[iDC] Conference thoughts

Stmart96 at aol.com Stmart96 at aol.com
Fri Nov 20 09:47:42 UTC 2009

Dear All   I want to second  Sean's  statement   below    I especially want 
to thank Trebor  for   bringing us together.   I too missed a lot  of the  
presentations  but  found those I heard   provocative,   demanding   
rethinking our conceptual  frameworks while getting  the details and specifics in  
sight.   I wondered most  about  the place of the  digital in theorizing 
generally.   How do we put  the digital in  a larger frame .   We certainly  do 
think of political economy  and governance  but  how would we rethink the 
social, the body, the  aggregate and the questions raised in the round up 
session  on  difference race  gender sexuality.   Should digital be  central to 
rethinking  other aspects of social  and cultural criticism  and how?    
Well  I look forward to ongoing  conversation.   Thanks again all    Patricia 
In a message dated 11/19/2009 8:38:48 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
scubitt at unimelb.edu.au writes:

Dear  Distributed Collaborators

First thanks Trebor: the event was everything  the discussions had made us

Second, like everyone else, I  desperately wanted to attend everything, and
of course missed many  things

Our thinking is thinking - live, changing, active,  participatory, dialogue.
The concepts rise and fall. This is good. I  admired Jon beller's insistence
on the actually-existing Armageddon of the  global poor; and henry warwick's
insistence on the environmental limits to  digital media. One points to the
failure of the current regime to address  poverty, pandemic, war, climate
change and toxic waste. The other suggests  that as long as we keep thinking
of sustainability as a matter of  sustaining human development at the 
of non-human, nothing is  sustainable. Other speakers raised the paucity of
address to other human  subjects: well, I suppose we couldn't all of us 
of everything in  conference papers, but it is right to hear these 

I greatly  enjoyed the empirical papers, like hector's, which dragged the
hi-falutin  theoreticism of mine back to the grounds of real lives. 
the  articulation between the specific and the general is a challenge which 
take away from the conference as a critical one  - for any of  the
methodologies, from political economy to actor-network theory, that we  
addressed. It is the key to understanding how to manoeuvre between  the
pessimism of the critical tradition and the optimism - without which  
changes - most articulately voiced by Michael  Bauwens.

Penultimately, we do need the vocabularies developed as a  trade shorthand
for internal discussions, but we also need to think how -  at the very least
in words, but also in diagrams and images of all kinds -  to speak in ways
that the interested public can latch onto. I feely admit  that without
clarity of thinking, there is little chance of clarity in  language, and we
are all trying to make sense of something which neither  matches our old
habits of thought nor sits still long enough for us to form  new

Last: My own paper is a case in point: at 10  thousand words, it testifies 
the difficulty of thinking clearly and, in  my case, a failure to do so. 
last version of my paper is no longer the  draft posted on Slideshare but
sitting  here:
Perhaps it  is too early for clarity, but then again, perhaps this is 
the  moment when clearly stating the problems is the best thing we can do.  
here goes: The current system is failing and has been failing the poor,  the
homeless, the migrant, the imprisoned and the planet since Bretton  Woods.
There are forces - political, technical, economic - striving to  bring to
birth an alternative. There are traps for the unwary, but there is  also the
opportunity now, perhaps for the first time since the formation of  the UN
system, to think that a roots-up alternative might be emerging.  The
challenge for the emerging thing, whatever it may turn out to be, is to  be
better than the existing regime in terms of human conditions, and  
The fact that we concentrate on internet suggests we should look  to
technologies as the key to how this might happen, though we know that  they
are not autonomous - in fact they are enslaved. The problems are too  great
for solo research - this also we learn as the capacity of networks.  How we
set about change changes the change we bring about. This event was a  great
signpost towards collaborative work to open up the  future


Prof Sean  Cubitt
scubitt at unimelb.edu.au
Media and Communications  Program
Faculty of Arts
Room 127 John Medley East
The University  of Melbourne
Parkville VIC 3010

Tel: + 61 3 8344  3667
Fax:+ 61 3 8344 5494
M: 0448 304 004
Skype:  seancubitt

Editor-in-Chief  Leonardo Book  Series

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