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Re: <nettime> Re: Anti-Technoenvironmentism

Date: Wed, 29 Apr 1998 11:04:40 +0100
From: Andreas Broeckmann <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Re: Anti-Technoenvironmentism

dear moderators,

spare us the flame wars, please.

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Date: Wed, 29 Apr 1998 07:27:17 -0300 (ADT)
From: Michael Gurstein <>
Subject: RE: GETREAL-L: Tethnocentrism  (fwd)

Since the discussion of the Technorealist document has slipped into this
list as well, I thought the attached might be of interest.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 26 Apr 1998 11:58:02 -0300 (ADT)
From: Michael Gurstein <>
Subject: RE: GETREAL-L: Tethnocentrism 

I must say that I've been watching the discussion on this list with guilty
fascination...sort of like an eight year old watching his parents making
love from behind the curtain.

You folks are so certain, so definite, so "American"...

We up here in the frozen north get to watch you folks get rich and rule
the world up close.  Hey and your squabbles about the Libertarians and the
FDA and the EFF are so much similar to watching my cousins quarrel (once I
manage to figure out who is on which side and what the in-jokes/insults
really stand for...

But I live in this techno-verse as well and I have my traditions
too--McLuhan and Morty Zuckerman and... and the Kids in the Hall... (one
of us invented Superman as well but that's another story...

I must say that I find the discussion on this list and (going back to the
8 theses/dicta/commandments/...) Principles of Technorealism really and
truly bizarre.  Sure you guys invented the Internet (but not the www and
not computers and not the telephone) and even if you are 60% of the
Internet population right now that percentage is falling fast because your
user stats are almost saturated and the rest of the world is catching
up... And you may own a good piece of cybertech but as even you are
discovering that is maybe a fast emerging problem and not just an

So what about everybody else, us "lesser folk without the law" as
Tennyson wrote about an earlier but no less imperial age.  

Reading the "Principles" and monitoring (I hate the term lurking) on this 
list, it is like I'm sitting in the airport at O'Hare catching fragments
of coversations by one set of mid-western computer salesmen niggling back
and forth with another set-of mid-western computer salesmen.  The rest of
the world isn't to all intents and purposes there...where...anywhere...

The world stops at the Golden Gates (with occasional incentive
travel excursions to Waikiki...

Let's take a closer look...

1. "Technologies are not neutral...  They have biases"...yup...and among
the greatest and most commonly commented upon (beyond Waikiki) bias is
language.  The fact that the Internet is 85% or so English in many parts
of the world this is not something to be commented upon and then passed
over for the next incidental observation...this is fundamental to the
survival of languages and cultures and peoples.  Its the subject of
emergency studies, and special commissions, and even (god forbid)

2. "The net is revolutionary but not Utopian"... Yup... And one of the
most revolutionary aspects of the Net is the way in which is brings the
rest of the world into your attention space almost effortlessly.  In this
the net is truly revolutionary (and subversive) most profoundly I would
say the more distant culturally and geographically is the user from the
Golden Gates...

3.  "Government is important"... Yup... In roughly 100% of the world
outside of the USA, this point is so obvious it does not even need to be
discussed.  The fact that so much of the discussion on this list has
consisted of elaborate pirrouations around this point simply demonstrates
how "tethnocentric" this whole process really is.  The issue of government
and the net is not "if" but "how", and "to what ends", "with what
controls"... government's role in the Net-iverse may be vestigal but all
of us will be very long gone before we would be in a position to
testout this hypothesis.  

4. "Information is not knowledge"...Yes again...  But the question for
most of the world is "whose information", "whose knowledge", "how much is it
going to cost to get to use it"...this isn't the rather bland issue of
"proliferation of data" but rather the very real and material question of
economic survival in an ever more competitive, knowledge intensive world
where traditional resources and skills are devalued while the knowledge
needed to recreate means of livelihood are owned and operated by and in 
the interests of folks a million miles and a zillion nano-seconds
far away.

5. "Wiring the schools will not save them"???... Well for maybe 50% of the
world's population "wiring the schools" refers to wiring them for
electricity not for the Internet... and the tethnocentric discussion
about how/if technology can "save" the schools passes most of the people
in the Third World right on by as they are more concerned with having
schools...the issue of how to "save" them being rather secondary at least
for the moment...    

6. "Information wants to be protected"???... I guess you mean that
information like property wants to be owned and thus have access to the
protection of the State.  Well yes and no... The US agri-business folks
who tried to patent Basmatti rice (a traditional specialized rice of
India), were I guess, someone might say trying to "protect" something
informational about the rice... From where I sit (and also from where the
Government of India sits) this looks like an attempt to privatize in the
name of "protection" part of the common heritage of the Indian people and
through them of the world's people (we only eat Basmatti rice in our
household) and so on and so on.     

7. "The public owns the airwaves"...  Well in the US, the public arguably
owns the airwaves because of some particularities of your laws...but on
that basis, the government of Nauru could legislate that the Great Auk
owns the airwaves and the citizens of Nauru should be paying into the
Swiss bank account of the Great Auk's representative on earth an
ppropriate annual tithe.  I think it makes more sense to argue that the
"airwaves" are part of the common heritage of mankind and their
utilization and development should done so as to benefit that common
heritage, but then I believe in the tooth fairy...     

8. "Understanding technology should be an essential component of global
citizenship"...HEAR HEAR...  Now if the snake would only eat its tail...


Mike Gurstein
Michael Gurstein, Ph.D.
ECBC/NSERC/SSHRC Associate Chair in the Management of Technological Change
Director:  Centre for Community and Enterprise Networking (C\CEN)
University College of Cape Breton, POBox 5300, Sydney, NS, CANADA B1P 6L2
Tel.  902-539-4060 (o)      902-562-1055 (h)      902-562-0119 (fax)

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Date: Wed, 29 Apr 1998 06:39:02 -0700 (PDT)
From: Carmen Hermosillo <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Re: Anti-Technoenvironmentism

this is what i do not understand:

assuming that the technorealists are really
anti-utopians, as opposed to people in search
of a book deal, why is it that they haven't gone 
after howard rheingold, prince of the cyberutopians,
who, during his tenure as an evangelist of
social-interaction intranets, 
advocated a kind of reign-of-social-terror that would have 
made the versailles of louis the fourteenth look like an
experiment in anarchy, and who, even now,
maintains a small gated community with a large
silly argument in favor of social exclusion  on the frontdoor.  you
want to chew on a control-freak utopian?  go there.

furthermore, addressing an argument to a live
man who appears to have made several statements
that are actually relevant to the stance you
appear to have taken is so much more effective
than flaming the memory of the late tom mandel,
if indeed, the goal of your campaign is something
other than a suite in the remainder bin at barnes
and noble.

your words  about mandel suggest that you don't
know anymore about him than you know about anything
else you've been talking about.  tom mandel
was a brilliant man with a lovely, edgy sense of
humor.  he was subtle. he had style.  he had actually
read the books that he talked about, which is 
unusual in some corners of cyberspace.  van der leun
is right.  he didn't have much patience with idiots.
perhaps that explains some of the difficult interaction
you had with him.

i think you need to apologize, newmedia.
yes.  i think you need to do that.
i want a nice rant, about the same size
as the idiotic self-promotional piece you wrote about tom, 
explaining about how you don't know what you're talking about
in this instance, as well as in several others.  perhaps
you will try to make an effort to be less slimy in
the future.  i am sure that we would all appreciate it.

i would like to see this apology appear as soon as possible.

smoochy smooch

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