McKenzie Wark on Sat, 8 Mar 97 11:47 MET

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nettime: nettme: the tide pool with the toll booth

As a former wellbeing myself, i can only vouch for the accuracy of
the way its been portrayed by Mssrs Sterling, Cisler etc. But one
tiny point i would not like to slip by. The well may be a 'tide
pool' as Bruce says, but different rules apply to the tide flowing
in and the tide flowing out. The policy on the latter, in many
respects a good one, is 'you own your own words'. People can't
take your stuff off the well and do just whatever they please with
it without asking permission, etc. But i just want to pause here
and consider the implications of this for the information barter
economy. And vary the metaphor a bit: the well feeds on things like
nettime (in those rare moments when not feeding on itself), and
yet the reciprocal bite is prohibited. Since its the well we're
talking about, i feel, well, kinda well disposed towards it. So
its really neither here nor there. But consider this practice on
a wider scale. What kind of information economy is that? The well
has a whole thread in its archive where 'you own your own words'
was thrashed out, and it makes interesting reading. There has not
to my knowledge been an 'other people outside the well own there
words too' thread. There is a strong element of me me me me me me 
me me me me me me me me etc in wellspring of the well, so perhaps
that's not surprising. But the wider question i want to ask is
precisely: what is my responsibility to the other? For Levinas,
it was to *listen* to the other. But no one listens much on the
well, so perhaps one would have to start somewhere else. What do 
i owe to the other when i take her/his words? In what ways do
acknowledge the other? etc. Behind this other, who in this case
is the other people who's words i might take, stands the other
of the net itself, to which perhaps one is ultimately responsible,
more than to any particular individual with whom one might have
a transaction. The other of the net itself stands behind the
other person, but not behind me me me me me me me. Which to me
is why the well never got very far on this stuff. 

And yes, of course anyone who wants to may cross-post this to the
well, but what if i ask you not to? 

McKenzie Wark
Visiting Professor, American Studies Program, New York University
"We no longer have origins we have terminals"

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