Keynote address outline
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 16:59:57 -0500
From: Alan Jen Sondheim
Subject: Keynote address outline -
Address Outline -
(This is an extended outline of what I hope to cover in the keynote address at the conference - some of the material may have to be passed over, since a fair amount of time will be taken with explaining terminology; I'm going to assume an audience unfamiliar with the Net or at least _thinking_ the Net.)
Thank you and welcome -
1. Probably first conference organized around an email list - which says a great deal about the possibility of _depth_ or _aura_ of such lists.
2. What is an email list? - quick distinction between "Webnet" and "darknet." Media emphasis on the lateral/corporate aspects of the former - personal emphasis on the depth/libidinal economic/community/discursive aspects of the latter.
3. What is list aura? - _Lateral_ discussions / relationships among list members on one hand; Web pages, archives, MOOs, books, etc. on the other. (Mention Being on Line at this point.)
4. What the list has "meant to me":
- a. Started by Michael Current and myself;
- b. "Cybermind" or "Cyberpsych";
- c. Notions of "cyberspace" - we both saw _virtuality_ (electronic or virtual subject) as a critical turning-point for the species;
- d. Early on - the discussion of _style_ began to create a feeling of community as a critical moment of the list;
- e. For better or worse, the _persistence_ of community;
- f. The role my own texts may have played here - raw, personal, liter- ary-philosophical (creation of Fop-l exploring these interpenetra- tions);
- g. Sexualization/desire of texts, texts as writing, WRYTING.
- h. My role - need for constant _tending_ of the list on a formal basis; occasional withdrawal; the burning of production of my writing vis-a-vis the lists; the community of co-moderators:
- i. Co-moderating in relation to living alone - the extension of the dialog of tending;
- j. Finally, my own and others' research reflected both in the osten- sible content of the lists, as well as their interior formations.
5. Re: 4c: Research into the virtual: Humanity extending its leap "somewhere else" that involves, implicitly, the digital domain. The traditional analog world of philosophy is turned inside-out. How can one theorize the digital?
- a. Brief historical excursus: Bacon's cipher, for example. Worlds of ghosts, demons, uncanny events, Bardo Thodol, Rig Veda X/129, etc.
- b. The traditional phenomenological approach - _peering at the world_ and seeing a red patch, desk, tree, Jean or Pierre approaching the cafe, etc., is no longer sufficient - since _all_ of this can be absorbed by digital construct. Instead, the philosophy here will also be a participation anthropology _simultaneously on all hardware/software levels_ so that what is WRYTTEN can be understood in terms of _writing_ as well. (Intervention, participating, bracketing, scripting, upgrading, down- grading processes.)
- c. Thus the intervention etc. processes are both _foreground_ (ostensible content) and _background_ (configuration fabric) - understanding, describing, and acknowledging software options, languages, connection bandwidths, filtering options, hardware requirements, protocols, and the range of commands available to user and administrator. (For example, understanding site-bans, maverick spam-groups, EOF signals, etc.)
- d. As _foreground_ personal experience and some understanding of phen- omenological description are necessary (too often, the former is missing from academic work).
- A. I attempt to extend myself as far as possible into the virtual realm within/across applications (IRC, email lists, email, CuSeeMe, MOOs, talkers, newsgroups, etc.).
- B. Semi-ethnomethodological interventions - the margins / deconstruction of the application - simple hacks, etc.
- e. Examples - Traceroute or ping -s for Net "health" and mapping (other mappings available on the Web); understanding netsplits and bans on IRC; fork-bombs on MOOs; Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. Understanding the semiotics of fluid signifiers (within the ostensible content) and ikonic/indexical (netsplit, "*" within traceroute).
- f. The presence of _wild-theory,_ three-halves of literary/philosophical/ psychoanalytic, entrances of other halves - the [X-theory] of virtuality as suddenly present and real as construct in the midst of everyday life.
6. Other issues:
- a. The linguistic dispersion model of the Internet - fluxes of languages, empires, communities, protocols, scriptings, across the Net. Wherever a momentary stasis appears with the potential for communication, both community and Net-sexuality develop.
- b. Issues of ontology and epistemology in relation to the virtual: What constitutes a virtual entity? What is embodiment/disembodiment (this was a major concern during the first year or so of Cybermind)? Etc.
7. The Limits of the Realm - of primary importance (issues that will be repeatedly discussed at here at the conference):
- a. Bandwidth low/high - applicability for what demographics? (For example how to organize a conference that is accessible to _everyone_ on-line? The Webpage gateway / talker-IRC / email list model.)
- b. Community and economic development vis-a-vis the Internet.
- c. Internet haves and have-nots: the plague of continuous upgrading and technological surplus (available used equipment).
- d. Advantages and disadvantages of wiring _everyone._
N.B.The first [CM 'Meeting/ Conference/ Exhibition'] convened in Perth, Australia, November 29 - December 1, 1996.