[iDC] old nonsocial architectures

tobias c. van Veen tobias at techno.ca
Tue Feb 13 13:11:26 EST 2007

-- in short, 

> You make some great points here, but your divisive tone at the end troubles
> me. Are you trying to create some beef between Nettime and iDC? ;-)

No: these are lists of letter-writers ((in the spit of RAMM:ELL:ZEE,
typewriter fighters though perhaps not typefighter writers)) not entities
which can demonstrate that "my fighting technique is unstoppable," as d.
rees would put it. Perhaps "my filing technique is unstoppable," for some.
In all cases, "Get Your War On" seems to be the operative element of the

If NN were around, the situation might arguably be different, and weirder.
* http://www.mnftiu.cc/
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netochka_Nezvanova
> I think, however, that you go too far in casting doubt on any form of
> gift-giving that requires technology for its production (you  say: "The gift
> is now a privileged item of technology which requires skills -- which says a
> lot about the status of the gift in the 21C, that it is no longer a gift, no
> longer capable of being given, say, from the heart, but a "technology" which
> requires "skills" in order to "contribute" so as to reap the "benefits."").

I would not say that I cast doubt or reject any form of gift-giving if it
requires technology for its production. You do quote what I wrote, so let's
work with that. First, we have to rebuild the context, which is in the
discussion of Bollinger's quotation (which we exploit here, perhaps too
much), upon which I do believe we agree. To quote you, removed above, you
write that,

> "If I quoted Bollinger, it was to show the inherent contradictions that such a
> discourse creates. My point throughout has been precisely that to the extent
> that social media creates a 'market,' we can expect only certain kinds of
> solutions to emerge from its application."

Thus one of these kinds of solutions, to put it in this language, is that of
"technology" serving as a gatekeeper to participating in what is here called
the "gift economy."

Above, I am cautious to leave "technology" in quotation marks (along with
"skills," "contribute" and "benefits") for the purposes of context to which
this discussion takes place -- that of high technology, the kind of
technology qua teletechnological networks in their pluriforms. Hence the
historical reference to the 21C.

Before taking your statement above in complete agreement, I would question
its linearity, which is where I do believe I pose a question whereas you
(and I believe Trebor Scholz) take as analysed or given that social media
exists prior to its commercialization / marketization.

So to reiterate, when I write that the "gift is now a privileged item of
technology which requires skills," I mean so rigorously under the terms
above: in the 21C, in the discourse of "social media" as marked here by
Bollinger, technology forms a barrier to participation in the "gift economy"
and the gift -- the object of giving qua giving in general -- is, *now*,
under these conditions -- you can see how this is qualified and where this
is going.

Thus, I go on to suggest, as you do, a "gift economy" beyond this limited
understanding as put forth under the rubric, say (in shorthand) of "the
marketplace of ideas," the latter which would reduce the gift to a
calculated (future) exchange. So far, I have not introduced the term

> The truth of the matter is that even the simplest of gift may require
> technology for its production.

To make clear: yes. I agree. And to continue: thus the inherent technics of
gift production is not the point. It may be that production is always a
technics. The point is that the understanding of the "gift economy," today
(in the context we have delimited here, this quick response in network time)
has been inscribed so that technology -- as understood *not* in the general
form of a technics or a procedure of culinary arts, even if baking the cake
(what a great anarchist euphism: baking the cake, bring the bomb...), but in
the manner of certain network tools / sites / applications / access under
the rubric of "social media" qualified through "marketplace of ideas" --
becomes the essential gatekeeper ("skill") to the gift / gift economy. Which
leads me to say that this is not only an issue of access (upon which we
agree), but of the discursive - political - economic construction of the
gift as requiring an apparatus, very concrete, of the "marketplace of
ideas:" "skills," "technologies," "benefits," etc.

Such an apparatus predetermines a return on investment in the gift: how much
percentages of this or that (to address Michel Bauwens: to collapse the gift
to altruism, on the one channel -- a philosophical concept that would have
to be dissected -- or sacrifice -- a theistic concept that would have to be
dissected -- and (empirical?) percentages, on the other channel, is to
perpetuate exactly this discourse). To draw a finer line, what I wish to
distinguish is exactly the collapse of "benefits" to what nonetheless Michel
and I both identify: what the gift economy perpetuates is the gift economy.
Michel sees this as a "benefit." I do not for the following reason: for the
perpetuation of the gift economy is only a "benefit" if one calculates in
advance its returns, if the benefit itself can be capitalized upon, cashed
in, used up, kept, held, beholden, protected, put into the realm of
property, what is mine and proper, at which point it -- and here perhaps is
the quasi-linearization you and I, Ulisses, do share, thus the ability to
circumscribe this analysis in history -- ceases.

This is becoming unwieldly and beyond professional and probably boring to
this social media context. But I want to go beyond that -- it is this length
which is the wastebin of social media, what is usually discarded by being
deleted, all these questionings, blah blah blah.

> Likewise, I think that when you assert that "social media *doesn't* educate
> because it doesn't engender questioning" you are adopting a technological
> determinist position that gives too much power to the technology without
> considering who, how and when it may be applied.

Again, we must reconstruct the positioning of that quotation, which is why
this very "social media" in which we are partaking may be unsuited, indeed,
for the work of analysis. It is too painful to read this, is it not? Don't
the quirky, snappy responses garner that much more interest? What does that
say, then, about these email lists and the differences between them?

I will hope that above I have demonstrated in some detail that I consider to
whom, how and when it or things in general or in specific are or may be
applied. And I have done so in regards to this space ("iDC") itself. But to
do so to qualify every statement will slow us to inertia and will miss the
connective "principles" in each event which allows us to think the general.

Again: "social media" here is being used in a specific way, and yes, to
provoke a provocative hypothesis. I would not conflate this hypothesis with
technological determinism, if there is such a thing, and if there were, if
we could even recognize it. Let me attempt the complexity of this analysis
to a single impossible sentence (acck):

Social media as the space of the gatekeeper of technology in delimiting the
gift economy to a privileged technosphere does not educate for it doesn't
engender questioning; questioning of exactly its constituent elements, not
only hampered internally (as many have remarked here, notably the courageous
post by Armin, who provoked a lovely furor from those whom should think
before drawing so many knives), that is, auto-appropriated upon or before
the very moment of emergence (to reverse the general proposition of this
thread's discussion: the "market" "produces" the "social"), but by those
beyond the sphere, excluded from "public discourse" of the "gift economy"
and thus "silent."

*Here I argue that pedagogy or education cannot be such without questioning
as its priority.

> And yes, to my facile remark of _What Would Freire Do?_, I deserve an equally
> facile response in the form of _Freire is alive today, and he is blogging in
> Arabic!_. 

I was not being facile, and *she* is blogging in Arabic, but don't worry,
yes, I am human, chuckle chuckle, ah whoops, another car bomb in Baghdad.


> You are right: it's about figuring out our own responsibilities and
> our own biases --of finding the Freire within (here I go again with the cheap
> Freire comments!).

Yes, but not really cheap, is it? Do we have the eyes to read Arabic?

It's also not all about finding the Freire within, not altogether at least,
but listening for the Freire without and coming to terms with how we might
or might not be able to read this Freire.

As Brian Holmes noted awhile back, do we understand what is going on in
Saudi Arabi? Not only the geography, but the space of the mind, this Saudi
Arabia, this place.

> But to suggest that this list is better than that other
> list, and that this or that list sucks because of the attempts at
> 'professionalizing' the discourse seems contrary to your own advise. If you
> think this discussion is not addressing the appropriate questions, or is too
> neatly packaged in professional language, then you can either abandon it or
> re-engage it in subversive ways. It seems you yourself are suggesting we have
> a responsibility to do the latter.

I find it intriguing that (self-)critical reflection upon the conditions of
a particular sphere of publication and the differences between them is
reduced to a personified discourse of thinking "that this or that list
sucks." (And all that follows here.)

Striking a pose too formal, and hardly subversive but overly pedantic, here,
keeping in on the reigns of responsibility,


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