Making Relationships Public

In ‘Governance and Scalability: Circles of trust and federated platforms‘, a previous blog by Cristina Ampatzidou and Irina Shapiro, editors/publishers of respectively Amateur Cities and Open Set, Platform 2 Platform and part of the ideas behind it have been very well introduced and explained, and also queried, specifically in connection with important overarching issues such as peer governance and trust. I gratefully use their preparatory work to make a leap and reflect and fantasize a bit about Platform 2 Platform and its potential of relationality. Bluntly ignoring the untested and still unfinished condition of the tool, I assume that the effect or added value of Platform 2 Platform largely consists of establishing connections and making relationships visible between the different platforms and their users, in every direction between them. This may go further than simply offering additional affirmative content based on apparent similarities between the publications and readers involved. At its best, it might activate deep reading, thinking outside the box, and expand knowledge and imagination.

I conceive relationality here – in the line of process philosophy – as the idea that people, things and phenomena stand in intricate and intimate webs of connection with all those with whom they come into contact. We are not so much discrete, self-founding subjects, but we are relational subjects who live in a nexus of relations with other bodies. The interrelations between different subjects constitute the identities of each of these subjects. This invites us to rethink our position again and again and opens up common grounds in which we can share incommensurable experiences.

With its feature of deep content linking and recommendations by way of algorithmic and customized editorial hints, Platform 2 Platform emphasizes that the small cultural platforms Open Set, Amateur Cities, and Open! are part of relational networks and thus give each other meaning and sustain each other. The different publics of the platforms are involved in these networks and can open up to new relationships. This interconnectedness can stimulate reciprocity and responsibility in writing, editing, publishing, and reading, and establish generous experimental knowledge ecologies and media ecologies that go beyond self-regard and fixed thinking.

In line with these thoughts, the platforms work less and are worth less – in terms of content – if they consider themselves discrete centers that principally implement and own content. The realization that their identity is partly relational and partly determined by surrounding platforms and publics can position them more strongly and assert the primacy of relationships in the constitution of subjectivity. As platforms Open Set, Amateur Cities and Open!, to be found in the ‘grey’ zones of cultural production, are particular kinds of practices and experiments in the aesthetics of organization. If it works out and the tool will be elaborated, Platform 2 Platform can make them more reflexive of their own processual and relational composition.

For now, let me end this blog with an appealing quote from Olga Goriunova, scholar and curator in the fields of digital media arts and cultures, from her publication Art Platforms and Cultural Production on the Internet (Routledge, 2012): “Working with or thinking about the aesthetic practices and scenes of art platforms means following the paths they take through a complex set of mutually determining relationships that have larger subjective and societal effects and finding out what is happening to digital technology as a tool, as a context, as a metaphor, as an agent, and as culture-at-large.”

To be continued and to be worked on!