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Geert Lovink on Mon, 15 Jan 96 11:37 MET


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Introduction
The print-out of nettime
by Pit Schultz + Geert Lovink

"A spade is a spade is a spade." Luther Blissett

Let's call it 'Theorie Direkt'. After a period of the circuitous
postmodernist patchworks and their tendency to loose ones energy while
circulating in the academic networks, time has now come for political
directness. The rhizome is no longer a goal of textual liberation, it
is the posthuman condition of losing oneself in hyperspace. The hi-
speed of the electric word leads to a selfreferential arbitrariness in
search of an outside bind, originating from the will to break out the
prison of Being Digital and becoming bastard. Only the virtual position
with its impossible external observer seem to exist, but at the same
time we feel the urgent need for the production of a collective
subjectivity from within the Net, in order to counter its oppressive
and alienating effects.

For many of us 1995 was the Short Summer of the Net. While surfing the
hype throughout Europe from the one symposium to the next festival, we
knew that the net backlash was around the corner. The rise of the
virtual class brought both harsh commercialism and a rigid exclusion of
critical elements in its wake. Something the unwired esthablishment
supported to the tilt. The role of the old media was a paradoxal one.
They pushed the exageration to the point of strategic take-over.
Despite universal access to the Net still being far off, we have by now
nonetheless landed in the age of disappointments, cynicism and
decadence for the few. Internet's Golden Age is over, before it really
began.

'nettime' was born out of the immediatist 'Medien ZK' gatherings, a
series of open, informal international meetings around 'netculture and
its discontents' in Spessart, Venice, Budapest, and now Amsterdam.
Herein, we discussed telecom policies, multiple personalities, the
city metaphor, neo-vitalists, Californian Ideologies, Wired critique,
tribalism in the net and elsewhere, the tragic end of net.art, the
comeback of the Ennemy (Telekom, Scientology, Netscape), and rumours
about wandering websites. In between the meetings the 'nettime'
mailinglist was used to select and distribute the articles which you
find here in print, the 'ZK Proceedings 95'. The transition from e-mail
to essay was a fairly effortless one, and so we have here this mixed
bag of micro pamphlets, action protocols, almost-manifestoes, dirty
excerpts, quick transscriptions, pirated interviews, scanned
philosophies, and last but not least 'pure criticism'. The political
claims which are not yet fit to print will find a niche in the
forthcoming editions. Each text is under construction and contains
enough bugs and unfinished features, so that there will always be a way
to go on with the project.

"We are only in it for the content and we like it". Each and every
participant of nettime is a contributor-editor, following a potlatch
information economy of ring exchange. Copyright is not the most urgent
issue here, but the build-up of trust between the subscribers is. This
bond is based on face to face contacts and mutual friendship. The
quality of the texts is a product of social filtering of external
material and it is editing. The goal is a non-hierarchical selection
which does not end in entropic noise but results in a self organizing
meta-stabilty. nettime operates as a semi-closed mailing-list based on
the principle of responsible data, and the right to trash one other's
mbox. You can only subscribe to this list upon invitation by someone
allready on that list.

nettime is not an information theatre. It does not shirk the thorny
issue of translations. At theory.com every book will advertise itself
by its animated authors, woeing for your attention. In the current
content business there is only one language, that of the market.
nettime speaks many tongues, even at the risk not to understand
everything. Paramount is the goal to preserve the original contexts.
This infracultural exchange should lead to a heterogenous and
multivocal textuality which resists the editorial meta-format in favor
of territorial intensity and the opportunities offered by randomness
and bastardization.