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[Nettime-bold] the message is YOU
Ventsislav Zankov on 1 Feb 2001 15:22:08 -0000


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[Nettime-bold] the message is YOU


the last short version of 'do it yourself - the message is YOU' in english
the vull version in bulgarian you could find on
http://www.freespeech.org/ctrl_z/magazine/texts/do_it_yourself.htm


DO IT YOURSELF

The message is YOU :

':And the words people said were just shadows of real things. But some
things were too big to be really trapped in words, and even the words were
too powerful to be completely tamed by writing.
So it followed that some writing was actually trying to become things.'
Equal Rites, Terry Pratchett

This text may be regarded as a building site, if you wish:Its foundations of
words, solid and finely tuned, balancing the sky-rocketing storeys of
thoughts. A sort of whimsical yet totally reliable construction, that I
still would not dare to build up :for now. I would rather invite readers to
take my writing as an experiment, a virtual site, that loves change trouble
and 'improvement': I would rather offer the exhilarating sense of 'no limits
' , which is the 'trademark of Internet 'narratives', : beyond linear-ity of
language, into the birth hour of the HTML concept (which is the tool for
hyper-text modeling, if you prefer).
The truth is I had a very good reason to sit down and put my thoughts into
words. Last October I was invited to present my project at the NET
Congestion Streaming media Festival in Amsterdam. It was a chance to think
over issues that I have been working on for a couple of years now. I would
mention  communication in the age of modern technology, interpreted through
the visual arts' perspective, to name but one of them. The outcomes of this
event were many, some of them unexpected. I was genuinely surprised (as
genuinely as others were) that in my capacity of being a somewhat
'light-hearted amateur' (commonly referred to as USER), I have, ignorantly
and acting on my guts feeling, got a tight hold of the 'do-it-yourself'
concept and have struggled to run my own TV, radio, magazine :.., teasing my
audience once and for good into this amateur-ish endeavor.
Next there came this paper, on its turn a reminiscence of the
'do-it-yourself' appeal that Amsterdam urgently released last fall.

The somewhat hectic marketing of streaming technologies, together with the
booming access to free streaming software and the ever-improving Internet
services, made a special offer to the wide public (the users' community in
this particular case); the chance for managing their own 'do-it-yourself'
media. The idea that practically anyone can reach out their hands and use/or
abuse the 'freedom of speech' brought a world of difference to our lives.
The monopoly of old media (TV, radio, papers) for once looked funny and
fragile, in the first place.

Real time net-broadcasting (which could also be quasi-real, by the way) lent
a final touch to the exquisite temptations of the brave Internet word. It
convincingly adopted a sibling, that so far belonged to TV exclusively: the
so called 'live' broadcasting. Among other things this fact provides an easy
explanation to a curious pattern; whenever streaming is mentioned in
whatever discourse, reference to TV are likely (more likely than not) to
follow.

TV as a point of reference
WEB TV is one of those expressions which we use to describe a new phenomena,
alluding to things we already know (and use!). I believe 'the fair sex is a
similar expression:The essence, the approach and the outreach of TV and 'WEB
TV', however have very few things in common, if any.
With TV we have a set of programs broadcast, which the observer chooses in
their passive observers' way. It only takes some time to kill, a TV set and
a number of pushes on the remote control buttons.
With the audio-visual streaming file we have a devoted outreach at work. It
is meant to reach that special user, who has devoted time and effort to get
to that particular space at that unique moment in time. The net media is the
media of highly condensed information, the effort to reach this particular
web page is only the beginning: next come doubts on its credibility,
followed by suspense over its true value :you see what we have is a pretty
compllex 'selection' process, through which the
user-and-the-participant-to-be-in -the-streaming-exchange is 'screened' with
scrutiny, released from the uniformity of a casual passer-by and finally
granted their 'streaming exchange' identity.

The ecstasy, streaming out of the 'streaming' discovery and real time 'ride'
overshadows speculations on its contents, at first. To put it in the
pathetic stylistics of public response to TV 'MEDIA IS THE MESSAGE'
(McCloughan) :Now this is the tricky part, because what we refer to is a new
media altogether: we need to remember that the TV we know, may only poorly
and vaguely illustrate just one of the options that this new media provides.
Each new media builds up onto the old 'new' media, AND NEVER REPLACES IT.
Neither it provides a fine 'addition' meant to accomplish its predecessor.
Thus, TV can hardly be considered an outcome of the Radio 'life cycle'.
Similarly, Internet is not the result of TV improvement. New Media is new,
in the first place. It was 'conceived' in a new way: in our case the new
'conception' may well be described as the parallel access to memory, the
heartbeat of non-linear-ity. It can easily be traced from RAM through the
NET, as its macro manifestation.

Internet took a sexy shape with the discovery of streaming technologies. It
became the new media, which further 'elaborated' the text, lending it new
non-linear dimensions. The media which gave birth to the hyper-text, which
resurrected the writing that TV crucified. It is the media which brought to
the light the 'active' nature of the observer, and understandably enough
changed the phenomenon itself ( I'd rather regard observers as phenomena
rather than reduce them to 'entities).

Streaming technologies, in their turn, invited audio/video to join the real
time 'players'. The ability to transcend space, which was the indispensable
prerogative of TV, this unique tele-vision quality, supplied the 'claws' and
'teeth' to the Network: it's merits were firmly on their way to dangerous
perfection:

Still nothing continued to happen::

Once upon a time, though, when the technology craze slowed down, a very
short question came up 'So, what?'. To put it more elaborately concerns
about the contents of this new media arose :We've now come to the realms of
the physical world, to our flesh and blood, we finally come to us, breathing
in  and out, our passions, socialization and troubles :.our contents as old
as the world is. Yet with the new technologies we step up, well equipped
with 'do-it-yourself media opportunities, ready to pro-act this biological,
social (whatever you choose it to be) reality that we usually refer to as
life, my life :maybe time has come for the media of my life :this is the
switch point where realities grow into each other.
Now if we dare at this point to ask the question about contents I am afraid
we need to face answers about the meaningfulness of our lives.

Aesthetics
Once upon a time, when technology craze slowed down, the real powers of net
video came to light : and darkened the widely held hopes for do-it-yourself
media. The quality of streaming images suffered the gravity lock laid by
compression and bandwidth of connection. It turned out that few of us, very
few indeed, can afford sparing resources to improve the quality of streaming
images. Do-it-yourself dreams went stale and for a good reason: it is by all
means worthy and by all standards costly to do it:

:Unless we recognize that new technologies come along with a new world
vision. Honestly, what we experience is a distinct shift from 'TV live'
towards 'net real time' and that shift questions our grasp of the time
phenomenon in general. In particular it turns upside down our understanding
of the world around and the world inside us. The net, surprisingly enough,
took us aback with a new environment, outrageously different from the social
environments we are used to (fond of). It hurled us into the uncharted
waters of a different social time beat. The departure towards this new
environment, away from the physical reality, pickpocket-ed us: we lost the
consistency and coherence behind the 'live' concept. The net world split
'live' into 'online' and 'real time' : the first one relates to Internet
conceived as Media, the second - to Internet conceived as a mechanism. Net
time resembles the actual duration of moments and that easily explains the
frequent references to TV and its 'live' character when it comes to
describing streamline technologies.
Back to the weird new world-picture of ours we can trace streaks of funny
new attitudes to the visual, confusing leads to a new visual-ity ( a nervous
adolescent,  if you ask me, Internet and video sharing the blame/or merit
for its birth and bringing up). If we take pains to feel the difference
between TV and web TV, next we may reasonably try to describe streaming
video as net video. After all, its streaming file format may hardly be
compared to any other visual phenomenon outside the net. Net video cannot be
played twice, the way you cannot cross twice one and the same river. The
'streaming' quality of this new technology, the particular fragmentation and
distortion of movement, controlled by the speed of the connection from one
particular moment to another, are truly unique. Once we grasp the
limitations of this new technology, we are under the 'particular
fragmentation spell' that net video casts. Sometimes we don't know how to
manage those limitations, yet art for sure knows better:Visual products of
'distorted quality (from the point of view of orthodox video and TV
practices), achieved through use of highly sophisticated technology may
shape out the steep, slippery profile of new art forms.
Vision in this new cyber-social net environment (web-design, 3d imaging,
net-interactivity) has been initiated by specialists with background in the
systems science. To put it more clearly I would say that  we can trace a
discontinuity in the development of visual arts aesthetics. The new media
paved the way to different visual attitudes, departing from the tree of
visual arts genealogy. The break-though of Internet brought to practically
anybody, who has some basic computer literacy, the option 'to go visual',
i.e. to exercise their tastes (as humble as they can be) to assert them as
visible and accessible. It only takes an HTML editor. A simple one will do.

Let me make one last point here: the level of computer knowledge is growing
furiously recently (anybody surprised?) Computer basics tend to get more
complicated, help menus and reference books become larger than life. The Net
went wild: a power-hungry new media, devouring even  the tiniest bits of our
spaces, the shortest particles of our seconds. :teasing our desperate need
to hold onto it. Users are bound to 'upgrade' their level of competence. Our
education, on its part, does not know better than focusing on communication
and information technologies, ending up in despair in the face of a
devastation variety of their products (visual too!). Now this is the
'elitist' streak of the democratic new media. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION ON THE
ONE HADN AND THE BOOMING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES ON THE OTHER, GAVE BIRTH
TO A VIRTUAL STRATIFICATION. Hierarchy was hailed into the virtual world;
even the most democratic media cannot help yielding to censure and control.

Interactivity
Web TV is a phenomenon of a new quality: it belongs with the new 3 Ws
environment, which is pregnant with interactivity (look at your desktop, you
will find a good proof there). Theory postulates that there are various
levels of interactivity: the highest necessarily implies new technologies at
work.  With the streaming image the options to 'get interactive' come in
full bloom: the identities of the observer and the author get blurred. The
artistic expression (& contents) is so invitingly open to changes, that the
observer steps in, gets interactive and ends up as a co-author in the
process.
Selection of visitors to Internet locations is made possible again by virtue
of its imminent interactive character. Internet is the media of densely
compressed, hyper-arranged information, the number of website, on the other
hand evokes reminiscences of the Big Bang:the surfing user is bound to make
choices apriori, blind choices, similar to the 'sans voir' exercise we
practice in gambling. Key words and brief annotations supplied by the meta
functions of web sites become our street signs/and lights and map out the
new presence of a unique meta-physical reality.

To me it makes no sense to count the visitors to web sites. Numbers only
point out to a somewhat disturbing tendency in the Internet development: the
one towards a huge global market, a gigantic mall in the center of the
Galaxy.  We can easily imagine the consequences; lots of helping analogies
abide in the physical world around us. Yet there is no count for visits that
choose to interact, to make a difference. Encounters with those who share
your train of thoughts, the missile of your ethics, the hot-air balloon of
your cravings, the bicycle of your interests and the soles of your
beliefs:we-e-e-ell, these encounters remain beyond the powers of statistics.
Each site has their lives, weird extensions of the lives of their designers:

Visitors have to go their long winding roads to reach the sites they need
to. A  dazzling selection is at work here, and it can hardly be considered a
random one. The discovery of sites differs from the discovery of America for
one thing: travelers in the Net reach locations though a journey guided by
their thoughts and ideologies. No clashes with natives will haunt you in the
virtual world. Invasion is as virtual as anything else. It is a journey that
resembles the small daily routines that we lovingly stick to. Someone you
know, introduces you to someone they know and think you should know. It is
the old game of following your moods, sticking to the daily routes of your
choices, holding onto 'the love to hate you' thing, and numerous other
things, when it comes to that, holding onto anything that make us feel the
warmth of touch : and make us seek it.

Ethics Revisited
Media changes established attitudes and patterns of thought: it does matter
when you really have the chance to run your own TV, radio, or magazine :The
teasing offer that new technologies make to us, the chance to get/give
online response,  can be traced at all levels, by all parties
 appropriately equipped with ACCESS). It results into a somewhat
overwhelming activity, unknown or easily exhausted by orthodox media. Can
you imagine how much effort and time it takes to publish a book or to
survive bureaucracy, 'siege-ing' any TV Show? Then you know what I mean.
These shifts into established attitudes and practices bring up a number of
issues related to ethics, morality, copyright, responsibility and
conscience. New media has brought us up, in its new ways, teasing our user
curiosity, cultivating our impatient faddisms, teaching us dream up the
freedom dream it is. Following this train of thoughts I would say that to me
the important question to be asked is how may users try to claim their
position and act through the new media. The streaming quality of our social
interaction is put to the test here. The new media questions our ways of
being instrumental, and the practices we have had of using/abusing our own
identity. To put it briefly here is the point where ethics steps in.

The consumer attitudes that TV fiercely promoted for many years now suddenly
got to a halt (this is a metaphor: please handle with care!). It was
replaced with the chance to take part and get involved in the creation of a
web-based product. This is the highest claim the Network ever made:
networking implies a shift or reversal in the roles of the public and the
author respectively.  Understandably this new situation affects new
flowerbeds of concepts (what is art, anyway? Not to mention that ridiculous
'Artist' creature, poor thing :)
In addition the Net opened up radically new approaches to teamwork,
coordination of joint effort and collaboration and that, logically enough,
caused dramatic developments of the copyright concept and its legal aspects.
With the introduction of LUNIX and 'open source' the essence' of this new
'communist-bound' approach (as interpreted by some NET researchers) found
its most convincing expression.
This newly gained awareness of our collaborative efforts may well be
regarded as an attempt to galvanize values like the art of sharing, trust,
friendship, idealism, reaching out to :the other. We've come to a crucial
point here: the awareness of the other, the good old chase of my identity
through the identity of the other. What's new here? I can't answer, yet it's
hot I can feel it.

Message Revisited
How can we describe the 'meaning-generating' capacity of the do-it-yourself
media? The new media contents have stemmed out of two strong 'root beds'.
The first one is intrinsic to the essence of the NET, it's part of its
wave-like texture and the nerve tissue of its organization. The second one,
alien to the NET, yet a 'legal alien', relates to human interaction, if I
can put it that way. It rather uses the network as a vehicle to get from one
world to another, it also feeds on 'crispy hot' information, we all know it'
s logo :.WWW:..Where the root beds touch one another, well, we can trace out
a sensitive erogenous zone there, able to grow highly organized artistic
contents, conceived by the 'virile drive' and the 'inviting fertility' of
the parent root beds. :I have already touched on the inflation tendencies in
the 'ARTIST" phenomenon, anyhow.

Streaming technology may easily be considered a non-cost effective
enterprise: the critical mass of technology needed to trasfer ever a modest
amount of data is somewhat discouraging. In addition the technology of REAL
appeal implies centralization. On the other hand even kids know that HTML is
notoriously undemanding (you can easily save it locally, it is quick to
oblige all whims and always ready to accommodate  any point of view (most of
them 'global', at that!). We tend to describe the possibilities it generates
in terms of freedoms (let's do a 'freedom count' here: how many 'freedoms'
off the top of your head?). Getting back to the streaming media contents I
would only add that they have been lately referred to as 'screen-based'.

Have you ever tried avoiding the trap that quality of resolution & /versus
number of contributors have laid to curb the users' enthusiasm? The inherent
'democratic' character behind the 'many-to-many' relationship has gradually
shifted to more elitist attitudes ('few-to-many'), I guess on their way to
the good old 'one-to-many practices.

GLOCAL: Get-it-under-control-and-act-global

Global contents: if only someone could define this expression for
me:..universal meanings have from times immemorial sprang out of the
screaming and fighting bits and pieces of our personal locally bound
contents. The shift from be global act local towards be local act global
stands for the accomplishment of globalization: it finally happened. The
hunt for particular local contents and practices is on, to help us endure
the consequences of globalization. The catch here is that the huge global
communication settlement (can you imagine the Milky way of free offers,
'extras' and 'exclusives') is today the vehicle for local contents. Pretty
dangerous, what do you think?

How about be local act local? I would say this option has for quite some
time been open to us? At least since the time of the Babylonian tower and
the explosion of languages.



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