Newmedia on Fri, 24 Apr 1998 03:14:16 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Anti-Technoenvironmentism


Whew!  Helping to get Technorealism (TR) off the ground has been a trip.
Keeping my mouth shut has been a trip too.  But, I'm learning.  Slowly.  I
hope I'm learning, anyway.  There are some great people in TR and I've got
some good teachers.

I've deliberately stayed out of the fray on TR so that I wouldn't be mistaken
as the spokesguy for TR.  I'm not.  There are 12 founders and many supporters
and I'm just one of them.  Just a face in the crowd.  Big mouth, small face.

I hope that this is the last "explanation" that I post for a while on all of
this.  Technorealism is committed to doing its work and that means not
defending itself or replying to the same old (one month is very old nowadays,
as ya'll know) stuff.  But, sometimes you have to say something to hear
something.  Like now.

The latest extended rant on TR -- Gerard Vanderleun's "Technoblatherism -- has
yielded two very interesting pieces of data: 

Gerard (as no doubt many of you knew) apparently wrote "RULES OF THE NET:
Online Operating Instructions for Human Beings" with Tom Mandel and 

The distilled judgement (from Tood Lappin) that TR has been slammed because it
of its "hollow conceit" and "pretention."

Very interesting, indeed.  This is really Internet history in the making.  Now
*many* things have become much clearer.  Here's how it works:

See, what we are dealing with is a technoenvironment.  This technoenvironment
has rules like all environments have rules.  Don't ask who set up the rules,
that's against the rules.  If anyone insists on asking, tell them it was "us,
the people."  The rules say that you can't be hollowly conceited and that you
can't be pretensious.  What do these mean?  Well, that is what the rules say
we are supposed to call anyone who tries to break the rules.  

Oh, I see.  Very interesting.

Who set up the rules?   (How very pretentious of me!)  

I don't know Gerard (yet) buy I knew Tom Mandel.  My last meeting with Mandel
was two weeks before he died.  I hate to speak ill of the dead but Tom was a
son-of-a-bitch.  He was a mean-ass, game-playing, tricky-dicky controller of
environments.  He was a "meta" who came from someplace else to play with the
kids on the Net.  Too harsh?  Well, that's the Mandel that I personally knew
and, I suspect, that's the Mandel that many others personally knew as well.  

Don't like my language?  Read Katie Hafner's long article on the WELL in
WIRED.  Tom *was* the WELL.  He set the rules for the environment according to
Katie.  And, by extension, he set the rules for all the other environments
which spun off of the WELL.  Where has the flak been coming from targetting
TR?  The WELL.  Hmmm . . .

Who was Tom Mandel?  He was a Stanford Research Institute (SRI) Futurist.  OK,
that's interesting.  

Who came before him at SRI?  Peter Schwartz (founder/leader of the Global
Business Network) of the "Long Boom" fame.  And, before that?  Well Peter goes
back to Royal Dutch Shell and Pierre Wack and they both go back to G.I.
Gurdjieff in Paris.  Very interesting.  

But, how about before Peter at SRI?  Peter took Willis Harmon's office at SRI.
Willis Harmon wound up as the head of the Institute for Noetic Sciences
(launched around astronaut Edgar Mitchell's vision of God on his back from the
moon on his Apollo mission).  Willis was also the sometimes SRI mentor to
Captain Al Hubbard (the Johnny Appleseed of LSD) and it was Hubbard (Harmon's
SRI protege) who Tim Leary called "that marvelous triple agent."  Very
interesting, indeed.

Tom (and possibly Gerard) was/is a controller.  He thought that way.  He would
be exactly the right guy to set up the RULES OF THE NET.  Perfect.  Control
the environment by setting up its rules.  Then make it seem like you are just
codifying the rules that everyone has "democratically" agreed to.  Clever.

When Tood Lappin answered my "Technoprojectionism" post by telling me that TR
was attacked for "hollow conceit" and "pretension", my first reaction was to
say that sounds a lot like projection to me.  Those who have attacked TR for
being "obvious" must be the ones who are obvious themselves, as the logic

Now, I ask you, dear reader, is it a matter of hollow conceit and pretension
to set up the RULES OF THE NET or to break them?  Isn't it obvious?

I have long considered nettime to be an anti-technoenvironment.  Whereas all
the places I went to in the U.S. (New York's ECHO and the now defunct Electric
Minds) were all spinoffs of the WELL, nettime isn't.  It was created outside
the RULES OF THE NET.  Anti-environment or, more specifically, anti-
technoenvironment.  That's why the environment (the WELL) has to monitor
closely the anti-environment (nettime).  That's why Bruce Sterling runs his
parasitic list on the WELL to deal with nettime.  Watching.  Always watching.
Clever. Meta.

Hopefully, technorealism will also develop into an anti-environment.  That's
what those with a stake in the environment are worried about, I have no doubt.
That's why TR will try to learn from nettime, too.  We all have much to learn.
About environments and anti-environments, as well.

(I hope no one is confused about the terms.  I'm anti-environmentist not anti-
environmentalist.  This whole thing about the WELL and TR has nothing to do
with ecology and environmentalism.  Or, does it?  How about media-ecology?
Hmmm . . . <g>)

Enough of that.

Thanks for your patience,

Mark Stahlman

[I expressly forbid Bruce Sterling or anyone else from re-posting this note to
the WELL or any other related electronic hottub.]
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