The Rhizome Digest merged into the Rhizome News in November 2008. These pages serve as an archive for 6-years worth of discussions and happenings from when the Digest was simply a plain-text, weekly email.

Subject: RHIZOME DIGEST: 3.11.05
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2005 15:00:04 -0800

RHIZOME DIGEST: March 11, 2005


1. Brett Stalbaum: Remote Location 1:100,000 video

2. Kevin McGarry: FW: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] Job Opp - (USA) Assistant
Professor New Media

3. Chris Barr: Chris Barr is Available on Thursday
4. Rachel Greene: Fwd: [oldboys] FW: 'love is the devil' on MARS
5. Pall Thayer: degenerative net art...

6. Rachel Greene: Fwd: review to post

7. Trebor Scholz: Interview with Axel Bruns

+commissioned for
8. Juliet Davis: Let's Call It Art: CAA Recognizes the New Media Caucus

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Date: 3.07.05
From: Brett Stalbaum <stalbaum AT>
Subject: Remote Location 1:100,000 video

Paula Poole and I had occasion to create a short video describing our
bit titled *Remote Location 1:100,000*, which we completed for the CLUI
Wendover residency last summer. It is available at in the announce side bar.

Brett Stalbaum
Lecturer, psoe
Coordinator, ICAM
Department of Visual Arts, mail code 0084
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gillman
La Jolla CA 92093

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The Rhizome Commissioning Program makes financial support available to
artists for the creation of innovative new media art work via panel-awarded

For the 2005 Rhizome Commissions, seven artists were selected to create
artworks relating to the theme of Games:

The Rhizome Commissioning Program is made possible by generous support from
the Greenwall Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation
for the Visual Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Date: 3.09.05
From: Kevin McGarry <kevin AT>
Subject: FW: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] Job Opp - (USA) Assistant Professor New

------ Forwarded Message
From: Melissa Urcan <murcan AT ARTIC.EDU>
Reply-To: Melissa Urcan <murcan AT ARTIC.EDU>
Date: Wed, 9 Mar 2005 17:37:36 +0000
Subject: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] Job Opp - (USA) Assistant Professor New

Position is available August 23, 2005. RESPONSIBILITIES: Teaching
responsibilities will include introductory courses in mass media,
communication technologies, and new media (Principles of Interactivity, Web
Site Design, Multimedia, and appropriate software courses), depending upon
department needs and the candidate s expertise and interests. Candidate may
be required to teach by alternative delivery methods. Other
responsibilities include: advising students, professional and scholarly
activity, applicable university and community service, plus other duties as
assigned. REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS: Ph.D. or M.F.A. (in digital media,
communication, or closely related field) or Ed.D. (in educational media or
closely related field). A broad background in communication and knowledge
of new media technologies. Demonstrable skills in oral and written
communication, computer skills (Mac), and effective teaching skills.
Organization and delivery of effective presentations and experiential
learning activities, and the definition and assessment of desired learning
outcomes. Observable dedication to undergraduate education; enthusiasm for
professional engagement with students in and out of the classroom; and
ability to work in teams in a collegial environment. May be required to
teach courses through alternative delivery methods. The candidate must have
a demonstrated commitment to or experience with diverse populations.

2005-02-14 FT
Commensurate with professional experience and qualifications.
Outstanding fringe benefits included.

Send letter of application, curriculum vita, undergraduate and graduate
transcripts, statement of teaching philosophy, documentation of recent
creative media work (CD, DVD, website, slides) and a list of 4 to 5

Dr. B. J. Reed
Department of Communication Technologies, University of Wisconsin-
1 University Plaza
Platteville WI 53818-3099
PH: 608.342.1417

reedb AT

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Rhizome is now offering organizational subscriptions, memberships
purchased at the institutional level. These subscriptions allow
participants of an institution to access Rhizome's services without
having to purchase individual memberships. (Rhizome is also offering
subsidized memberships to qualifying institutions in poor or excluded
communities.) Please visit for more
information or contact Kevin McGarry at Kevin AT or Rachel Greene
at Rachel AT

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Date: 3.06.05
From: Chris Barr <chris AT>
Subject: Chris Barr is Available on Thursday

'Chris Barr is Available on Thursday', is a collaborative live art and
documentary project initiated via the web. For the months of March and April
visitors to my site are encouraged to schedule actions, events, ideas, and
situations which I will perform each Thursday. With this piece I hope to
investigate some issues of authorship and collaboration, body and self as
commodity, and artist as social organizer.

For information or to participate visit:

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Rhizome Member-curated Exhibits

View online exhibits Rhizome members have curated from works in the ArtBase,
or learn how to create your own exhibit.

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Date: 3.07.05
From: Rachel Greene <rachel AT>
Subject: Fwd: [oldboys] FW: 'love is the devil' on MARS

Begin forwarded message:

> From: office <office AT>
> Date: March 7, 2005 5:08:48 AM EST
> To: <filiale AT>, faces <faces-l AT>, old boys
> <oldboys AT>
> Subject: [oldboys] FW: 'love is the devil' on MARS
> Reply-To: oldboys AT
> \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
> "... because the devil is from Mars."
> Love is the devil
> by Krista Beinstein
> Teleportation: Monday, March 7, 2005 9:00 a.m. (GMT)
> \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
> Don't miss it and go:
> click the 'new' button...
> The first interplanetarian exhibition site on Mars
> founded by Helene von Oldenburg and Claudia Reiche
> You are invited: send your things to the Mars Patent -
> Attention, female names only!
> mail to:
> office AT
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> To unsubscribe, e-mail: oldboys-unsubscribe AT
> For additional commands, e-mail: oldboys-help AT

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Date: 3.11.05
From: Pall Thayer <palli AT>
Subject: degenerative net art...

I wish I would have heard about this before to see it in action. What's
available is just some very basic documentation but the concept is


Pall Thayer

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Date: 3.07.05
From: Rachel Greene <rachel AT>
Subject: Fwd: review to post

Begin forwarded message:

> From: Joseph Nechvatal <jnech AT>
> Date: March 6, 2005 2:45:46 PM EST
> To: rachel AT
> Subject: review to post
> Review of Palladio: a multi-media spectacle by Ben Neill and Bill Jones at
> Symphony Space
> by Joseph Nechvatal
> The backlash against the logocentric apparatus and corporate globalization has
> set in by now. It is well known that we live in an era where image is nearly
> everything and where the proliferation of unbearably intrusive brand names
> defines so-called culture.
> Palladio affirms this awareness through an infuriating and thus stimulating
> interactive movie/opera/rock concert/theatre spectacle by pioneer hybrid
> electro-acoustic composer Ben Neill (creator of fantastically meandering
> sounds which could go on forever) and digital media artist Bill Jones that was
> performed at Symphony Space March 4th and 5th. It is a multi-layered DJ/VJ
> culture jamming adaptation of Jonathan Dee's book Palladio which immerses us
> in the indistinct question: "In a world where the line between culture and
> commerce is increasingly blurred, can you really sell out anymore?"
> The visual form here was created by Jones's interactive computer video
> component, projected and mixed live onto a movie theater screen, which
> included commercial samples seamlessly merging with live-action footage as the
> lead characters - played by Cort Garretson (a charismatic composer/performer
> who never buys into the notion that all is retrograde orthodoxy), the
> hauntingly beautiful and immensely intriguing Zoe Lister-Jones (her character
> makes many insightful points) and Mikel Rouse (who convincingly plays a
> jack-ass advertising creative director who¹s big idea is that corporate
> advertising can function with no solitary representational subject-matter and
> no central representational focus) - are transported into a digital
> environment created from the ads portrayed in the story and abstract visual
> noise. The problem is this transportation feels like a total subordination to
> the logocentric order.
> Indeed, Palladio presents a good description of how much of a presence
> multinational corporations have become in our lives. As you can imagine, this
> logocentric theme raises some interesting questions. Is everything artistic
> already colonized in an age when Sergei Eisenstein's dialectic montage has
> become the dominant mode of advertising and a tool of media industry? If so,
> what have we sacrificed in becoming a society of consumers? Why have we
> allowed it to happen? Is pop culture our only culture? If not, just what is
> the alternative? What, for example, ever happened to Jonas Mekas¹s high-art
> concept of ³absolute cinema² which was designed to oppose such colonization of
> the psyche? Is it enough to say that corporate branding pervades our lives and
> is encroaching on our public institutions - so there are less and less places
> that are free from the noise of advertising and logos?
> Honestly, we do not find any state-of-the-art answers to these problems (nor
> any liberational politics or even hermeneutical interrogation) until the final
> text messages that romantically closed the show (yes you can still sell out
> young art-star by ignoring citizen-centered alternatives to the international
> rule of the logo). But up to that point we merely watch art and commercialism
> collide in mutual exploitation without ever turning into a glorious nihilism
> via an excess of signifier - as Jones fluidly mixes video action with sampled
> commercials. But is this mixing alone a work of cultural criticism or even an
> invitation to flights of anti-logoscentric thought? Is this part of the
> anti-corporate movement or just a hip recycling of the logo ­ and thus
> strengthening corporate logomania? In other words, can you stop drinking by
> drinking even more?
> Sure, Palladio employs technical savvy and personal testaments to love to
> detail the insidious practices and far-reaching effects of corporate
> marketing. But all of this is seen from the capitalist consumer perspective.
> Where is the emerging global worker solidarity here? The culture jamming
> hacktivist approach displayed here was frustratingly Warholian ambivalent - as
> logo fighters display the corporate logo. The visual result was reminiscent of
> classic Nam June Paik video manipulation (aesthetically-informationally
> intense) but is this a service to the interests of a provocative Naomi
> Kleinish No-Logo morality? I was not convinced of that.
> I know the idea is that a new techno empowered generation has begun to battle
> consumerism with its own best weapons via computer-hacking acumen. But where
> is the opposition here? Where is the innovative strategy for the active
> ruining of logo representation (an ideal objective first articulated in
> feminist practice by Michele Montrelay back in 1978)? [1]. Rather portrayed
> is the particular set of cultural and economic conditions that make the
> emergence of opposition inevitable. This is really a question of form rather
> than content then.
> Antonin Artaud's theoretical work could be reviewed in this respect. Perhaps a
> deeper examination of his proposals found in _Le Théâtre et Son Double_ (_The
> Theatre and its Double_) would be beneficial to a ruin of representation as
> strived for in Palladio, as Artaud proposes that art (in his case drama) must
> become a means of influencing the human organism and directly altering
> consciousness by engaging the audience in a ritualistic-like activity
> involving excess. Even though in his essay "The Theatre of Cruelty and the
> Closure of Representation" Jacques Derrida describes how Artaud's theory may
> be seen as impossible in terms of the established structure of Western thought
> [2], this is precisely why Palladio (with its vital connections to the
> representational excess) can be placed in parallel position to Artaud's
> hypothesis. Georges Bataille confirms this assertion of excess as ruin in his
> essay "Baudelaire", particularly by linking Baudelaire's imagination with
> notions of the impossible. [3]
> Of course the superimpositional layering found in Palladio has been tried
> successfully in the 60s/70s (one thinks here of the expanded theatre ideal of
> Milton Cohn's late-60's _Space Theatre_; the essence of which was a rotating
> assembly of mirrors and prisms mounted on a flywheel around which were
> arranged a battery of light, film, and slide projectors - essentially it was
> an expanded version of László Moholy-Nagy's famous _Space-Light Modulator_
> into which one may enter). But is the art world today ready to make
> substantial use of multi-layering with its inherent loss of coherence and
> representational ruin today? I doubt it (the opposite seems to be in fashion),
> but one would hope so, for such ruin is a challenge to us to find new expanded
> boundaries of self-representation.
> Undoubtedly, we need ruined representations to live fully now, and just such
> ruined representational shifts are far easier to contribute to the public in
> the form of artistic expression free from corporate influence. Effectively,
> such an artistic and perceptual shift in our self-representational ontology (a
> shift which involves fundamental changes in aesthetic perception) can be
> expected to engender extraordinarily deep artistic conflicts. This will entail
> a review of past and present approaches towards both non-representational and
> representational aesthetics which Palladio almost advances, for our imagined
> logo-free future depends on the kinds of discriminating questions we seek to
> construct in our artistic practices now. In that regard, read McKenzie Wark¹s
> new book A Hacker Manifesto.
> All in all, Palladio is a beautiful and comprehensive account of what
> corporate logo economy has wrought but lacks a persuasive proposal for
> destructive/creative actions to thwart it. In spite of these reservations, I
> can only applaud Palladio for stirring up the pot of these issues, which
> provoke thought and encourage exploration. Even by cultural conservatives, I
> hope.
> [1] Michele Montrelay, ³Inquiry into Femininity² in m/f I (1978), pp. 83-101
> [2] Jacques Derrida, "The Theater of Cruelty and the Closure of
> Representation" in Jacques Derrida _Writing and Difference_, Chicago:
> University of Chicago Press, (1978) pp. 232-250
> [3] Georges Bataille, _Oeuvres Completes: Lascaux: La Naissance de l'Art_
> Paris: Gallimard (1978) pp. 200-202

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Date: 3.07.05
From: Trebor <trebor AT>
Subject: Interview with Axel Bruns

Share, Share Widely.
Technologies for Distributed Creativity

Interview with Axel Bruns (adjusted by Trebor Scholz)
As part of WebCamTalk1.0

Trebor Scholz: On the one hand weblogs are often criticized as being
somewhat narcissistic public diaries, often authored by individual
teenagers. But at the same time the blogosphere is increasingly important in
political campaigning, education, research, and content management.

Blogs became an outlet for new media researchers. Much of scholarly
research appears on weblogs. 'Edbloggers' use weblogs for collaborative
learning, as personal portfolios, institutional interfaces, personal
reflective journaling, peer-to-peer editing, annotated link collections,
coursework, and sharing of educational content. The word "weblog" had the
highest number of online lookups on Miriam Webster in 2004. Are blogs the
social software du jour?

Axel Bruns :

<background sounds of noise minor birds, and rainbow lorikeets>

Yes, and according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project blog
readership has shot up by 58% in 2004 alone (see reference). Should this
increased public interest over the last year be credited merely to a massive
interest in more information about the US elections, or is it due simply to
the hype about blogs? We are not sure -- but something is happening. The
narcissistic teenage use of blogs gets a lot of bad press but it is actually
not such a negative thing at all. People have written diaries for centuries:
for many folks this form of self-reflection is an important part of their
lives, a key practice in developing and maintaining their identity.

So, I do not have a problem with self-involved teenage diaries as such, but
I am certainly not arguing that the quality of the writing is always
particularly good or especially insightful. Even if this journaling would be
all that blogs are good for, they would remain an important outlet for
expressing the lived experiences of teens. What weblogs do enable, however,
is a significant amount of immediate, ad hoc *interaction* between
individual bloggers. They are in fact a tool for social networking. There is
a real interest by people in sharing information and in connecting to each
other. This interconnection of people with similar interests, with
comparable life stories, does not exist in traditional diary writing. With
blogs, individuals who have a particular issue in common can find each other
and build ad hoc networks.

The same people who today criticize blogs for being self-absorbed and
tedious accounts of everyday life are possibly those who used to criticize
the TV generation for being isolated from one another. Such attacks may be
little more than knee-jerk reactions to the perceived evils of the next new
trend in telecommunications technologies. On balance, I would prefer
interaction between possibly self-centered journal writers to
non-interaction between couch potatoes-- it is a step forward. Suburbanites
who are socially challenged may remain so no matter if they act online or
off, while blogging offers them a way to connect.

TS: Social book mark tools like and online social fora like
flickr are helpful in linking up people with similar affinities. They create
linkages between social networks. Both sites link 'users' based on topical
affinities, creating possibilities for social networks based on a very
particular set of interests.

AB: Yes, and they show that there is a profound shift currently underway.
People are very interested in creating their own content, sharing their
ideas online, putting their lives out there. And everybody has expert
knowledge of something -- from music and movies to politics and social
issues. Of course, putting the information out there does not mean that it
will actually be read. There is a tremendous information overload; an
enormous number of blogs are never visited. Alexander Halavais did a lot of
work about this. He is a big believer in the social power of neighborhood
blogs. How many of these millions of blogs are really being looked at or
linked to? If you go to a blog you probably looked for it based on a search
related to your affinities.

TS: This trend towards the uses of software tools in a site-specific,
"situated" way has been much discussed recently. Some recent internet art
projects address the needs of a geographically specific group rather than
the anywhere and nowhere of the internet (devoid of political agency).

AB: What is interesting about blogs is that they are very scalable. They are
useful for collaboration amongst small, geographically co-located groups as
well as for distributed team work across a number of dispersed locales. The
are useful for facilitating ad hoc interconnection between complete
strangers based on shared interests - and sometimes perform all three
functions at the same time. This multilayered structure has always been a
promise of hypertext-based information structures. There is no longer a
mutually exclusive choice between catering for the 'here' or for the
'anywhere and nowhere' you speak of-- it is possible to have both at the
same time.

Importantly, too, blogs make it very easy for information to travel across
the network, and this is why we speak so frequently of the blogosphere now.
Ideas are picked up from one blog and republished on others, so that
blogging is not about single weblogs - their strength is in their numbers. I
am fascinated by the trend towards blog aggregation, through sites like
Daypop and Technorati. Broader trends across the blogosphere emerge:
individual words or topics suddenly show up as being in extremely high use,
sometimes from one hour to the next. This is a good way to track what
currently is on people's minds. It is less about the individual, local blog,
and much more about the travel of information across the
networks. Blogs enable this through commentary functions, TrackBack, Really
Simple Syndication (RSS), and other technologies. The widespread popularity
of blogging will most likely be amplified by the use of RSS feeds on mobile
computational devices, such as PDAs and mobile phones, which makes
information flows even faster.

For my book Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production, I focused on
the field of news blogging. Here (as well as in academia) copyright is a key
issue: there is so much re-use of articles, of text all over the
blogosphere. Information, responses to political events that appear on blogs
are often copied from the news feeds of other blogs (i.e. BBC News Online
now also offers RSS feeds). What we are moving towards as a result of this
constant repurposing of content is not so different from file sharing. A
shared file is diffused across the networks. It is becoming hard to identify
the author or owner of a piece of content because the files are changed in
the process of getting shared across the networks, and they are hosted on a
multitude of machines. Information in the blogosphere works in much the same
way: it travels in between blogs by way of RSS feeds and commenting.
Thereby, it diffuses into the blogosphere, and the originators and owners of
this information are now increasingly difficult to track, which naturally
raises issues about credibility as a result. In the case of news-related
blogging, for example, rather than encountering distinct news reports
readers in the blogosphere are more likely to encounter shared
themes, memes, dealing with current events that are diffused in many
variations across the network.

In areas where intellectual property is important, such as the academic
area, this is a real problem. Elsewhere, it is perhaps a moral rather than a
purely legal question: the originator of content, the person with the
original idea, should always be credited, of course. But in blogging it is
quite possible that the site of the original content creator will receive
fewer hits than the major blog which spreads the word. There is a need here
to engage with content in a morally sound sense which acknowledges the right
of the creator to be attributed appropriately, which is very much the way
that open source operates as well, and where projects like Creative Commons
(CC) also tie in. It is exactly what the CC attribution license requires.

Blogs are a very useful tool for researchers to float their ideas before
they are fully formed, to enable others to engage with these ideas, to share
them and build upon them. This returns to a more traditional form of
research, of academic, scientific work - a collaborative pursuit of
knowledge. There is a problem with this in a highly commercialized research
environment, of course, where people are unlikely to share their ideas
before they have been fully formed (and ultimately, patented). But even if
blogs are used only within a specific research team, without being
accessible to the wider public, they still provide a useful way of sharing
ideas within that group.

TS: The model of the artist as 19th century individual genius is still alive
and well. Equally alive are models like the exemplary sufferer, the
self-absorbed individualist, and the innovator and visionary misfit. Yet
there is the overwhelming trend towards collaboration society-wide. How do
you view
this development?

AB: I agree completely, there really is a wide societal trend moving toward
a more collaborative mode, using the Internet and cooperative social
software tools to enable that. Broadly, I see two competing approaches at
this point, which map very well onto the difference between closed and open
source approaches:

The *locked-down institutional approach* is characterized by this motto:
hang on to everything, keep it close to your chest until it is finally ready
to be exposed to a wider audience.

And then there is the *commons approach* with its motto: share, share
widely, in the belief that this approach will attract the best contributors
and collaborators to the project.

This latter approach is also crucially driven and supported by a need for
better communication, and it is no accident that since the advent of the
Internet we have seen a range of communication technologies emerge, from
email and newsgroups now all the way through to blogs, content management
systems and wikis. There appears to be an acutely felt need for better
communication which has driven such projects, and it is a matter of breaking
out of some of the more locked-down institutional environments, or of
changing these environments, to enable such collaborative approaches more

TS: What could lead to such radical institutional change?

AB: The software industry is a useful example here-- we are now gradually
seeing companies realizing that there is value in contributing to open
source, even if their main business is still in selling software packages.
This is a long slow change which will continue for some time to come until
it is fully accepted-- and it may never be fully accepted. In an academic
sense there are similar problems-- perhaps not so much related to questions
of commercialization but certainly concerns of competition between different
institutions or individual academics.

If you take an example of an open educational archive such as
MITOpenCourseWare this becomes obvious. It is easy to be open and
supportive of sharing all your materials if you are the market leader. The
use of these materials only furthers and re-enforces your leadership. MIT
benefits tremendously, of course. It is a bit different with other
institutions-- they may not benefit in the same way at all from
openly sharing their content, if these materials are seen as second-rate
in comparison to what MIT and others offer.

And the fact that a particular university is known as having originated an
important idea is of course helpful in the recruitment of, especially,
international students and staff.

TS: What would motivate universities to engage in open collaboration?

AB: Even though faculty are often eager to collaborate, the administration
may remain far more hesitant about that prospect and still have to work out
for themselves what it is that would drive them towards collaboration.

TS: Foucault asserted that knowledge is not something that is called up or
recalled from an originating source to be then transferred down from one
person to another. He argued that this reproduction of knowledge can only
reaffirm the existing social constructions. Cooperative technologies like
blogs or wikis allow for network knowledge structures that are based on an
Engaged collective working through knowledge. Australia seems to pioneer
much of the uses of social software in education. Do you know of reasons for
this eagerness of people to contribute to the public? Do you think it is
related to people's desire to contribute to something larger than

AB: Definitely-- take Wikipedia for example, which today is a
fantastic resource and builds on the fact that anyone is an expert on
*something*, even if it is only baseball. This enables them to contribute at
least on that obscure bit of knowledge that they are most expert on, and if
you put all of these contributors together then you do get a vast resource
larger than themselves.

There is a real question of scale here, of course-- Wikipedia works in
this way because it has a massive number of contributors, and is therefore
able to cover truly encyclopedic territory; in smaller teams this is not
necessarily the case. So, if you have a much smaller collaborative project
of whatever form, it may take significantly longer to come to fruition. The
project in this case may not be larger than yourself, but simply help in
sharing the work load amongst that group - and perhaps you contribute to
this project only as a stepping stone to more lucrative commercial work,
using it to show your skills and knowledge and your ability to work
effectively as part of a team.

Why Australia is so prominent in this field, I am not entirely sure -
perhaps this has something to do with our remoteness, and therefore our
greater reliance on communication technologies in the first place. There
certainly has been a great level of involvement in collaborative systems for
a long time. Matthew Arnison from Active Sydney still is one of the key
advocates of open publishing, for example, and he and the Cat AT lyst team also
developed the first open publishing system for Indymedia, just before the
Seattle protests. Australians have always had a healthy skepticism towards
authority, and promoted the idea of a 'fair go' for everyone - perhaps
that has something to do with it...

But as far as open source, open publishing, and open collaboration goes, we
must ask: will it work everywhere, or only in specific fields - are
there areas which are particularly suited or unsuited to open source-style
approaches? I do not think this has been fully answered yet - in open
source, for example, I am sure you can find some very successful projects
which were driven by a great need for them, while there are also many others
which never quite got off the ground because of a lack of contributors. In
areas like open publishing, which I have researched in detail recently,
there are some projects like Slashdot which have proven massively successful
- Slashdot has some 600,000 registered users - while others in a similar
vein are far less successful, perhaps because their topic area was simply
less interesting to a large number of users. Even open news sites that were
inspired by Slashdot, such as Kuro5hin or Plastic were less successful.

Plastic is a good example as it 'only' has some 30,000 registered users: it
is a site that has only just managed to establish itself and survive, but
has less of a topical focus. The common good or common interest in
contributing to the site perhaps wasn't seen as clearly by its visitors as
this has been the case in Slashdot.

There needs to be a clearly felt common need or common interest in such
projects; in addition, there are also obvious technical issues about the
ease of use, the ease of contributing, the ease of interaction. The
Wikipedia is an interesting example in this case - Jim Wales's first
venture, the Nupedia, largely failed, of course, because it made it far too
difficult for users to contribute content to the encyclopedia. The team then
developed the Wikipedia as a fully open-access site where anyone can
contribute, anyone can edit, and it took off.

Also, how do you manage contributions in these projects - there are real
differences in how open some of these sites are, how much the content that
is submitted is edited. These questions all contribute to the success or
failure of a site. Slashdot seems to have worked because in spite of the
clear presence of its editors they do not interfere all that obviously -
while they choose the initial articles which are published, commenting
remains open and anyone can have their say. Some sites like Kuro5hin and
Plastic even put the editing of articles themselves into the users' hands.

In sites where every article must be edited and approved first, this will
likely be seen by the users as yet another hurdle to jump through, and in
addition the process will take time, so that these sites are less likely to
respond quickly to current events. These setup options certainly affect the
success of a site, and in cases where users contribute or co-create content
these are key issues to be addressed.

TS: In a recent discussion Clay Shirky pointed out that "Wired" had to shut
down their entertainment and music online fora because users launched
anorexia and cutting support groups in these online spaces. People gave each
other moral support and hints on how to stay anorexic. There are many
similar examples. This raises interesting moral issues.

AB: There have been a number of interesting phenomena around the
relationships between such ad hoc social networks and the commercial
interests which put these networks in place. A similar issue I have recently
become aware of has played out in massively multi-user online role-playing
games (MMORGs); some of the things that groups of users get up to in these
games, while a clear example of distributed creativity on part of the users,
are deemed not to be 'in the spirit of the game' and are shut down by the
games companies. To give you a benign example, I have just seen a 'music
video' which was intricately choreographed, staged and shot entirely by
players for players within the Star Wars Galaxies online game (see
reference). These are very innovative, very creative uses of the technology,
totally against what the game is really about, and so there are significant
problems with the games companies not knowing what to do about them, not
knowing whether they want this kind of interaction to take place within
their games. (Cantina Crawl videos)

TS: On a recent blog entry you quoted Ted Nelson saying that "the present
computer world is appalling - it is based on techie misunderstandings of
human life and human thought, hidden behind flash user interfaces."

AB: Indeed - at the very least it is important to make computers much less
intrusive, much less visible in the way that people work. This is partly
simply a technological issue, but particularly in academia it is also about
how we use technology. For example, at Queensland University of Technology
where I work there is an ongoing drive to make learning and teaching much
more learner-centered rather than teacher-centered, and teaching technology
has a very important role to play here.

We currently work on a project at Queensland University of Technology in
which we set up systems to support much more collaborative and creative
engagements with knowledge and information. How do you make it easy for
students to use systems like blogs and wikis? How can these cooperative
technologies improve their learning experience? It is not enough to simply
put these systems in place and to go through blogging and wiki exercises -
rather, the presence of such systems and the different conceptualization of
and engagement with knowledge for which they stand change the entire
learning and teaching experience. It changes the way lectures are (or should
be) delivered, and the way people engage with the material.

I have been using a wiki in one of my classes (using the MediaWiki system,
see reference) and I have come to the point of thinking, 'do I need actually
need lectures as such or can I change the delivery structure of the course
on the whole into something that is much more like a wiki, that resembles a
networked knowledge structure - rather than imposing a linear structure from
week one to week 13 which presents to students a supposedly unified history
of new media technologies?' Linear structures may be useful to some, but
they do not accurately represent the multifaceted field of new media studies
(or any other field of knowledge, really) any more; I need to find other
ways to present the whole width and breadth of information to students and
to work with them through this and move into their own areas of interest, in
a much more flexible network structure. In the course, students in each
semester both use the wiki as an information resource, and then
collaboratively build on and extend it. An encyclopedia of new media terms
and concepts, it is published to the Web as the M/Cyclopedia of New Media
(see reference).

We are also setting up a multi-user blogging system (using Drupal), with the
intention of ultimately being able to provide a blog for each student
throughout the duration of their degree. This would enable us to get away
from only using blogs in specific courses, which again would be a
teacher-centered approach, and rather to take a learner-centered approach
which enables students to log their own experiences throughout their time at
university, regardless of what course they might be relevant to.

In the university blogging is great especially for first year students who
find themselves in the middle of a new environment. Blogs allow them to
share reflective journals, and throughout their academic careers these blogs
are useful as they help students to self-monitor their academic development.
Additionally, of course, people can also share their information and
experiences, and collaboratively develop content. We are also looking to
develop peer-assisted study schemes in which blogs by second semester
students inform students in their first semester.

In the process students gain advanced information and communication
technology (ICT) literacies which empower them. This is crucial: the new
forms of interaction which are emerging across the board at the moment
require some very different skill sets, and as teachers we must make sure
that students are able to gain these skills. Students need to adapt to
participate in these collaborative open content systems, and to become
familiar with notions of distributed creativity - especially in the current
environment where information, knowledge, and creative industries are
accounting for an increasingly large share of the economy in most Western

In this environment we are seeing a general trend away from pure
consumption, and towards participation - from shows like Big Brother where
audiences are actively involved in directing further developments, to games
like The Sims, where now some 90% of all in-game content has been
contributed by its users, or to the involvement of fans as quality assurance
in the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We witness a blending of
consumption and use, of using and producing which has begun to happen in
recent years. I call this new form of active content co-creator a

But this ability to be an active participant or produser is not only
necessary from a career point of view: it is also increasingly a
prerequisite to being an informed and active citizen.

TS: Thank you for being with us today.

Axel Bruns gratefully acknowledges the help of Peta Mitchell, who provided
him with an iSight camera and laptop for the WebCamTalk 1.0 presentation.


'Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality' by Clay Shirky

Axel Bruns, "Community Building through Communal Publishing: The Emergence
of Open News" published in Mediumi 2.1 (2003)â?©=en&issue_nr=2.1&issue

Axel Bruns, "From Blogs to Open News: Notes towards a Taxonomy of P2P
Publications" presented at ANZCA 2003 conference in Brisbane, 9-11 July 2003

Bibliography on Blog Research


Edublogs Weblog Award

Open source content management platform

VoiceOver IP (free, cross-platform)

Association of Internet Researchers

Axel Bruns works in the Media & Communication Discipline at the Creative
Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane,
Australia). His main research areas cover collective authorship, online and
peer-to-peer publishing, online communities, and new patterns of production
in the creative industries. Axel is a member of the Fibreculture team and
General Editor of M/C - Media and Culture. His book Gatewatching:
Collaborative Online News Production will be published by Peter Lang in

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Rhizome ArtBase Exhibitions

Visit the third ArtBase Exhibition "Raiders of the Lost ArtBase," curated by
Michael Connor of FACT and designed by scroll guru Dragan Espenschied.

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Date: 3.05.05
From: Juliet Davis <julietdavis AT>
Subject: Let's Call It Art: CAA Recognizes the New Media Caucus

Letís Call It Art: CAA Recognizes the New Media Caucus
Juliet Davis

Who would have imagined the Atlanta Marriott Marquis would become home to
both the CAA Conference and the National Cheerleading Championship? What
divine fate brought girls in sponge curlers and pink fuzzy slippers
sauntering past a gender studies presentation entitled 'Looking for Lolita?'
Some would say plenty of strange bedfellows congregated at the conference
Feb.16-19. Balancing the traditional art history sessions were a series of
'firsts,' including two new panels sponsored by the New Media Caucus (one
that drew a standing-room-only crowd); a panel and mentorships sponsored by
Leonardo; two sessions on the Patriot Act (a fund-raiser for Steve Kurtz and
CAE was held Saturday night); and CAA's first new media gallery entitled
'ArtSpace.' As for things pink and fuzzy (as well as poofed and fishnetted),
Simeon Hunter's panel flaunted costumes in 'Play, Pleasure, and Perversion:
Insubordinate Refusals of Discipline in the Practices of Art and Theory,'
which openly satirized art history academy practices past and present. (This
is not your grandfather's CAA.)

In his 2003 Ars Electronica review entitled 'Donít Call It Art' (Rhizome
Digest 9.17.03), Lev Manovich argued that much of digital art is
fundamentally at odds with contemporary art because the very term 'digital
art' (and, by extension, 'cyberart', 'new media', etc.) presumes a
formalistic preoccupation with medium. Therefore, he argued, digital art is
not compatible with contemporary art, which comes from a conceptual art
tradition. As one of many counterpoints to this argument, the CAA New Media
Caucus, while asking some of the same questions Manovich has raised ('What
exactly is [sic] the phenomena of . . . 'digital art,' 'new media art,'
'cyberart,' etc.?), presented us with digital work that operates in a larger
field of cultural production.

For example, a session entitled 'Screenshots and Audio Effects: Electronic
Events,' chaired by Caucus President Doreen Maloney (University of Kentucky,
Lexington) and Rachel Clarke (California State University, Sacramento),
featured a mix of traditional and nontraditional approaches to situating new
media in art-and-theory contexts. CADRE artist and theoretician Susan Otto
described a horizontal axis of emerging technologies shifting and
intersecting with a vertical axis of 'private intent of information and
public consumption of data.' The moment of this shift, she claims, is 'a
moment of cultural production,' which she demonstrated through several of
her own works that use scientific strategies and data collection to examine
cultural mythologies and intersections of public and private space (for
example, her collection of snake drawings by random male bystanders indexed
and exhibited with the use of a database; her x-rays of post-operative
gunshot wounds set to ambient music; her project asking scientists to plot
what-if scenarios for a Sasquatch' ).
Even Zachary Lieberman's interactive language visualization project (which
might be termed 'software art') was an appropriate litmus tests for CAA,
precisely because it is so culturally relevant (who is going to say Austrian
children creatively interacting with visual representations of language is
not culturally relevant?). And who would argue the legitimacy of Nomi
Talisman's project entitled 'Everything I Knew About America I Learned From
the Movies' as it plots a relationship between home movies and mainstream
film? Exposing the material substance of film (sprocket holes, etc.),
Talisman ran home movie clips alongside feature film clips, on the same
screen, to make visual connections between the 'cultural role of cinema' and
ìeveryday life.î Children mugged for the home movie camera on one side of
the screen as movie stars struck poses on the other; a family-man smoked a
cigarette beside a movie-star cowboy
( All of this art seems to
come from a conceptual art tradition and engages us in critical dialogue.

Theorist Judy Rudinsky (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) built
upon Talisman's presentation by asserting that, because new media art and
entertainment share markers such as medium of presentation (e.g., sharing
the 'screen' with television and the Internet), there is a 'constructed
overlap' that produces ambiguity and discord. This overlap, according to
Rudinsky, becomes further problematized by the 'complex and varied'
narrative formations of new media, which, instead of ìunifying sequences
over time,' tend to 'expand over sequences' and alter the relationship
between author and audience.

Panelist Conrad Gleber (Florida State University) seemed to be opening up
the whole notion of 'new media,' suggesting that it is not so much a
media-specific term as it is a culturally-specific term. As he interviewed
artists such as Lane Hall and Lisa Moline (University of Wisconsin,
Milwaukee, he asked the question: 'What shapes the
desire to come to new media?' Gleber reported that all of the artists
interviewed expressed 'a desire to integrate audience into the work,' expand
their public, and engage in intervention both inside and outside the
gallery. Gleber concluded that some of the distinctive characteristics of
new media art include its continual 'ephemerality, obsolescence and
ubiquity'; the fact that it is 'made out of' technologies (something like a
vernacular language); and the idea that it is situated in a ìsociocultural
dynamic of cultural emergence. . . . always in flux, always new.'

Perhaps predictably, the conference had a way of bringing to life topics
some might have thought were a thing of the past (e.g., utopian/dystopian
dialectics). In a relatively controversial panel called 'Interrogating
Interfaces,' when two presenters suggested that adaptable VR interfaces
resembling video games would 'make it easier' for CEOs to make decisions
about business strategies and military figures to make decisions about going
to war,' a lively discussion erupted, with one audience member politely
asking if someone could please 'comment on the space between video games and
Guantanamo Bay.' Meanwhile, panelist Michele White, focusing on the common
hand-pointer, examined how race, class, and gender are rendered through the
interface, and added her concern about the power structures that would be
creating so-called interface 'adaptability.' Ensuing debates about
interface design seemed to indicate that a second panel on this topic would
be productive, and Chairs Laurie Beth Clark (University of Wisconsin) and
Alec MacLeod (California Institute of Integral Studies) are calling for
position papers for 'Interrogating Interfaces: Part 2.'

While the conference featured little art that would be as debatable as the
technically/formalistically-absorbed Ars Electronica software art of 2003
(albeit Zachary Lieberman's work was indeed featured at that conference),
the New Media Caucus panels and exhibition point to the idea that tensions
between art and technology are not quaint, that a hybrid 'third space' is
not easily defined, and that continuous dialogue is needed. In a spirit of
related inquiry, the new media exhibition called 'Soft Science' (in the new
ìArtSpaceî) featured works that might actually be considered 'low-tech' to
some, but high in critical content. Curator Rachel Mayeri explained that
she was interested in ìpeople who are the objects of their own experiments.'
The resulting DVD was screened at the conference and will be distributed by
Video Data Bank. The collection ranges from Peter Brinson's 'It Did It', a
fictional character's story before and after Brinson took Prozac, to Susan
Rynardís 'Bug Girl,' which showed a potential loss of a story-book-like
innocence as a young girl swallows a bee (and as we track it flying down her
system in x-ray-like graphics). Perhaps the most provocative piece was
created by curator Mayeri herself: 'Stories from the Genome' was a
satirical, playful, and unsettling look at our questionable understandings
of genetics, human cloning, psychoanalysis, and nature vs. nurture.

The New Media Caucus is currently calling for panel proposals for CAA 2006
(Boston) and for juried panel proposals for CAA 2007 (NYC), and is planning
exhibitions for both conferences. A peer-reviewed journal entitled Media-N
is being developed by Conrad Gleber (Florida State University), who is also
editor of the International Digital Media Arts Association Journal, and
Rachel Clarke (California State University, Sacramento). Realizing that new
media faculty can have difficulty gaining recognition for their
accomplishments on their way to tenure, a caucus task force is reviewing and
suggesting updates for CAA's 'Guidelines for Faculty Teaching Computer-Based
Media in Fine Art and Design' (published in 1995), which already articulates
issues regarding faculty hiring, workload, evaluation, and compensation for
faculty in computer-based media. New Media Caucus mentorships are also
being planned.

Concluding his 2003 article, Lev Manovich expressed optimism for the
legitimacy of new media as art, saying: 'At the end of the day, if new media
artists want their efforts to have a significant impact on cultural
evolution, they need to generate not only brilliant images or sounds but
more importantly, solid discourse.' If the CAA conference is any indication
of the kinds of exchanges that are possible regarding an intersection of
technology and culture, then let's, at least sometimes, call it art.


The New Media Caucus was founded in 2003 and currently lists 173 members.
New Media Caucus Web Site:
CAA 2006 Call For Session Proposals: Calls
for 2006 ArtSpace submissions and for Media-N will be forthcoming.

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Rhizome Digest is supported by grants from The Charles Engelhard
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the Visual Arts, and with public funds from the New York State Council
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Rhizome Digest is filtered by Kevin McGarry (kevin AT ISSN:
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