Geert Lovink on Wed, 12 Mar 97 10:50 MET

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nettime: push wired?

Dear Mercedes,

my push media critique mirrored the way Wired magazine announced
this latest hype, you are right about this. I tried to analyze
this long editorial manifesto, which I still see as a very
curious document and I linked it to related developments within
the Wired corporation. I did not even know at the time about
Wired News and their experiments with all the existing push media

I do not agree with Foucault about the status of critique. He
might be right, but the effects of his phrases about the End of
Critique have prevented many of our generation in making rough,
dirty, daily analyses of the powers-to-be (and making mistakes).
The strategies of disappearance and nice and poetic indirect
sayings, caught in the complicated parisian language traps, have
kept us away from the capability to clearly see what is going on
and intervene and finally draw conclusions and come up with new
forms of organization.

(Net) Critique for me is not about some old friend-foe
distinction. I do not need enemies, I need mirrors, fixed
objects, texts I can analyze, in order to better understand the
rapid developments. All the big and small media items and hypes
need a certain, underlying structure. Together we have to figure
out what this is, otherwise we are only drifting in a sea of
virtual signifiers. Critique is a way to understand and has got
nothing to do with attack or even 'bashing'. It's a specific way
of writing (limited, though) in order to set literary,
political, ethical, aestetical rules and standards. This is
perfectly normal in the world of film, theater and books and
should also be established for the still very small culture that
deals with new media.

Wired is not an endangered species or some minority that cannot
defend itself so easily. But I have noticed thoughout the years,
that is also a group of people which is not so easy to
understand. Their agenda is a very specific one and you need a
lot of background information in order to understand their
editorial policies and decisions. To give you some examples. Who
of nettime has ever studied the writings of George Gilder and can
show us how his anti-statist, conservative agenda influenced the
Wired gang? My group, Adilkno, tried to characterize the
cyberculture of the Westcoast, back in the spring of 1994. You
can find this essay in the german Datendandy book (not available
in english). Here you can see how are circling around the Wired
ideology, not being able to grasp it, surrounded by high piles of
books and stories about the USA in the last thirty years, which
is in part also our own history.

Mark Dery (ed.) came with his Flame Wars and Weinstein and Kroker
with their notion of the virtual class. Only then I understood a
bit more, but still, here in Holland, everyone reads Wired, but
not one intellectual has yet been able to analyze this magazine.
I mean it's political agenda, it's attractive sides and the way
it selects the topics. People are impressed and intimidated by
the big lead that still exists between the USA and Europe (appr.
3 to 5 years). And this makes the reading of Wired so exciting,
also for me. It comes from the future, specially if you are
surrounded by the specifics of Old and Deep Europe, like me,
going back and forth between Amsterdam and the Balkans.

The Wired group originates from Amsterdam and left in 1991 or
1992 for San Francisco. They were kind of friends with
Mediamatic, of which I was an editor at that time, alltough I did
not know them personally. From here we followed their attempts to
get money, the zero issue and then their tremendous success, from
the very start. It was clear to us that they neither wanted to
copy the new age underground style of Mondo 2000, nor the art and
theory discourse of Mediamatic. They took a kind of journalistic
approach, but without the critical attitude of the investigative
journalism. They had to sell something, that was their inner
drive. But what? Not hard- or software. It took me a long time to
find out what they were 'pushing' and it is still not clear to me
all the time.

But Wired is small, Ken Wark is right about that. Even the whole
media business is nothing compared to other industries. But it's
our branch. And Wired is my magazine. I haven't missed one issue
and I am the last one to look down on it, or dismiss it because
of it's bad quality. Both Mondo 2000 and Mediamatic almost seized
to exist (as regular publications). And we have not been able yet
to come up with a critical alternative to Wired. That's why they
have the field to themselves, still.

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