t byfield on 16 Feb 2001 17:30:12 -0000

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Re: <nettime> Usenet archives sold, whay about README! ?

drazen@xs4all.nl (Fri 02/16/01 at 09:17 AM -0500):

> Right. or a slightly more accurate, like the_first_author at al. In
> this particular case, nettime or nettime moderators credit might be
> less misleading.

by and large, most commentaries on the digitalization of bibliography
are very positive: wider distribution of info, easier searching, more
sharing, etc., etc. (one notable exceptions that i know of was a 1994
article by nicholson baker that appeared in the _new yorker_; you can
see how much it was appreciated by poking around these links.[1]) but 
you have hit on something interesting: 'analog' bibliography was much 
more amenable to nonstandarized data. and _readme!_'s data isn't nor-
mal at all--that's why ultra-rationalized systems like amazon's can't
grok. 'filtered by' isn't in their pulldown menus but 'edited by' is,
so their broken system gives excessive weight to josephine bosma. not
a big deal, imo.

[1] http://www.google.com/search?q=%22nicholson+baker%22+%22card+catalog%22+librarians

> The main issue still remains... Pushing things to the extreme, lets
> assume that cnn, fro example, decides to spam its viewers with past
> and *future* nettime messages and hands out an offer that is difficult
> to refuse. Hand offer to whom? To nettime moderators? And who decides
> what should be done?

FYI, nettime does occasionally receive requests for permissions. these
are very straightforward: we refer them to whoever sent the message as
shown in the From: line (the Sender: line can be diff of course). this
is a very minimal approach, which mostly works fine, and even accounts
for the fact that an email address isn't necessarily one person. there
are other benefits in handling it this way--for example, it avoids the
kind of expansionist mission creep that often happens when lightweight 
functions get bureaucratized through, say, pushes to re-purpose stuff.
nettime's footer *does* say it's a moderated list; it doesn't say that
the moderators are a rights clearinghouse.

> I foresee that corporate media will soon start doing what corporate IT
> industry has done already. As IT companies have incorporated into
> itself lots of anarcho/hackers, networks will start handing out high
> $$ jobs to anarcho activists / practitioners /interventionists. What
> will make lists like nettime a real commodity. What then?

systematic policies (for example, like rhizome adopted early on) tend 
to privilege the categorical status of a message ('content') over the
more complex matrix of other info that's generated by email; in doing
so, they also tend to continually reaffirm the centrality of the org-
anization as a fiduciary entity. this whole approach is totally back-
wards, imo: it produces a single point of control thus a single point 
of failure. the fact that these kinds of terms are expressed in *law*
itself is proof positive of that fact: jurisprudence is by definition
a backward-glancing, formalized, and conservative approach the world.
so far, nettime's hands-off approach has worked quite well. i haven't
seen any need to change it. its weakness is a sort of P2P problem: to
do anything en bloc with the archives would require that everyone who
has contributed to the list assents, so such an effort would be mind-
bogglingly complex and inefficient. but that's also its strength: the
rights, to the extent that they can even be pinned down, are distrib-
uted. as would be the responsibility to enforce those rights.

that doesn't solve the potential problem of a situation in which net-
time's moderators began to regard themselves as 'spokespeople' and/or
representatives. but that's just corruption 101; there is no solution
for it. 


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