Here is my dillemma. It's not about money- the five dollars is nothing.
On the one hand:
1. I have already used Rhizome to promote my own work to a large audience.
2. The majority of my "publicity" for new works seems to descend from
announcing it on rhizome.
On the other hand:
1. I have never been paid [or even offerred to be paid] for my numerous
contributions to Rhizome, which have included interviews and essays
which have gone on to be published elsewhere [my interview with michael
daines, or my "zen and the art of ascii" essay] even though that I know
others have been "commissioned" to write pieces for rhizome. Since I
feel like a major contributor (and I have been told by some that I am a
major reason that they are on rhizome to begin with) I often wonder what
it is exactly that I get out of rhizome- but also what it is that
rhizome gets out of me, and whether my own inclusion is worth five
dollars to rhizome.
As of late, I've been posting my better texts to other lists instead of
this one- syndicate, empyre, and thingist- to gauge a response to them,
and the end result has been similar- there is more discussion of new
media on syndicate than there is on rhizome, which has turned into the
navel-gazing cafeteria for defensive psycholanalysis- and it's not just
Karei, it's the entire list- recently there has been an upsurge in meaty
dialogue, but I don't have a lot of faith in it staying that way.
2. I have problems with what I see as a hypocritical personal
detatchment towards the list from the administration, who has long held
the view that the list is only a small part of the community whereas the
website is the greatest asset. What I don't understand is how they are
seperate, since everything on the website originates on the mailing list
to begin with- which is also why the aforementioned slide into defensive
psychoanalysis is worrisome. There's also a sense of populism vs
academic credibility that comes through, and this comes back to the
commissioned texts and artworks coming out of rhizome. While it veers
towards an alledged pop sensibility [Mark Tribe's recent statements
against exclusivity to the artbase, for example] it is also decidedly
exclusive as far as who gets paid and who gets promoted. A major factor
in this was the rhizome grants, which were awarded by people with little
to no actual interest or particpation in the rhizome community. I found
the response to my complaints on this matter patronizing and ripe with
weasel words with no real steps taken towards opening up the selection
process, which I am afraid to say, I find to be the case more and more
when dealing with the rhizome admins one on one. Whether this is a
private issue or a widespread one remains to be seen, I suppose.
3. I have had issues as former superuser which included chastisements
for inactivity based on the "work" involved in maintaining a superuser
who doesn't "contribute" [I didn't publish texts to the webpage because
I had a browser compatibility issue with rhizome's interface.] There's
an opportunity for streamlined efficiency, I would guess, in allowing an
inactive user's status to remain the same, as opposed to the unneccesary
housekeeping of user removal- particularly when a user is an active
contributor in other areas. What seemed to happen is: I was asked why I
didn't publish anything, I complained about a very real user bug in the
interface, and I was asked to leave my position as a superuser, as
opposed to having the compatibility issue worked out. Since it is a
voluntary position, I don't see how quotas can be imposed on any given
interested user who shows a refined judgement in what gets published and
4. I find the mandate of rhizome to be extraordinarily muddy. I don't
know what Rhizome stands for, or why it stands for it. It has an
identity crisis: Is it a resource? Then what are the resources? Is it a
community? Then why the inattention to the community, who makes up that
community, and if it is a rhizomatic community, then why are some
members more valued for thier status than others? Is it an archive for
new media? Then why is the site not designed around that purpose in the
first place? If the mandate of rhizome is to provide a resource for
understanding new media, how did the website get so segmented to begin
with? Shouldn't it have naturally evolved into something in which cross
referencing texts with art would be easy and neccesary? The answer seems
to have been "We don't have the money now" but what about in 1997, 98,
99, 00, 01? What is rhizome? What is it that I am paying for? I don't
really know the answer to that. I don't know what the vision for rhizome
is, or if it even has a vision- Mark Tribe is talking in interviews
about getting away from rhizome anyway. Alex has already left. Whose
vision is rhizome, and where is it going? Who else is seeing it?
5. Do I really want to support a community that can't even hack up a
"best of/trends seen" discussion at the end of any given year?
These are my concerns. The reason I don't just give the five dollars is
because I have asked myself honestly if it matters to me if Rhizome is
here in five years. The answer is that I don't know if it matters. Would
something more interesting spring up in its place? If rhizome was gone,
would it make for a more interesting time? What would replace it? Is it
time to just let rhizome die, and make way for something new? I think
maybe it is.
I'd love it if something came up that, as I said in previous posts,
actually endeavored to bring net.art to a wide audience, instead of the
circle of usual suspects that rhizome caters to. In this sense I think
rhizome has shot itself in the foot and is stuck in a rut of academia,
ignoring a huge section of net.art that academia usually ignores [but
actually makes up a majority of the net.art scene] and refusing to speak
the language of accessibility. On the other hand, it makes up for this
by accepting everything remotely resembling html or flash to be
preserved for "historical significance" in the artbase [and if you
imagine for a moment that the seperation between these pieces and the
discussion of these pieces is intentional, you have the interesting
question of why. Why would a web site, after 6 years of touting itself
as an "online resource," still not have the infrastructure for
connecting art to the theory of the art? And furthermore, why can't that
be done in a way that makes it exciting? Is rhizome afraid to look excited?]
People may want to CC this for me to respond, as I may not be on the
list when it starts rejecting the non-contributors...Maybe I'll end up
on the other side eventually.
m e t a wrote:
>At 2:48 PM -0500 1/14/03, firstname.lastname@example.org
>>This is a reminder that our new membership policy takes effect tomorrow,
>>Wednesday, January 15. We value your membership and hope that you will
>>renew your membership by making a contribution of $5 or more today.
>i would be happy to pay for rhizome membership, provided :
>1. those whose works are included in the artbase are paid a commission.
>2. those whose works, writings, and commentaries are included in the weekly digest are paid for their inclusion.
>3. those whose works, writings, or projects appear on the rhizome website are compensated as well.
>my work has been included in a number of books and magazines.
>it is customary that when this occurs i am either paid,
>or at the very least receive a free copy of the publication.
>this is only fair - considering they are profiting in part from my work
>regardless of whether it was created especially for their publication or not.
>it is most unfair that you are being paid,
>while those who generate your content are not.
>+ ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup
>-> post: email@example.com
>-> questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
>-> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
>-> give: http://rhizome.org/support
>Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
>Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php