, found objects of digital culture
present an incomplete layer in the mass of artefacts gathered on
Runme.org. It is more of techniques and approaches, themes and motifs
that are presented than histories or trends. Still since Runme works
with different cultural scenes and domains, it is important to have
those approaches exhibited. Runme could succeed in enriching, marking
the context but could not build a natural environment for the life of
those practices, as it would mean a different aim, policy and outcomes. 
Udaffcom literature is in its heart a folklore literary trend that in
its present form is found in between the folk and more official cultural
production. Udaffcom serves as a platform for transfering information
and artefacts in both ways: from established art into folk production
and vice versa. The newcomers self-educate through discussing quality
standards and following the admired stories models. The environment
provides a supportive atmosphere for discussion and research into themes
and techniques that are considered central to udaffcom ideology. The
community reproduces building the trend over years.

8-bit music, low tech music is another example of the area of folklore
cultural production of today. It has conservative and restricted set of
instruments, almost no star system, and it is rarely produced for wider
audiences then certain defined circles that are aware of the context.
Nevertheless, these circles are rather large, and methods of the work
are passed from one to another, which yields a variative character of
the produced. Functioning according to the laws alternative to those of
the official music domains consolidates folk characteristics of 8-bit
music scene. 

Micromusic could embody, enrich and work with all these parameters at
the same moment contributing to the transfer of the artefacts onto
another artistic levels. Being an open platform, it builds a system of
recognition based on people¹s opinions. Discussing methods of work and
quality of tracks, it provides the models and patterns to follow. Being
outside of show business system, micromusic manages to enter official
scenes with their releases and concerts without loosing its openness,
intent for inclusion and dialogue.

Community and Offline Meetings
There could be built various types of communities around platforms, from
more vivid, present, socially supportive, with the time-consuming
participation model to the ones with more occasional splashes of
activities. There could be established relations within members of
communities, which are performed and reproduced on the platform with the
help of its instruments (chats, commentary) and at off-line meetings, or
could be no connections between the people recruited in the platforms¹
social network whatsoever. 

Despite of the degree of the distinctness of the community, it is the
people who built the platform and make it work whether by only
contributing with products or by discussing, evaluating and
participating otherwise.

Most platforms have offline meetings in bars or at cultural events.
Offline meetings that take the form of festivals or concerts provide the
way of the platforms¹ cultural products into wider cultural domains and
contribute to establishing interaction with cultural institutes, which
is often desirable for the producers who work with marginal cultural
forms. By joint offline (or online) performance they establish their
cultural significance and power and share their ideologies, inspiration,
and concerns.

Readme festival has regarded Runme projects as entries and has been
responsible for providing featuring, initiating formal writing,
publishing, establishing connections to different levels of cultural
life and institutes. However, the festival did not aim at and could
never become a real offline meeting of the Runme community. Still, one
attempt was made: Runme Dorkbot city camp in Aarhus, Denmark in August
2004 that united more than 50 presenters. It was an interesting event
both in format (everybody had to present their works during 5-20
minutes, - thus, there was no separation between the audience and the
presenters) and in outcomes.

Udaffcom occasionally organizes offline meetings in bars. The meetings
are intended for the regular circle of visitors to meet in person and
identify the face with a nickname (there is no registration and
nicknames of users are not protected by passwords). Since the audience
of udaffcom is enormous, the number of participants is limited to the
core groups of users; besides, the entrance is usually not free. There
are no public performances or readings, so the main functions of the
meetings are acquaintance and entertainment.

Any member of micromusic can post a suggestion to the micromusic HQ
(headquarters) to present her coming gig as a micromusic concert. If the
HQ agrees, it is added to the list of microeventz. Members of micromusic
travel to microeventz around the world, staying in each other homes,
performing, and having a drink together. 

There are many music websites where people can chat and share their
music, but events allow everyone to gather and meet the people they have
been chatting with and one can experience the joy of life performance
and hear more from the artists and have a dance together. ŠThis is all
dependent on trust and I love when it all works out well. Š I think
offline events give substance to the site.

As 1990-s were dominated by art on networks and celebration of
communication via internet, 2000-s are marked by the development of
platform-based art trends and cultural currents. If we recognize a new
system of production of cultural practices in a number of initiatives
that are well known, a lot of issues looked at from a different angle
begin to sparkle.

Web platforms that generate and develop art trends:

are built by a small number of enthusiasts that are active participants
of the scene they work with; working with digital artefacts, correspond
better to the nature of the digital work, to the digital environment
itself, developing the practice; are done in a way that allows for quick
reaction and adjustments to the cultural agenda; can have quite complex
structures build around a database that is open and strictly controlled
at the same time ­ a heart of the resource; suggest new modes of
education, knowledge building, creative work and supportive social
environment as well as models for contextualization and development of a
cultural practice; have resources to function and change over time that
allows for wide and collaborative construction of a trend;
work with ³gray² zones of cultural production, with grass-root

And there is always something else, something escaping from any formulas
that makes out of the resource - a platform, a successful system for
production and management of an artistic trend. 

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