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nettime: Re: MetaForum III: claims and ideology
Diana McCarty on Mon, 7 Oct 96 19:07 MET

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nettime: Re: MetaForum III: claims and ideology

 As a primary author of the text in question: I beg to differ-
>Ethical, political, and historical claims are made to legitimise or
>justify the Internet, cyberspace, and the information society. The
>introductory text for the MetaForum III event in Budapest is a good
>example of such claims. (The text is included at the end). MetaForum III

There is no need to justify the Internet or any other media- however a critiuqe
of such media might be useful to better understand how they can change our

>1. ...that the world undergoes a transition. This is a historicist claim
>- the aims or goals of a group are said to be an inevitable historical
>process, linear and singular.

Firstly, can you possibly deny the implications of a global society?
For a number of reasons, far too complex to cover in a three day conference
-THE WORLD IS CHANGING- not at the same rate, nor to the same ends-
again, denial does not lead to critique or understanding.
>2. ...that the construction of links is, in itself, this transition - or
>part of it. However, even if there is a transition, it does not
>logically follow, that every event is part of it.

No, I don't think that the text implies that EVERY part of this transition
is found in links- The WWW does, however, represent a very visible aspect of
the way that technology is changing our world- our lives.
Please, just for a moment, think of the number of people who will never
see a web page, yet through many forms of media that the guy on the street
sees, there are countless references to INFOBAHN- whatever you call it.
What is not hyped is the way that similar networks exchange information
that you might rather keep private- another aspect of living in the WEST-
and the East.
>3. ...that the political or social goals of the MetaForum organisers are
>development. The use of the word development to describe a political
>ideal is an implicit historicist claim.

I'm terribly sorry but please clarify this point-
our primary goals are promoting discourses within a region- that is
UNDER developed- The hype is here, but what follows remains to be seen-
some form of discourse might aid what is generally called development,
which, however you define it, is rather important here.
>4. ...implicitly, that the changes produced by this development
>legitimise it

progress in technology has gained a great deal of attention, questions
surrounding content must be raised.  How does technology alter the
information it transmits; What can society learn from the media of the
past; How is society affected by the ever increasing amounts of
information it receives; How does an information society change the
labor process; When does content become a commodity?......

>5. ...that there is an information age, and therefore implicitly a
>pre-information age

Excuse me, but are we on the same planet- are we not having a discourse
via the internet that might otherwise be impossible? Is this not a
side-effect of what is known as the information age? Isn't a part of this
what you are
exploiting via several lists- access to express opinions to a large and varied
audience that is, I am sorry to inform you- quite global, as of the last time
I checked who was on these lists. Whatever you want to call what was before-
this was not possible.
>6. ...implicitly, that history is unidirectional, moving in one
>direction, from a pre-information age to an information age

Hmm, sure why not- I have to refer you the text that janos will post.
>7. ...implicitly, that this is not reversible
Oddly enough, the last time I looked, WE COULDN'T GO BACK
>8. ...that the construction of links is progress in technology
Sure helps you
>9. ...implicitly, that there is only one technology, which progresses as
>a unit
How do you see this, I'm very interested, so please do take this one a bit
>10. ...that there is only one society
Again, to be honest there is- If you want to look at power and who controls
the world we all live in-bascially there is just one- the rest, who do
not access the INFORMATION AGE- will be powerless- I can take this one a bit
further- but at a later date - it is a topic worthy of more than these
scant replies

>11. ...implicitly, that this society should undergo transitions as a

Hmm, I don't see Hungarian housewives surfing very much, but
watchout- the future is in the hands of those with access to power, and
sorry, but, in these days, control of information does equate power.
>At best these claims are just claims. At worst they are based on logical

At best, these words attempt to set a context for a discourse-
at worst they seem to force a discourse

>Anyone can call anything a transition. That does not make it right, or
>desirable, or inevitable. Historicist claims a are form of argument, in
>practice a form of propaganda. They are often found in texts or
>declarations in favour of the Net, cyberspace, or the information
>society. The best way to consider them is to ask in each case: what is
>this person or group trying to achieve by this claim?

Good, now please let's get to your reasons for using the net to
deconstruct a text for a limited audience, however international it
may be.
>A simple example can illustrate the basic errors in these historicist
>claims. Around 1820 Europe entered the age of the steam train, and an
>age of co-operation between stable monarchies. Now Hungary is a republic
>with electric trains. According to the logic of unidirectional
>historicism, Hungary is going back into the past.

I'm sorry, once again, I'm not following- but actually, geographically,
Hungary is not that far from a place that is-
>Even if there is an Internet, or an information society, it can be
>abolished or replaced. That is not necessarily impossible, or wrong. The
>historicist claim is that any attack on the Internet, cyberspace, or the
>information society will cause a return to the past, and is therefore

Are you still writing about the MetaForum III text?
There is a difference between going back and not going forward-
who suffers in the wake?
>It is easy to show this kind of logical error, with examples. However,
>this kind of example has very little effect. The claims made by the
>MetaForum organisers, are made to support their beliefs. It is
>psychologically very difficult, to change basic beliefs.

It is equally difficult to understand why someone would assume
that we are supporting our "basic beliefs" or that there is any need
to change them.

>It is interesting to compare MetaForum III with the recent EU-CEEC
>Prague Forum on the Information Society. This was a typical European
>Commission conference for government and business in Central and Eastern
>European countries (CEEC). The participation fee was 1000 ECU. That is
>selective enough in Eastern Europe, but the organisers also reserved the
>right to select participants. In other words, the Prague Forum was a
>typical closed elite conference, in this case emphasising
>business-government partnership.
FYI- MetaForum III entry is about 10$ US- 1/2 that for students
limited by the size of the lecture hall- and a small dash of reality
yes, we the organizers did select participants-

>Superficially, the MetaForum meeting is different. However, it is more
>accurate to say that the two events are complementary. MetaForum III and
>similar events are not in any way radical, or alternative, or critical.
>On the contrary, they are the places where the ideology of the
>information society is formulated. Without that ideology, and a
>political movement to enforce it, there would probably be no business
>opportunities to talk about - at least, not in this sector.

How do you figure?

So, thanks for your interest. However ingrained my personal beliefs might
be- I couldn't be happier than I am when I see someone trying to dispute
another's claims.  And if a goal of MetaForum III is sparking an
international discourse that is inclusive of groups not as wired as yours-
it seems to be
working- and we haven't even started!!!

Diana McCarty

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