Jeremy et al
first of all also big hello to all who were at rewire. It was the
surplus of excitement which probably made me write that mail yesterday,
although I actually have NO TIME at all. But well, here, we go.
Jeremy, you wrote: "I am particularly interested in your reference to
the processes that govern speech acts in collective decision making.
More specifically, in terms of KOP's project I would be keen to hear
more about how your explorations of open code and free content led on
to an engagement with speech acts."
By the turn of the millennium there was a lot of excitement about the
possibilities of media art and free software and open content. The tone
had been set by the Wizards of OS conference in Berlin 1999, to my
knowledge the first event to ask "how can methodologies from free and
open source software development be applied to other domains, such as
content production and media art." This excitement spilled over into
areas such as wireless freecommunity networks and the discussion that
started on the notion of the digital commons. But by about 2003-4 the
mood changed as we could see once more that those things were becoming
exploited by a new economic boom based on web technologies commonly
called web 2.0.
We, and by that I mean people such as my co-curators but also theorists
such as Felix Stalder began questioning the notion of the commons as an
unstructured entity. Based on the findings of Elinor Ostrom in her
Nobel prize winning work on the commons, we focused on the notion that
the tragedy of the commons can only be avoided if the community that
runs the commons a) has a way of defining rules for the commons and b)
has a way of imposing sanctions on those who break the rules.
Thus, in our work with KOP the focus switched from celebrating the open
seas of open code and free knowledge to bottom up mechanisms of
self-organisation. This found expression in a contribution to the Open
Nature exhibition at NTTICC in 2005 and also in a research project
supported by Bronac Ferran (hi Bronac!) while still at the arts council.
Unfortunately some of the links to documentation don't work anymore due
to technical issues (spam robots targetting the site), but the material
has been secured and we will hopefully find a way of releasing it in an
>From self-organisation through bottom-up processes of rule making it
was only a small step to language as a commons and to investigate how
actually speech situations work out - because the process how a group
of people defines the rules that govern their collaboration runs
obviously thrugh language. Part of the lessons learned from the
"everything open" paradigm (or liberal utopia) is that there can be a
kind of false egalitarianism. While supposedly everybody is free and
equal to participate in a collaborative process often there is a
pre-defined agenda which pretty much determines what can be said. Those
who define the agenda "win" the discussion often without even having to
raise an argument. Those issues were explored in a piece of action
research called PLENUM and carried out at Node.London 2006, a heavily
scripted "performance" where the content was provided by participants
but within a closely defined structure of speech situations and live
code interventions, the latter being provided by Martin Howse and
I hope this was of value for this discussion, the long version has to
wait after my PhD ;)
> In my own work I explore the way that Derrida's reading of Austin's work on performative language provides a means to engage with the law.
> Turning back to your post Armin, you wrote:
> “KOP increasingly changed it's character from a curatorial project to a
> project that mixed curating with interventionist art practices and
> research. The exploration of the open seas of open code and free content
> increasingly led us to a closer engagement with issues of
> self-governance such as rule making or the processes that govern speech
> acts in collective decision making and agenda development”
> One last thing, I'd like to thank all those involved in putting together Rewire for a great conference, which I greatly enjoyed!