Mark Stahlman (via RadioMail) on Fri, 7 Mar 97 19:25 MET

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nettime: The Real Deal


There are couple of pretty obvious points that we have been glossing over
here in our comparison of various online forums.  The WELL is a *big* place
(as is eMinds).  The "Goofy Leftists Sniping at WIRED" (GLSaW)"topic" which
we have been talking about here is #200! (out of ???) on one "conference"
out of many, many conferences on the WELL.  GLSaW is really just another
list like this one -- except that thousands of such lists are collected
together and then called the WELL all of which you get access to for your
$10/month.  Likewise for eMinds -- except there are also topic leading
essays and the whole thing is "free."  The purpose of both the WELL and
it's offshoot, eMinds, is hanging out -- not thinking and acting
responsibly regarding serious issues.

GLSaW "belongs" to Bruce Sterling.  This means that he started the "topic"
and that he apparently feels some responsibility to keep the discussion
going.  Instead of typing out essays of his own, however, Bruce x-posts
from nettime to keep things moving.  The conversation then tends to be
somewhat less than substantial and, in keeping with the Esalen
hot-tubishness of the WELL, seems to be just what the "topic" title
indicates, goofy and sniping -- lead by nasty characters like Mark Dery and
his equally nasty and sometimes sparring-mate Robert Rossney (host of
Technos "conference" over at eMinds).  

I was drawn-and-quartered (called "loony" and so on) by people who barely
know me for sport with me *not* present following Bruce's x-post of my
"English Ideology" essay from nettime.  One of the participants emailed and
urged me to join the list since I was being "debated" in absentia and
Richard Barbrook also privately sent me some archived posts.  So, I decided
to join to confront my "assasins" and to see if I could turn the tables on
them by getting a real conversation going and by tweeking people to say to
my face what they reveled in doing behind my back.  When I arrived the
reaction was, "Oh, my God, HE'S here."  Believe me, you don't want to see
this crap spewed on any form of nettime.

The "owner" of GLSaW, Bruce Sterling, never got in touch with me about any
of this and he never bothered to intervene in the nastiness, either.  So
much for courtesy or even professional behavior.  I've run lists and I
would never put up with this stupidity for a minute.  In fact, Bruce seems
to do little on the list but x-post from nettime.  I was able to coax him
out of his cave by challenging him regarding his membership in GBN (which
he never felt needed to be revealed despite x-posting my "English
Ideology"essay which focuses attention on GBN and the fact that it's right
there on the GBN WEBsite) and again over what turns out to be Bruce's great
affection for H.G. Wells.  

Our last exchange was a juvenile I've-read-more-obscure-Wells-than-you
fling-fest which is still completely unresolved.  I've asked Bruce to
publicaly discuss how he might relate Wells' "Open Conspiracy" thesis to
the GBN -- which *he* refers to as the "Hippie Trilateral Commission." 
What is GBN actually doing (consulting to multinationals about the future)
and how does it relate to Wells' theme that multinationals would become the
backbone of his World State (same effort or different and how?).  Frankly,
I don't expect Bruce to answer these questions.

As a result of my needling the participants about how infantile the
exchanges were and my invitation to get Doug Rushkoff to come in to defend
himself from similiar attacks (he rolled over and confessed his youthful
sins), GLSaW was briefly getting some interesting posts and beginning to
collect the "best topic on the WELL" award. This prompted David Hudson to
post his enthusiastic review back here on nettime. (I really can't see why
David likes any of these guys, BTW).  This does, of course, beg the
question of whatever else is going on in WELL-ville, but I've been assured
that GLSaW is all that the WELL has to offer of a nettime-like character. 
I have not even bothered to explore the rest of the system since everytime
I ask no one can't come up with any good places to go.

Lastly, what is really going on here is that a few people, me, David,
Bruce, sometimes Pit and some others are in ALL these places most of the
time.  There really is a larger "conversation" going on here (although
Bruce doesn't "converse" much) that is larger than nettime or the WELL or
eMinds.  It is the thoughts, concerns and activities all of us online and
in real life that ultimately matters.  If anyone says anything that even
*might* be important it *should* be repeated in as many places as is
practical -- which is why I notified nettime that WIRED is melting down.  I
have no problem with people x-posting my essays (and the professionals out
there always ask for permission which I always give) and hopefully others
will feel the same way.

Unlike GLSaW or eMinds or many of the other systems that I have
"intervened" into over the years, nettime seems to be a place where people
seem to geniunely care about the ideas and their implications.  These other
places are watering holes where the buffaloes hang out to swap spit with
each other (correcting spelling errors along the way).  They are much more
like the "leaderless groups" designed to amplify conformity and adjust
attitudes than places where important ideas and proposals can thrive.

I intend to write essays specifically *for* nettime and will take
discussion about them wherever that may occur.  Let's not get confused by
any of this.  Nettime is the real deal (so far) and all the rest can only
feed off the energy of nettime because they are decidedly *not* the real
deal.  Thanks for welcoming me into your midst and keep on thinking
important thoughts.

Mark Stahlman
New Media Associates
New York City
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