Parasitic Collaboration

As a small, independent publisher, how do you win out in the attention economy? How do you get your valuable content to the right people when sponsored posts and ads take up more and more space? Lacking resources as well as having less content than many others that dominate timelines, playing according to the rules of the attention game might not get you very far. Platform 2 Platform is an exercise to see what happens when you decide to turn the game on its head. Instead of hoarding eyeballs, what happens when you give them away to those you trust and value?

[Read more about how Platform 2 Platform works here.]

Community enhanced with content

The idea for Platform 2 Platform started with fond memories of the webrings of the 90s. The early web lacked the search engines that dominate navigation on the web now, and website makers instead built communities (webrings) around particular topics, directing readers from one site to the other. This worked well for Backstreet Boys fans or dog lovers that wanted to find their peers in this new ‘virtual world’, but as the quantity of content on the web continued to increase, search engines and web 2.0 emerged, webrings receded to the background.

Platform 2 Platform can be seen as an updated version of a webring. Instead of just creating singular, one-dimensional links between ‘neighbour’ websites, this tool creates deeplinks between specific articles, based on a combination of algorithmic and editorial logics. It enhances the initial layer of community that is established between the connected platforms with meaningful content-based exchanges that are updated as time goes on. Each platform that uses the tool in effect gives up a section of the page to be occupied by the others.

Parasitical, mushrooming publishers?

Florian Cramer wrote in his post about the Parasitical Publishing event in Motel Spatie that

“For van Elburg [IG: the host of the event and publisher of the Parasite zine], the concept of the parasite is thus opposed to the ideology of autonomy and freedom as it is nowadays promoted by right-wing populists, because from a parasitic perspective, we are never free but live in complex systemic dependencies. The interrelation between parasite and body is so deep that separation would be deadly. The negative connotation of the “parasite” thus needs to be turned around, and “parasites” need to be thought of as positive forces.”

In The Mushroom at the End of the World, Anna Tsing looks for alternative strategies to support life in capitalist ruins. Looking at biological systems in the ways we’ve been taught, classifying and individualizing, it is easy to focus on the ruins of deforestation and post-industrial ghost-towns. Instead she is inspired by the mushrooms that connect entire forests affected by industrial processes, building on that what might seem damaged when you consider it as an isolated element. She implores her readers to think in networks, to focus on contamination and collaborative processes. To look for the whole instead of the parts. Because when you do, a new flourishing landscape of possibilities might emerge that was invisible when you insist on separating the parts according to some outdated ideas of individuality and autonomy.

Platform 2 Platform builds on both of these ideas. Occupying space on each other’s webpages, the platforms become each other’s parasites. Yet they do it in a mutually beneficial way: sharing and returning audiences and content, forming a whole in which the parts become intimately connected. Building a lasting but continuously shifting and updating network of interrelation and interdependence.

Platform 2 Platform is the result of collaboration between Amateur Cities (Ania Molenda & Cristina Ampatzidou), Open Set (Irina Shapiro), Open! (Jorinde Seijdel), MindDesign (Niels Schrader and Martijn de Heer), Hackers & Designers (André Fincato), and the Institute of Network Cultures (Inte Gloerich).