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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  June 2013

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING June 2013

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Subject:

Ownership of a field?

From:

Ken Friedman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Ken Friedman <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 8 Jun 2013 03:12:45 +0000

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Friends,

Sarah's note caught my eye with respect to the question "there is an interesting discussion about admin and 'ownership' of the field of media art histories taking place there now." Here is my postcard worth of opinion and a suggestion on strategies.

The apparent administrative piracy of the Facebook site and the ownership of the field of media art histories are very different issues. There is a difference between taking control of a Facebook site and owning an intellectual and scholarly field linked to a field of artistic practice. Without going into the long sociological argument, the key issues are simple. A field is all the people involved in the field  the "field", any field, owns itself or the population of the field owns the field. One person may assume control off a single communication channel, but that is not ownership of the field.

Oliver Grau's post explains what happened to the Facebook site. It may be that Oliver and the others can communicate with Facebook to get this situation corrected. Whether or not Facebook takes appropriate action, however, Oliver and the other colleagues whose pioneering work built the field retain the respect and appreciation of the community. If they build another site, it is my suspicion that the field will migrate. I have seen this happen on lists in the past, and if they build another site, I expect that this is likely to happen here.

Since I only lurk on the Facebook site, I don't have a personal stake in the outcome. Even so, it is odd to suggest that seizing administrative control of a site founded by others is a reasonable way to "open questions." Nina Wenhart could have created a new Facebook group, rather than unilaterally seizing the old group. That Oliver objects to Nina seizing control of the existing group does indeed state blame, but this is not a case of "victimisation." When one single member of a community takes control of communication channels by unilaterally ousting other community members from their administrative roles, those who are ousted are the victims of a coup.

Whatever happens to the Facebook Media Art Histories group, this is only one group. No one has seized the field and no one "owns" the field. My suggestion for strategy is for Oliver and his colleagues to communicate with Facebook. If Facebook will not rectify the situation, then other options might be worth exploring. I will communicate some of these privately to Oliver.

Yours,

Ken

Ken Friedman, PhD, DSc (hc), FDRS | University Distinguished Professor | Swinburne University of Technology | Melbourne, Australia | [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]> | Mobile +61 404 830 462 | Home Page http://www.swinburne.edu.au/design/people/Professor-Ken-Friedman-ID22.html<http://www.swinburne.edu.au/design>    Academia Page http://swinburne.academia.edu/KenFriedman About Me Page http://about.me/ken_friedman

Guest Professor | College of Design and Innovation | Tongji University | Shanghai, China

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