Re:Publica 2012 v.2 : In The Shadow Of The Net, S.O.S.!


{ Chaplin in Modern Circuit Times }

re: Re:Publica 2012 (part 1 ) – Conference for media, blogs and digital society

Re: Publica 2012 part 2 : In The Shadow Of The Net, S.O.S.!

WHAT IF the campaign to “Save The Net” is just another side of the industrial-strength de-humanization and de-naturing ?! Capitulation to the data regimes !? A futile voting democrat as opposed to republican?! That is, there often feels to be a dubious game in the works, a part of some viral and cybernetic-duping in all this love for our machines, an odd obedience to all this cubicle/screen vortex and disembodied overtime. Did we ever love our factories this much? Are we ourselves camouflaging those corporate tools and shackels into lifestyle trends ?!

As we were listening to Jeremy Zimmerman from La Quadrature Du Net – a vigilant EFF-like org in Paris – give his passionate pitch to save the internet from the ACTAs, the SOPAs, the CISPAs, and the ever-looming, ever-lurking state or enterprising beast or festering empire, which will always attempt to climb on top… we take a step back to analyze a bigger pic.

Sure, the message is loud and clear! The more corporate, centralized and consolidated the net, the worse the environment for freedom and human + community intelligence will become. Just as we would not in a civil society let our schools deteriorate, though some a little further off the grid would perceive the schools as an instrument of the current social order.  So, from one angle, isn’t a vast majority of the net’s ( and mass media’s) semantics, a corporate vernacular, a corporate order… to efficiently accumulate + transmit, process data, and jack itself in… to the entire din of global traffic ?! i.e. globalization. ??

Of course there’s incredible personal and community empowerment evolving in these tools, but the XLterrestrials cannot resist an analogy with atomic energy ( or also the “plundering + conquering” version of potential space exploration – i.e. typical enlightenment-era science -  as we see currently in the new mining of asteroids game-plan coming from the billionaire’s club). That is, until the species and the culture have evolved, these mega-power global-scale sources are quick gains in the hands of a severely dysfunctional society ! Which opens up questions like: which comes first, the maturing into a share society or total surveillance society (empowering the 1%, and the neo-lib technotopian rule) which drive us deeper into a full-on divide and conquer operation !? And a virtual deportation ( of the 99%) ?!

Current picture looks like the crocodile brains ( or as Michel Bauwens calls it “the shark DNA” – but more on that later) are winning. And what is to be done with a species that has a special aptitude for technological advancement ( and their markets), but too little for social evolution?!

The Circuits And The Rails!

We ventured outside beyond the high frequency buzzing and magnetic field of the Re:publica conference to get some fresh air and a calmer outlook, took a walk around the old railway grounds of Gleisdreieck station, a strange industrial mash-up intersection of new and old Berlin, criss-crossing traffic routes, formerly Europe’s largest postal station, and all its incessant rebuilding and anachronisms. We walked around the periphery of the Technical Museum, and past the overgrown ruins of unused ( or bombed-out) tracks… and past that old black metal water tower, which looks like a giant Pickelhaube – the Prussian spiked helmut – or like an ancient industrial black phallus totem poking up out of the trees.

In our teenager days we climbed over the fence and up its spiraling iron stairs,  into the mysterious chamber, armed with a recorder, ready to see what industrial noises and/or songs of liberation we could beat out of its ominous resonant shell.

And now, as we listened to Jeremy, we thought of “saving the net” songs in parallel to struggling in another kind of war. A previous century’s war, in a time when protecting and controlling the rail lines, i.e. one’s supply lines, against an enemy was essentially a matter of winning or losing Everything. While the scenarios are so vastly other, the analogy brought our usual XLterrestrial critique of technologically-tied and twisted society into a new focus.

The struggle for our communication lines is really not so different today. “We need free media or we lose freedom of thought” as Eben Moglen said at the opening keynote. We really are on the verge of, if not already immersed in, a techno-fascist era! Whereby entire populations are rigidly and/or violently managed and coerced into structural ‘nets’  for the well-being of a very few. As various resources become more scarce and without structures for self-autonomous culture, extremely volatile contests over territories and survival is highly probable.

And somehow this info-spectrum battle, while no less urgent, has become grotesquely distorted, as if within (the control of) the railways lies our very culture, and the future of culture. The digital environments have in fact become some so ubiquitous and dominant in the course of our lives, it is as if our modus operandi is to become one with the COMMUNICATION GUN. To become one with the DATA PIPELINES.  ( And there are many post+trans-humanists who will consider it our destiny of sorts, but we’ll save THat debate for elsewhere. )

Culture is in the how, the where, the why, and all the poetic inbetweens, of people, body and minds meeting. the music we make. the concerts and performances we attend. the food we eat. the art and rituals we produce. the places we’ve designed to engage in life. And the beauty that can emanate from all this doing. It is not merely in the circuits and the rails!

From the XLt perspective the more we fit ourselves into these parameters and codes and laws, the more danger that we will lose this war. And perhaps, even as strategical thinking, the more we can extract ourselves from its very reductive and managing business, the more power we will be able to regain for our tangible on-the-ground communities.


some unfinished sketches:

We are in the midst of a potentially calamitous transition, perhaps as we were midway in the last century. A ferocious battle of individual wills, epic-scale agendas vs. the public good, civilization vs. corporate monstrosities, inhabitable and friendly environments vs. an industrialized extraction/invasion, national + economic game boards vs. daily life and livelihoods.

With all our usual ranting about the new digital industrialization schemes, we might have one bright angle to be enthusiastic: the violent upheaval may be largely exportable to a virtual theater. Though clearly there is still much war (for control) playing out in flesh and blood.

We’ll have to listen to more of Sascha Lobo’s talk in the archive, but we did experience  this rather deep twitter/ netizen moment. we know, that sounds like an oxymoron, but Lobo seems good at plucking out some iconic moments from the web’s ludicrous and profound Modern Circuit Times illuminations. Highlighting a particularly ripe tweet from Markus Angermeier and examining it under the macroscope:

“bratwurst im zoo. so sind die menschen.” / bratwurst at the zoo. that’s the way we are. (mankind).

Maybe in a sense that’s what we are saying about the virtual world. It’s so often and maybe inevitably like consuming a bratwurst at the zoo, while gawking at other animals living in their cages… for our amusement. And in fact the more corporate the zoo becomes, the more we are those animals… at both ends of the stick. Crass !

Hmm, maybe Lobo already said as much, we’ll have to try and go back for the full dose… And off to see what other bits we might absorb in Day 2. Sorry no time for ticker/timelines.

WHEN will this Net help us shift the thinking from ’saving the industry’ to ’saving our humanity’ ?!



{ Modern Times clip here }

Added: Here from another angle,  an important analysis from the political, technical, and economics perspective:

Rt: Creator of miscommunication tech i.e. deadSwap, Thimbl & R15N @Dmytri argues Moglen FB claim @republica #rp12 incorrect

( Though it could be argued that the social error’s of net culture were inherent from it’s origins, in that they already came from the privileged academic + govt. sector. Is it not possible to glimpse this already in the cybernetics’ dreams, i.e. the Macy Conference ? Were there really the Happy Days of the internet, as techies seem to always insist ? )

Added: Iain Boal’s article ( and book review-s ) for Mute from 2008, popped back up into our own discussions after Re:Publica, and think it should be revisited after ANY NET conference, as this perspective in such digital bizness arenas is so rarely given voice:

Falling For The Future ( Mute )

( sorry for the repetition, but we already included this link in the plog above in regards to Schlingensief’s work in Africa )

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