ryan griffis
Since 2002
Works in United States of America

Ryan Griffis currently teaches new media art at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He often works under the name Temporary Travel Office and collaborates with many other writers, artists, activists and interesting people in the Midwest Radical Culture Corridor.
The Temporary Travel Office produces a variety of services relating to tourism and technology aimed at exploring the non-rational connections existing between public and private spaces. The Travel Office has operated in a variety of locations, including Missouri, Chicago, Southern California and Norway.

Is MySpace a Place?

Networked Performance pointed me toward an interview (download in PDF)with Networked Publics speaker Henry Jenkins and Networked Publics friend danah boyd about Myspace. The site, popular with teenagers, has become increasingly controversial as parents and the press raise concerns about the openness of information on the site and the vulnerability this supposedly poses to predators (Henry points out that only .1% of abductions are by strangers) and the behavior of teens towards each other (certainly nothing new, only now in persistent form). In another essay on Identity Production in Networked Culture, danah suggests that Myspace is popular not only because the technology makes new forms of interaction possible, but because older hang-outs such as the mall and the convenience store are prohibiting teens from congregating and roller rinks and burger joints are disappearing.

This begs the question, is Myspace media or is it space? Architecture theorists have long had this thorn in their side. "This will kill that," wrote Victor Hugo with respect to the book and the building. In the early 1990s, concern about a dwindling public culture and the character of late twentieth century urban space led us to investigate Jürgen Habermas's idea of the public sphere. But the public sphere, for Habermas is a forum, something that, for the most part, emerges in media and in the institutions of the state:

The bourgeois public sphere may be conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public; they soon claimed the public sphere regulated from above against the public authorities themselves, to engage them in a debate over the general rules governing relations in the basically privatized but publicly relevant sphere of commodity exchange and social labor. The medium of this political confrontation was peculiar and without historical precedent: people's ...


SWITCH: Issue 22

Carlos Castellanos:

HI everyone. Just wanted to announce the new issue of SWITCH:

SWITCH : The online New Media Art Journal of the CADRE Laboratory for
New Media at San Jose State University

http://switch.sjsu.edu switch@cadre.sjsu.edu

SWITCH Journal is proud to announce the launch of Issue 22: A Special
Preview Edition to ISEA 2006/ ZeroOne San Jose.

As San Jose State University and the CADRE Laboratory are serving as
the academic host for the ZeroOne San Jose /ISEA 2006 Symposium,
SWITCH has dedicated itself to serving as an official media
correspondent of the Festival and Symposium. SWITCH has focused the
past three issues of publication prior to ZeroOne San Jose/ISEA2006
on publishing content reflecting on the themes of the symposium. Our
editorial staff has interviewed and reported on artists, theorists,
and practitioners interested in the intersections of Art & Technology
as related to the themes of ZeroOne San Jose/ ISEA 2006. While some
of those featured in SWITCH are part of the festival and symposium,
others provide a complimentary perspective.

Issue 22 focuses on the intersections of CADRE and ZeroOne San Jose/
ISEA 2006. Over the past year, students at the CADRE Laboratory for
New Media have been working intensely with artists on two different
residency projects for the festival – “Social Networking” with Antoni
Muntadas and the City as Interface Residency, “Karaoke Ice” with
Nancy Nowacek, Marina Zurkow & Katie Salen. Carlos Castellanos,
James Morgan, Aaron Siegel, all give us a sneak preview of their
projects which will be featured at the ISEA 2006 exhibition. Alumni
Sheila Malone introduces ex_XX:: post position, an exhibition
celebrating the 20th anniversary of the CADRE Institute that will run
as a parallel exhibition to ZeroOne San Jose/ ISEA 2006. LeE
Montgomery provides a preview of NPR (Neighborhood Public Radio)
presence at ...


Art & Mapping

The North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) has released a special issue of their journal, Cartographic Perspectives:
Art and Mapping Issue 53, Winter 2006 Edited by Denis Wood and and John Krygier Price: $25
The issue includes articles by kanarinka, Denis Wood, Dalia Varanka and John Krygier, and an extensive catalogue of map artists compiled by Denis Wood.


[-empyre-] Liquid Narrative for June 2006

Christina McPhee:

hi all, I am not sure we got this message out to Rhizome!

Please join our guests this month, Dene Grigar (US), Jim Barrett
(AU/SE), Lucio Santaella (BR), and Sergio Basbaum (BR) , with
moderator Marcus Bastos (BR), for a spirited discussion of "Liquid
Narratives" ----- digital media story telling with a dash, perhaps,
of 'aura' .

Here's the intro from Marcus:

The topic of June at the - empyre - mailing list will be Liquid Narratives. The concept of 'liquid narrative' is interesting in that it allows to think about the unfoldings of contemporary languages beyond tech achievements, by relating user controlled applications with formats such as the essay (as described by Adorno in "Der Essay als Form", The essay as a form) and procedures related to the figure of the narrator (as described by Benjamin in his writings about Nikolai Leskov). Both authors are accute critics of modern culture, but a lot of his ideas can be expanded towards contemporary culture. As a matter of fact, one of the main concerns in Benjamin's essay is a description of how the rise of modernism happens on account of an increasing nprivilege of information over knowledge, which is even more intense nowadays. To understand this proposal, it is important to remember how Benjamin distinguishes between an oral oriented knowledge, that results from 'an experience that goes from person to person' and is sometimes anonymous, from the information and authoritative oriented print culture. One of the aspects of this discussion is how contemporary networked culture rescues this 'person to person' dimension, given the distributed and non-authoritative procedures that technologies such as the GPS, mobile phones and others stimulate.


state of the planet infographics

a small collection of beautiful information graphics documenting the current state of the planet.
see also gapminder & 3d data globe.


Discussions (909) Opportunities (8) Events (16) Jobs (0)

From Tactical Media to Digital Multitudes, Lovink/Schneider

A Virtual World is Possible:
From Tactical Media to Digital Multitudes
By Geert Lovink and Florian Schneider


We start with the current strategy debates of the
so-called "anti-globalisation movement", the biggest
emerging political force for decades. In Part II we
will look into strategies of critical new media
culture in the post-speculative phase after
dotcommania. Four phases of the global movement are
becoming visible, all of which have distinct
political, artistic and aesthetic qualities.

1. The 90s and tactical media activism

The term 'tactical media' arose in the aftermath of
the fall of the Berlin Wall as a renaissance of media
activism, blending old school political work and
artists' engagement with new technologies. The early
nineties saw a growing awareness of gender issues,
exponential growth of media industries and the
increasing availability of cheap do-it-yourself
equipment creating a new sense of self-awareness
amongst activists, programmers, theorists, curators
and artists. Media were no longer seen as merely tools
for the Struggle, but experienced as virtual
environments whose parameters were permanently 'under
construction'. This was the golden age of tactical
media, open to issues of aesthetics and
experimentation with alternative forms of story
telling. However, these liberating techno practices
did not immediately translate into visible social
movements. Rather, they symbolized the celebration of
media freedom, in itself a great political goal. The
media used - from video, CD-ROM, cassettes, zines and
flyers to music styles such as rap and techno - varied
widely, as did the content. A commonly shared feeling
was that politically motivated activities, be they art
or research or advocacy work, were no longer part of a
politically correct ghetto and could intervene in 'pop
culture' without necessarily having to compromise with
the 'system.' With everything up for negotiation, new
coalitions could be formed. The current movements
worldwide cannot be understood outside of the diverse
and often very personal for digital freedom of

2. 99-01: The period of big mobilizations

By the end of the nineties the post-modern 'time
without movements' had come to pass. The organized
discontent against neo-liberalism, global warming
policies, labour exploitation and numerous other
issues converged. Equipped with networks and
arguments, backed up by decades of research, a hybrid
movement - wrongly labelled by mainstream media as
'anti-globalisation' - gained momentum. One of the
particular features of this movement lies in its
apparent inability and unwillingness to answer the
question that is typical of any kind of movement on
the rise or any generation on the move: what's to be
done? There was and there is no answer, no alternative
- either strategic or tactical - to the existing world
order, to the dominant mode of globalisation.

And maybe this is the most important and liberating
conclusion: there is no way back to the twentieth
century, the protective nation state and the gruesome
tragedies of the 'left.' It has been good to remember
- but equally good to throw off - the past. The
question 'what's to be done' should not be read as an
attempt to re-introduce some form of Leninist
principles. The issues of strategy, organization and
democracy belong to all times. We neither want to
bring back old policies through the backdoor, nor do
we think that this urgent question can be dismissed by
invoking crimes committed under the banner of Lenin,
however justified such arguments are. When Slavoj
Zizek looks in the mirror he may see Father Lenin, but
that's not the case for everyone. It is possible to
wake up from the nightmare of the past history of
communism and (still) pose the question: what's to be
done? Can a 'multitude' of interests and backgrounds
ask that question, or is the only agenda that defined
by the summit calendar of world leaders and the
business elite?

Nevertheless, the movement has been growing rapidly.
At first sight it appears to use a pretty boring and
very traditional medium: the mass-mobilization of tens
of thousands in the streets of Seattle, hundreds of
thousands in the streets of Genoa. And yet, tactical
media networks played an important role in it's coming
into being. From now on pluriformity of issues and
identities was a given reality. Difference is here to
stay and no longer needs to legitimize itself against
higher authorities such as the Party, the Union or the
Media. Compared to previous decades this is its
biggest gain. The 'multitudes' are not a dream or some
theoretical construct but a reality.

If there is a strategy, it is not contradiction but
complementary existence. Despite theoretical
deliberations, there is no contradiction between the
street and cyberspace. The one fuels the other.
Protests against the WTO, neo-liberal EU policies, and
party conventions are all staged in front of the
gathered world press. Indymedia crops up as a parasite
of the mainstream media. Instead of having to beg for
attention, protests take place under the eyes of the
world media during summits of politicians and business
leaders, seeking direct confrontation. Alternatively,
symbolic sites are chosen such as border regions
(East-West Europe, USA-Mexico) or refugee detention
centres (Frankfurt airport, the centralized Eurocop
database in Strasbourg, the Woomera detention centre
in the Australian desert). Rather than just objecting
to it, the global entitlement of the movement adds to
the ruling mode of globalisation a new layer of
globalisation from below.

3. Confusion and resignation after 9-11

At first glance, the future of the movement is a
confusing and irritating one. Old-leftist grand
vistas, explaining US imperialism and its aggressive
unilateralist foreign policy, provided by Chomsky,
Pilger and other baby boomers are consumed with
interest but no longer give the bigger picture. In a
polycentric world conspiracy theories can only provide
temporary comfort for the confused. No moralist
condemnation of capitalism is necessary as facts and
events speak for themselves. People are driven to the
street by the situation, not by an analysis (neither
ours nor the one from Hardt & Negri). The few
remaining leftists can no longer provide the movement
with an ideology, as it works perfectly without one.
"We don't need your revolution." Even the social
movements of the 70s and 80s, locked up in their NGO
structures, have a hard time keeping up. New social
formations are taking possession of the streets and
media spaces, without feeling the need of
representation by some higher authority, not even the
heterogenous committees gathering in Porto Alegre.

So far this movement has been bound in clearly defined
time/space coordinates. It still takes months to
mobilize multitudes and organize the logistics, from
buses and planes, camping grounds and hostels, to
independent media centres. This movement is anything
but spontaneous (and does not even claim to be so).
The people that travel hundreds or thousands of miles
to attend protest rallies are driven by real concerns,
not by some romantic notion of socialism. The worn-out
question: "reform or revolution?" sounds more like
blackmail to provoke the politically correct answer.

The contradiction between selfishness and altruism is
also a false one. State-sponsored corporate
globalisation affects everyone. International bodies
such as the WTO, the Kyoto Agreement on global
warming, or the privatisation of the energy sector are
no longer abstract news items, dealt with by
bureaucrats and (NGO) lobbyists. This political
insight has been the major quantum leap of recent
times. Is this then the Last International? No. There
is no way back to the nation state, to traditional
concepts of liberation, the logic of transgression and
transcendence, exclusion and inclusion. Struggles are
no longer projected onto a distant Other that begs for
our moral support and money. We have finally arrived
in the post-solidarity age. As a consequence, national
liberation movements have been replaced by a by a new
analysis of power, which is simultaneously incredibly
abstract, symbolic and virtual, whilst terribly
concrete, detailed and intimate.

4. Present challenge: liquidate the regressive third
period of marginal moral protest

Luckily September 11 has had no immediate impact on
the movement. The choice between Bush and Bin Laden
was irrelevant. Both agendas were rejected as
devastating fundamentalisms. The all too obvious
question: "whose terror is worse?" was carefully
avoided as it leads away from the pressing emergencies
of everyday life: the struggle for a living wage,
decent public transport, health care, water, etc. As
both social democracy and really existing socialism
depended heavily on the nation state a return to the
20thcentury sounds as disastrous as all the
catastrophes it produced. The concept of a digital
multitude is fundamentally different and based
entirely on openness. Over the last few years the
creative struggles of the multitudes have produced
outputs on many different layers: the dialectics of
open sources, open borders, open knowledge. Yet the
deep penetration of the concepts of openness and
freedom into the principle of struggle is by no means
a compromise to the cynical and greedy neo-liberal
class. Progressive movements have always dealt with a
radical democratisation of the rules of access,
decision-making and the sharing of gained capacities.
Usually it started from an illegal or illegitimate
common ground. Within the bounds of the analogue world
it led to all sorts of cooperatives and self-organized
enterprises, whose specific notions of justice were
based on efforts to circumvent the brutal regime of
the market and on different ways of dealing with the
scarcity of material resources.

We're not simply seeking proper equality on a digital
level. We're in the midst of a process that
constitutes the totality of a revolutionary being, as
global as it is digital. We have to develop ways of
reading the raw data of the movements and struggles
and ways to make their experimental knowledge legible;
to encode and decode the algorithms of its
singularity, nonconformity and non-confoundability; to
invent, refresh and update the narratives and images
of a truly global connectivity; to open the source
code of all the circulating knowledge and install a
virtual world.

Bringing these efforts down to the level of production
challenges new forms of subjectivity, which almost
necessarily leads to the conclusion that everyone is
an expert. The superflux of human resources and the
brilliance of everyday experience get dramatically
lost in the 'academification' of radical left theory.
Rather the new ethical-aesthetic paradigm lives on in
the pragmatic consciousness of affective labour, in
the nerdish attitude of a digital working class, in
the omnipresence of migrant struggles as well as many
other border-crossing experiences, in deep notions of
friendship within networked environments as well as
the 'real' world.


Let's now look at strategies for Internet art &
activism. Critical new media culture faces a tough
climate of budget cuts in the cultural sector and a
growing hostility and indifference towards new media.
But hasn't power shifted to cyberspace, as Critical
Art Ensemble once claimed? Not so if we look at the
countless street marches around the world.

The Seattle movement against corporate globalisation
appears to have gained momentum - both on the street
and online. But can we really speak of a synergy
between street protests and online 'hacktivism'? No.
But what they have in common is their (temporal)
conceptual stage. Both real and virtual protests risk
getting stuck at the level of a global 'demo design,'
no longer grounded in actual topics and local
situations. This means the movement never gets out of
beta. At first glance, reconciling the virtual and the
real seems to be an attractive rhetorical act. Radical
pragmatists have often emphasized the embodiment of
online networks in real-life society, dispensing with
the real/virtual contradiction. Net activism, like the
Internet itself, is always hybrid, a blend of old and
new, haunted by geography, gender, race and other
political factors. There is no pure disembodied zone
of global communication, as the 90s cyber-mythology

Equations such as street plus cyberspace, art meets
science, and 'techno-culture'are all interesting
interdisciplinary approaches but are proving to have
little effect beyond the symbolic level of dialogue
and discourse. The fact is that established
disciplines are in a defensive mode. The 'new'
movements and media are not yet mature enough to
question and challenge the powers that be. In a
conservative climate, the claim to 'embody the future'
becomes a weak and empty gesture.

On the other hand, the call of many artists and
activists to return to "real life" does not provide us
with a solution to how alternative new media models
can be raised to the level of mass (pop) culture. Yes,
street demonstrations raise solidarity levels and lift
us up from the daily solitude of one-way media
interfaces. Despite September 11 and its right-wing
political fallout, social movements worldwide are
gaining importance and visibility. We should, however,
ask the question "what comes after the demo version"
of both new media and the movements?

This isn't the heady 60s. The negative, pure and
modernist level of the "conceptual" has hit the hard
wall of demo design as Peter Lunenfeld described it in
his book 'Snap to Grid'. The question becomes: how to
jump beyond the prototype? What comes after the siege
of yet another summit of CEOs and their politicians?
How long can a movement grow and stay 'virtual'? Or in
IT terms, what comes after demo design, after the
countless PowerPoint presentations, broadband trials
and Flash animations? Will Linux ever break out of the
geek ghetto? The feel-good factor of the open, ever
growing crowd (Elias Canetti) will wear out; demo
fatigue will set in. We could ask: does your Utopia
version have a use-by date?

Rather than making up yet another concept it is time
to ask the question of how software, interfaces and
alternative standards can be installed in society.
Ideas may take the shape of a virus, but society can
hit back with even more successful immunization
programs: appropriation, repression and neglect. We
face a scalability crisis. Most movements and
initiatives find themselves in a trap. The strategy of
becoming "minor" (Guattari) is no longer a positive
choice but the default option. Designing a successful
cultural virus and getting millions of hits on your
weblog will not bring you beyond the level of a
short-lived 'spectacle'. Culture jammers are no longer
outlaws but should be seen as experts in guerrilla

Today's movements are in danger of getting stuck in
self-satisfying protest mode. With access to the
political process effectively blocked, further
mediation seems the only available option. However,
gaining more and more "brand value" in terms of global
awareness may turn out to be like overvalued stocks:
it might pay off, it might turn out to be worthless.
The pride of "We have always told you so" is boosting
the moral of minority multitudes, but at the same time
it delegates legitimate fights to the level of
official "Truth and Reconciliation Commissions" (often
parliamentary or Congressional), after the damage is

Instead of arguing for "reconciliation" between the
real and virtual we call here for a rigorous synthesis
of social movements with technology. Instead of taking
the "the future is now" position derived from
cyber-punk, a lot could be gained from a radical
re-assessment of the techno revolutions of the last
10-15 years. For instance, if artists and activists
can learn anything from the rise and subsequent fall
of dot-com, it might be the importance of marketing.
The eyeballs of the dotcom attention economy proved

This is a terrain is of truly taboo knowledge.
Dot-coms invested their entire venture capital in (old
media) advertisement. Their belief that
media-generated attention would automatically draw
users in and turn them into customers was unfounded.
The same could be said of activist sites. Information
"forms" us. But new consciousness results less and
less in measurable action. Activists are only starting
to understand the impact of this paradigm. What if
information merely circles around in its own parallel
world? What's to be done if the street demonstration
becomes part of the Spectacle?

The increasing tensions and polarizations described
here force us to question the limits of new media
discourse. In the age of realtime global events Ezra
Pound's definition of art as the antenna of the human
race shows its passive, responsive nature. Art no
longer initiates. One can be happy if it responds to
contemporary conflicts at all and the new media arts
sector is no exception. New media arts must be
reconciled with its condition as a special effect of
the hard and software developed years ago.

Critical new media practices have been slow to respond
to both the rise and fall of dotcommania. In the
speculative heydays of new media culture (the
early-mid 90s, before the rise of the World Wide Web),
theorists and artists jumped eagerly on not yet
existing and inaccessible technologies such as virtual
reality. Cyberspace generated a rich collection of
mythologies; issues of embodiment and identity were
fiercely debated. Only five years later, while
Internet stocks were going through the roof, little
was left of the initial excitement in intellectual and
artistic circles. Experimental techno culture missed
out on the funny money. Recently there has been a
steady stagnation of new media cultures, both in terms
of concepts and funding. With millions of new users
flocking onto the Net, the arts can no longer keep up
and withdraw into their own little world of festivals,
mailing lists and workshops.

Whereas new media arts institutions, begging for
goodwill, still portray artists as working at the
forefront of technological developments, the reality
is a different one. Multi-disciplinary goodwill is at
an all time low. At best, the artist's new media
products are 'demo design' as described by Lunenfeld.
Often it does not even reach that level. New media
arts, as defined by its few institutions rarely reach
audiences outside of its own electronic arts
subculture. The heroic fight for the establishment of
a self-referential 'new media arts system' through a
frantic differentiation of works, concepts and
traditions, might be called a dead-end street. The
acceptance of new media by leading museums and
collectors will simply not happen. Why wait a few
decades anyway? Why exhibit net art in white cubes?
The majority of the new media organizations such as
ZKM, the Ars Electronica Centre, ISEA, ICC or ACMI are
hopeless in their techno innocence, being neither
critical nor radically utopian in their approach.
Hence, the new media arts sector, despite its steady
growth, is getting increasingly isolated, incapable of
addressing the issues of today's globalised world,
dominated by (the war against) terror. Let's face it,
technology is no longer 'new,' the markets are down
and out and no one wants know about it anymore. Its
little wonder the contemporary (visual) arts world is
continuing its decade-old boycott of (interactive) new
media works in galleries, biennales and shows like
Documenta XI.

A critical reassessment of the role of arts and
culture within today's network society seems
necessary. Let's go beyond the 'tactical' intentions
of the players involved. The artist-engineer,
tinkering on alternative human-machine interfaces,
social software or digital aesthetics has effectively
been operating in a self-imposed vacuum. Science and
business have successfully ignored the creative
community. Worse still, artists have been actively
sidelined in the name of 'usability', pushed by a
backlash movement against web design led by the
IT-guru Jakob Nielsen. The revolt against usability is
about to happen. Lawrence Lessig argues that Internet
innovation is in danger. The younger generation is
turning its back onon new media arts questions and if
involved at all, operate as anti-corporate activists.
After the dotcom crash the Internet has rapidly lost
its imaginative attraction. File swapping and cell
phones can only temporarily fill up the vacuum; the
once so glamorous gadgets are becoming part of
everyday life. This long-term tendency, now
accelerating, seriously undermines future claims of
new media.

Another issue concerns generations. With video and
expensive interactive installations being the domain
of the '68 baby boomers, the generation of '89 has
embraced the free Internet. But the Net turned out to
be a trap for them. Whereas assets, positions and
power remain in the hands of the ageing baby boomers,
the gamble on the rise of new media did not pay off.
After venture capital has melted away, there is still
no sustainable revenue system in place for the
Internet. The slow working educational bureaucracies
have not yet grasped the new media malaise.
Universities are still in the process of establishing
new media departments. But that will come to a halt at
some point. The fifty-something tenured chairs and
vice-chancellors must feel good about their persistent
sabotage. What's so new about new media anyway?
Technology was hype after all, promoted by the
criminals of Enron and WorldCom. It is sufficient for
students to do a bit of email and web surfing,
safeguarded within a filtered, controlled intranet. In
the face of this rising techno-cynicism we urgently
need to analyse the ideology of the greedy 90s and its
techno-libertarianism. If we don't disassociate new
media quickly from the previous decade, the isolation
of the new media sector will sooner or later result in
its death. Let's transform the new media buzz into
something more interesting altogether - before others
do it for us.

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Biotech updates

The following are news stories from NERAGE
biotechnology newswire.

The following stories and events were posted to the
www.neRAGE.org on
biotechnology newswire over the last 7 days. You too
can post, comment, and search for some of the latest
information on
biotechnology. Stop by, add your stories, read, add
to our calendar and more!

Monsanto Submits Petition For Deregulation of GE Wheat

India Rejects GMO Food Aid

US: Washington Joins Oregon in GE Fish Ban

The Odd Couple: Biotechnology and the Media

Substantial equivalence--an appropriate paradigm for
the safety
assessment of

Biofarming Creates Unlikely Allies

Nestle claims


Wark's response to Lovink/Schneider

Re: From Tactical Media to Digital Multitudes
Response by McKenzie Wark From: McKenzie Wark
To: nettime-l@bbs.thing.net
Subject: Re: <nettime> From Tactical Media to Digital
Date: Sat, 02 Nov 2002 01:26:33 -0500
Lovink and Schneider ask the right question in 'A
Virtual World is Possible'. What is to be done?
Unfortunately, they have not done it. Yes, there is a
need for a political position outside of the dialectic
of the street and cyberspace. Yes, there is a need for
a new position for new media outside of the dialectic
of the media market and the art market. And yes, the
place to look is in deconstructing the
techno-libertarian ideologies of the 90s. But what is
required at this juncture is a tool with which to
prise it open to discover how it worked.

He was wrong about a lot of things, but Marx did
enjoin us to ask what he called "the property
question", and insisted that it was where the critical
spirit begins and ends. And what if we ask the
"property question" of the jumble of symptoms with
which Lovink & Schneider confront us? The network of
power starts to reveal itself more clearly.

Did the new movements arise out of thin air? Or did
they arise out of a new stage in the development of
the commodity economy? At both the level of the tools
it had at its disposal, and the range of issues it
confronted, the new movement confronts a new class
power. Only rarely is this class power named and
identified at an abstract level. The symptoms of its
(mis)rule have been charted by brave advocates and
actvists. But we are all merely blind folks touching
different parts of an elephant and trying to describe
the totality from the detail we sense before us, in
our fragment of everyday life.

So let's ask the property question of all the
fragments of resistance that appear to us in everyday
life. Start in the underdeveloped world. How is it
possible that the productive engines of commodity
society find themselves shipped, by and large, out of
the overdeveloped world and into the under- dveloped
world? What new power makes it possible to consign the
manufacturing level of production to places deprived
of technical and knowledge infrastructure? A new
division of labour makes it possible to cut the mere
making of things off from all of their other
properties. The research, design and marketing will
remain, on the whole, in the over- developed world,
and will be protected by a new and increasingly global
regime of property, intellectual property. As for the
rest, whole continents can compete for dubious honour
of mere manufacturing.

What makes this separation possible is at one and the
same time a legal and a technical distinction.
Information emerges as a separate realm, a world apart
as Lovink has perceptively argued for some time. But
he has not stopped to inquire is to how or why, and
without first asking how or why we cannot get far with
the big question,: what is to be done. So let's look
closely at the way the development of a *vectoral*
technology has made possible a relative separation
from its materiality. Which is not to say that
information is immaterial. Rather, it has an
*abstract* relation to the material. It no longer
matters to its integrity as information whether it is
embodied in this cd-rom or that flashcard or that
stack of paper.

A virtual world is indeed possible, precisely because
of this coming into existence of abstract information.
But what is information? The product of a labor of
encoding and decoding. Just as the commodity economy
made manual labor abstract in the machine age, so too
it has made intellectual labor abstract in the
information age.

But the virtual world finds itself constrained by a
form of property alien to it. No longer confine to a
particular materiality, information really does yearn
to be free. But it is not free, it is everywhere in
chains. It is forced into the constraint of a very new
creation -- intellectual property. On the ruins of the
commons that copyright and patent were once supposed
to guarrantee arises an absolute privatisation of
information as property.

And so, with a whole new -- virtual -- continent to
claim as its own, class power finds a new basis, and
remakes that other world, the everyday world, in its
image. The abstraction of information from materiality
as a legal and technical possibility becomes the shape
of the world. A world in which the mere embodiment of
a concept in a commodity can be consigned to bidding
wars between the desperate.

This bifurcation affects both the agricultural and the
manufacturing economies. The patents on seed stocks
are of a piece with the copyrights on designer logos.
Both are a means by which a new class power asserts
its place in the world, based not on the ownership of
land or of physical maunfacturing plant, but in the
concepts and designs on which the world will be set to

In the overdeveloped world, one discovers symptoms of
the same emerging totality. Workers in manufacturing
struggle to hang on to jobs in an economy that they
alone are no longer the only ones equipped to do. So
called 'state monopoly capital' is a mere husk of its
former self. The emerging class interest has a very
different relation to the state.

Meanwhile, there are the various phenomena of the 'new
economy'. While the bubble may have burst, there is a
risk in too low an evaluation of the significance of
the media and communication revolution as an over
reaction to the excessive optimism of the 90s. Just as
railways and the telegraph created a boom and bust,
but also created an enduring geography of economic and
strategic power, so too has the latest, digital, phase
in the development of the vector.

One should not right off the military dimension to the
new class power quite as readily as Lovink and
Schneider do, either. On the one hand it is the old
oil-power politics. But there is a new dimension, a
new confidence in the ability to use the new vectoral
military technologies as a cheap and efficient way of
achieving global redistirbutions of power. The same
abstraction of information from materiality that
happens in technology and is sanctioned by
intellectual property law is happening in military
technology. The military wing of the new class
interest wants a 'new' new world order to ratify its

This is not your grandparents ruling class we are
confronting here. It is a new entity, or a new entity
in formation. Perhaps it is a new fraction of capital.
Perhaps it is a new kind of ruling class altogether.
Remember, there have been two, not one but two, phases
to rule in the commodity econmy era. It has already
passed through an agricultural and a manufacturing
phase. In each case it developed out of the a
distictive step in the abstraction of property law.
First came the privatisation of land, and out of it a
landlord class. Then came the privatisation of
productive resources, a more mobile, labile kind of
property, and a new ruling class -- the capitalist
class proper. And perhaps, with the emergence of the
new global regime of intellectual property, we witness
the emergence of a new ruling class, what I would call
the vectoralist class.

As each ruling class is based on a more abstract form
of property, and a more flexible kind of vector, than
its predecessor, its mode of ruling also becomes more
abstract, more intangible. Its ideologues would love
to persuade us that the ruling class no longer even
exists. And yet its handiwork are everywhere, in the
subordination of the underdeveloped world to new
regimes of slavery, to the slow motion implosion of
maunfacturing economy in the overdeveloped world, to
the deployment of ever faster, ever sleeker vectors
along which ever more abstract flows of information
shuttle, making the world over in the abstract image
of the commodity.

And what is to be done? One does not confront the new
abstract totality with rhetorics of multiplicity
alone. Rather, one looks for the abstraction at work
in the world that is capable of producing such a
multiplicity of everyday experiences of frustration,
boredom and suffering. One asks the property question,
and in asking it is lef toward a practice that
constitutes the answer.

This is where so-called new media art has proven to be
both so useful at times, but so willing to cooperate
in its own cooptation. When artists explore not just
the technology, but its property dimension as well,
then they create work that has the capacity to point
beyond the privatisation of information that forms the
basis of the power of the vectoral class. The new
media art that matters is counter-vectoral. It offers
itself as a tool for prising open the privatisation of

"Information merely circles in a parallel world of its
own", as Lovink and Schneider say, precisely because
of the abstraction it undergoes when it becomes
vectoral. The counter-vectoral reconnects information
to the multiplicity by freeing it from the
straightjacket of private property. Indeed, there can
be no talk of 'multitude' until this aspect of its
existence is properly understood. Multitudes do not
exist independently of their means of communication.
The freeing of that means of communication from the
abstraction of the commodity form is the necessary
step towards realising the counter-abstraction that is
latent in the formal concept of the multitude. A
virtual world -- virtual in the true sense -- is
indeed possible. It is what is to be done.
McKenzie Wark
see also:
A hacker manifesto

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XBox Hackers Throw in the Towel

XBox Hackers Throw in the Towel
Wed Jan 8, 9:00 AM ET

Peter Sayer, IDG News Service

The Neo Project, a group of distributed computing
enthusiasts, has abandoned its attempt to crack an
encryption key used to digitally sign software for
Microsoft's Xbox (news - web sites) video game
console, after just four days.

Many hackers are searching for ways to run their own
software on the Xbox, but so far they have been
thwarted by a security mechanism in the console that
only allows applications to run if they are digitally
signed with Microsoft's 2048-bit private encryption
key, according to one such group, the Xbox Linux

On January 3, The Neo Project posted code on its Web
site that would allow supporters to use their PC's
idle time to participate in a search for Microsoft's
private encryption key using distributed computing
techniques. Distributed computing breaks down complex
calculations into many simple tasks that can be run in
parallel on a network of computers.
Change of Heart

The next day, The Neo Project posted a notice on its
home page saying that if the Xbox project was found to
be illegal, or if the group was approached by
Microsoft, "We will be ditching the Xbox project all
together as we cannot afford the legal fees,"
according to an archive copy of the page held in the
cache of the search engine Google (news - external web

By January 7, The Neo Project's home page had changed
to read "Due to legal reasons, we will no longer be
hosting or participating in the Xbox challenge," and
the application containing the code to crack the Xbox
key was no longer available for download from the

The organizers of The Neo Project could not
immediately be reached for comment.
Cracking Code

Many distributed-computing projects have sprung up to
respond to challenges issued by encryption and
security system vendors to solve arbitrary
cryptographic problems by brute force. Hundreds of
thousands of dollars in prize money are available to
those who are first to crack the codes. The vendors
gain because they are able to demonstrate that it can
take months of work by thousands of computers in order
to crack a single key.

The Neo Project began life last July as an attempt to
crack the $10,000 RSA-576 Factoring Challenge,
sponsored by RSA Security, before turning its
attention in January to Microsoft's real-life
application of the same algorithm.

Project supporters expressed mixed feelings in the
group's online discussion forum about the search for
the Xbox key. One member, signing their message
"Guspaz," said they had joined the project solely to
participate in the search for the key. "I'm saddened
by the Neo project's lack of resolve. (...)," the
member said. "Hopefully someone else will have the
balls to put up a DC [distributed computing] network
and stick with it."

Another, "Nemaroller," thought it was "a brilliant
move to discontinue the project," saying it was
nonconstructive and at the expense of a company that
was trying to protect the investment of billions of
dollars of its stockholders' money.

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a simplistic theory that doesn't deal much with
detroit's problems, but...

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