Lovink… Geert. Lovink.

So after the Lovink talk I saw the new Bond film. Wow! See it! (It makes the Brosnan Bond films look really bad.)

Lovink’s talk was in three sections.
1) A summary of the activities of his Institute of Networked Cultures.
2) Some brief remarks on blogging derived from his upcoming book Zero Comments.
3) The screening of an audio-visual piece.

The first section basically introduced the various conferences, seminars and projects that Lovink has been involved with through his Institute of Networked Cultures. He created the Institute by using funding from the Dutch government. He is interested in network cultures, specifically second order networks or ‘sustainable structures’ that may (or may not) stratify ‘after the hype’.

Besides the projects themselves he described his pragmatic methodology of ‘looking at issues’ (compared to a more programmatic approach, say of the Qld Creative Industries). It meant that the conferences and events were a bit of a mixed bag with some being extremely successful, sometimes surprisingly, and others not as successful. Some examples:

Decade of webdesign. 1995-2005. Talked about the weird hippy element of web design where established and new workers are willing to sacrifice raw income for the freedom and mobility of ‘digital work’.

My Creativity. Raised questions about the birth/death of professions, such as programmers of certain language/codes. How social institutions interface with new realities through a democratisation of tools and services. Should we engage with Creative Industries? (What actually exists?) The issue of China and Creative China. The very interesting dual emergence of Creative Commons and similar movements and various forms of precarity. Lovink argued that they should be read together, or at least questions need to be asked of both. They are not separate.

Urban Screens. Screen Culture. Looked at the emergence of massive screens everywhere, for example the BBC. Advertisers need to rely on artists because viewers switch off if they only play ads therefore they need creative and artistic content.

Art and Politics of Netpron.

incommunicado 05. Critical agenda involving the study of ICT and Development. Multi-stakeholder approach in Africa: NGOs, government, business.

The next section was derived from some elements of his forthcoming book, Zero Comments. He segued into this discussion by presenting a number of internet use statistics. English is the dominant minority language, percentage of users, percentage of poulation online, etc. until he got to figures of blog use. Ten percent of internet users now blog. Here are some notes from the lecture. These are certainly not my views on blogging, but keep in mind I am transcribing some rough notes written on a scrap of paper and half a week after the event. So don’t draw any conclusions until you read his actual book. However, I am pretty sure I get more than just the general gist of his argument…

Blog culture. Bloggers are angry, confused, engaged. It is a counter voice, but not a counter culture. Need to get away from notions of blogging as a challenge/adjunct to MSM, this has been inherited from a very small section of the so-called a-list American bloggers. Blogs fix the social in a particular manner. Lovink offered a general lineage of online cultures over the last decade: email list culture was kind of a counter culture, idealistic. Web-based initiatives were of the slacker generation. Now blogs which are intrinsically conservative, not anti-establishment.

Blog culture exists within a secluded social atmosphere/networks. They are networks of desired affiliation. Friendships back to Aristotle, FOucault. Friendships are weird, more affiliations. There is an ‘overcoding tendency’ rather than a carnival of difference.

Need to study undercurrents of technoculture. “Cats” are number one blogging topic. [Blogging personal to what effects us, those affects mobilised. = could be my notes?]

Venture capital missed it.

Casual communication, not [community?]. Crystals, Canetti [i forget what this was about??]. Blogs bring on decay — I am media — belief in the message declining. Citizen media?

Truth-nothingness process. COnfronting the zero comments. Somewhere in the long trail [I am certain he said trail and not tail, to play on the notion of t(r)ail as journey. No one else seemed to notice this?] News is consumed. Micro-heroics. Neitschean acts in your pyjamas. Nihilism of strength, weakness of passivity.

Problem of the discourse analysts. Magazines, stylized uncertainty, reviews. Ought to be biographical. Blogs play with emotional register. False consciousness. Embedded in media culture.

What is diary keeping in public? Immediacy, that is here. Self-reflection. Not a project or a proposal, but a condition. Conversational aspect. [a priori/absence?] Zero-out old structures. Not judging content. [Which was a telling remark for all the bizarre smirking and giggles in the audience about the “cat” as number one blog topic.]

Not Baudrillard implosion of media. A flat topology [of networks?]. Not letter to the editor. Media observer. Enormous increase in irrelevance. [Shifting terrain of importance, see below for my question I asked.] Example of Jodi Dean, who shifts from Zizekian political economy to become heavily involved in blogging.

Are there mobile borders?

I had a prepared question which involved asking about blogging as an event-based media, what does this do to temporality? What is the temporality of blogging? INstead I sort of raised that as a statement and tied it to notions of a flat topology and so on and then asked about what he called the “enormous increase in irrelevance” by talking about one of the influences on Baudrillard, Daniel Boorstin, and his notion of the non-event. I think Lovink thought I was suggesting that bloggers produce non-events when I was usggesting the complete opposite. Instead of the non-events of the media being used to produce passive populations, bloggers cover the real events of their own lives. Which for some means blogging about those aspects of theior lives that ghive then joy, etc. ie their cats. After he talked on this for a while I realised he misinterpreted my question so I rephrased it by suggesting that the terrain of importance had shifted and the received mass-media categories important/irrelevant had shifted to a more personal level where what is ‘important’ for the media apparatus may actually be irrelevant for those blogging and vice versa.

Lastly, maybe in his book he talks about the processual aspects of blogging, that is of being able to highlight and work through elements of one’s world producing harmonic resonant effects with others, etc. but that aspect seemed to be missing. Also and relatedly the importance of the digital archive/database and how this has impacted on forms of knowledge, particularly in terms of access. For example, I know that some of the things I talk about on here have impacted the thinking of others because they have told me as such. There is simply no way to trace this unless one is actually told. Not everyone wants to know about Deleuze, sure, but that is because they are asking questions about cats, for which they may find answers in a blog.

Oh, the piece that was screened was totally kickass. That should so be hosted somewhere. It is like a Ballard novel written of digital/consumer culture and remade into art by advertising creatives.

7 replies on “Lovink… Geert. Lovink.”

  1. There were lots of cat lovers in the audience.

    The Nietzsche thing was actually ‘blogging as the micro-heroic Nietzschean act of the pyjama people’ – best line of the talk! (but ‘Nietzschean acts in your pyjamas’ is also fucking funny! 😉

    The vid was cool – reminded me a bit of Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries stuff, although all the graphics wipes got on my nerves after a while… I liked the IP critiques.

    Overall it was a good event. I sometimes feel that Geert says things that seem a bit obvious, but as a friend said, at least he says them. Then there are his more interesting and provocative positions, such as his correlation between FOSS and precarity, and his previous critiques of tactical media and dismissal of certain online interventions (a position with which I had issues, especially on various email lists back in the day).

    I didn’t really get where he was coming from until I went to Amsterdam earlier this year and got to hang out with him and his partner, and gained some insight into his(/the) very particular Dutch sensibility, which combines ‘pragmatism’ with deadpan humour.

    Pity I didn’t get to chat with you… I took a photo of you taking a photo of the screen, but it didn’t turn out…

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