Discordia: a call for participation

join the new collaborative weblog


We would like to invite you to join Discordia, a critical and innovative weblog working on the intersection of art, activism and emerging networked technologies.
It is an experiment in social filtering, collaborative moderation and different styles of communication. In order to try out how software structures influence discussion, Discordia is a weblog – also known as a blog.

What is a blog? Attempts to define a blog, or weblog, are currently proliferating all over the Internet. What interests us is the open publishing aspect of blogging (similar to Indymedia ) combined with community moderating (similar to Slashdot ). We think this structure has the potential to promote more open discussions and a more fruitful exchange of ideas.

The project is based on weblog software that provides a multi-layered discussion interface, similar to the programming community www.slashdot.org and the activist  www.indymedia.org websites. The aim of Discordia is to develop a community based on open editing and open publishing principles in which users can both publish their own contributions and comment on postings of other users.

For years we have seen a growing discontent with the way in which (majordomo and mailman) Internet mailing lists operate. There seems to be no way out of the dilemma between open and closed lists. Open lists tend to become noisy and irrelevant for those who prefer less traffic and more content. Moderated lists on the other hand show a tendency to become quasi-editorial magazines, thereby losing the ‘informality’ of email exchanges of ideas and material. ‘Collaborative filtering’ is losing its social aspect. The discussion about open or closed lists is exhausting itself and is showing signs of repetition and regression.

Existing websites, on the other hand, have not (yet) adopted open conferencing ‘weblog’ systems such as the free ‘slashcode’ software, developed by slashdot (www.slashdot.org) or ‘scoop’ (scoop.kuro5hin.org/special/whatisit). The question why this is the case is perhaps not such a useful one. Instead the initiators got together, via email, and decided to start this first round of consultation.

Weblogs have become immensely popular over the last two or three years. An example outside of the tech field could beActive, the successful indymedia software (http://www.indymedia.org/publish.php3), which is modified worldwide, tailored to the specific needs of local indymedia groups. However, Indymedia has recently restricted its open publishing policy due to spam and an overkill of sexist and rightwing postings.

We think it is time for the new media arts/tactical media scenes to have its own weblog and build up multiple threads and debates, in a way that is not possible within the linear electronic mailing list structure.

It is not our intention to compete with lists such as rhizome, nettime or spectre!! Email will remain the Great Denominator. However, we can see a steady growth of those having DSL-broadband/cable or institutional access to the Net. The project will explicitly not question the ‘supremacy’ of email and instead focus on new users who are not—or no longer—participating in existing lists. Discordia aims to open a yet to be discovered new layer of online communication. Our motivation is to resolve a rather long and exhausting debate over the merits of email and list culture and move on in a positive matter. We want to see if we can find a technical and social solution for the increasingly complex global communication patterns in the field of new media culture.

Over the past year a group of programmers, designers and editors (see below) have put together a prototype for Discordia. The development phase is now coming to a close. A final date for the launch has not yet been set. We would like to invite you to first of all have a look at the site and, if you like, post one or more contributions. We are both looking for editors and individuals that would like to make regular postings.

If you are interest, please feel free to contact one of us:

Amy Alexander (San Diego): amy@plagiarist.org
Geert Lovink (Brisbane): geert@xs4all.nl
Saul Albert (London): saul@twenteenthcentury.com
Peter Traub (San Francisco):peter.traub@alum.dartmouth.org
Trebor Scholz (Brooklyn): treborscholz@earthlink.net
Pip Shea (Melbourne): pipshea@ihug.com.au
Aileen Derieg (Linz): a.derieg@site38.ping.at