Newmedia on Fri, 9 Jun 2006 18:33:49 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> nettime as idea


When nettime was young, it largely revolved around events.  Not ideas.  
Events.  The list was often a discussion of events, publishing of "papers" that 
were given at events, reports about events, quarrels that took place at events, 
planning for events.  Events were at the center of nettime's life back then.

The Metaforum series was central (okay Zentral) to the early growth and 
excitement of nettime.  Indeed, as the history books tell us, nettime was initially 
formed at an event -- Venice Biennale 1995.

These events were planned.  Carefully.  Then, of course, these events took on 
their own life as all good events must do.

I was introduced to nettime in an email inviting me to come to Metaforum III 
(October 1996).  A plane ticket was offered (fund-raised from a local 
businessman who wanted some free advice from me) and a "keynote" speech slot was 
promised.  I didn't know Diana, Pit, Geert and Janos when I was contacted.  They 
found me on the net (partly because I "attacked" John Perry Barlow, who had 
keynoted Metaforum II) and apparently thought that I would say something that 
would help their event.  Hopefully it did.

When I got on the plane, there was Eric Davis ("TechGnosis") sitting next to 
me.  He was also invited.  We'd never met.  So was Manuel Delanda.  We also 
never met.  Arthur Kroker was invited but couldn't attend.  Likewise for many 

The night before my "speech," I went to dinner with the organizers to go over 
my presentation.  We decided to change some things to directly "confront" 
some other topics that would also be discussed and to make sure that everything 
would be lively and challenging.

Events are hard work.  Especially if you want to throw together some 
interesting people so that sparks will fly -- in a semi-controlled but tension-filled 

Unfortunately (or not according to your perspective), these events were 
viewed as in conflict with the aggressive efforts by the Soros group to build its 
own "network" -- recalling that early nettime was highly engaged in bringing 
people from the "East" (i.e. former communist Eastern Europe) into contact with 
people from the West -- which inevitably involved many of the same people as 

I've been told that it was communicated to some nettimers that they could 
expect no funding from Soros etal -- remember that the Soros group was then among 
the only job sources in the territory -- if there was another Metaforum 
event.  For whatever reasons, there were no more.

Instead, the Soros organization in Ljubljana (Slovenia) hosted the "final" 
nettime event -- Beauty and the East -- in May 1997.  Once again there were 
various invited speakers.  Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey) and David 
Bennehum, among others.  Travel expenses were paid and so forth.  Nightclubs were 
rented.  Drinks were provided.  There was plenty of excitement in the air (and 
some smoke as I recall.)

For the record, Ted Byfield had "given up" on nettime around then.  I made a 
contribution and helped to convince him to come to Ljublana.  The rest is, er, 
not quite (public) history -- yet.

I suspect the reason why there has been such an outflowing of commentary 
about "nettime" (on nettime) in the past week (and the "Ted connection") is simply 
because there was recently another nettime event.  After all these years.

If you wish to build something -- call it nettime? -- then you will have to 
organize some events.

The better you organize them, the better you mix things up, the better you 
get people excited, the better you *plan* and *execute* -- then the better will 
your results inevitably be.

Oh yeah, I came back from "Beast" very excited about where this was all 
going.  Because of the train strike -- which prevented travelling directly from 
Slovenia to Austria, forcing Ted, David and me to take a train to Germany first 
-- none of us attended the post-conference ZK meeting.  We did however get to 
stay in the Hotel Orient (as I recall, none of us knew it was already famous 
due to Ken Anger's 1995 "Love's Last Lament") in Vienna.  I suspect that we 
missed out on something important at that post-event planning session.  Perhaps 
that's where the future of nettime was debated.

There were no more major public events.

I was involved in organizing two things following that -- Technorealism 
(which was largely stillborn, when Daddy Warbucks showed up) and the Non-Linear 
Circle (a "salon" that I hosted in my loft once-a-month for two years, 

As I posted over the years in various ways, the NET is giant surveillance 
device.  Indeed, I believe that it was designed as such by the Pentagon.  When I 
started getting subscribers from Bulgaria on the NLC list (hosted right 
alongside nettime), I started to wonder exactly who was "tracking" our activities.  

Of course, this isn't to say that "watchers" can't show up at events -- 
indeed, the NYPD "Red Squad" sent someone to actively participate in the NLC -- but 
so much of what happens at events is, well, "private."

I'm a big believer in events.  I hope that there are some more that I'm 
privileged to participate in -- make it some good ones!


Mark Stahlman
New York City

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