Frederick Noronha (FN) on Tue, 8 Feb 2005 09:42:39 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Grafting the 17th century onto 2005

Grafting the 17th century onto 2005

It's bizarre. It's bemusing. It's a bazaar.

Can a concept from 17th century South Asia be grafted onto the globalised 
world of circa 2005? We met a somewhat jumpy (that's his usual style) but 
always enlightening-to-talk-to Patrice Riemens of the Netherlands at the 
Asia Source camp. He bluntly sees the concept struggling to take off "due 
to various circumstances".

But he's optimistic. It's soon (as of Feb 2) going to be rescheduled from 
2 to 4 pm.

What does it involve? A Turkish tea service, and talking FLOSSophy, or the 
philosophy of Free/Libre and Open Source Software. In his own words, the 
general idea was to have a "place where people chill out and discuss", 
something like a north Indian tea shop where information and views blend 
with tea and 'time-pass' (an English word adapted to the Indian context, 
loosly meaning just spending time).

"Where it doesn't take off is that it is seen as rather elite, and has an 
'in crowd' smell to it. Unless you make it a compulsory part of the event, 
you don't get people spending time there," says Patrice. Of course, 
compulsion wouldn't quite work, and what would happen to all that 
'cathedral and bazaar' talk?

Patrice sees modern globalised definitions of 'chilling out' as being more 
accompanied with beer and noise. This is what happens at camps, and the 
rest of the time involves concentrated work. "It has the image of being 
what the Germans call a 'Geheimtip' (people-in-the-know) air to it," says 
Patrice. "It remains a minority affair at best, and at worst it can be 
taken by some organisers ("not the ones here") as a distraction," says 

But the camp's unofficial FLOSSopher talks all this FLOSSophically.

"It's anyway an attempt to take across something in both time and place". 
In Europe, the idea of the baazar is one from distant Asia, he points out. 
In addition, "this is more an idea of the 17th century, rather than of 
2005" he adds. "This idea is just like how Mahatma Gandhi once described 
Western civilisation. 'It's a fantastic idea'," he adds.

Patrice (54) says he has the "usual mixed background educationally", both 
geographically and language-wise. He proudly announces he read and 
dropped-out of the Classics, before majoring as a geographer, and taking 
on an unsalaried fellowship at the University of Amsterdam.

His self-description describes him as one who "never went for a mainstream 
academic career" and instead went in for becoming a cultural activist and 
independent researcher. He has been involved with the Amsterdam Digital 
City, Nettime, Waag Society for Old and New Media, and the French language 
review Multitudes.

Patrice says he's "never very easy withing institutional frameworks", and 
prefers to play the role of an "intermediary" and resource person, while 
looking at the social and political role of the so-called New 
Technologies. He sees himself as staying on the "edge of things" rather 
than the core.

Well, he's almost Indian! Maybe in his next life ;-) But that's no reason 
for losing heart. We all know FLOSS is a great idea, but it does take time 
to catch on. Keep on at it Patrice!

At another track, an almost spontaneous 'bazaar of ideas' has sprouted on 
the sidelines of the camp. Participants were invited to share just about 
any skill they have, however esoteric. And they did...

Look what's on 'sale' (without price of course!). Douglas is offering 
tution in the air guitar. Henryk is offering how to make the famous 
Mazurska Gozechotka, which is a rattle from a district of north-eastern 
Poland. Chandita is offering a expo and demo in making toys by hand from 
organic material. Hinde will demo how to roll a cigarette in the form of a 
Dutch tulip.

But that's not all. Yoke is offering a lesson on snacks from Malaysia. 
Surekha is offering to teach anyone to sing in classical Kannada, Azhar 
besides Fajar (Indonesia) and Rhodora (Philippines) are all offering to 
trade souvenirs.

Yee Yee is teaching anyone who might have the plans to do so, how to cook 
in prison, secretely. Subir has posters from the mountains and CDs about 
Nepal. Sanat, Nasir and Ujjwall are opting for a souvenir exchange. 
Karunakar has digital photos from India and lessons on how to find your 
way from the stars. Want to learn the rudiments of the Pashto language? 
Contact Qaisar. Julio from Guatemala will teach you how to reach the Mayan 
calander. Ying has a limited release of CDs and souvenirs from Thailand. 
And Shawn is trying to trade 'hacker objects'.

Dr Arun Mehta of Delhi is offering basics in Yoga. Shekhar has tips on how 
to eat with your hands -- it's not as easy as it looks (if you want to get 
it right, that is).

If you thought that was not enough, Poornima will teach a willing victim 
how to drap the traditional Indian sari. Allan has a more mischevious idea 
on that, which might not be expressed in text here!
Frederick Noronha (FN)                    Nr Convent Saligao 403511 GoaIndia
Freelance Journalist                      P: 832-2409490 M: 9822122436             
Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your
vocation. --Aristotle

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