Tjebbe van Tijen on Tue, 14 Feb 2012 09:53:01 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> [Fwd] A Spit in the Ocean (or the limits of social network paranoia)

Last sentence of a message on which I am reacting just to get the gist of it:

>> I won't participate anymore in so-called social media that don't
>> proceed from actual communities nor nourish them. Facebook and
>> Google+ nourish like baby milk: with poison inside. Stop smoking
>> before cancer strikes.

I used to live in a house that was on the address list of the
Underground Press Service: Keizersstraat 2A, in Amsterdam. Both the
house and my friend doing the "underground" paper - Steef Davidson are
not there anymore.

"Cultural underground would have been a better word" as there is
little underground when you receive heaps of radical newspapers from
all over the world. Years later I found our address in a CIA document
that was half public: "open sources" is the word.

Our telephone in that house was also a special case, as it was the
head quarter of a few action groups, all this in the period 1969-1975.
A telephone was not a common thing for activists like us with little
money. So the bill was not paid once and still the telephone kept
functioning. We were listened to we concluded and adapted our speech a

In the early seventies we developed a system called 'telephone
snowball', a distributed quick mobilising system, whereby there were
lists with telephone numbers distributed in a systematic way which
allowed us to mobilise a small crowd within an hour.

There was no internet of sorts at that time...

And as such activist communication and exchange systems grew, one knew
that among the contacts were people with say double identities and
sometimes even plain spies.

As our "underground" system needed not really to be underground, we
did not care too much about it. It was package and deal of making
a crowd. We developed a happy community with the slogan: public

Secret, hidden cell like structures were also practiced in those
days, we thought it was dangerous romanticism. The rather young Dutch
maoists groups of that time had a tendency to organise themselves
in such ways. A while ago I bumped into an archive left at the
International Institute of Social History, with packs of handwritten
mostly internal documents of such a group mostly made up of students.
The more secret they got, the more problems arose. Individuals being
expelled. Threats and the like. Most people involved in such secracy
will may have concluded later the futility of their secret activism.

Of course it is a luxury to be able to say or think so... but by
refusing to get trapped in secret organisations and all what comes
with it, one may be more effective after all.

The social and private are deeply intertwined. Whatever information
flow system in the history of mankind, it has had both its advantages
and the opposite.

The ways of control of communication systems and the ways to evade
control are in constant oscillation: liberating/recuperating...

Will something like Diaspora be an alternative for Facebook? Yes maybe
in the short run, but when something gets replicated so many times
millionfold, what was liberating in it will have evaporated in that

It could even be so, that mainstream social networks give more freedom
than cyber-undergournd connectivity. Just by the mere protective mass
of the global ones.

The message I am reacting on seems to me very romantic and very naive
and also untrue in the sense that when you are against a global big
firm communication system and want to construct something of an order
order, an outsider system, the last thing you should do is announce
it here, on the dwindling list, that once was full of discussion and
now mostly contains one way announcement (I also use it for that I

The quest for purity in community and with that in its communication
systems, sounds like the manifestos for setting up 'intentional
communities' of the sixties and seventies of last century, with their
attempt to isolate themselves from society as it was.

One can deny a try to nobody, but I doubt that such an attitude will
have the wished effect. Paranoia is a bad basis for producing any
social change.


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