papers

Florian Cramer
Olga Goriunova

Florian Cramer
“Text” and “Network”, Reconsidered

The close affiliation of networks and texts does not begin with telegraphy or the Internet. It already lies in the very notion of text, since the Latin word “textus” literally means “the web”. And just like perceptions of the web tend be paranoid, as we know from Hollywood, “text” has triggered exuberant imagination. Written in 1941 and playing in the First World War, Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “The Garden of the Forking Path” tells of a Chinese German spy who murders a British sinologist named Stephen Albert for seemingly no good reason. His hidden intention is to convey the location of a British artillery park, a French city called Albert, to the German secret service reading British newspapers, their crime section included. The murder, in other words, solely serves the inscription of the word “Albert”, as if it were a combination of land art and body shock art, or a dark pun on Saussure’s theory of the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign.
As typically for Borges’ fiction, the compact linearity – or pulp drive – of the story is broken up by a fictitious text within the text. In “The Garden of the Forking Paths”, this fictitious text is a “chaotic novel” likewise called “The Garden of the Forking Paths”, but written not by Borges, but by a ficitious Chinese writer T’sui Pen. Similar to bifurcations in fractal geometry and quantum models of space and time, T’sui Pen’s novel tells all possible turns of its story at the same time, creating “various futures, various times which start others that will in their turn branch out and bifurcate in other times”.
This story was not only a prototype of post-structuralist text theory and later hypertext poetics, but its direct inspiration. In his 1963 essay “Le langage à l’infini”, Michel Foucault refers to a narrative loop in the tales of the 1001 Nights: In one night, Scheherezade begins to tell the story of the 1001 Nights, thus getting caught in infinite recursion. Yet unlike Foucault believes, that loop exists in no known version of the One Thousand and One Nights, but only as a fake reference in Borges’ short story of the “Garden of the Forking Paths”. Foucault mistook Borges’ philological fiction for face value, and that fiction took up a life of its own when other scholars started quoting Foucault.1 In 1991, Stuart Moulthrop adapted the “Garden of the Forking Paths” in an attempt of actually writing T’sui Pen’s branching novel as hypertext fiction. Both appropriations, Foucault’s and Moulthrop’s, miss to grasp Borges’ ironical sophistication whom novelist John Barth characterized in 1967 as a “Theseus in the Cretan labyrinth”: someone who reflects contingency and non-linearity – or, to use Lyotard’s later terminology, the postmodern sublime -, but ultimately conquers it in the closure of his own writing.
The paradox between dissemination and closure cannot only be found in Borges, but applies to all text. It is reflected in Saussure’s and Jakobson’s model of language as something constructed both vertically from a set of associative differences (paradigm) and horizontally as a linear sequence (syntagm). The meaning of “textus” as “the web” implies the same aporia of association and linearity.
[Borges reflects this in another short story, "The Library of Babel". Although he referred to the Renaissance ars combinatoria of Lull and Leibniz rather than to structuralist linguistics, it on the idea of writing as a set of differences within a total set of possible utterances. In the story, this system materializes as a library generated, according to the speculation of the first-person, by an exhaustive computational combinatorics of the alphabet. While the resulting text is given various and sometimes paranoid meanings by the humans who live inside the library, it is formally just data - data in a web of differences analogous to a set of patch files created with the Unix "diff" command. Links (a.k.a. cross-references) or meta tags (a.k.a. paratexts) aren't required to create those relations, but merely underline what is already related, given that any digital file can be can be diffed or data-mined against any other. Again, association and finality aren't contradictions, but paradoxical sides of the same coin.]
In that light, “hypertext” boils down to a pleonasm, since text contains “hyper”-structures by definition, or the World Wide Web can simply be seen as an update, perhaps even clarification of the term “text”.
Conceptual clarity hasn’t been the strong point of literary and cultural theories of text. Structuralist semiology greatly expanded the notion of text when Roland Barthes read all kinds of cultural phenomena including cars, beefsteaks and striptease dances as texts in his “Mythologies” and when Yury Lotman developed the concept of a text that encompassed all semiotic systems. While those readings were inspiring, they made the notion of “text” as fuzzy and undefined in the literal sense of having no boundaries and thus ultimately no meaning as, for example, the notion of “media”. Traditional philology on the other hand had, and still has, a hard time differentiating text from literature, and thus the notion of text from paper, books and semantic intentionality.
Among other virtues, computer technology, Shannon’s information theory and the Internet have one great benefit to the humanities: they have helped to get a better understanding of what a text is, how to separate text from meaning, and more generally what falls under the realm of “form” and what doesn’t. For example, structuralism still believed that metaphors were formal, but everyone who is computer literate knows that they are not. In other words: Since Leibniz, Lovelace, Turing and Shannon, but ultimately through personal computing we have learned to define syntax as what is fully computable and semantics as that which is not – unless one models it as syntax, within the known drastic limitations of so-called “artificial intelligence”. Informatics therfore provides no conclusive model of semantics, but a very clear one of text as everyone knows who is familiar with ASCII files and text streams over TCP/IP or Unix pipes. For computer-literates, it is trivial to abstract text as storage of symbols from semantics of writing. From this perspective, the question “what is text” is neither difficult, nor academic, but easy to answer with a simple formal definition: a an amount of discrete, in most cases alphanumeric symbols. 2
[This means that the notion of text is not bound to meaningful writing. Literary theory has struggled to grasp this although it's been illustrated before, in Dadaist poetry for example like Man Ray's poem out of blocked-out words. Nelson Goodman, an analytic philosopher, pioneered an informatics model of text in the humanities when he used the notion of analog and digital information in his book "The Languages of Art", and formally defined writing as disjunct and discrete.] Since, to refer to Levi-Strauss, Barthes and Lotman, neither a culture, nor a striptease or a beefsteak is a file made up of unambiguously discrete information elements, neither of them can be read as a text without oversimplifying the matter. And – to jump at my own conclusion – just as the paradigm of text has its limitations, “web” and network conversely have their own.
Read as network theory, Borges’ fiction juxtaposes network associations in its speculative imagination to network topology in its narrative closure. In other words, networks are characterized by the paradox of text extrapolated in Borges’ fiction: that network topologies are never networks in themselves. Any network, whether a network in mathematic graph theory or a communication network, can be mapped as and flattened to a linear structure. The complexity of any web can be broken down, in Borges’ terms, to a number of letters that spell a stinking corpse. (For the Internet, one might cite the five letters “ICANN”.) “To break down” is the literal meaning of analytics and deconstruction; so we’re not talking about reductionism, but critical theory. From such a critical and analytical perspective, networks are no counter-epistemology, but not that terribly different from hierarchical structures.
But there seems a more important lesson to be learned from text theory, its initial trouble to understand text syntactically, its later excesses of applying text to anything and a computer-literate understanding of text as data. The political issue is how terms become magic bullets, getting mapped onto other phenomena, and out of hand in that process. If the linguistic turn led into a trap – a “prisonhouse of language”, as Jameson calls it -, the same could be said about media theory, especially where it follows cybernetic paradigms without being aware of it.
The earliest modern theory of networks can be found in Ludwig von Bertalanffy’s General Systems Theory of the late 1940s. It was part of his grand project of interfacing hard sciences, social sciences and humanities, technology and art through a common set of descriptive notions, such as system, network, metabolism, openness and closure. Despite Bertalanffy’s humanist agenda, his project had a dialectical flip-side: mapping physics and biology onto culture, it conceived of the human world as an organism, a questionable concept passed on to Maturana’s and Varela’s radical constructivism and to chaos theory. Just as cybernetics is closely related to General Systems Theory, so are its issues. Focusing more specifically on human-machine interaction than on systems as a whole, cybernetics applied engineering concepts to humans and culture. That arts and humanities adopted McLuhan’s concept of media more enthusiastically than Wiener’s cybernetics may be rooted just in the latter’s blatant behaviorism. However, with the assumption that the medium is the message, that machines had their own agenda, media theory was hardly less problematic, and by the early 1990s had developed into a rehash of cybernetics.3
For sure, the approaches to media studies discussed here at this conference differ from older schools of media studies in that they are more skeptical about classical two-way models of feedback, stimulus and response and sender and receiver. Instead, they search for both more complex and less dogmatic models of communication and interaction. But they make the network their very emblem of that complexity and undogmatism, this is just another rehash of 1940s general systems theory which had defined networks as, quote, “organized complexity” – a continuity that should raise some eyebrows.
Not only can the supposed openness of networks be questioned if one breaks them down, like Borges’ fiction does, to its very linear bones. The network is just another cybernetic metaphor that seduces to conflate phenomena that any critical theory should rather differentiate: telecommunication switches from social networking, machine feedback from human interaction, computation from cognition, storage from memory, data from knowledge, syntax from semantics, and so on. The seemingly more critical, “rhizomatic” paradigm of the network does not change this logic, but merely its costume. (All the more, since the “rhizome” is a blatant biologism and vitalist figure of thought in itself.)
There’s no doubt that machine logic and human practices do intersect, and that the Internet is a rich zone of their ambiguity; an ambiguity that continues to be highly productive for the fantastic imagination of Science Fiction novels, David Cronenberg movies, chat bots, net.art and codeworks, to name a few examples. But why is it a problematic figure of thought for critical theory? C.P. Snow’s claim of the two cultures, humanities versus sciences, should be given a second thought as a sensible tool of differentiation; and indeed I would like to argue in favor of a network theory that clearly locates itself in the humanities and cultural studies rather than faking scientific formalisms, simulating scientific interdisciplinarity and ultimately ending up as history of science and technology.4 If semantic interpretation remains out of reach for computation and formal logic, it means the humanities are needed just as what Wilhelm Dilthey defined them in 1883: hermeneutic disciplines. Such humanities theory fashions as structuralism, analytic philosophy, cybernetic aesthetics and technical media theory never produced more than pretensions of hard scientific methods, adapting the latter’s rhetoric without actually adopting their methods of formal proofs and quod erat demonstranda. So they ultimately produced what they had been opposed to, hermeneutic interpretations.
Failing to acknowledge crucial methodological differences to hard sciences, and suffering from a lingering inferiority complex or just buying into the hipness of technology, cultural studies often enough given up resistence to techno-positivist figures of thought. For example, a media studies scholar and cultural critic might consider it intellectually inspiring and provocative to reason about the “signal-noise ratio” of a mailing list. But for information theory and cybernetics, this terminology is neither a provocation, nor a metaphorical word play at all, but a no-nonsense superimposition of statistical formalisms onto cultural semantics. In the design of content filters for example, with all their problematic implications, this formalism is applied every day. If the role of critical humanities should be to critically take apart mappings of technological formalisms onto culture rather than indulge in them, then most media theory and criticism has been a blatant failure. Whatever media theory one takes, it continues to buy into all kinds of hypes and problematic cybernetic identifications; no matter whether they’re more questionably called “artificial life” or go under cozier terms like “networking”.
Literary studies tended to glorify the notion of text once they had turned into text theory. Art history tends to worship the image now that it has turned into visual studies. Both defend texts, respectively pictures, as inherently “good” and try to make each of them the master trope of all cultural theory. As a simultaneous outgrowth of media theory and Internet culture, Network studies runs similar inherent risks. A new network theory therefore needs to be a critical network theory, be built on the insight that networks – and the Internet – are neither good or bad per se, nor universal models and descriptors of culture.
Feedback is not interaction, computation is not cognition, storage is not memory, data is not knowledge, telecommunication switches are not social networking. The cybernetic mapping is not the cultural territory. But this mapping is blatantly political and ideological in itself. We need a new network theory indeed: one that takes apart those identifications. Rather than taking all phenomena that get marketed as “networks” for face value, it would have to analyze and criticize the terminological webs and networks that are spun in between them.

Footnotes:
1hart-nibbrig:spiegelschrift
2Nothing more, nothing less, with no defined or implied materiality of paper or books. An example of a non-alphanumeric text would be a classical musical score, while performed music would not be a text when it is not performed as symbols, but as sound waves.
3As Claus Pias’ recent research has shown.
4A problem of the contemporary German and continental European humanities and media studies in particular.

Olga Goriunova
Towards a new critique of network cultures: creativity, autonomy and late capitalism in the constitution of cultural forms on the Internet

og@dxlab.org

In this talk I will center on the core meanings of different kinds of activities converging into web platforms, some known as Web 2.0 and others not covered by this logo. I will follow some routes of thinking the potential of these processes and suggest some new interpretations.
If we look at various kinds of platforms as similar phenomena, we will see that it is creativity in its social dynamics, which is the magnetic grain beyond various implementations of online platforms. Creativity is a highly controversial concept, having different and even opposing definitions in different disciplines, and more recently charged with annoying and misleading connotations within the discourse of the so-called “creative industries”. However, the meaning – I think – we still adhere to, is the one of culture and art capable of creating, of a creation capable of liberating, of a liberation into some moment of autonomy, into a glimpse of difference. Especially within the two traditions – pragmatism, and in particularly the work of Dewey, and Marxist schools, creativity is regarded as immanent to human activity and emancipatory. For Dewey, creativity makes possible self-realization, it is embedded in experience, and immanent to any engagement with the world. The Marxist conceptual framework includes alienation as a process occurring to the labourer alienated from the product of his labour and from his own life through the organization of industrial capitalist production. Thus, under capitalist rule, natural joy and the free creativity immanent to life and work is eliminated through alienation. Therefore, creative activity is regarded as an integral element of human activity and as resistant to capitalist logic. Up until today, Marxist researchers write of “the basic autonomy of human creativity” [Dyer-Witheford 2004].

Developing the argument further: if creativity is the central characteristic of network platforms, the uneasiness is born by a proper understanding of the nature of late capitalism, whose economy relies on and capitalizes on creativity, and where creativity equals consumption and sociality builds wealth. Such an understanding is rooted in some of Autonomist Marxist concepts and more developed recently in works of, i.e. Maurizio Lazzarato and especially Tiziana Terranova. A number of concepts reflect this reality, among which I could list social factory, immaterial labour, and even multitudes (for the lack of time I can’t go in detail here). here are a few citations: Immaterial, affective labour rooted in human communication and relationships serve as a source of surplus value in the new process of production [Hardt and Negri 2004, 274]. “…contemporary production …includes within itself linguistic experience as such” [Virno 2002, 56]. For Virno, “thought becomes the primary source of the production of wealth” [Virno 2002, 64]. Contemporary production includes linguistic competence, knowledge, imagination, social interaction as its core sources of added value.

So, the new modes of production and contemporary wealth are built not on labour power understood in classic Marxist terms, but on the appropriation of the entirety of human productive power.
Terranova applies the concepts to today’s network cultures: “These are moments which turn qualitative, intensive differences into quantitative relations of exchange and equivalence; which enclose the open and dissipative potential of cultural production into differential hierarchies; which accumulate the rewards or work carried out by larger social assemblages… “ [Terranova 2006, 28]
The logic of capital subsumes the potential of many platforms, and encloses it within the chain of valorization of creativity and subjectivity.

The direct monetization of creativity is, for instance, one of the major sources of trouble for critics of Web 2.0. They call Web 2.0 a business model, or “Internet Investment Boom 2.0”.

Thus, I would like to formulate an argument that both demonstrates a common way of thinking today and provides a critique of it. Trying to save the potential for “openness” of creativity and sociality from the subsumption by the logic of capital, for many means transferring the platforms onto free software or P2P production and distribution models. But I would like to state that confronting open source and P2P based platforms to other kinds of platforms, thus, building a simplified dichotomy, is absolutely misleading for understanding the core problematic of creativity and cultural labour in late capitalism.
Such a distinction is based on the hacker’s ethic distinction, traditionally built and still pertaining in the discourse on free software. But if there was a steady tradition to frame P2P, free, libre and opens source software (FLOSS) in terms of resistance to capital, it is changed today.

Richard Stallman’s Free Software movement existed since 1983, making an emphasis on the freedom to run, to study, to adapt, to improve and to share tools as a central virtue of the movement [The Free Software Definition]. Though Eric Raymond and others with Open Source Initiative (1998) moved towards creating more pragmatic rhetoric appealing to business, Raymond’s seminal papers “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” and “Homestanding the Noosphere” continued in applying cultural and anthropological interpretations, describing FLOSS development as a “post-scarcity gift culture” with hackers creating software out of the possession of the leisure time, and an artistic motivation [Raymond 2001]. The classic text, Rishab Aiyer Ghosh’s “Cooking Pot Markets…” adds to the similar range explanations [Ghosh 1998].
Such accounts are echoed in Richard Barbrook’s writings, who even speaks of “anarcho-communism” as being prepared by the gift economy, – an essential element, for him, of the digital economy (and being prevented by capitalism).
In recent years, research into the free software production model has intensified; a number of significant books released by major publishing houses have appeared devoted to economics of FLOSS production; utopian leftist promises of digital communism or reincarnation of gift culture were tested with sociological surveys and a lot of empirical data [Feller et al. 2005; Ghosh 2004]. This new wave of analysis is related to economic success of FLOSS. Reports demonstrate great increase in the share of open source software usage in IT services and in economic revenues accrued: “Defined broadly, FLOSS-related services could reach a 32% share of all IT services by 2010, and the FLOSS-related share of the economy could reach 4% of European GDP by 2010. FLOSS directly supports the 29% share of software that is developed in-house in the EU (43% in the U.S.), and provides the natural model for software development for the secondary software sector. … Firms have invested an estimated Euro 1.2 billion in developing FLOSS software that is made freely available. Such firms represent in total at least 565 000 jobs and Euro 263 billion in annual revenue. … FLOSS and proprietary software show a ratio of 30:70 (overlapping) in recent job postings indicating significant demand for FLOSS-related skills” [Ghosh 2006].
The FLOSS development model proved to be an efficient business model for software development, and new research addresses such evolution by attempting to build working economic models that radically depart from rhetoric of gift culture and volunteer labour of early explanations.
Radically expanding the line of thinking on open source, Tiziana Terranova suggests a challenging analysis of FLOSS production and, more broadly, of cultural production on the Internet.
Terranova describes all cultural developments, even oppositional ones, by means of analysis derived from the Foucauldian tradition, as not only always originating and occurring within the capitalist system but also as being functionally central to its development. Thus, for her, appropriation and incorporation happens not from outside but is a natural inner process of the “channeling of collective (or) cultural labour into monetary flows” directed by capitalism that is always a pre-condition and a capturer of created value.
Terranova suggests that the gift economy of networks represents an important element, a basis of the digital economy that is in turn an essential part of late economy at large. Terranova’s central claim is that while Internet cultural, network or FLOSS software production depend on vast amount of continuous work, most of which is “free”, it can only mean that such free labour is immanent and central to late capitalism, rendering the “gift economy” merely an important economic tool [Terranova 2000]. Thus, there is no struggle and no appropriation of an authentic moment, but a reliance, a mutual constitution working towards an advancement towards more developed forms of capitalist production. I will return to her position a bit later.
For now, I would like to state that it is important to understand that FLOSS today is not, first, an ultimate revolutionary technique aiming to defeat capitalism, and, second, that it is unwise to see FLOSS principles as the only means of resistance. “Capital monetizes creativity through platforms? Let’s make platforms open source code based or P2P, an open distribution channel based”. The free software production model cannot be entirely applied to cultural production, and, vice versa, cultural production using techniques seemingly opposed to free software principles, might work well in terms of building temporary oppositions, contexts and platforms for creation, expression, and exchange.

The GNU project and Open Source Initiative are built on the understanding of software programming, that places emphasis on unrestricted access to program code for the purposes of education, use and modification for improvement or further application. Various license models, from GPL (General Public License by Richard Stallman) to a “legal toolbox” of Creative Commons (bounded by Lawrence Lessig) are built on such understanding of the source code, which is then applied to the fields outside of computer programming. Various Open Content licenses concern music, art, text or any publication, sampling and many more, giving rise to the rhetoric of open society and free culture [Liang 2004; Lessig 2004; Ghosh 2004; Feller et al. 2005].
While it is of extreme importance to understand the essence of struggles with media giants, re-framing intellectual property and efforts laid into propagation of legal instruments of open content and of a differing narrativity, such attempts face difficulties when applied to creative and cultural sphere, to art [Malevé 2006].
Let us consider the License Art Libre. Nicolas Malevé explains: “Copyleft Attitude tried to seek out a reconciliation with an artistic practice which was not centered on the author, which encouraged participation over consumption, and which broke the mechanism of singularity that formed the basis of the processes of exclusion in the art world, by providing ways of encouraging dissemination, multiplication, etc. From there on, the LAL faithfully transposes the GPL: authors are invited to create free materials on which other authors are in turn invited to work” [Malevé 2006, 64].
The ideology of LAL suggests an utopian picture ignoring the essential laws of the artistic field and qualities of the artistic process. The value attributed to a particular artwork here is symbolic and cannot be directly derived from expenses spent on its production, its momentarily success or any estimation of its “quality” [Bourdieu 2005]. Thus, a desire to build on a certain work does not originate from its usefulness or functionality but is a result of a complex mechanism governing construction of value in the cultural sphere.
If with software, its functionality, minimization of bugs, safety and other points, above which is whether the developed code compiles or not, may stand as evaluation criteria and allow for an objective estimation, within the art field, such objective evaluation is impossible. If it is impossible to work out the criteria that would work for horizontally organized shared creation within the symbolic field, it makes a process of globally open non-individual but truly communal creation in large volume impossible. Thus, only consumption and dissemination of artistic work (ownership) can be discussed in this context. Limiting the discussion of “Free Culture” to the question of ownership, though in itself important, is not capable of radically imagining a range of potentialities of different society and culture.

Having divorced from revolutionary rhetoric, Creative Commons incarnation of FLOSS led by Lawrence Lessig is not anymore about transforming capitalist society, but is about creating legal tools that would guarantee certain actions. While FLOSS enters into a crisis unable to provide a model of a better constitution of the society, and free culture model does not seem to provide a working instrument, increasingly more researchers write about various kinds of open culture.

But how can we imagine such “libre culture”? How can we analyse platforms in terms of some “libre culture”? How at all can we speak about any liberating potential of creativity, of any autonomy of creativity, if creative production is core to capitalist production and supposedly exists as always pre-subsumed within it?

Marxist analysis, and especially Italian Autonomia believed the true revolutionary theory should be based on researching the working class in the most advanced sectors of economy [Wright 2002, 4]. If at a current state the working class category is more adequately addressed through the category of the social factory executing immaterial labour within, i.e., a such advanced sector of capitalist economy as digital economy, then it is a moment when digital cultural becomes economic and political in a very “real” immediate sense of the word. Cultural is directly and immediately economic by not a complex layers of mediation, signification, valorization; it is frontally economic for the language of money.

If we are to find ourselves, as cultural theorists focusing on digital cultures, at a moment when producing culture means producing added value and building new political subjects, then we shall at least identify this moment as a new point for interpretation of cultural processes, and at best think on the new patterns, a new set of methods that would allow new paradigm of cultural analysis and practice. It may be a moment when essentially Marxist set of concepts makes a comeback into cultural theory as adequate tools to apply and to build on. Theory of culture should then suggest ways of their implementation for the particular purposes. But for doing that it should first overcome its determinism, in particular expressed in Terranova’s account, a brilliant application of this tradition of thought to cultural critique, which, unfortunately yields paralysis for a cultural practitioner. I am going to explain what I mean here now.

I can’t present here an account of Terranova’s book “Network culture”. I can only give my feedback very fast. It leaves the reader with mixed feelings. On the one hand, today it is impossible to object to the analysis of operation of the system of production within the digital economy as an integral part of late capitalism. On the other hand, if apply her analysis literally, it is hard to start looking at Mr.Stallman as at a most talented agent of capitalism (“no hi-jacking open source against its tradition”) [ibid., 93]. Describing digital cultural production as a process, taking place always within capitalist system of relationships, nurtured and exhausted within it, Terranova happens to build, maybe accidentally, a picture of the development of capitalism as a smooth, seamless, monolithic process. If the development of capitalism is a monolithic process, and experiments in digital production were always born within capitalist systems with no potential for liberation, even unrealized, if no contradictions and ruptures, no potentials and struggles, no excess, no gaps, no “liberating” in “free”, then what kind of action and practice is possible today?
To my mind, “Network culture…” is a deeply pessimistic book. For Terranova, every field she focuses on becomes interpreted as a zone of experimentation of late capitalism. Digital economy is an experiment with production models and new kinds of value [ibid., 79], network culture is a political experiment [ibid., 153], and new forms of production and cooperation is an experiment with new technologies of control [ibid., 108]. Her brilliant analysis of these models sums up into a totalizing picture with no excess, no exit, except for a catastrophe. To my mind, it is the catastrophe she briefly mentions [ibid., 121], that is the key to her entire model.

Such understanding stands very well as a political theory, explaining the disappearance of public space, the introduction of new political subjects and imagining the political constitution of the future, but it represents a totalitarian deterministic model if applied without modification within cultural theory. Within such an understanding, no creative practice can be imagined as emancipatory (truly creative), and even, prior to that, exercised at all. Within such an understanding no cultural critique is possible, since it is based on understanding of multiplicities, of differences, of radical inconsistencies of the world of cultures, which contradicts the “seamlessness” of The Culture (and Tiziana Terranova’s book is entitled by using the “network culture” in singular) central to an uninterrupted monolithic capitalist production of added value.

So, while autonomist theory and some of contemporary developments of its line of thinking presents a brilliant analysis of contemporary mode of capitalist production and, in particular, of digital economy, for constructively apply it to studying network cultures mean radical re-thinking a number of concepts that are undervalued within these traditions and accounts, and misinterpreted within other. One of them is creativity.

Creativity in digital cultures is a complex process, an event that is impossible to localize or subjectify. It is a dynamic process occurring in the relationship between network systems, technology and human beings; creativity appears as an explosion within a particular combination of forces, technical and human.
Value is also a process; it is not a commodity anymore but a process of valorization, a set of attempts set out by capital to valorize the valuable. Creativity is a process, is an explosion creating the valuable, creating, for Braidotti who uses Lacan, something that we do not possess and giving it to someone who do not need it [Braidotti 2004]. This absence of need for it and a possession of it means this creative explosion creating aesthetic value is essentially excessive.
So, creativity is excessive, it is an explosion, and it is responsible for the process of valorization. Self-unfolding, explosion of creativity is not entirely dependent on people, on grassroots or “official” institutes rendering it happen or technologies resonating the humans’ efforts. The excess means a space for construction of an individual valuable. The catastrophe spreads out an extra space, a dimension where construction of value is enabled within a different logic. In this explosive, catastrophic dynamics of unfolding of an excessive, additional space is the basis of autonomy.
It does not mean every user is creative and autonomous or every creative act or project is “free”. Creativity cannot be located in human being or machines, it is found in their interrelationships, in-between. Creativity is dynamic; it is an explosive process that cannot be frozen. It is a potential that can be realised into autonomy.
The potential of creativity is not located on the bio level, as a potential of labour-power, inseparable from a living body, a potential that acquired a status of a commodity [Virno 2002, 84]. A potential of creativity is distributed within technical systems, human beings, fields of culture and society. The potential of creativity cannot be exhausted. Moreover, creativity functions as a catalyst, intensifying processes both in the positive and in the negative directions, accumulating the potential.
Capital needs to keep creativity free in order to survive. Creativity parasites on the capital’s need for itself. The freedom of creativity means its excessivity, its existence in ruptures, in events, in intensification, in uncontrolled catastrophes. Creativity is able to resolve subsumption into autonomy of creating different modes and spaces of value. Creativity gets systematized but it happens as an explosion, as an excessive event that cannot be pre-subsumed, a force that establishes a possibility of modality.

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Articles also available at: http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/

Terranova, Tiziana. (2000). Free labor: producing culture for the digital economy. In Social Text, 63, Vol. 18, No. 2. http://www.btinternet.com/~t.terranova/freelab.html

Terranova, Tiziana. (2004). Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age. London, Pluto Press.

Terranova, Tiziana. (2006). Of Sense and Sensibility, Immaterial Labor in Open System. In Krysa, Joasia. (2006).

Virno, Paolo. (2004). A Grammar of the Multitude. Semiotext(e).

Wright, Steve. (2002). Storming Heaven. Class Composition and Struggle in Italian Autonomist Marxism. London, Pluto Press.

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eat and drink

The Coffee Corner: Nieuwe Doelenstraat 24
Mon/Fri 8.00 – 21.00, Sat 8.30 – 21.00, Sunday 10.00 – 21.00
For rich assortment of coffee and brownies

Restaurant Bar De Jaren: Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20-22
Lunch 10.00, Diner 17.30 – 22.30
Nice salads and terrace near the canal for a sunny day

Café Katoen: Oude Turfmarkt 153
Mon/Sat 9.00, Sun 10.00
Good toast bread, sandwiches, salads, but limited seats

Puccini Espressobar: Staalstraat 21
Mon/Fri 8.30 – 18.00, Sat/Sun 10.00 – 18.00
Ciabattas, salads and deserts

Café CREA: Turfdraagsterpad 17
Mon/Sat 10.00 – 1.00, Sun 11.00 – 19.00
Student bar, mainly small snacks

Café Restaurant Kapitein Zeppos: Gebed zonder End 5, near the Nes & Langebrugsteeg
Nice tapas, upstairs restaurant ‘De Zeppelin’ is more pricey

Restaurant Brasserie De Brakke Grond: Nes 43
Daily 12.00 – 22.00
Also part of a theatre and cultural centre for Flemish arts, good Belgian beers

Café De Engelbewaarder: Kloveniersburgwal 59hs
Daily 12.00 – 22.00
Bar, also open for dinner and lunch

Restaurant Brasserie Schiller: Rembrandtplein 26
Breakfast 7.00 – 10.30, Dinner 7.00 – 22.30, lunch 11 – 17.00
Art Deco bar, a bit hidden-away but a nice place to have a drink

Mexican Café Restaurant La Margarita: Langebrugsteeg 6
Mon/Thu & Sun 17.00 – 1.00, Fri/Sat 17.00 – 3.00

Restaurant ’t Tuinfeest: Geldersekade 109hs, near Nieuwmarkt
Mon/Sun 16.00 – 22.30
Nice gourmet meals, limited seats

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discussion list

This list is set up to prepare for the New Network Theory event in Amsterdam (June 28-30, 2007), organized by the Institute of Network Cultures (Amsterdam Polytechnic), Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA).

To subscribe to this list, go to: http://listcultures.org/mailman/listinfo/networktheory_listcultures.org

When subscribed, you can post to this list by sending your email to:
networktheory(at)listcultures.org

The list is meant for all those interested in the topic, and will possibly continue after the event in June 2007.

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Moderators

Mario Diani
Matthew Fuller
Geert Lovink
Noortje Marres
Sebastian Olma
Richard Rogers
Reinder Rustema
Warren Sack
Jan Simons

Mario Diani is Professor of Sociology at the University of Trento and Visiting Research Professor at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. He has published extensively on social movements and social networks, including Green Networks (Edinburgh University Press 1995), Social Movements (with D della Porta, Blackwell 1999 and 2006), and Social Movements and Networks (co-edited with D McAdam, Oxford University Press 2003).

Matthew Fuller is David Gee Reader in Digital Media at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is the author of ‘Behind the Blip, essays on the culture of software’, ‘Media Ecologies, materialist energies in art and technoculture’ and editor of the forthcoming ‘Software Studies, a lexicon’.

Geert Lovink is a Dutch-Australian media theorist and critic, and founding director of the Institute of Network Cultures. Since January 2004, Geert is appointed as senior researcher/associated professor at Amsterdam University (HvA/UvA). He is the organiser of conferences, festivals and (online) publications and the founder of numerous Internet projects, such as www.nettime.org and www.fibreculture.org. He recently published the books Dark Fiber (2002), Uncanny Networks (2002) and My First Recession (2003). In 2005-2006 he was a fellow at the Berlin Institute for Advanced StudyWissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, where he finished his third volume on critical Internet culture, Zero Comments (Routledge New York, 2007).
Contact: geert(at)xs4all.nl
For more information: www.laudanum.net/geert.
Geert’s weblog: www.networkcultures.org/geert

Noortje Marres works as a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Sociology Department, Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her current research focuses on climate change and the role of non-human entities as mediators of public involvement. In 2005, She received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Amsterdam, for her thesis “No Issue, No Public: Democratic Deficits after the Displacement of Politics.” Her recent work has been published in Making Things Public (MIT Press, 2005), Reformatting Politics (Routledge, 2006) and Nongovernmental Politics (Zone Books, forthcoming). She is an editor of two Dutch journals, Krisis and De Gids.

Sebastian Olma studied Political Science, Sociology and Philosophy at Leipzig, Rutgers and Binghamton. He wrote a Ph.D.-thesis on organisational mutations in contemporary capitalism (“Vital Organising: Capitalism’s Ontological Turn and the Role of Management Consulting”) at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College. A regular contributor to ‘Theory, Culture & Society’ as well as ‘Mute Magazine’ he has published on Vitalism, Autonomist Marxism, and questions of temporality and creativity in contemporary capitalism.

Richard Rogers is Head of New Media at the University of Amsterdamand Director of the Govcom.org Foundation, the group responsible for the Issue Crawler network mapping software. His is author of Information Politics on the Web (MIT Press, 2004), editor of Preferred Placement: Knowledge Politics on the Web (Jan van Eyck, 2000) and author of Technological Landscapes (Royal College of Art, 1999). The topics of his current research projects include Internet censorship, U.S. media reform and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.

ReindeR Rustema, born in 1972, is a teacher in media in the Media & Culture department at the University of Amsterdam. He was involved in the Digital City in 1994 and similar projects for a public domain on the internet. In 1999 he published an essay on the reality-tv show ‘Big Brother’ and the significance of ‘live’ versus ‘video’ on television. He is a Ph.D. candidate with a research on DIY-video distributed through the internet.

Warren Sack is a media theorist and software designer. He has exhibited work at the ZKM|Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; the New Museum for Contemporary Art in New York City; and, on the Artport website of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Warren earned his B.A. from Yale College and his Ph.D. from the MIT Media Laboratory. He currently teaches in the Digital Arts & New Media M.F.A. program and in the Film & Digital Media Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Dr. Jan Simons is Associate Professor in New Media at the University of Amsterdam. He has published on cinema, photography, new media theory, and game theory. His research focuses on the processes of convergence and divergence brought about by new media. His latest book is _Playing the Waves: Lars von Trier’s game cinema_. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2007.

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Speakers

Franz Beitzinger
Thomas Berker
Robert van Boeschoten
Megan Boler
Marianne van den Boomen
Katy Börner
Charli Carpenter
Matteo Cernison
Wendy Chun
Wayne Clements
Noshir Contractor
Florian Cramer
Michael Dieter
Sophia Drakopoulou
John Duda
Kirsten Foot
Laura Forlano
Francesca Forno
Matthew Fuller
Kristoffer Gansing
David Garcia
Paolo Gerbaudo
Michael Goddard
Olga Goriunova
Iina Hellsten
John Johnston
Leslie Kavanaugh
Olga Kisseleva
Valdis Krebs
Verena Kuni
Olia Lialina
Leah A. Lievrouw
Jacob Lillemose
Alan Liu
Adrian Mackenzie
Astrid Mager
Amir Maleki
Noortje Marres
Katja Mayer
Marga van Mechelen
Ulises Ali Mejias
Stefania Milan
Anna Munster
Giorgia Nesti
Lilly Nguyen
Jana Nikuljska
Nancy Nisbet
Claudia Padovani
Jussi Parikka
Tincuta Parv
Elena Pavan
Bernhard Rieder
Claire Roberge
Richard Rogers
Warren Sack
Mirko Tobias Schaefer
Jürgen Schulz
Yukari Seko
Ramesh Srinivasan
Rob Stuart
Betina Szkudlarek
Clifford Tatum
Tiziana Terranova
Siva Vaidhyanathan
Konstantinos Vassiliou
Alice Verheij
Kimberley de Vries
Claus Wageman
Kenneth Werbin
Deborah Wheeler
Homa Zanjanizadeh

Dr. Franz Beitzinger is researcher at the Council on Public Policy and lecturer at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Bayreuth. His research focuses on political economy theory.

Thomas Berker is associate professor at NTNU, Norway’s largest technical university. Recently, he has been involved in research on the use of ICTs in transnational knowledge work (EMTEL II, a research and training network funded by the European Commission) and on cultural and social aspects of energy use within built structures (SmartBuild, an interdisciplinary research project funded by the Norwegian Research Council). One of the issues common to these otherwise rather disparate research topics is “the everyday of technical infrastructures”. His interest in networks/assemblages is part of his efforts to get to grips with these inconspicuous, yet fundamental socio-technical structures, without which contemporary societies would collapse.

Robert van Boeschoten is a philosopher (Ph.D. on Marshall McLuhan, 1996) who has his interest in the cultural impact of media on our society at large, and particularly in organisations. His work is divided over two institutions; The polytechnic of Amsterdam (HvA) at the Interactive Media department where he teaches management and organisation, and The University for Humanistics (UvH) in Utrecht where he is coordinator and tutor for the part-time Ph.D. programme for applied philosophical research.

Megan Boler is Associate Professor at the University of Toronto and earned her Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness Program at the University of California. Her books include Tactics in Hard Times: Spaces and Practices of New Media (forthcoming MIT Press, 2008). Her essays have been published in such journals as Cultural Studies, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and New Media and Society. In 2005 she was one of five external fellows invited to the Dartmouth Humanities Center Institute on Cyberdisciplinarity, and is the PI of a three-year funded study, “Rethinking Media, Democracy and Citizenship: New Media Practices And Online Digital Dissent After September 11.

Marianne van den Boomen has been working as editor, freelance journalist and web designer. She was involved with the early Dutch Digital City (1994), and published several articles and books about Internet culture (Leven op het Net: De sociale betekenis van virtuele gemeenschappen, Amsterdam 2000). Since 2003 she is employed at the Department of Media and Culture Studies (Utrecht University), where she teaches BA- and MA-courses in the program New Media and Digital Culture. She is currently working on her Ph.D., a philosophical inquiry into the role of metaphors in Internet ontology.

Katy Börner is an Associate Professor of Information Science in the School of Library and Information Science, Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Informatics, Core Faculty of Cognitive Science, Research Affiliate of the Biocomplexity Institute, Fellow of the Center for Research on Learning and Technology, Member of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory and Founding Director of the new Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center at Indiana University. Her research focuses on the development of data analysis and visualization techniques that support information access, understanding, and management. She is particularly interested in the study of the structure and evolution of scientific disciplines; the analysis and visualization of online activity; and the development of cyberinfrastructures for large scale scientific collaboration and computation.

Charli Carpenter is Assistant Professor of International Affairs at University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Oregon and is the author of Innocent Women and Children: Gender, Norms and the Protection of Civilians. Dr. Carpenter’s current research focuses on the human rights advocacy network, investigating why certain issues but not others end up on the international agenda.

Matteo Cernison graduated in Communication Sciences at the University of Padova with a thesis on transnational Civil Society networks in the Mediterranean area. He collaborated with professors Padovani, Nesti and Tuzzi in research projects concerning women and media in Italy, eDemocracy in the European Union and European mobilizations for media justice and communication rights. At present he is mastering his knowledge in traditional social network analysis, issue networks on the Web and constructivism in International Relations.

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun is Associate Professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University and Visiting Associate Professor of the History of Science at Harvard AY2006-7. She has studied both Systems Design Engineering and English Literature, which she combines and mutates in her current work on digital media. She is author of Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (MIT 2006) and co-editor of New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader (Routledge 2005). She is currently working on a monograph entitled _Programmed Visions: Software, DNA, Race_ (forthcoming MIT, 2008).

Wayne Clements is a visual artist and writer living in London. In 2005 he completed a Ph.D. in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design. His research is into rules and instructions applied to text. His (non computer) poetry, visual work and prose are published in a number of magazines and books. His artworks are included on http://www.rhizome.org/ and http://www.runme.org/, repositories of online art, and presented in FILE Electronic Language International Festival, São Paolo, Brazil (2005 and 06); Rencontre Festival Paris/Berlin (2005); “RADICAL SOFTWARE”, Piemonte Share Festival, Torino, Italy (2006); and the Web Biennial 2007. un_wiki received Award of Distinction, Net Vision category, Prix Ars Electronica (2006).

Noshir Contractor (http://www.uiuc.edu/ph/www/nosh) is a Professor in the Department of Speech Communication, Department of Psychology, the Graduate School of Library & Information Science, and the Coordinated Science Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is Director of the Science of Networks in Communities (SONIC) Group at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Co-Director of the Age of Networks Initiative at the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Research Affiliate of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. His research program is investigating factors that lead to the formation, maintenance, and dissolution of dynamically linked knowledge networks in a wide range of communities. He has been funded continuously for the past decade by major grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation, as well as by NASA, the National Institutes of Health, Rockefeller Foundation and the European Union.

Florian Cramer, born 1969, studied Comparative Literature and Art History in Berlin, Konstanz and Amherst/Massachusetts, 1999-2004 junior lecturer in Comparative Literature, Freie Universität Berlin, since 2006 course director of the Media Design M.A. programme at Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam; writer and essayist on literature, art, computing and Internet culture, http://cramer.plaintext.cc:70

Michael Dieter is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. His thesis, entitled ‘Network Aesthetics,’ critically investigates key examples of locative media, viral artworks and retro-software modification from the perspective of post-structural theory and political philosophy. He is currently an editor of antiTHESIS, a fully refereed transdisciplinary journal of postgraduate research, and his recent publications have appeared in Cultural Studies Review and Media International Australia.

Sophia Drakopoulou is a lecturer in Media, Culture and Communication in Middlesex University. She’s also a Ph.D. candidate in the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College. Her research analyses the cultural significance of the private, virtual communicational spaces being created by the mobile phone and other radio based technologies. In particular her research is exploring Instantaneous Mobile Messaging as a social space and as a subversive practice. Sophia has been a member of the Cybersalon team since 1998 and has helped to organise and generate themes for Cybersalon events.

John Duda is a Ph.D. candidate at the Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins University, where he is working on a project tracking connections between autonomous political theory and anti-reductionist biologies. He also works as a media activist and computer programmer with various nodes in the global Indymedia network, and is a founder of Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse, an infoshop and social center in Baltimore.

Kirsten Foot is an Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on the reciprocal relationship between information/communication technologies and society. As co-director of the WebArchivist.org research group, she is developing new techniques for studying social and political action on the Web. She is particularly interested in practice-based theories of technology and the dynamics and politics of knowledge production in networked environments. She is the co-author of Web Campaigning (MIT Press, 2006).

Laura Forlano is a Ph.D. Candidate in Communications at Columbia University researching the socio-economic implications of the use of mobile and wireless technology. She is also board member and special interest group leader for NYCwireless (http://www.nycwireless.net), a non-profit organization that promotes the deployment of free public WiFi networks. Forlano received her B.A. in Asian Studies from Skidmore College and spent her junior year at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. She received a Diploma in International Relations from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy and her Master’s in Science and Technology Policy from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

Francesca Forno (Ph.D., Strathclyde University, 2003) is lecturer in Sociology at the University of Bergamo, Italy. Her main individual project has been a systematic and comprehensive analysis of the political and social conflicts that occurred in Italy from 1988 to 1997. More recently her attention has shifted towards the study and implications (theoretical, methodological and empirical) of certain new emerging forms of action, such as market-based mobilisations and political consumerism.

Matthew Fuller is David Gee Reader in Digital Media at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is the author of ‘Behind the Blip, essays on the culture of software’, ‘Media Ecologies, materialist energies in art and technoculture’ and editor of the forthcoming ‘Software Studies, a lexicon’.

Kristoffer Gansing is a PhD Candidate in Media and Communication Science at K3 – School of Arts & Communication, Malmö University, Sweden. The working title of his dissertation is: “Local Media – Global Flows” – a practice-based media research project on the interaction between local, alternative media and new media through a series of collaborative case studies. Kristoffer Gansing is also co-curator of the media archaeology festival The Art of the Overhead.

David Garcia is Professor of Design for Digital Cultures at the Universtity of Portsmouth and the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht. His work combined organizing exhibitions and large scale public events in the form of conferences, exhibitions and media experiments with writing and teaching. Initiator of Next 5 Minutes series of festivals on Tactical Media. Recent work includes : curating ‘Faith in Exposure’ ; exhibition Dutch Media Institute February (2007). Publishing Alternative Visions for Television. A chapter in Alternative Media.Published by Routledge: Feb 2007. Editing and writing “Uncommon Ground” new models for interdisciplinary collaboration . Published by BIZ April 2007. Launching “Tactical Media Files” archive for Tactical Media October 2007.

Paolo Gerbaudo was born in Piedmont, Italy., in 1979. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Media & Communications department of Goldsmiths College, University of London. His research explores the “communications geography” of social movements, analysing the interaction between the circulation of action-ariented information (pro-motion) and individual activists understanding of the space of action (orientation). He has been working as a media activist with the Netzfunk collective, and with popular media groups in Mexico and Honduras. He contributes as freelance journalist to Italian and English newspapers and journals, including “Il Manifesto”.

Michael Goddard is Professor of English, Cultural and Media Studies at the University of Lodz, Poland. He has published on Polish and international cinema, Deleuze’s aesthetic theories and radical Italian thought. Most recently he published an essay in Angelaki on the Slovenian contemproary music/art group Laibach/NSK and he has forthcoming essays on Polish and Hungarian cinema and media art. His translation of Franco Berardi’s essay “Schizo-Economy” will soon appear in Substance and he is collaborating with the latter on a book project. He is currently researching a book on the cinema of Raul Ruiz and conducting research into Central East European postmodern audiovisual cultures.

Olga Goriunova (RU) is a new media critic, curator and scholar, based in Moscow. She is a co-organizer of Readme software art festivals (Moscow, Helsinki, Aarhus, Dortmund) http://readme.runme.org; a co-organizer of software art repository Runme.org; currently teaching digital media arts and theory in Moscow City University. She is an author of numerous publications on digital art and aesthetics, software culture, Russian Internet, etc. She is completing her Ph.D. on “art platforms” in Media Lab, University of Art and Design Helsinki.

Dr. Iina Hellsten is currently a researcher at the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), in the EU-project “Critical Events in Evolving Networks” (CREEN) where she studies hypes in the communication networks between the sciences and the mass media, in collaboration with theoretical physicists and information scientists. Her background is in journalism research, science communication, science dynamics, metaphor analysis, and Internet research. Her work has been published in e.g. Science Communication, New Genetics and Society, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, New Media & Society, First Monday, Science as Culture, Scientometrics, and Metaphor and Symbol.

John Johnston is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. He is the author of Carnival of Repetition, Information Multiplicity, and an edited book, literature, media, information systems, as well as a forthcoming book from MIT Press, The Allure of Machinic Life: Cybernetics, Artificial Life, and the New AI. His current interests include Media Theory, electronic textuality, contemporary science and technology, and postmodern cultural studies.

Leslie Kavanaugh is both an architect and a philosopher. She is a member of the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis. At present, she is an Assistant Professor of Architecture in the Department of Urban Architecture, at the Technical University of Delft, The Netherlands. She recently defended her dissertation entitled, The Architectonic of Philosophy: Plato, Aristotle, Leibniz (Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press, 2007). Other recent publications include “On the Aggregation of Bodies and the Unity of Monadic Substances: The Problem of Cohesion” for the International Leibniz Conference Proceedings, Hannover; and “The Ontology of Dwelling: Heidegger and Levinas” in Hauptmann, Deborah (ed.); Bodies in Architecture (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2006).

Graduated from St. Petersburg University, Olga Kisseleva belongs to the first generation of Russian intelligentsia after Perestroika, which helped to bring down the Berlin Wall and cast aside the iron curtain. From the middle of the 90s, on invitation of the Fulbright Foundation she found a roof for her work in the research group which dealt with the development of digital technologies. In 1996 she earned her Ph.D. and was invited to teach New Media and Contemporary Art in Sorbonne. Olga Kisseleva’s exhibitions include: Centre Pompidou (Paris), KIASMA (Helsinki), Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao), National Centre for Contemporary Art (Moscow), ARC (Paris), Reina Sofia (Madrid), Art Institute (Chicago), Venice, Istanbul, Dakar, Tirana and Moscow Biennials

Valdis is a management consultant, researcher, trainer, author, and the developer of InFlow software for social and organizational network analysis [SNA/ONA]. Since 1987, Valdis has participated in over 500 SNA/ONA projects.

Verena Kuni is an art & media theorist, historian and critic (Dr. phil., M.A.). From 1996 to 2005 she was assistant professor in art theory, art history & media theory at universities & art academies in Germany and Switzerland. Since 1997 she holds guest lectureships and research cooperations with international institutions & organizations. She is a curator, a regular contributor to print & online media and hosts an art radio show on the free radio (GUNST). She is director of (www.interfiction.org). Current projects focus on media of imagination – imagination of media; philosophical toys; cyborg entomology; digital decay and D.I.Y. strategies in art, media & network cultures. http://www.kuni.org/v

Olia Lialina was born in Moscow in 1971 and finished Moscow State University in 1993 as a journalist and film critic. Mid 90s, Olia was one of the organizers of the Moscow experimental film club CINE FANTOM. Since 1999 she teaches at Merz Akademie (New Media Pathway). Furthermore, she is the author of Last Real Net Art Museum, First Real Net Art Gallery, and co-author of among others Zombie&Mummy episodes and the Frozen Niki blog. She writes on vernacular web, net art and new media.

Leah A. Lievrouw is Professor in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA, and the 2006-07 Sudikoff Fellow for Education and New Media. Her research and writing focus on the social and cultural consequences of new media and information technologies. Her publications include The Handbook of New Media (with Sonia Livingstone; updated student edition, Sage, 2006), Understanding Alternative and Activist New Media (in preparation, Polity Press), and Competing Visions, Complex Realities: Social Aspects of the Information Society (with Jorge Reina Schement; Ablex, 1987), as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters. From 2000 to 2005 she was also co-editor of the journal New Media & Society.

Jacob Lillemose is a freelance curator and critic, Ph.D. at the University of Copenhagen on a project entitled “Post-object Aesthetics”, contributing advisor to the Nordic edition of Le Monde Diplomatique, Chairman of the Board at Overgaden – Institute for Contemporary Art, Copenhagen and leader of Artnode – Independent Platform for Computer Based Art.

Alan Liu is Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Wordsworth: The Sense of History (Stanford Univ. Press, 1989); The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2004); and Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the Database (forthcoming, Univ. of Chicago Press). He is principal investigator of the UC Multi-campus Research Group, Transliteracies: Research in the Technological, Social, and Cultural Practices of Online Reading; principal investigator of the UCSB Transcriptions Project (Literature and the Culture of Information); and co-director of his English Department’s undergraduate specialization on Literature and the Culture of Information. His other online projects include Voice of the Shuttle and (as general editor) The Agrippa Files. Liu is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO). He is Editor of the UC New Media directory.

Adrian Mackenzie (Institute for Cultural Research, Lancaster University) researches in the area of technology, science and culture using approaches from cultural studies, social studies of technology and critical theory. He has published work on technology: Transductions : bodies and machines at speed, Technologies, studies in culture & theory. London: Continuum, 2002; Cutting code: software and sociality . New York: Peter Lang, 2006, and a range of articles on media, science and culture. He is currently working on wirelessness.

Astrid Mager is a contract researcher at the Department of Social Studies of Science and lecturer at the University of Vienna. She finished her studies of Sociology with a master’s thesis in Science and Technology Studies and attended workshops by the Govcom.org Foundation, Amsterdam, where she became interested in mapping techniques and network thinking. She is currently working on the project “Virtually Informed – The Internet in the medical field” closely related to her dissertation. Her main research interests concern the sociology of technology and medical science, the Internet and it’s use(s) as well as knowledge politics on the Web.

Amir Maleki is part of the Social Science Group of Payame Noor University (PNU), Iran. He has graduated from Isfahan University (Iran) with PhD degree in Sociology and is Assistant Professor of Department of social sciences at Payam Nour University (Iran). He has been selected as a Head of the Department since 2006. His research interests are the sociology of values, Public Opinion, Globalization and Local Value, Methodology and social statistics. Currently, he is setting up a modified version of Modernization theory for explaining value change in developing countries.

Noortje Marres works as a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Sociology Department, Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her current research focuses on climate change and the role of non-human entities as mediators of public involvement. In 2005, She received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Amsterdam, for her thesis “No Issue, No Public: Democratic Deficits after the Displacement of Politics.” Her recent work has been published in Making Things Public (MIT Press, 2005), Reformatting Politics (Routledge, 2006) and Nongovernmental Politics (Zone Books, forthcoming). She is an editor of two Dutch journals, Krisis and De Gids.

Katja Mayer holds a MA from the University of Vienna, where she studied sociology, physics and social studies of science. Before starting to work as IT consultant, she was employed at Public Netbase Vienna, where she was responsible for content development, research and production of lecture series and exhibitions in the following fields: interfaces, robotics, virtual worlds, surveillance, and cultural intelligence. Currently she is working at the Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna, on the “Performativity of Knowledge”, and she is writing her dissertation on „Affective Images: The Practice of Network Visualization“. Homepage: http://homepage.univie.ac.at/katja.mayer

Marga van Mechelen (dr. b. 1953) is a senior lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She studied art history and philosophy of language at the universities of Nijmegen and Groningen. She is the co-founder of the Institute for Semiotics, Literature and Art, now part of the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis of which she is a member. She publishes widely on conceptual, performance, installation and digital new media art since the late seventies and on issues concerning visual theory in general and visual semiotics and psycho-semiotics in particular. In 2006 her book about De Appel, the main European centre in the seventies for performance and installation art, was published (De Appel. Performances, installations, video, projects 1975-1983. Amsterdam 2006).

Ulises Ali Mejias is an educator and technocultural theorist whose research interests include networked sociality, the philosophy of technology, and learning design. He is a doctoral candidate at Teachers College (Columbia University), where he has taught a graduate seminar on the affordances of sociable web media. His dissertation, “Networked Proximity: ICT’s and the Mediation of Nearness” deals with the redefinition of social relevancy by digital media and explores the limits of the network as metaphor and model for organizing social realities. Previously, Ulises was Director of Learning Systems Design at eCornell, a Cornell University subsidiary. He blogs at http://ideant.typepad.com.

Stefania Milan is a Ph.D. candidate at European University Institute, Florence, Italy. Formerly a journalist with the international news agency Inter Press Service, Stefania is currently writing her Ph.D. on transnational mobilizations on communication and media justice. In particular, she looks at the aspect of “critical practices”, meaning social practices and tools in the field of communication, created autonomously from the state and the market, with the aim to empower citizens’ activities and networking. Her case studies are (for now) community media and radical tech collectives.

Anna Munster is a media theorist, artist and educator. Her book, Materializing New Media, was published in 2006 and examines embodiment and materiality in information aesthetics. She is an editor of the online fibreculture journal and has also been a facilitator for the fibreculture list. She works in multi-channel audiovisual installation and has created online art works such as “wundernet” (2001). Her current research investigates networked and dynamic media and visualisation and crowds, power and portable media. She is a senior lecturer at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia

Giorgia Nesti (Ph.D. in European and Comparative Politics) is Researcher in Political Science at the Department of Historical and Political Studies (University of Padova – Italy). Her research interests focus on European Policies for Telecommunication and Information Society, Europeanization and Public Administration.

Lilly Nguyen is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA. Her broader research interests include network culture and emergence, information flow, and adaptation. Her current research work looks more specifically at alternative new media, social tagging and artistic artifacts, and informational forgetting and social exclusion. She received her BA in Political Economy from UC Berkeley and her MSc in Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Jana Nikuljska did her undergraduate studies in Psychology, continuing upon graduation toward a Master’s in Communication and Cultural Studies, which will be completed in early summer of 2007. She is a co-founder of the Macedonian Communication Association (first of its type in Macedonia), where she acts as the Executive Director, and is an active member of the American Communication Association (ACA). Ms. Nikuljska works as Teaching Assistant and Course Coordinator at the Faculty for Communication and Media at the European University, Republic of Macedonia, working on three courses: History of Mass Communication, Semiotics and Computer Mediated Communication and CyberCulture. She also acts as Assistant to the Dean and General Secretary to the Faculty’s Educational and Scientific Council. Her interests include Computer Mediated Communication, the Internet, CyberCulture, Network Culture, etc.

Nancy Nisbet is a multidisciplinary artist with a practice that weaves connections between the political, the technological and the personal. She is well known for her interest in radio frequency technology (RFID) and is the author of several essays on art and technology. Her artwork has been exhibited internationally and she speaks on issues of art in connection with resistance, surveillance, human rights, RFID technology, and identity. Nancy Nisbet is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History & Visual Art at The University of British Columbia. Nancy received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts (2000).

Claudia Padovani is researcher of political science and international relations at the Department of Historical and Political Studies the University of Padova, Italy. She teaches international communication and institutions and governance of communication, while conducting research on the global and European governance of the information and knowledge society. She is particularly interested in the role of civil society organizations and transnational social movements as stakeholders in global decision-making processes. From this perspective, she has followed closely the WSIS process has written extensively on the experience. She is a member of the International Association for Media and Communication Research International Council (IAMCR), the European Council of the World Association for Christian Communication and the international Communication Rights in the Information Society campaign (CRIS).

Jussi Parikka is visiting research fellow at Humboldt University, Berlin (Department of Media Studies.) His book Digital Contagions: An Archaeology of Computer Viruses is forthcoming from Peter Lang publishing. See homepage at http://users.utu.fi/juspar

As a student in the Textile Art Department of the Visual Arts Academy, Cluj, Romania, Tincuta Parv used to create textile sculptures and mobile installations. In the institutional vacuum of the Eastern European changing system, she became more and more aware of the cultural and social aspects accompanying the creative acts. After earning a Master degree in Cultural Anthropology (with a focus on Visual Anthropology and a thesis on Romanian Documentary in the ’50s and ’60s), she is now completing a Ph.D. thesis in Art and Arts Sciences at Paris 1 University – Pantheon Sorbonne. Dealing with arts and techno-sciences, her Ph.D. research emphases on the critical problems related to the works dealing with techno-scientifical aspects. She lives and works in Paris and Cluj.

Elena Pavan is a Sociology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Trento, Italy. Her main interests are on human rights, especially in the field of communication, on social movements and social networks. She is currently working on Internet Governance issues and on the involvement of civil society in global processes and international arenas. In her degree thesis she reviewed the international debate on the right to communicate, from NWICO to present days, investigating conceptual and strategic reasons for the shift towards an idea of communication rights. She is a member of the Italian chapter of CRIS Campaign and works for its youth and issue crawler section.

Bernhard Rieder studied Communications, History and Philosophy in Vienna and Paris and has worked as a Web developer since 1996. He recently defended a Ph.D. Thesis in Information and Communication Science at Paris 8 University, set at the interstice of communication, technology studies and software design. Main research interests include technology / culture hybridity, information ethics and the epistemology and methodology of software production. He is currently a Teaching and Research Assistant at the Départment Hypermédia at Paris 8 University and teaches Internet studies at the American University of Paris.

Claire Roberge has been studying communication developing its interdisciplinary possibilities, particularly since the 90s’ interrogations about globalization in many disciplines. How a locality communicates, considering cultural diversity with exterior forces or spaces in minor and major transnational situations, is a major research interest she wishes to further explore. She completed her PhD at McGill University in the Art History and Communication Studies department and started a post-doctoral research with Saskia Sassen furthering her theorization.

Richard Rogers is Head of New Media at the University of Amsterdamand Director of the Govcom.org Foundation, the group responsible for the Issue Crawler network mapping software. His is author of Information Politics on the Web (MIT Press, 2004), editor of Preferred Placement: Knowledge Politics on the Web (Jan van Eyck, 2000) and author of Technological Landscapes (Royal College of Art, 1999). The topics of his current research projects include Internet censorship, U.S. media reform and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.

Warren Sack is a media theorist and software designer. He has exhibited work at the ZKM|Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; the New Museum for Contemporary Art in New York City; and, on the Artport website of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Warren earned his B.A. from Yale College and his Ph.D. from the MIT Media Laboratory. He currently teaches in the Digital Arts & New Media M.F.A. program and in the Film & Digital Media Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Tony Sampson is an academic and writer based at the University of East London. He has presented and published material on digital culture internationally. He is currently co-editing The Spam Book: On Viruses, Worms and Other Anomalies of Digital Culture with Jussi Parikka (Hampton Press, Alternative Communications Series, 2008) and writing a book entitled Virality: How Networks Become Viral in which he uses event and assemblage theory to challenge essentialist versions of network culture.

Mirko Tobias Schaefer studied theater, film and media studies and communication studies at Vienna University (A) and digital culture at Utrecht University (NL). He was organizer and co-curator of [d]vision – Vienna Festival For Digital Culture. Mirko received a magister in philosophy from the University of Vienna. Since February 2003 he is working as a junior teacher/researcher at the University of Utrecht at the Institute for Media and Re/presentation. He is currently writing his dissertation on “Bastard Culture! Competent Users, Networks and Cultural Industries”. Mirko lives in Rotterdam (NL) and Vienna (A).

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schulz is Junior Professor for Strategic Communication Planning at the Universität der Künste in Berlin, Germany. He received his doctoral degree from the Humboldt Universität in Berlin. He works on decision-making processes in communication planning as well as in executive communication.

Yukari Seko is currently completing a master’s degree in Communication and Culture at York University. Her master’s thesis examines how vulnerable individuals disclose their self-destructive desires through monological and dialogical practice of weblogging (blogging). Employing both quantitative and qualitative methods, she has conducted a series of researches about the suicidal and self-injury (SI) related weblogs (blogs) that analyze how the suicidal and “SI” bloggers constitute their identities through computer-mediated discourse. A part of her thesis was presented at the 7th international conference of the Association of Internet Researchers in September, 28, 2006.

Dr. Ramesh Srinivasan is Assistant Professor of Information Studies – University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), holds a M.S. Degree from MIT’s Media Laboratory and a Doctorate degree from Harvard, and has focused his research globally on the development of information systems within the context of culturally-differentiated communities. He has studied how an information system can be developed to engage communities to develop their socioeconomic, educational, and cultural infrastructures. This has included an analysis of how the cultural practices specific to communities can manifest themselves into an information system’s architecture, particularly with respect to how it represents, categorizes, and disseminates the information it stores. This research allows one to uncover mechanisms by which local visions and practices can converge with international development initiatives. His research has spanned such bounds as Native Americans, Somali refugees, Indian villages, Aboriginal Australia, and Maori New Zealand. These projects have been described in publications ranging from cultural studies journals to more technical venues.

Founding President of Evolve Strategies and the Evolve Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm (which supports efforts to increase citizen participation in government), Rob Stuart is a famous “early adopter” who’s been leading the way in Internet media and network strategy for numerous political and advocacy organizations since 1995. He is a speaker on networks, new media technology, civic engagement and effective philanthropy. His focus is to deepen and widen the capacity of cause oriented groups and campaign to use technology that motivates and engage those who are sympathetic to their efforts. Rob had a successful career as a public interest advocate and led campaigns for several landmark pieces of environmental and consumer protection legislation in New Jersey. He was a Paul Robeson Scholar at Livingston College and graduated with Honors in Political Science from Rutgers University.

Betina Szkudlarek is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Organisation and Personnel Management at the Rotterdam School of Management Erasmus University. Her main research interests, in the broad field of cross-cultural management, focus on intercultural training and intercultural communication. In her Ph.D. research she uses Actor-Network Theory to look at the phenomenon of cross-cultural re-entry training for intercultural sojourners. Next to her Ph.D. activities Betina is working as an intercultural trainer, mostly in the NGO sector.

Clifford Tatum is a Ph.D. student in Communication at the University of Washington, where he is also an instructor in the University Honors program. His dissertation research focuses on the use of information and communication technologies in collaborative knowledge production. Clifford’s other research interests include online collective action, the Internet as a diasporic medium, and the intersection between urban culture and Internet culture.

Tiziana Terranova is currently a visiting professor in Sociology of Communication at the University of Naples ‘L’Orientale’ thanks to a research grant ‘Rientro Cervelli’ by the Italian Ministry for University and Research. She is the author of Corpi nella Rete (Bodies in the Net, Costa & Nolan 1996) and Network Culture (Pluto Press, 2004).

Siva Vaidhyanathan, a cultural historian and media scholar, is the author of Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity (New York University Press, 2001) and The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash between Freedom and Control is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System (Basic Books, 2004). Vaidhyanathan has written for many periodicals, including American Scholar, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times Magazine, MSNBC.COM, Salon.com, openDemocracy.net, and The Nation. After five years as a professional journalist, Vaidhyanathan earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. He has taught at Wesleyan University, the University of Wisconsin at Madison , Columbia University, and is currently an associate professor of Culture and Communication at New York University and a fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities.

Konstantinos Vassiliou is a Ph.D. student in Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University whose main axes of interest are new media culture, the avant-garde and postmodern studies.

As a professional in IT and business consulting with a technological background Alice Verheij is currently working as an independent interim (project) manager with clients in education, hi-tech and professional services industries and international banking. Her professional history covers: Technological innovation and research, Project management (IT and infrastructure), Training and coaching, IT and business consulting, Change management. Areas of interest are IT, business management, innovation and social networking. Furthermore, she is a self-educated professional on academic level, experienced writer and speaker. Currently Alice is preparing a promotional research project on the structures, influences, limitations and challenges concerning organizations and networks involved in social care for gender dysphoric people in the Netherlands.

Kim De Vries earned her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University
of Massachusetts Amherst in English, focusing on rhetoric and
composition. After just about 30 years of school she is Director of Composition at Cal. State University Stanislaus and is a staff writer at http://www.sequentialtart.com. In her spare time, she drinks too much coffee, reads books and comics, gardens, hangs out with family, and writes about whatever strikes her fancy. Lately this includes global rhetorics, digital culture, online communities/networks, and identity studies.

Claus Wageman is a research assistant at the European University Institute in Florence and also works as a methodological tutor for the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane (University of Florence) and as a lecturer for New York University. He took his Ph.D. from the EUI Florence, after studying at the University of Constance and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne. His research interests include methodological questions (comparative methods and QCA techniques) and several forms of political participation (unconventional participation, political parties, interest groups).

Descending from a long line of Marxist educators and activists, Montreal-based Kenneth C. Werbin works as a Doctoral Researcher in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University. Also a part-time lecturer, Kenneth participates as an organizer and moderator for the University of the Streets Public Dialogue Series in Montreal, coordinating a discussion series on ‘Technology, Culture, and Power.’ Kenneth is also a researcher with the Canadian Research Alliance for Community Innovation and Networking (http://cracin.ca) where he is investigating the ‘third-spaces’ that emerge around Canadian-government sponsored community-networking initiatives.

Dr. Wheeler holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago. Her areas of research include information technology diffusion and impact in the Arab World; Gender and international development; and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She has published widely on the Internet and its impact in the Arab World including most recently a book The Internet in the Middle East: Global Expectations and Local Imaginations in Kuwait (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006). Dr. Wheeler has extensive travel and research experience in the Middle East including extended stays in Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. In addition to her academic work, Dr. Wheeler is an international consultant and has most recently completed work for the United Nations Development Program and the Digital Opportunity Trust focusing upon using information technology in boosting human development. Dr. Wheeler is currently Assistant Professor of Political Science at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD.

Homa Zanjanizadeh is part of the Faculty of Literatures and Humanity Science, Social Science Department, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran.

Dr. Natascha Zowislo is a post-doctoral researcher (Habilitation) in political sociology at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Mannheim, Germany, and her Master of Arts from The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at The Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC.

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Call for Papers

This call for papers closed on January 10. For more information about this event, please contact the conference producer Shirley Niemans. Mail: shirley (at) networkcultures.org, Phone: +31 (0)20 5951866.

NEW NETWORK THEORY
International Conference

Location: Amsterdam
Dates: 28-30 June 2007

Organized by: Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, Institute of Network Cultures (Amsterdam Polytechnic, HvA), and Media Studies, University of Amsterdam.

New Network Theory, the 2007 ASCA International Conference, organized by the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), the Institute of Network Cultures (Amsterdam Polytechnic) and Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam, has issued its first call for papers. The conference, to be held on Thursday, 28 June to Saturday, 30 June, 2007, also includes a public program with renowned speakers.

Significant dates

Deadline for Submission of Paper Abstract (500 words) and Biography (100 words): 10 January 2007

Submit to: networktheory@networkcultures.org

Acceptance Notification: 1 March 2007

Further inquiries to: Dr. Eloe Kingma, Managing Director, Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis, Oude Turfmarkt 147, Oude Turfmarkt 147, 1012 GC, Amsterdam, tel: +31 20 525 3874, asca-fgw@uva.nl.

Conference organizers:

Geert Lovink (Institute of Network Cultures/University of Amsterdam)
Sabine Niederer (Institute of Network Cultures)
Richard Rogers (University of Amsterdam)
Jan Simons (University of Amsterdam)

Locations: Pakhuis de Zwijger Media Warehouse (28 June), University of Amsterdam (29-30 June)

Invited Speakers and Facilitators: Katy Borner, Wendy Chun, Nosh Contractor, Florian Cramer, Mario Diani, Matthew Fuller, Martin Kearns, Valdis Krebs, Alan Liu, Noortje Marres, Anna Munster, Claudia Padovani, Jussi Parikka, Warren Sack, Ramesh Srinivasan, Rob Stuart, Tiziana Terranova, Kenneth Werbin. The speakers and facilitators are unconfirmed.

—–

General Introduction: Rethinking Network Cultures

The object of study has shifted from the virtual community and the space of flows to the smart mob. When the object of study changes, so may the distinctions that dominate, particularly the schism between place-based space and place-less space, both organized and given life by networks. We would like to exploit the potential of writing contemporary network theory that suits and reflects the changes to the objects of study that come to define our understandings of network culture – a post-Castellsian network theory, if you will, that takes technical media seriously.

It is time to look for elements that can make up a network theory outside of post-modern cultural studies (which marveled at the place-less place) and ethnographic social sciences (which reminded us of the ground). What network culture studies needs is a ‘language of new media,’ perhaps even signage, to speak in terms of Lev Manovich; what it currently has is a science-centered ‘unified network theory,’ to paraphrase the language of Albert-László Barabási.

Whilst it may come as no surprise to critical Internet scholars, the notion that networks are not random but have underlying structures remains the key insight for network scientists. Instead of posing new questions, the work that follows from that insight often seeks to confirm that structure and its accompanying patterns, across more and more network-like objects. The question remains which specific contribution critical Internet scholars and practitioners can make to opening up network thought. Such is the purpose of the network theory conference. How must we rethink network culture with a renewed emphasis on technical media and social software?

Suggested Topics:

Networks and Social Movements
Anomalous Objects, Parasites of the Net
Networking and Social Life
Social Software and Insider Networks
Network Policy
Network Governance / Organized Networks
Actor-Network Theory and the Assemblage
Gamers Contribute to Network Theory
Network Knowledge Production
Networks and Disengagement
Media Networks
The Link
Locative Media and Networks
Mapping Quests

Other topics may be suggested.

–//–

Prospective Themes and Panels:

Networking and Social Life

‘Networking,’ colloquially speaking, continues to be encouraged in our professional lives, but no one seems to have thought through how life would be guided if we apply network theory to professional ‘networking’ rather literally.

As network scientists’ terms and ideas spread, it is of interest to speculate about one’s social life governed by the power law, preferential attachment, hubs, self-organization, swarming and cascading effects. To network in a colloquial sense, essentially is to connect oneself with a hub. As the hub receives more connections (or becomes ‘preferentially attached’), the hub may become a superconnector, handling a disproportionately large number of connections relative to those of the other hubs in the overall network. As the network continues to grow through self-organization, general knowledge of the existence of the superconnector may cause swarming behavior.

A superconnector, network science reports, has the greatest vulnerabilities, however. If the superconnector cannot handle the traffic, the network breaks down. If there’s breakdown, with or without cascading effects, which determines the extent of the damage, you’re on your own again. One implication is that one should continue to seek fresh hubs (as long as they last), and keep them from becoming overheated superconnectors. Hub-seeking behavior, along with superconnector-care, come to guide social life.

Social Software and Insider Networks

What if the social software model, which performs networking in private and public spheres simultaneously, came to dominate our social life? One could argue that we would witness the spread of insider influence. Would networking be the means by which we discuss and effect social change, above all else?

Having registered with social software, your friends may write to you, asking you to associate yourself with them and their acquaintances in an online environment. You cannot see your friends’ networks unless you join, too, making it something of a secretive realm at first. Invitations sent by the software are becoming more explicit about why you are invited, and the purpose of social software:

“Since you are a person I trust, I wanted to invite you to join my network on LinkedIn. I’m using it to discover inside connections I didn’t know I had. It’s interesting to see the level of access you can have with only a few people in your network.”

It may be unreasonable to concern oneself with the prospect of everyone creating and building insider networks. The democratization of insider influence (social software for all), however, seems contrary to (or perhaps helps to explain) the current infatuation with governance and transparency.

Network Policy

Moving to the level of social policy, we can ask about the effects of network-centric thought put into practice institutionally. We are used to the phrase, “it’s company policy,” as a justification for a particular decision that has been taken for you. “It’s network policy” is a phrase not yet in circulation. What if it were to change our ideas about what is ‘social’?

Perhaps it was the accessibility of Barabási’s Linked (2002) that prompted networks to be given to great expectations, ones they may not be able to meet and ones that may change our ideas about what is ‘social.’ In Linked, the special case studies and stories that connected the small community of social network researchers for so long grew beyond the realm of familiarity, dependability and implication. Network research was no longer in the business of studying social influence only, and usually after the fact.

Before, they asked: how did the Medici family increase its power base in Renaissance Florence (strategic marriage); which mid-western doctor should be approached by a pharmaceutical company to serve as the broker for spreading the word about a new product? With Linked, networks moved on to account for many other phenomena, including the spread of disease (HIV-AIDS). Since then network thought could very well lead to prospective planning; controversial action could be undertaken by employing a kind of ‘network policy’ that would supplant social policy.

Historically, waiting lists in hospitals, for example, were determined on the basis of first come, first served, where an extreme emergency would call for the queue to be jumped. With a network policy the hubs should be served first, as they have a greater chance to spread disease than the isolates. They are better networked.

Networked Multitude

Whereas networks hardly played a role in Hardt and Negri’s popular book Empire (2000), in Multitude (2004) the network form of organization reached center stage. According to Hardt and Negri, “the multitude must be conceived as a network, an open and expansive network in which all differences can be expressed freely and equally, a network that provides the means of encounter so that we can work and live freely in common”. Beyond good or evil Hardt and Negri, like the scientists, now see networks everywhere we look – “military organizations, social movements, business formations, migrations patterns, communication systems, physiological structures, linguistic relations, neural transmitters, and even personal relationships.” The multitude authors present distributed networks as a general condition. Hardt and Negri: “It is not that networks were not around before or that the structure of the brain has changed. It is that network has become a common form that tends to define our ways of understanding the world and acting in it.”

After September 11, 2001 the enemy is not a unitary sovereign state, but rather a network, Arquilla and Ronfeldt wrote in Networks and Netwars (2001). Networks move in to failed states, taking them over, allegedly, but without re-establishing the borders. The enemy, in other words, has a new, sprawling form. But that particular military insight reverberates to the technical media, too. According to planners of the war against terrorism the Internet is not well equipped to face up to the networked enemy, at least not with its currently protocol. Is the end-to-end principle on which the Internet is based increasingly viewed as quaint architecture?

Dawn of the Organized Networks

At first glance the concept of ‘organized networks’ appears oxymoronic. In technical terms, all networks are organized. There are founders, administrators, moderators and active members who all take up roles. Think back to the early work on cybernetics and the ‘second order’ cybernetics of Bateson and others. Networks consist of mobile relations whose arrangement at any particular time is shaped by the ‘constitutive outside’ of feedback or noise. The order of networks is made up of a continuum of relations governed by interests, passions, effects and pragmatic necessities of different actors. The network of relations is never static, yet is not to be mistaken for some kind of perpetual fluidity. Ephemerality is not a condition to celebrate for those wishing to function as political agents. The theory of organized networks is to be read as a proposal, a draft, a concept in the process of becoming that needs active steering through disagreement and collective elaboration. (See the Fibreculture mailing list, discussion on organized networks in November/December 2004 and Ned Rossiter’s upcoming book Organized Net).

Needless to say, organized networks have existed for centuries. Their history can and will be written, but where would that bring us? The networks we are talking about here are specific in that they are situated within technical media. They can be characterized by their advanced irrelevance and invisibility for old media and p-in-p (people in power). General network theory might be useful for enlightenment purposes, but that doesn’t answer the issues that new media-based social networks face. Does it satisfy to know that molecules and DNA patterns also network?

Truism today: there are no networks outside of society. Like all human-techno entities, they are infected by power. Networks are ideal Foucauldian machines: they undermine power as they produce it. Their diagram of power may operate on a range of scales, traversing intra-local networks and overlapping with trans-national insurgencies. No matter how harmless they seem, networks bring on differences. Foucault’s dictum: power produces. Translate this to organized networks and you get the force of invention. Indeed, translation is the condition of invention.

Mediology, as defined by Régis Debray (1996), is the practice of invention within the socio-technical system of networks. As a collaborative method of immanent critique, mediology assembles a multitude of components upon a network of relations as they coalesce around situated problems and unleashed passions. In this sense, the network constantly escapes attempts of command and control. Such is the entropic variability of networks. Network users do not see their circle of peers as a sect. Ties are loose, up to the point of breaking up. Some would say the user is just a consumer: silent and satisfied, until hell breaks loose. The user is the identity of control by other means. In this respect, the ‘user’ is the empty vessel awaiting the spectral allure of digital commodity cultures and their promise of ‘mobility’ and ‘openness’.

Networking and Disengagement

Networks are everywhere. The challenge for the foreseeable future is to create new openings, new possibilities, new temporalities and spaces within which life may assert its insistence on an ethical and aesthetical existence. Organized networks should be read as a proposal, aimed to replace the problematic term ‘virtual community’. It should put the internal power relations within networks on the agenda and break with the invisible workings that made out the consensus era. Organized networks are ‘clouds’ of social relationships in which disengagement is pushed to the limit. Community is an idealistic construct and suggests bonding and harmony, which often is simply not there. The same could be said of the post-9/11 call for ‘trust’. Networks thrive on diversity and conflict (the notworking), not on unity, and this is what community theorists were unable to reflect upon. For them disagreement equals a disruption of the ‘constructive’ flow of dialogue. It takes an effort to reflect on distrust as a productive principle. Indifference between networks is a main reason not to get organized, so this aspect has to be taken seriously. Interaction and involvement are idealistic constructs.

Passivity rules. Browsing, watching, reading, waiting, thinking, deleting, chatting, skipping and surfing are the default condition of online life. Total involvement implies madness to the highest degree. What characterizes networks is a shared sense of a potentiality that does not have to be realized.

Millions of replies from all to all would cause every network, no matter what architecture, to implode. Within every network there is a long time of interpassivity, interrupted by outbursts of interactivity. Networks foster, and reproduce, loose relationships – and it’s better to face this fact straight into the eye. They are hedonistic machines of promiscuous contacts. Networked multitudes create temporary and voluntary forms of collaboration that transcend, but not necessary disrupt the Age of Disengagement. The concept of organized networks is useful to enlist for strategic purposes.

Media Networks

After a decade of ‘tactical media’, the time has come to scale up the operations of radical media practices. We should all well and truly have emerged from the retro-fantasy of the benevolent welfare state. Networks will never be rewarded and ‘embedded’ in well-funded structures. Just as the modernist avant-garde saw itself punctuating the fringes of society, so too have tactical media taken comfort in the idea of targeted micro-interventions. Tactical media too often assume to reproduce the curious spatio-temporal dynamic and structural logic of the modern state and industrial capital: difference and renewal from the peripheries. But there’s a paradox at work here. Disruptive as their actions may often be, tactical media corroborate the temporal mode of post-Fordist capital: short-termism. It is retro-garde that tactical media in a post-Fordist era continue to operate in terms of ephemerality and the logic of ‘tactics’. Since the punctuated attack model is the dominant condition, tactical media have an affinity with that which they seek to oppose. This is why tactical media are treated with a kind of benign tolerance. There is a neurotic tendency to disappear. Anything that solidifies is lost in the system. The ideal is to be little more than a temporary glitch, a brief instance of noise or interference. Tactical media set themselves up for exploitation in the same manner that ‘modders’ do in the game industry: they both dispense with their knowledge of loopholes in the system for free. They point out the problem, and then take off. Capital is delighted, and thanks the tactical media outfit or nerd-modder for the home improvement.

The Link

What constitutes linking, and how could we describe its mirror phantom, or rather, its shadow? The link as a reference to another informational object only comes into being as a conscious act. There is no automated process of putting links. And there is no unconscious or subliminal linking either. These could all be worthy scientific propositions but as of yet they do not exist. Linking is tedious work. It’s an effort and should be considered ‘extra work’. There is no routine in linking. It’s a precise job that needs constant control. But the opposite of the conscious link is not the broken but the absent link. What is the lifespan of links and networks?

Locative Media and Networks

The Internet has long been considered as the next step in the process of abolition of space and time constraints through media. Wireless and mobile media seem to have brought this process further along: people and places can be accessed anywhere any time. Paradoxically, the mobility of mobile phones, PDA’s, portable game consoles, MP3 players and other devices have also re-introduced questions of space and place. ‘Where are you?’ is probably the most frequently used opening sentence of a mobile phone conversation. Activists, ‘flash mobs’ and soccer hooligans use mobile technologies to coordinate surprise actions at specific places and specific times. Mobile technologies have moved computer games from the desk-top screen into the streets (e.g., Pack Manhattan). Geographical Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have given the term ‘navigation’ back its old meaning: from ‘surfing in cyberspace’ (remember Netscape Navigator) it has re-acquired the meaning ‘finding one’s way through geographical and physical space’. Streets, buildings, objects, animals and people can be ‘tagged’ in order to provide location-based and contextual information about their whereabouts, preferences, medical needs, bank accounts, sites, businesses, institutions, histories, and sales and discounts.

Cyberspace and the so-called ‘real world’ converge into what Lev Manovich has called ‘augmented reality,’ and in this ‘augmented reality’ it does matter where you are. Locative media allow people to map and share their own cartographies (which implies the dazzling theoretical possibility that there are as many maps as there are map-makers), but they also allow authorities to keep track of everybody and everything. Locative media (in combination with biometric technologies) might also give rise to two extreme forms of claustrophobia: on the one hand one might ask whether it will be possible to ever break out of one’s own maps (a new variety of the Cartesian question), and on the other hand one might ask whether it will be possible to keep out of sight.

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Full Program

Thursday June 28
Friday June 29
Saturday June 30

Thursday 28 June – Public Event
Location:University of Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, D0.08.
Registration desk: University of Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, main hall.

As the now fashionable term ‘Web 2.0′ suggests, the Web has changed. But what has exactly changed, and do the ideas that came with Web 1.0 – distrtibution, connectivity, flows etc. – still provide us with apt ways of thinking about the Web? How intelligent is a web based ‘collective intelligence’?

9:30
Doors open, coffee & tea

10:00
Welcome by Geert Lovink, Richard Rogers, Jan Simons

10:15 – 12:30
Morning session
Moderator: Richard Rogers

Siva Vaidhyanathan:
The Googlization of Everything: How One Company is Shaking Up Culture, Commerce and Community.
What does the world look like through Google? More to the point, what cultural, political, economic, and technological theories might we invoke to make sense of this new information lens — a profitable company that seems benign yet increasingly functions as a public utility? This presentation considers the ways that Google has crafted an egalitarian public image while generating stunning revenue reports. As Google continues to disrupt and challenge established powers such as big media companies (Viacom) and big publishers (Bertelsmann AG), it has chosen to work with the government of the Peoples Republic of China in its efforts to restrict Web censorship. Although the company’s recent moves have generated controversy, Google clearly must protect its brand by being seen as the good guy. And so far it has. The damage Google has done to the world is minimal and centers largely on the slippage of grammatical standards, encouraging more people to use its brand as a verb. Google got big by keeping ads small. It carefully avoided pinching our marketing-saturated nervous systems and offered illusions of objectivity, precision, comprehensiveness, and democracy. After all, we are led to believe, Google search results are determined by peer-review, by us, not by an editorial team of geeks. So far, this method has worked wonderfully. Google is the hero of word-of-mouth marketing lore. And just as clearly, Google must get bigger. It must go new places and send its spiders crawling through un-indexed corners of human knowledge. Google’s mission statement includes the rather optimistic and humanistic phrase, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” But Google co-founder Sergey Brin once offered a more ominous description of what Google might become: “The perfect search engine would be like the mind of God.”

Tiziana Terranova:
Everything is everything: network science, neo-liberalism and security.
What links the emerging field of network science with its laws, its representations and its predictive models; the global system of neoliberal governmentality, feeding on cooperation and innovation while also fundamentally organized by mechanisms of competition between unit-enterprises; and new forms of net-centric warfare attempting to prevent unpredictable series of threats which are also themselves network effects? Drawing on Michel Foucault’s lectures on neoliberalism and security, the paper will explore the relationship between the science of networks, mechanisms of security, and neo-liberal governmentality – and what a network culture might have to do with it all.

Wendy Chun:
Imagined Networks.
Drawing from Benedict Anderson’s analysis of the nation as an “imagined community,” this paper argues that we are witnessing the emergence of make imagined groupings–imagined networks–that are both less and more than communities or nations. In doing so, it does not argue for the distributed network as the model for our social interactions, bureaucratic organizations, or even our technologies, but rather asks: what needs to be in place for us to understand ourselves and our technologies as networked? How do social and technological abstractions coincide, diverge and inform each other? and how are these abstractions experienced, sensed, felt?

12:30-13:30
LUNCH

13:30 – 15:30
Early afternoon session
Moderator: Geert Lovink

Alan Liu:
Just Networking: Can Network Knowledge Be Better Than “Good Enough” Knowledge?
What is “network knowledge” as it forms at the unstable boundary between “expert” and “amateur” knowledge, or intrinsic and extrinsic knowledge? As exemplified by recent controversies over the inappropriate use of Wikipedia by students seeking only “good enough” knowledge to complete an assignment, the network in the age of Web 2.0 produces knowledge that can collide with academic, governmental, legal, medical, scientific, and other institutional understandings of the basic nature of knowledge. While such “good enough” network knowledge goes beyond local, expert regimes of knowledge to mash up, aggregate, folksonomize, and social-network together different regimes of knowledge, it is often not yet “good” knowledge or (ethically) “just” knowledge able to be fair to the true otherness of really robust knowledge–that is, knowledge that can stand up to, and with, other audiences, other perspectives, other assumptions. Instead, network knowledge is often practiced as an opportunistic grab-what-you-can raid that is true only to the spirit of “flexible” postindustrial global competition. Can the network do a better job of using its structure and technologies to adjudicate, and educate users in, “good” network knowledge?

Anna Munster:
The Image in the Network
The image of connectivity, distribution and flow has persistently shaped the aesthesia of networks. We are all too familiar with its form – an uneven diagram of recurring links and nodes. Much has been made of the spatial dimensions of this image: the proximity and distance of its nodes, its scalability, and its distributed form. We have entire fields of network visualisation, theory, critique and even new networks growing thanks to the ubiquity of this image of the network. Less has been said about the ways in which this image generates redundancy and how this network junk may link to social and aesthetic issues of waste and sustainability. Still less has been done to produce new images for and in networks that give us a sense of both their fractured and continuous temporalities. I will look at what has yet to be done to transform networks’ image culture. In particular, I will ask: where are the abrupt changes, little deaths and broken lines signalling transformation of the image by the distributed temporalities of networks? Can we take cues from mash-ups of blogs, lists and Google Earth as a coming aesthesia of new network ‘time-images’? How are networked arts coming to terms with temporality in the network?

Rob Stuart: Network adoption amongst groups – elements for success and failure.

Drawing on experiences creating philanthropic, activist and issue advocacy networks, Stuart will describe elements which affect whether networks are adopted widely amongst participants. Why do some networks scale while others never take hold? What impact does human relationships have on network technology? Can new network “principles” provide a foundation for more expansive and successful networks?

15:30 – 15:45
TEA/COFFEE

15:45 – 17:45
Late afternoon session

Warren Sack:
From Networked Publics to Object-Oriented Democracies
The language of politics has used a number of technical metaphors to describe “us” as a body politic. For example, think of “the masses”: could this have been imagined without the language of physics? The latest in this series is the “network.” But, networks too – like older ideas of association and assembly – will be displaced. Political theorist Noortje Marres suggests a possible successor: the “object-oriented public.” Popular objects of Internet exchange illustrate the possibilities and limitations of an object-oriented public: Is there a YouTube democracy? A BitTorrent public? I don’t think so, but let’s have an argument if you do.

Olia Lialina:
The Work of Users in Times of Perfect Templates
“The Work of Users in Times of Perfect Templates” is a continuation of my “Vernacular Web” research, surveillance of todays’ amateurs culture, an attempt to reveal it and describe. I’m looking at new ways of self expression, amateur vs. professional clashes, aesthetics of self representation. How do users show their connection to web history and what are the signs of the future in their work? How does web look when it is a technology of today and not tomorrow, when it is filled by people who are not exited by its existence? And what to do with networks of boredom? It is over repeated that todays web is about people, that it is not pages, but user-centered. User generated content is praised and Rich User Experience is a goal for developers. Sounds like paradise in cyberspace. But in reality never before life of a user was so formalized and disciplined. There is a particular service offered for every format a user may want to share with the world, and a community for every interest, network for any social group. (And mash ups for artists.) So one of my biggest interests in this research is to find traces of subversive web culture of today and to follow them.

Florian Cramer:
“Text” and “network”, reconsidered.
The Latin word “textum” literally means “the web”. With the invention of the World Wide Web in the 1990s however, there was little reflection of a world-wide text, but fruitless debates on “hypertext”, a term that hardly lived up to more than its first four letters. How can, nowadays, text and network be reconsidered as two corresponding symbolic forms? And do computer networks help to define more precisely what actually a text is – technically, but also performatively, as both a purveyor and agent of rumors, memes, obsessions?

Friday June 29
Registration:University of Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, main hall.

9:30 – 9:45
Introduction
Location:University of Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, D0.08.

Geert Lovink, Richard Rogers and Jan Simons

9:45 – 11:30
Plenary Session
Location:University of Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, D0.08.
Plenary Session
Moderator: Richard Rogers

Nosh Contractor:
MTML meets Web 2.0: Theorizing social processes in multidimensional networks.
Advances in digital technologies (e.g, Web 2.0) invite consideration of organizing within communities as a process that is accomplished by global, flexible, adaptive, and ad hoc networks that can be created, maintained, dissolved, and reconstituted with remarkable alacrity. Increasingly these networks are multidimensional including individuals as well as digital artifacts and concepts. This presentation makes the case for a new generation of theorizing about social processes in these multidimensional networks. It proposes a contextually based multi-theoretical multilevel (MTML) model to investigate the dynamics for creating, maintaining, dissolving, and reconstituting these social and knowledge networks in diverse communities. Using examples from his research on communities involved in disaster response, environmental engineering, public health, economic resilience, and MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games), Contractor illustrates the potential of the MTML framework to model how social and knowledge networks are enabled by Web 2.0 technologies.

Valdis Krebs:
OSNA — Open Source Network Analysis
Advanced technology and Web-savvy citizenry now make it possible for open-source information gathering to rival, if not surpass, the clandestine intelligence produced by government agencies. Indeed, open-source methods have already proved their worth in counterterrorism. Shortly after Sept. 11, Valdis Krebs, a security expert, re-created the structure and identities of the core Al Qaeda network using publicly available information accessed from the Internet.
By Douglas Raymond and Paula Broadwell
Christian Science Monitor, 08 January, 2007.

In the past only experts did “social network analysis”[SNA], now many smart people are using the software and methods of SNA to solve daily problems and to share learning and sense-making with others. We will look at several popular social network maps that were all created using public information found on the Internet. From international terrorists to local ‘economic terrorists’ we will see how “it takes a network to fight a network.”[1] Taking an SNA approach to a popular web site’s sales data reveals the same political patterns as multi-million dollar national surveys. A top tier business school reveals what they deem important from an SNA of data found on professor’s home pages — MBA applicants take note! Finally, we will see how lobbyists influence legislative outcomes, while maintaining their “distance” and retaining “plausible deniability”.
[1] John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt of Rand Corporation

Katy Börner:
Towards Scholarly Marketplaces
Scholarly marketplaces that provide easy access to scientific data, algorithms, publications, and last but not least expertise require major cyberinfrastructure. They require access to large-scale databases such as the Scholarly Database https://sdb.slis.indiana.edu which integrates and provides access to 20 Mio. publications, patents, and funding awards. Plus, there needs to be a means to efficiently access and workflow diverse data sampling, cleaning, analysis, modeling, and visualization algorithms and to run them on scalable computing infrastructures. These needs are addressed by the Cyberinfrastructure Shell (CIShell) specification we developed, see also http://cishell.org. Building on the Open Services Gateway Initiative (OSGi) specification, CIShell supports the design of user-friendly, plug-and-play cyberinfrastructures such as the Network Workbench. Marketplace transaction data will supply the high quality and high coverage data required to draw the first truly comprehensive map of mankind’s scholarly knowledge. The maps can be used to identify major experts, works, and (funding) resources; to understand the internal structure and external linkages of scientific disciplines; and to keep track of emerging research frontiers or bursts of activity, see also http://scimaps.org.
This research was conducted by members of the Information Visualization Laboratory and the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center at Indiana University directed by Dr. Katy Börner as well as collaborators named in the talk. More information is available at http://ella.slis.indiana.edu/~katy/.

11:30 – 13:30
Parallel sessions

A: Network Theory
Moderator: Geert Lovink

Time and again metaphors have been laid upon on the Internet, with more or less successful results. Metaphors have moved from the sociological to more complex, imaginative categories. Is network itself a metaphor? Networks have grown up, and have been materialized in maps. Most of all, networks have turned from the abstract to a personal, concrete category.

Tincuta Parv:
Fibers, links and networks – a parallel between textiles, data communication systems and social interaction
Textiles webs are among the first conceived models of networking. The history of computational systems often highlights the basic 1/0 model of the weaving machine, as well as Joseph-Marie Jacquard 1802′s automatic loom controlled by punched cards. If this genealogy of computational systems is well known, the paper will try to inventory some of the textile’s technical formal aspects and to compare them with similar aspects of data communications systems. By questioning the formal aspects of social theories, the paper will forward discuss issues as free networking and hypermedia.

Marianne van den Boomen:
E-sociability metaphors: From virtual community to social network and beyond
In this paper it is argued that both the concept of ‘community’ and ‘network’ often function as reifying metaphors in Internet research. The virtual community metaphor, imported from the imagery of a pre-modern village, is connected to a delimited virtual space with a distinct group of communicating users. While pre web and early web ‘social software’ indeed did enable virtual settlements in bordered virtual spaces, this no longer holds for distributed web communication. In the context of for example MySpace and the so called blogosphere aggregated web scripts generate permeable interface borders and a proliferation of heterogeneous information and communication transferences which, while undoubtedly social, elude the community metaphor. The network concept seems more appropriate here, but might turn out to be tricky as well. Especially when invoked simultaneously as a model and as ontology, as in social network analysis, the network might become a reified metaphor, in which unruly qualitative phenomena are superseded by a model of homogenized quantitative relations.

Leslie Kavanaugh:
The Philosophical Foundation of Network Theory: the Reticulum.
In contemporary terms the concept of a network is derived from one of several sources: computer technology; urban design and planning; anatomy, meaning a network of nerves or blood vessels, or a system of intersecting fibers; or a genealogical schema. This paper specifically attempts to excavate the philosophical presuppositions of the term network in order to make the structure more explicit. In turn, the term can be productive as well as descriptive. I propose the concept of the reticulum in order to account philosophically for the autonomy of individuals within an intersubstantial community. The concept of the reticulum is derived not only from Leibnizian metaphysics, inspired by Deleuze, but also from the Latin word, rete meaning net, or network. As an interwoven combination of parts or elements in the structure, the reticulum provides a model of a unified whole without falling into the “traps” befalling traditional metaphysics: the subject-object divide, ontological difference, and totalizing tendencies. As with the Leibnizian notions of inter-substantiality and inter-connectivity between monadic substances, the interface between individuals in a linked reticulum or relationship is critical. Without fixedness, without immutability, without absolutism, we are faced with a chaotic universe in which all objects in extension are relative to one another, fluctuating, transforming, and eternally mutating. Upon first glance, if all individuals are deflected not only by self-generation, but also by interaction with other individuals, how can we describe the relational dynamic?

Verena Kuni:
Subversive Stitches and Revolutionary Knitting Circles. Between art and activism, DIY and prosumer cultures: Weaving new networks in times of Web 2.0.
Crafts and needlework are usually considered as part of a conservative educatory complex apt to train bodies and minds, “learning by doing”, according to equally conservative power structures. However, it seems that the more recent developments in online technologies changed this perspective in significant ways. Not only D.I.Y. techniques, home style handicrafts and needlework in general experience a renaissance so called Web 2.0 applications, but also the old tradition of “Revolutionary Knitting Circles” is revitalized. And while “craftivism” is promoted as cultural technique for cultural jammers, researchers on the cognitive impact of network aesthetics ask in how far meshwork modelling may work as tool for understanding complex processes. But does this really mean traditional concepts of crafts are set out of function? What are the driving forces directing the new codification – and do they really lead to alternative directions? How do we have to judge the role of electronic media, and the new web “2.0″ applications within these developments?

Mirko Tobias Schaefer:
From Network to Foam. Extending the dispositif of user interactions.
The digital culture unfolding on the Internet is widely described with the terms of the ‘community’ and the ‘network’. However both terms tend to fail in describing and theorizing the complex and dynamic interactions of the plurality of human and non-human actors. In this paper I’ll describe the limitations of the metaphors network and community. Following the trail of the Xbox Development Kit (XDK) from its original producer Microsoft to the communities of game console hackers, I’ll demonstrate connections and causal dependencies between user communities and corporate companies and how they are embedded into the socio-technical ecosystem. In consequence this presentation raises the question which agency is causing the fixture of the foam we call digital culture.

B: The Link
Moderator: Richard Rogers

What constitutes linking, and how could we describe its mirror phantom, or rather, its shadow? The link as a reference to another informational object only comes into being as a conscious act. There is no automated process of putting links. And there is no unconscious or subliminal linking either. Linking is tedious work. It’s an effort and should be considered ‘extra work’. There is no routine in linking. It’s a precise job that needs constant control. But the opposite of the conscious link is not the broken but the absent link. What is the lifespan of links and networks?

Iina Hellsten:
Bird Flu as a Public Hype: Networks of Communication on the Web.
The paper focuses on the dynamics of communication networks across the (medical) sciences, news media, and blogs during public hype on bird flu, 2005-2006. Theoretically, the study builds upon research on media hypes, dynamics of metaphors in science communication and sociological theory of communication, all of which have discussed the dynamics of cross-domain communications in society. The paper develops new approaches to the analysis of communication networks: Instead of focusing on hyperlink networks, the paper uses textual references to detect changes in the interactions between the domains, on the Web. The main research questions are: How do interactions between scientific and public communication networks change during a hype (inspired by media studies)? What are the possible, quantitative indicators for the changes in the interactions between such networks during hypes (communication sciences)? Does the use of certain tools of communication (e.g. metaphors) increase or decrease during public hypes (social studies of science)? The results show that the bird flu debate gained sudden momentum in all the three domains (science, media, blogs) in October 2005 when scientific results on structural similarities between the bird flu (H5N1) and the Spanish Flu virus were detected, and when the virus infected wild birds and poultry in Europe for the first time. This amplification of the debate seemed to invite more interactions across the domains, yet at the same time the debate fragmented over time.

Astrid Mager:
Mapping, practicing and thinking “the Internet”. Challenging network thought in the context of online health information
Coming from Science and Technology Studies I aim at discussing “the InterNet” as health information source from a broader, more integrated perspective. Combining different empirical data sources, I will concretely elaborate: How chronic diseases are performed and structured on the Web following a hyperlink network approach, how people navigate through the Web and sort the information provided when looking for a particular disease, and in how far this relates to the narratives, images and metaphors of the Internet they articulate. Drawing on Actor-Network Theory I will further argue that the Internet may not be seen as stable technology that might be represented by a single metaphor such as the network, but rather as enacted in different “actor” constellations such as Web sites, links, search engines, surfers and their interests, Internet skills, search creativity and others. Thus, network thought is challenged by the range of multiple enactments of the Internet users produce as they browse the Internet following and making their own structures and rationales.

Clifford Tatum & Kirsten Foot:
From ad-hoc to infrastructure: The lifecycle of hyperlink networks and its implications for social, cultural, and political activity.
Presented by Clifford Tatum.
Based on our examinations of several hyperlink networks over time, we find what appears to be a distinct network lifecycle that results from the coproduction of informational and structural resources on the web. In this paper we propose that the lifecycle of relatively durable hyperlink networks includes three key stages: the ad-hoc beginnings of a network; a critical period of growth and innovation; and then increasing stability as the network becomes infrastructure for the actors that were involved in its initial creation, and others. To the extent that hyperlink networks reflect this lifecycle, there are several implications for the social, cultural, and/or political activities through which the networks are created. Networks that become infrastructure are broadly available resources appropriated in new rounds of activity, and upon which new layers of activities are inscribed. Understanding the lifecycle of a durable hyperlink network helps illuminate how individual and aggregated actions of web production in the context of broader human activities create online structures that may catalyze and/or constrain future activities in particular ways.

Leah A. Lievrouw & Lilly Nguyen:
Linking and the Network Imaginary
Presented by Lilly Nguyen.
In this paper Lievrouw and Nguyen propose a framework of the network imaginary to explore two particular aspects of linking. The network imaginary framework asserts that actors in mediated places must not only be able to recognize links and the relations they signify within their immediate social contexts; they must also be able to visualize the extension or breakdowns of network relations beyond their immediate situations. Subsequently, this paper will explore the nature of links and how they are generated or constituted through explicit and implicit social phenomena. This paper will also explore the generative and degenerative dynamics of linking that continually and reflexively reshape networks and social action. In turn, they will suggest several directions for the study of links and linking within network theory.

C: Locative Media
Moderator: Jan Simons

The Internet was thought to abolish space and time constraints through media. Wireless and mobile media have are-introduced questions of space and place. Cyberspace and the so-called ‘real world’ converge into what Lev Manovich has called ‘augmented reality,’ and in this ‘augmented reality’ it does matter where you are. Locative media allow people to map and share their own cartographies (which implies the dazzling theoretical possibility that there are as many maps as there are map-makers), but they also allow authorities to keep track of everybody and everything. Locative media might give rise to two extreme forms of claustrophobia: will it be possible to ever break out of one’s own maps, andwill it be possible to keep out of sight?

Adrian MacKenzie:
Wirelessness and radical network empiricism.
This paper develops a post-network theory of that seeks to link technological and economic dimensions of networks. It asks: how should we think about information networks in the light of their transnational profusion as wireless networks saturating domestic, urban, rural, transport and institutional zones? The paper analyses 802.11 wireless networks on several levels. The paper will show how micro, meso and macro-scales of wirelessness create inter-linked zones of corporeal, domestic, urban, transnational and mass media connectivity. The concept of wirelessness connects together a set of perceptions, representation, materials, transactions, problems and events in contemporary media and information cultures. The paper develops an idea of ‘radical empiricism’ drawn from the philosopher William James to ask how feelings associated with convoluted social processes, economic formations, scientific knowledges, and technical infrastructures arise. In this respect, the paper inverts conventional understandings of the network as space of flows or information platform.

Claire Roberge:
The Sedimentation of the Passage: Conceptualizing the Locality Today.
Claire Roberge specializes in the cultural critic of transnational studies. She links local participative action (how to communicate) and the functioning of technologies in juxtaposition of spaces and times. Her research pays particular attention to transnational networked materialities engaged in circulation and the repercussions of mediations and mediatisations in the locality. The title of her thesis : L’espace transnational et la localité : le réseautage et la sédimentation du passage renders a strong theorization about what can be read (sediments) as chosen circulated materialities. Observing a transnational network between six different localities (Costa-Rica, Chili, Brazil, Mauritius, Senegal and Canada), she developed a theorization taking the network beyond the traditional setting to include six passages to the transnational space. This presentation will discuss this network; precisely the theorization that came out of my observations. The analysis answers, partly, Sassens’s question : “What are we aiming at ?”.

Nancy Nisbet:
Stories, Roadmaps and RFID. Exchange; a performance releasing location, memory and identity.
Exchange is a performance that began on May 1, 2006. The goals are 3-fold: to confront the politics of international trade agreements; to question Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) as a surveillance technology; and to resist the imposition of identity determined by geography and data-profiles. Places, people and things become entangled and newly connected in the nomadic performance of trade. The project doesn’t create new maps but rather renders the existing maps simultaneously more meaningful to individuals and less decipherable to systems of power. Personal maps are released from the claustrophobic moorings of the nation state and the suffocating greed of the corporate database.

Sophia Drakopoulou:
Toothing and Bluetoothing; network–fantasy-reality.
The highly publicised ‘Toothing hoax’ involved strangers having sexual encounters on the London tube by enabling their Bluetooth devices. Current Bluetooth scans in London reveal that people create innovative and sexually explicit nicknames for their devices. Users project an image of themselves into a social network – not thinking that this will result to an actual real sexual encounter, but they wish it would. The very wishing creates the fantasy, never to be realised. This paper explores how the fantasy of the existence of a localised virtual network as a social plane for sexual interactions, exited peoples’ imagination.

13:30 – 14:30
LUNCH

14:30 – 16:30
Parallel sessions

A: Networks and Subjectivities
Moderator: Jan Simons

Network theory cannot function without actors, but arguably each network has particular subjects implied or built in, be they old boys, terrorists, credit card transactions. The unexpected might occur. Networks constrain and also script the behaviour of its subjects, but accidents may happen, disruptions may occur. The challenge of the network is to rescript the action or turn the format into a productive constraint for doing subjectivity.

Bernhard Rieder:
Rethinking Structure and Causation in Network Theory.
In the current state of “network theory”, the term “network” is not only highly ambiguous epistemologically (is it a merely a concept of descriptive analysis or do networks claim ontological quality?) but also conceptually (mathematical graphs, forms of human sociability and cabled connections between computers are obviously not one and the same thing). While this openness affords the possibility of relating previously unrelated disciplines, their specific knowledge and modes of inquiry, and the discovery of stunning similarities in behavior of very different classes of phenomena, there is a quite real danger of slipping into the realm of pure metaphorical analogy where the “parliament of things” (Latour) is loosing its force of intervention and difference is silenced by universal connectivity. My contribution will therefore concentrate on questions of classification and differentiation, i.e. the task of identifying commonality and, more importantly, of features or attributes that are not shared by different types of networks, even when they are directly related. The principles of “structure” and “causation” seem to be of particular interest in this context.

Michael Goddard:
Post-Rekombinant Networks or the Transition from the Cognitariat to the Precariat.
This paper will address the fate of Rekombinance as a critical network strategy, especially as expressed by the six-year history of the Rekombinant Website, co-ordinated by Franco Berardi (Bifo) and Matteo Pasquinelli. Drawing inspiration from biotechnology, Rekombinant aimed to be much more than just a typical radical Website, providing information about radical actions and interpretations of current events. Instead, it was aiming at nothing less than a dynamic rekombinant strategy by means of which political action, philosophical thought, cognitive labour and network technologies could creatively intersect, with the aim of facilitating an autonomous production of subjectivity, contesting the hegemonic alliance between neo-liberal capitalism and cognitive labour that had reached its peak in the 1990′s. Crucial to this enterprise was the concept of the cognitariat, the massive virtual class of operators, service and brain workers who, in a response to such events as the dot-com crash were potentially in a position to question the subordination of knowledge to capital and to create other more autonomous network possibilities, maximising the creativity of the human-machine interface and minimising the necessity of its reduction to capitalist exploitation and control. The principle support for this enterprise was the counter-globalisation movement form Seattle 1999 onwards and its claims that another world is possible, which the animators of Rekombinant saw as having a vital application to the radicalisation of cognitive labour, in a creative, network re-invention of the principles of creative autonomy from the 1970′s.This paper, as well as examining this history of rekombinant strategies, will also pose the question of what, in this precarious context, might come to replace these strategies now that the euphoria associated with the counter-globalisation movement, has given way to a much more sober if not depressing network environment; one thing is clear, namely that these strategies will have to be able to respond actively with the fragilities, passivity and pathologies of the contemporary production of subjectivity that are analysed in Franco Berardi’s most recent writings.

Konstantinos Vassiliou:
Subjects that matter: Subjectivity in Network Reality
The omnipresent role of global network structures and the crucial cultural status of widespread media communications enact a dynamic relationship between subjectivity and the network. In pragmatic terms a question that arises from that assumption is whether the network is changing if the subjects that constitute the network are changing. Following an actor-network analysis, I argue that networks are likely to change if the persons that constitute it are different, thus subjectivity gets to be a contributor in the formation of the network. On the other hand if subjectivity cannot be thought as entirely autonomous-as was the case for the modernistic subject- the network is also, in an actor-network environment, forming the subjectivity. Thus, rethinking subjectivity in the network involves the loss of barriers between the subjectivity as a separate entity and as an agent of several network embodied structures. This can have a certain impact on rethinking some concepts of the network in media studies- as authorship, representation and hyper-reality. A strong case made from these points is that subjectivity in the network must be thought in a context that defies humanism in its modernistic version, nevertheless without neglecting the impact of subjectivity on the network functions.

Franz Beitzinger, Natascha Zowislo and Jürgen Schulz:
Saying ‘No’: On the rejection of consensus-oriented communication on the Internet.
Presented by Franz Beitzinger.
It is a somewhat naïve and normatively-burdened idea that the purpose of communication is to create consensus. However, it is easily overlooked that is precisely the ‘No’ and the lack of a goal to reach agreement by no means eradicate communication, but in fact increase the communicative options and connectivity among the participants as conflicting interests and alternative points of view, rather than the aspiration for agreement and harmony, constitute a communicative relationship. Firstly, this paper seeks to illustrate theoretically how the ‘No’ on the Internet can lead to a) the maintenance of the communicative system, b) to the establishment of identity for those actors saying ‘No’, and c) to their gaining meaning in the real world away from the Internet. Secondly, with the help of examples from Internet-based political and anti-corporate protest movements the means and strategies that the Internet itself enables individual and group actors to use the ‘No’ to establish and secure their own identity will be examined. Thirdly, this paper analyses how the targets of the protest, the antagonists of the protest movement (corporations or political parties), can successfully deal with dissent-oriented protest on the Internet in order to avoid having their own prominent position exploited for the purposes of the protest group in the aforementioned way.

Ulises Ali Mejias:
Hyperlocality and the tyranny of nodes.
A defining characteristic of networked sociality is the overcoming of physical space. Information and communication technologies (ICT’s) have allowed social groups to shift from densely-knit location-based communities to sparsely-knit networks unbound to any specific physical space. Thus, the network introduced what has been heralded as the ‘death of distance.’ But we have seen recently a return to a concern with the local. Accessible, low-cost, and mobile technologies promise to deliver a form of ‘hyperlocality’ that re-connects us to our immediate surroundings in supposedly more meaningful ways. But what biases does the hyperlocal exhibit? When social relevance is defined in terms of presence within the network, what we have is a shift from physical proximity to informational availability as the defining feature of ‘nearness.’ Thus, the network actualizes a form of epistemological exclusivity that can only ‘see’ nodes. In this presentation, I intend to explore how hyperlocality works to render as near only those elements in our environment that are available through the network, and obscures what lies in the interstices.

B: Networking and Social Life
Moderator: Ramesh Srinivasan

‘Networking’ continues to be encouraged in our professional lives, but no one seems to have thought through how life would be guided if we apply network theory to professional ‘networking’ rather literally. As network scientists’ terms and ideas spread, it is of interest to speculate about one’s social life, governed by the power law, preferential attachment, hubs, self-organization, swarming and cascading effects. To network in a colloquial sense, essentially is to connect oneself with a hub. As the hub receives more connections (or becomes ‘preferentially attached’), the hub may become a superconnector, handling a disproportionately large number of connections relative to those of the other hubs in the overall network. As the network continues to grow through self-organisation, general knowledge of the existence of the superconnector may cause swarming behaviour.
A superconnector, network science reports, has the greatest vulnerabilities, however. If the superconnector cannot handle the traffic, the network breaks down. If there’s breakdown, with or without cascading effects, which determines the extent of the damage, you’re on your own again. One implication is that one should continue to seek fresh hubs (as long as they last), and keep them from becoming overheated superconnectors. Hub-seeking behaviour, along with superconnector-care, come to guide social life.

Yukari Seko:
Acting Out Network: Self-destructive Murmurs in the Blogosphere.
The Internet has become a discursive space where interactants actively discuss not only mainstream topics but socially-marginalized interests such as suicide or self-injury (SI). While some go online to seek for mutual supports from like-minded others, others adapt online venues as another medium to monologically disclose their pent-up struggles. Weblogging (blogging) can be viewed as a unique platform of monological writing in which bloggers chronicle their daily life for public consumption. Focusing on ambivalent characteristics of blogs – monological and dialogical, – I aim to map the friendship network of one suicidal/SI blogger. The finding suggests that through networking process the blogger’s SI habits are tacitly recognized as a productive (albeit temporal) solution both by authors and readers. This shared legitimation of SI behavior indicates that a grass-roots network of “acting out” plays a significant role in construction of discursive identity.

Kristoffer Gansing:
Community (New) Media – Public access in the age of networked social media.
How are alternative media networks being formulated when the main cultural drive actually seems to be towards the Web 2.0 ideals of social media? Is there still any radical potential left in a concept of Community (New) Media? The base for the investigation is research on the state of non-commercial community media in Denmark and the case of the artist-run local TV-station tv-tv. What is the meaning of the station’s slogan “everybody can make TV” in a culture where everybody actually can make TV? Traditionally, alternative media networks have stressed the importance of the non-commercial, but new “free” Internet tools for media publishing re-introduce the commercial in deceptive ways. Old alt media networks are simply lacking the understanding of the criteria behind Internet participation in the Web 2.0 culture. In the presentation I will explore the need for rethinking the role of alternative “public access” media in the paradoxical context of the “massive de-massification” of social media networks.

Alice Verheij:
Re-thinking network theory and analysis concerning social care networks in the Internet age. A case description.
For my PhD research project I am studying structures, influences, limitations and challenges concerning organizations and networks involved in social care for gender dysphoric people. By it’s nature the transgender community is a closed community making extensive use of the possibilities of the internet for knowledge gathering and sharing and self-support. To perform a network study in this environment it needs to be executed ‘from the inside out’, meaning one needs to be part of the community.
A large part of the study is concerned with peoples experiences with social care processes also through internet fora and knowledge sharing websites. Especially the influence of these on the regular health ad social care is a research goal with specific challenges to the researcher. Does this all require new ways of network research and a new network theory?

Kimberly de Vries:
Desire, Dissent and Differentiation: Sustaining Growth in Virtual Networks.
Many if not all virtual communities have been spawned out of the
founders’ desire to find others who share their views, pleasures,
distastes, and obsessions. The early net communities were generally peopled by users who shared a propensity toward play or fantasy, but the population of Internet users has diversified and grown to include many people coming to net communities for many reasons beyond these initial desires. This growth has challenged communities to accommodate the demands of new participants and some have been stretched to dissolution. Studying communities that have survived and evolved reveals that they all find ways to identify and meet the changing desires of their members, often by adopting a hybrid form. For this study, three websites are examined: neilgaiman.com, warrenellis.com, and sequentialtart.com. Choices about who controls contributions and interaction on these sites as well as differing technical approaches suggest many possible axes of comparison but commonalities may yet be insufficient to justify the creation of fixed categories to contain our thoughts on the evolution of social networks. Instead we may productively complicate the simple and idealistic theories currently popular.

Kenneth Werbin:
The List Serves: Bare Life in Cybernetic Order.
Historicizing the use of lists in power/knowledge contexts prior to the emergence of internet-based technologies, ‘The List Serves: Bare Life in Cybernetic Order’ probes questions of list culture; arguing that the Third Reich’s engagement of a conjunction of early Hollerith/IBM computing technology, listing practices, and discourses of identification and control of ‘bare life,’ represents the first cybernetic feedback system for maintaining social order. Investigating how this conjunction continues to resonate and reverberate in today’s increasingly cybernetic order, this research argues that list culture involves dialectic operations; at once carving out knowledge, and at the same time opening up questions about the constitution of categories and classes by virtue of grouping people/items together.

C: Art and Info-Aesthetics
Moderator: Warren Sack

Going beyond the first generation of net.art, how we envision art forms that utilize networks either as source material or environment? Since the first network drawings there has been a sharp increase in ‘mapping’. It is known that it is hard to imagine networks without a graph in mind. Now we speak in terms of ‘visualization’ which takes us away from the technicality. There is a growing gap between the increased visualization and our understanding of these maps, and networks in general.

Olga Kisseleva:
LANDSTREAM
Land-stream is an experimental program, which creates a representation of landscape through the analysis of flows (stream) which cross a given space (land). The work takes a pictorial form, which can be static or animated. In this landscapes their initial scientific data are transformed into visual information. Today, when our identity is defined especially by our position in the network, by the information which we emit and which we receive, we fix our attention on these invisible flows and we try to determine their importance, their form and their direction. Thus, the landscape – land(scape) – is not any more one simple relief. It becomes an association of the waves and signals (stream): land-stream.

Wayne Clements:
An Eternal Engine
‘Why does reason not advance smoothly and unhindered?’ A response to this question explores the creation and destruction of lexical effluents as by-product of the use of social software. This process is reconsidered, and presented as a development of a medieval cabbalistic machine. This machine, in its contemporary form, produces as its by-product an unwanted residue. This remainder, as the derivative of a networked machine, is available for re-use. It is argued that instead of their destruction, these leftovers of the process of knowledge production are preserved and recycled.

Jacob Lillemose:
Heath Bunting from physical space to the net and back again
With Heath Bunting’s seminal work created from the mid 90s to today as my focus I wish to discuss the aesthetics involved in his ’translation’ of concepts and practices from the digital space of the net to physical space. I 1997 at the height of his fame Bunting with Duchampian tongue-in-cheek declared that he would retire as a net artist. Formally he did quit the net art scene, but conceptually and in practice he took his net art to a necessary next level. Thus, he went on to produce a series of work in nature and urban space that developed notions of networks and related notions of hacking, sharing, information access and free culture that were integral to his net art works. I will follow this artistic development to argue that it challenges us to expand current aesthetics of net art works beyond the pure digital realm and that it expresses a productive critique of technology in the society of information.

Katja Mayer:
Imag(in)ing Networks
Network cultures share imaginations of networks. Despite the lack of a consistent scientific network theory, a coherent trans-theoretical trend in today’s network visualization can be observed: even if underlying data and purposes are very divergent, their images look similar. They are created from the same technical and graphical dispositives and produced by similar optimization algorithms for topological problems within the constraints of digital information visualization. Images of networks are complex assemblages themselves. In my presentation I will analyze practices of epistemic image production in Social Network Analysis in respect to the use of certain graphical metaphors and aesthetic traditions, which already come standardized in imaging techniques and therefore escape our attention.

Olga Goriunova:
Internet platforms: cultural production in late capitalism
The talk examines various genres of Internet platforms as instruments artistic and cultural production manifests and develops itself through in the digital age. Art platforms and participatory platforms (aka Web 2.0) are analyzed as different techno-ideological mechanisms aimed at crystallization of a cultural practice or self-realization and optimization of social life. Further, they are regarded as practices united by the quest for creativity in the social context. Creativity embodies the central problematic of today’s cultural development: on one hand, it is traditionally understood as the basic emancipatory human activity, on the other hand, it is a resource late capitalism draws upon. The final part of the talk considers failures of Creative Commons and resulting concepts of Free Culture to grasp the nature of production of value in the cultural sphere, their inability to draft the political project of open culture, and considers ways in which online platforms can be seen as structures mirroring the “circulation of struggles” and hosting resistances in their momentarily incarnations of open culture.

Saturday June 30

10.00 – 12.00
Parallel sessions

A: Actor-Network Theory and Assemblage
Moderator: Noortje Marres

What is special about actor-network theory is that it aspires to take into account the non-humans and emphasize translations or redefinitions. All entities are transformed by their enrolment in specific networks, and their capacities and agency derive from this enrolment. Whilst actor-network theory proposes a dynamic ontology, in its account the main aim of network-building is to produce stable spaces. Actor-network theory was developed to account for socio-technical networks built with the aid of science and technology (shellfish, vaccinations, statistics, diesel engine, seatbelt), but now our question is what becomes of this approach when it is applied to particular new media practices, such as advocacy, publicity and DIY/domestic media. What are the peculiarities of these media practices that would be a productive challenge for actor-network theory?

Thomas Berker:
Suffering in Networks. An exploration into conceptions of marginality, conflict and exploitation in network theories.
What is suffering, what is marginality, conflict, and exploitation in a network? In this contribution I approach these topics using the tools provided by among others Castells/Sassen, Latour/Law, and Deleuze/Guattari. The aim of this exercise is to provide an exploratory taxonomy of how to (re)think suffering in the light of network theories.

Betina Szkudlarek:
Actor-Network Theory – ontologizing realities.
In this paper work of Callon, Latour, Law and other representatives of Actor-Network Theory is employed in order to explore three different approaches relevant and valuable for understanding of organizational processes. I aim at a wide-ranging, yet pragmatic, application of ANT to the area of organization studies. Tracing back an evolution of the theory I will try to ‘perform’ ANT in its distinctive modes. I list and
elaborate on three different forms of social topologies and resulting from them three distinctive objects that can be enacted; namely a network, a region and a fluid. Moreover, in my application I attempt to remodel, adapt and carry out an ANT approach suitable and sensitive to an analysis of organizational processes.

Michael Dieter:
Open Cartographies, On Assembling Things Through Locative Media
This paper applies the recent work of Bruno Latour on object-orientated democracy and assemblage theory in order to complicate an instrumentalist definition of locative technology. In particular, I want to examine how a reflexive approach, inspired by Actor-Network-Theory, is able to trace flows of agency across multiple locations; not simply charting the course through which a triggered locative media event unravels, but openly diagramming the alternate layers of actors, space and time operating as
conditions of possibility. This is of critical importance, I will argue, in order to distinguish the operation of mobile and digital devices from the imperatives of control, surveillance and commercial spectacle characteristic of the contemporary urban experience.

B: Networks and Social Movements
Moderator: Eric Kluitenberg

“The whole world is watching,” is what demonstrators at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 shouted in Haskall Wexler’s film MEDIUM COOL (USA, 1969). Media networks were seen as a critical source for information, knowledge, and enlightment where you had to make sure you got your message through. Nowadays, media networks have become a target of irony, parody, and mockery, and as means of disconnection as well as tools for connecting movements. Activists rather organize networks through physical movements from event to event and through material objects like leaflets. Are we seeing the signs of post-network social movements?

David Garcia:
Faith in Exposure
The paper will question one of the foundational myths of modernity; the widely held belief that ‘knowledge will set you free’. I will use selected visual material from the exhibition I curated entitled Faith in Exposure, as the starting point for a candid examination of how the concept of freedom has changed in the era of networks, arguing that freedom and democracy have actually been transformed since their fates became entangled with the Internet. These are not abstract arguments, there is a great deal at stake as in both in the history of media networks and a wider political history, the concept of freedom enjoys a unique moral status. From early modernity to this day those seeking respect, recognition equality and economic social justice seldom make these claims in isolation but usually as corollaries of liberty.

Charli Carpenter:
Assessing Virtual Networks: Human Rights Advocacy in Real- and Cyberspace.
To what extent do online issue networks serve as a proxy for their real-space counterparts in structure and substance? My paper will examine this question through an analysis of the human rights network. Two specific questions will be explored. First, how closely the structure of issue networks as represented on the World Wide Web correspond with actual advocates’ understanding of the players within a specific issue domain? This will be studied by comparing hyperlinks among advocacy websites in the women’s rights networks with survey responses from actual participants in those networks to determine whether hyperlinks provide a useful proxy for advocates’ understandings of who the “gatekeepers” in a network are. Second, to what extent does the online issue agenda correlate to the most prominent issues described by real-space advocates within a transnational network? To study this, I will compare the prominence of issues online in these networks, as determined by a content analysis of advocacy websites, to human rights activists’ survey responses regarding the “most important issue.” This method follows scholars of domestic agenda-setting in attempting to capture the “agenda” in both online and real-space transnational sites and examine the extent to which they correlate or, alternatively, seem disconnected.

Paolo Gerbaudo:
Navigating the World Social Forum. Individual orientation in a central node of the global activists’ network
The World Social Forum has created a new “space” and scale for encounter between civil society organisations and independent participants. It constitutes one of the most original and visible new “informal institutions” which have been developed in the context of the politics of alternative globalisation. It also represents the occasion for a networking bonanza. This is due to the nature of the World Social Forum as a central symbolic and material node in a global activists’ network, where the different spatial trajectories traced by participants’ political mobility intersect, together with the connection to a shared host of alternative media outlets and complex sets of interpersonal linkages. In this paper I will analyse how the experience of different individual participants in the forum are articulated by their position within these different networks, and how from this location they develop an orientation within the symbolic and material territory of the forum which help them make sense of their interaction with it. In particular I will analyse participants’ global orientation – orientation to the event as a whole -, and local orientation – orientation towards different events held during the forum – and how they are developed in connection with participants’ position within different networks. Moreover I will consider a series of communicative and spatial closures which characterise such networks and the consequences for patterns of mobilisation at both the local and global level.

Megan Boler:
The Politics of ‘Truthiness:’ Digital Dissent and Satire as Networks of Activism
How have networks of “digital dissent” countered the spin of U.S. media and politicians over the last four years? What is the role of satire and “fake” news shows like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert? Drawing on our three-year study ‘Rethinking Media, Democracy and Citizenship’ (including 40 interviews with producers of web-based dissent), I present viral video clips that address corporate media and politician’s lies regarding invasion of Iraq and “selection” of George W. Bush. What are users’ and producers’ motivations for engaging in online political engagement? Do online participants feel they have a public voice and/or political efficacy? Our survey and interviews provide new insights about these crises of truth.

John Duda:
Bodies and Swarms: Networks, Multitude, and Biology
Whereas political theory since at least John of Salisbury and Thomas Hobbes has thought the social body in analogy with natural living bodies, a new biology of emergent morphology and distributed causality has made it possible to approach networked political organization as directly connected to the investigation of vital processes. According to Hardt and Negri, the activity of the multitude and the life of the swarm depend on the same underlying dynamics of auto-organization. Within the context of their political project, this claim demands that the network can be understood as an efficacious but ultimately ethically neutral form of organization, while simultaneously valorizing the political content of the network as such. The new democracy of the multitude becomes indistinguishable from its technological basis—a globalized network of multiply connected and continuously communicating nodes—and yet this basis remains fundamentally implicated in the logic of late capitalism. Using Hardt and Negri’s own comments on swarms and swarming in “Multitude”, as well as biologist Brian Goodwin’s remarks on the epigenesis of the social body in “How The Leopard Changed Its Spots,” I want to confront two competing notions of the politics of multitude: a positive conception which sees the flesh of the common in the organization of a new social body, and a negative conception which understands the multitude to stand for a generalized disruption, a resistance “without organs”. If it is possible to resolve the ambiguity between the (quasi-)teleology of the self-organized body and the promise of freedom in the networked encounter, what implications can be drawn for the design of the political and technological networks we are engaged in constructing?

C: Mobility and Organization
Moderator: Sebastian Olma

How are we coping with the space of flows, as Munuel Castells described them? How do scholars these days define the relation between networks and organization, beyond the early euphoria of the ‘virtual office’? What is the dominant business rhetoric, a decade after the rise of the network society?

Marga van Mechelen:
Glocalisation as a curatorial and artistic mission.
The subject of my talk, which is related to my (ASCA) research project Practices in art as network practices, are several conceptions of the term ‘glocalisation’ and their relation to some recent art projects and curatorial practices. In recent years old object orientated art practices are ousted by new global as well as local network practices. Remote areas got access to the international art discours that stimulated new democratic structures to bridge cultural, ethnic, social and gender related gaps, but also the reflection on how being directed on global issues and at the same time engaged with local affairs. It is this duality of global/local, often contracted in the adjective ‘glocal’ that I will focus on, asking also questions such as: What kind of operations are brought into action, who is the addressee and what are the goals of these art practices?

Robert van Boeschoten:
The executive language: Coding the future.
Making sense of Interactive Media project has a lot to do with the use of tools in the process of interaction. This is based on a relation between language and code. What are the embodied signifiers and how do we find our ideals for the future in it? By looking at the process of interaction between these two elements, this paper hopes to shed some light on the creation of value in interdisciplinary work by dealing with different perspectives.

12:00 – 13:00
LUNCH

13.00 – 15:00
Parallel sessions

A: Anomalous Objects and Processes

Network objects and processes are increasingly characterized by the presence of so-called “bad objects” like viruses, worms, spam, unwanted porn, and so forth. The aim of this panel is to address the question concerning these anomalous objects. In what sense are these bad objects anomalous? And is there, in fact, a certain logic of anomality underpinning contemporary network culture; a counterintuitive logic that escapes the dualisms of good and bad and normal and abnormal? If so, this would imply that these objects are not etymologically “anomalous”, that is, “outside series”, “irregular”, “accidental.” The aim of this panel is to address the question of anomalies by seeking conceptual, analytic and synthetic pathways out of the binary impasse between the good and bad and the normal vs. the abnormal.

Jussi Parikka:
Bad Bits: Software and Incorporeal Events
How can software be bad? During the 1980s, a certain incorporeal transformation took place. Due to the new (economic) importance paid to software and network processes, various kinds of self-reproductive and metastable forms of network processes became turned into forms of “bad bits”, unwanted software. During the 1980s, this meant the birth of “viruses” as a key category of malicious software, but included also a host of much further spanning procedures, which exemplified how software code is always embedded in larger assemblages. Material processes have their own duration that is not reducible to signification, but at the same time acts of order-words impose actual transformations in terms of categories, definitions and events. Deleuze and Guattari refer to the incorporeal transformation of an airplane (the plane-body) into a prison-body in a hijacking situation where the transformation is enacted by the “mass media act” as an order word. Similarly, a computer virus has been turned in various assemblages of enunciation (such as mass media acts) into malicious software, a security problem but also a piece of net art, an artificial life project or also a potential beneficial utility program. The presentation approaches this distribution of code across a panorama of societal contexts and discusses the order-words that delineated, channeled and transformed certain bits into societal concerns, “bad bits.”

Richard Rogers:
The Internet treats censorship as a malfunction and routes around it? A new media approach to the study of state Internet censorship.
The research approach put forward here is an exercise in reorienting the study of state Internet censorship. Until now the dominant approach may be described as one that treats Websites as books. To think in terms of single Websites as blocked or accessible in particular countries, like books banned or not banned, also follows from how most filtering software works – it blocks sites from pre-installed URL lists (blacklists). The paper first provides a brief critique of the current approach to Internet censorship research. Generally, here, the Web is not thought of as comprising discrete sites only, that should be found individually and listed as well as described as one would do when hosting a directory. Rather, the Web is considered to be an information circulation space, where ‘routing around censorship’ is labour-intensive. The question becomes how Internet censorship research changes when one begins with hypermedia assumptions. Subsequently, three new media-style approaches to Internet censorship research are introduced: related site dynamic URL sampling, redistributed content discovery and surfer re-routing. The paper includes a discussion of the double-edged implications of such Internet censorship research, including its value to the censor.

Tony Sampson:
On Anomalous Objects of Digitality. An introduction.
Networks are becoming increasingly accidental. Estimates vary, but between 40-80% of daily email traffic is considered surplus to need (spam, viruses, worms etc). However, despite the obvious frustrations, these anomalies often contradict the ostensible friction-free essence of electronic networks and can be understood as novel events, expressive of an open and transformational milieu. Along these lines, this introductory paper draws upon a collection of articles due to be published in The Spam Book (Parikka & Sampson, 2008) in order to highlight ways in which symbiotic network processes not only destabilise the identity of the network, but also challenge the familiar substance/accident dichotomy.

B: Networks and movements: an interdisciplinary conversation
Moderator: Mario Diani

What is the interplay between online and offline relations with and among networks? This session looks empirically into whether collective actions should be thought about in terms of networking. Is there a possible tension between physicality of social movements and intangible quality of networks?

Claudia Padovani & Elena Pavan:
Between Issue and Social Network. Insights from an ongoing research on mobilization on Communication Rights in Italy.
Presented by Elena Pavan.
In the knowledge age, information, communication and related technologies are not only instruments to foster, coordinate and sustain collective action but have become also a site of struggle around which advocacy networks are shaping and developing, nationally as well as trans-nationally. Common discourses, strategies and actions in this context develop both online and offline. A network approach to the investigation of these dynamics seems useful in order to portray the continuous interplay among different levels of practice, the creative use of technologies and the potential impact of mobilizations. This work focuses on the Italian context and shows how issue and social network approaches can productively be jointly applied in the study of communication rights mobilizations. Research questions will be addressed concerning the meaning of networking activities, their features, the meaning of ties (or of their absence) and the role of technology in fostering practices of social networking.

Giorgia Nesti & Matteo Cernison:
Advocacy networks and policy networks in the European Union: the case of media pluralism.
Presented by Giorgia Nesti.
European governance processes are often labeled as ambiguous. The EU institutional context is marked by high complexity, due to the technical nature of the issues at stake;but is also characterized by weakness, due to its political structure, where political parties and representative institutions are underestimated. In order to cope with complex issues and to gain consent and legitimacy, the European Commission has engaged civil society (i.e. interest groups) in policy networks. What emerges is a polycentric system of policy-making where governmental and non governmental actors, mainly from the business sector, take relevant technical decisions and exert influence on policy regulation. Taking European policy for media pluralism as a case-study, the paper is aimed at: a) mapping governmental and non governmental policy networks currently emerging in the context of European media regulation; b) assessing their potential impact on decision-making; c) exploring political implications for the development of a democratic European polity.

Stefania Milan:
Networks of radical tech collectives: Social logic and technological dimensions of emancipatory practices in the field of digital communication.
In response to the commodification of digital communication infrastructures and the subsequent threats to the privacy of individuals and groups, over the past few years we witnessed the emergence of a number of autonomous groups whose aim is to counteract the politics of surveillance enacted by states and capital by providing alternative communications channels. Both tool and part of contemporary social movements, they embody a strong emancipatory mission: free fellow activists from the burdens of commercial web services and empower them through the creative use of free software. Core values include self-organisation, self-determination, equal access and free flow of information. Examples include the Italian server Autistici, offering web-hosting, email accounts and list-serves, the British-German Plentyfact but also more established groups as the British GreenNet. Drawing from a number of interviews with radical techies, the paper will present an overview of the European radical tech collectives, their connections, social logics and technological dimensions.

Francesca Forno:
Consumption Styles and Digital Networks in Italy.
ICTs have been said to play an increasing important role in the development of alternative political repertoires of action and campaigning. ICTs do not just have an instrumental function. Differently form 19th and 20th century newspapers and underground press, websites provide multiple sources of identification available, being a permanent setting of representation for groups and individuals. Focusing on the way ICTs are used by organisations engaged in the promotion of alternative ways of consumption grounded in solidarity principles, the paper exemplify how the Internet and Internet-based methods can be used to study the formation of new social and political actors and actions.

Claudius Wageman & Manuela Caiani
The extreme right, networks, and the internet: a comparison of the multi-organizational field of the extreme right in Italy and Germany.
Presented by Claudius Wageman.
‘Networks’ are increasingly important for the extreme right. On the one hand, right-wing extremists use the internet in order to fix dates; arrange events; and to communicate quickly and effectively with each other. This way helps avoiding too much visibility with hostile forces. On the other hand, the right-wing sector in general increasingly relies on network organizational structures. Fix structures are avoided, since they would permit state authorities to intervene against them. Through social network analysis based on web linkages between organizations, our paper aims to explore the structure and the nature of the multi-organizational field of the Italian and German extreme right, both with regard the communication and the organizational dimension.

C: The Global and the Local
Moderator: Reinder Rustema

It’s easy to deconstruct McLuhan’s ‘global village’ and even more so to reject place-specific metaphors such as ‘digital city’ and ‘homepage’ as retro constructs. If we downplay the totalizing syntheses of the local and global, we run the risk to misunderstand important cultural dynamics within networks. Instead of pushing ‘the local’ as a universal solution for today’s problems, we have to carefully re-assess the interaction between ‘place’ and ‘flow’. The importance of language, cultural identities, gender and race are not ‘politically correct’ items in some discursive chess play but are valuable elements in a patchwork of case studies that tell us how networks are both embedded and escape the traditional understanding of locality.

Ramesh Srinivasan:
Conceptualizing Semantics and Ontologies in a New Network Era
This talk will explore several dimensions of my global cross-cultural collaborative research with ethnically-diverse populations, the focus being the study of how technologies may be sculpted to represent diverse epistemologies held by ethnic, indigenous, and diasporic populations. I shall argue that as the syntax and structure of cultural discourses fundamentally differentiates communities, systems also must acknowledge such differences. Databases can begin to take on attributes of complex adaptive systems, and the ‘universality’ of top-down web systems can be de-bunked. This movement shall be described relative to several of my field-based ethnographic projects with indigenous communities, including a. The National Science Foundation funded Emergent Databases collaboration with the Zuni, NM. b. Historical work done with the Native tribes of Southern California
and c. Ongoing work with South Asian migrants in the Los-Angeles region. Each of these projects weaves ethnographic, system design, and participatory action-type methods to uncover data that reveals the power of database-driven systems to serve local sociocultural realities.

Jana Nikuljska:
Communicative Societies in a Networked World.
Societies differ in the ways they communicate, within themselves and with others. They vary in the grounds on which communication is established, what its drivers are once initiated, what is productive and what destructive in nurturing communication, and so on. Macedonia is very much a communicative society. An experience is not truly experienced, until it is shared. And the collective experience for the past decade – in which visa requirements from very liberal were made extremely stringent – has been an inward one, where much of the information about the outside world was gathered and aspects of communication within Macedonian society were harnessed through the Net. Social software has complemented a traditionally and intuitively embedded sense for networking. Old and new aspects of communication have mixed in a unique local experience.

Deborah Wheeler:
The Political Importance of Internet Cafes in Jordan and Egypt.
This paper provides an overview of the kinds of people hanging out in internet cafes in Jordan and Egypt. It profiles their use, in terms of how many hours they spend on line, what they do on-line and in their own words, how such access has changed their lives. This paper concludes with an analysis of what internet use among the masses might mean for the future of Arab politics, specifically for the persistence of authoritarianism in the region.

15.30 – 17.30
Closing session conference

Noortje Marres:
The special effect of issue-affectedness. On being sensitive to the normative charges of networks.
In recent times, the concept of the network has served as a heuristic for deflating the normative dimensions of social life. It has assisted in the marginalization of notions like ‘class’, ‘domination’ and ‘discipline’ as it opened up a world that is no longer troubled by a constitutive problematics, but consists of an open-ended set of lateral connections. However, an earlier theoretical tradition, namely American Pragmatism, in a sense made the opposite move: it placed networks at the center of social theory in order to account for the social problems of technological societies. Thus, John Dewey argued that to develop a grasp of the challenges of industrial life, we must focus on the everchanging distributions of effects of industry, migration and innovation that keep disrupting social life. In this talk, I will take the pragmatist commitment to do justice to this dramatic dimension of industrial life as a starting point for formulating a few requirements for network theory. Firstly, I will discuss the importance of not distinguishing too strictly between various types of networks (transport, communication, and substance flows). As actor-network theory has suggested, it is precisely out of the interferences among heterogenous connections that issues arise. Secondly, I will highlight one modality of connection in particular, that of affect. Importantly, pragmatism suggested that social problems are articulated in events, in which distributed actors are demonstrably affected by an issue. This raises the question of how, in such events of ‘issuefication,’ social ties become charged with this affect of issue-affectedness. Finally, I discuss the ambivalence of networked forms of issue formation. As affective charges may not translate into anything else, due to the unreliability of network connections, issue-affectedness may easily turn into a deception to be resisted.

Matthew Fuller:
Requests, Recommendations and Standards: RFC10 and reflexive engineering.
Cultural theory is always looking to find that moment when it can say , ‘Ha! This engineering stuff, it has an embedded cultural predeterminations, we will be the sweet angels who reveal them’. RFC 10, a foundational document in the development of the Internet is a set of rules of thumb for the discussion of network architecture which explicitly includes cultural concerns and the ethic of an open network. This text will be used as a basis for the discussion of the cultural effects of Requests, Recommendations and Standards and the development of the semantic web.

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Discussion List

This list is set up to prepare for the New Network Theory event in Amsterdam (June 28-30, 2007), organized by the Institute of Network Cultures (Amsterdam Polytechnic), Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA).

To subscribe to this list, go to: http://listcultures.org/mailman/listinfo/networktheory_listcultures.org

When subscribed, you can post to this list by sending your email to:
networktheory(at)listcultures.org

The list is meant for all those interested in the topic, and will possibly continue after the event in June 2007.

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Program Outline

New Network Theory
International conference
28-30 June, 2007
Amsterdam, Netherlands

New Network Theory is organized by:
Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA),
Institute of Network Cultures (Interactive Media, Amsterdam Polytechnic, HvA), and
Media Studies, University of Amsterdam.

Program Outline:
Click here for a pdf version of the program outline.

Thursday June 28
Friday June 29
Saturday June 30

Thursday 28 June – Public Event
Location: University of Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, Room D0.08
Registration desk: University of Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, main hall.
Lunch at Atrium, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 237, restaurant.

9:30
Doors open, coffee & tea

10:00
Welcome by Geert Lovink, Richard Rogers, Jan Simons

10:15 – 12:30
Morning session
Moderator: Richard Rogers

Siva Vaidhyanathan
Tiziana Terranova
Wendy Chun

12:30 – 13:30
LUNCH at Atrium

13:30 – 15:30
Early afternoon session
Moderator: Geert Lovink

Alan Liu
Anna Munster
Rob Stuart

15:30 – 15:45
TEA/COFFEE

15:45 – 17:45
Late afternoon session
Moderator: Matthew Fuller

Warren Sack
Olia Lialina
Florian Cramer

Friday June 29
Registration desk: University of Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, main hall.
Location intro & plenary: University of Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, room D0.08.
Lunch at Atrium, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 237, restaurant.
Parallel Sessions A: Atrium, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 237, room 2.13
Parallel Sessions B: Turfdraagsterpad 9, room 0.04
Parallel Sessions C: Turfdraagsterpad 9, room 0.13

9:30 – 9:45
Introduction by Geert Lovink, Richard Rogers and Jan Simons

9:45 – 11:30
Plenary Session
Moderator: Richard Rogers

Nosh Contractor
Valdis Krebs
Katy Börner

11:30 – 13:30
Parallel sessions

A: Network Theory
Moderator: Geert Lovink

LUNCH at Atrium

Time and again metaphors have been laid upon on the Internet, with more or less successful results. Metaphors have moved from the sociological to more complex, imaginative categories. Is network itself a metaphor? Networks have grown up, and have been materialized in maps. Most of all, networks have turned from the abstract to a personal, concrete category.

Tincuta Parv
Marianne van den Boomen
Leslie Kavanaugh
Verena Kuni
Mirko Tobias Schaefer

B: The Link
Moderator: Richard Rogers

What constitutes linking, and how could we describe its mirror phantom, or rather, its shadow? The link as a reference to another informational object only comes into being as a conscious act. There is no automated process of putting links. And there is no unconscious or subliminal linking either. Linking is tedious work. It’s an effort and should be considered ‘extra work’. There is no routine in linking. It’s a precise job that needs constant control. But the opposite of the conscious link is not the broken but the absent link. What is the lifespan of links and networks?

Iina Hellsten
Astrid Mager
Clifford Tatum
Lilly Nguyen

C: Locative Media
Moderator: Jan Simons

The Internet was thought to abolish space and time constraints through media. Wireless and mobile media have are-introduced questions of space and place. Cyberspace and the so-called ‘real world’ converge into what Lev Manovich has called ‘augmented reality,’ and in this ‘augmented reality’ it does matter where you are. Locative media allow people to map and share their own cartographies (which implies the dazzling theoretical possibility that there are as many maps as there are map-makers), but they also allow authorities to keep track of everybody and everything. Locative media might give rise to two extreme forms of claustrophobia: will it be possible to ever break out of one’s own maps, andwill it be possible to keep out of sight?

Adrian MacKenzie
Claire Roberge
Nancy Nisbet
Sophia Drakopoulou

13:30 – 14:30
LUNCH at Atrium

14:30 – 16:30
Parallel sessions

A: Networks and Subjectivities
Moderator: Jan Simons

Network theory cannot function without actors, but arguably each network has particular subjects implied or built in, be they old boys, terrorists, credit card transactions. The unexpected might occur. Networks constrain and also script the behaviour of its subjects, but accidents may happen, disruptions may occur. The challenge of the network is to rescript the action or turn the format into a productive constraint for doing subjectivity.

Bernhard Rieder
Michael Goddard
Konstantinos Vassiliou
Franz Beitzinger
Ulises Ali Mejias

B: Networking and Social Life
Moderator: Ramesh Srinivasan

‘Networking’ continues to be encouraged in our professional lives, but no one seems to have thought through how life would be guided if we apply network theory to professional ‘networking’ rather literally. As network scientists’ terms and ideas spread, it is of interest to speculate about one’s social life, governed by the power law, preferential attachment, hubs, self-organization, swarming and cascading effects. To network in a colloquial sense, essentially is to connect oneself with a hub. As the hub receives more connections (or becomes ‘preferentially attached’), the hub may become a superconnector, handling a disproportionately large number of connections relative to those of the other hubs in the overall network. As the network continues to grow through self-organisation, general knowledge of the existence of the superconnector may cause swarming behaviour.
A superconnector, network science reports, has the greatest vulnerabilities, however. If the superconnector cannot handle the traffic, the network breaks down. If there’s breakdown, with or without cascading effects, which determines the extent of the damage, you’re on your own again. One implication is that one should continue to seek fresh hubs (as long as they last), and keep them from becoming overheated superconnectors. Hub-seeking behaviour, along with superconnector-care, come to guide social life.

Yukari Seko
Kristoffer Gansing
Alice Verheij
Kimberly de Vries
Kenneth Werbin

C: Art and Info-Aesthetics
Moderator: Warren Sack

Going beyond the first generation of net.art, how we envision art forms that utilize networks either as source material or environment? Since the first network drawings there has been a sharp increase in ‘mapping’. It is known that it is hard to imagine networks without a graph in mind. Now we speak in terms of ‘visualization’ which takes us away from the technicality. There is a growing gap between the increased visualization and our understanding of these maps, and networks in general.

Olga Kisseleva
Wayne Clements
Jacob Lillemose
Katja Mayer
Olga Goriunova

Saturday June 30
Registration desk: University of Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, main hall.
Location plenary closing session: University of Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, Room D0.08
Parallel Sessions A: Atrium, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 237, room 2.13
Parallel Sessions B: Turfdraagsterpad 9, room 0.04
Parallel Sessions C: Turfdraagsterpad 9, room 0.13

10.00 – 12.00
Parallel sessions

A: Actor-Network Theory and Assemblage
Moderator: Noortje Marres

What is special about actor-network theory is that it aspires to take into account the non-humans and emphasize translations or redefinitions. All entities are transformed by their enrolment in specific networks, and their capacities and agency derive from this enrolment. Whilst actor-network theory proposes a dynamic ontology, in its account the main aim of network-building is to produce stable spaces. Actor-network theory was developed to account for socio-technical networks built with the aid of science and technology (shellfish, vaccinations, statistics, diesel engine, seatbelt), but now our question is what becomes of this approach when it is applied to particular new media practices, such as advocacy, publicity and DIY/domestic media. What are the peculiarities of these media practices that would be a productive challenge for actor-network theory?

Thomas Berker
Betina Szkudlarek
Michael Dieter

B: Networks and Social Movements
Moderator: Eric Kluitenberg

“The whole world is watching,” is what demonstrators at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 shouted in Haskall Wexler’s film MEDIUM COOL (USA, 1969). Media networks were seen as a critical source for information, knowledge, and enlightment where you had to make sure you got your message through. Nowadays, media networks have become a target of irony, parody, and mockery, and as means of disconnection as well as tools for connecting movements. Activists rather organize networks through physical movements from event to event and through material objects like leaflets. Are we seeing the signs of post-network social movements?

David Garcia
Charli Carpenter
Paolo Gerbaudo
Megan Boler
John Duda

C: Mobility and Organization
Moderator: Sebastian Olma

How are we coping with the space of flows, as Munuel Castells described them? How do scholars these days define the relation between networks and organization, beyond the early euphoria of the ‘virtual office’? What is the dominant business rhetoric, a decade after the rise of the network society?

Marga van Mechelen
Robert van Boeschoten

12:00 – 13:00
LUNCH

13.00 – 15:00
Parallel sessions

A: Anomalous Objects and Processes

Network objects and processes are increasingly characterized by the presence of so-called “bad objects” like viruses, worms, spam, unwanted porn, and so forth. The aim of this panel is to address the question concerning these anomalous objects. In what sense are these bad objects anomalous? And is there, in fact, a certain logic of anomality underpinning contemporary network culture; a counterintuitive logic that escapes the dualisms of good and bad and normal and abnormal? If so, this would imply that these objects are not etymologically “anomalous”, that is, “outside series”, “irregular”, “accidental.” The aim of this panel is to address the question of anomalies by seeking conceptual, analytic and synthetic pathways out of the binary impasse between the good and bad and the normal vs. the abnormal.

Jussi Parikka
Richard Rogers
Tony Sampson

B: Networks and movements: an interdisciplinary conversation
Moderator: Mario Diani

What is the interplay between online and offline relations with and among networks? This session looks empirically into whether collective actions should be thought about in terms of networking. Is there a possible tension between physicality of social movements and intangible quality of networks?

Elena Pavan
Giorgia Nesti
Stefania Milan
Francesca Forno
Claudius Wageman

C: The Global and the Local
Moderator: Reinder Rustema

It’s easy to deconstruct McLuhan’s ‘global village’ and even more so to reject place-specific metaphors such as ‘digital city’ and ‘homepage’ as retro constructs. If we downplay the totalizing syntheses of the local and global, we run the risk to understand important cultural dynamics within networks. Instead of pushing ‘the local’ as a universal solution for today’s problems, we have to carefully re-assess the interaction between ‘place’ and ‘flow’. The importance of language, cultural identities, gender and race are not ‘politically correct’ items in some discursive chess play but are valuable elements in a patchwork of case studies that tell us how networks are both embedded and escape the traditional understanding of locality.

Ramesh Srinivasan
Jana Nikuljska
Deborah Wheeler

15.30 – 17.30
Closing session conference
Location:University of Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, D0.08.

Noortje Marres
Matthew Fuller

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registration

Registration for the conference has ended. Please note that the event is not yet sold out, you’re welcome to buy daytickets and passepartouts at the conference venue.

conference fee
Passe partout: 50 euros
Passe partout student: 25 euros
Day ticket: 20 euros
Day ticket student: 10 euros

Tickets include lunch at the venue.

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