Max Herman on Tue, 3 Sep 2019 18:59:27 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> radio nettime: 8 Sept 2019 12:00-13:00

Hi Felix,

I agree that if the benefits of continuing nettime are close to zero, then it might be the dignified thing to do to just archive it and let it be.  It had a good run as they say, and further perpetuation might just dilute the good that was done or even negate it.  Such negation would fall under the category of risk, which we might also add to cost and benefit considerations.

However, there is also the question of potential benefit, or opportunity, i.e., whether changes to the current state could generate new benefits congruent with and somehow respectful, so to speak, of the old.  A new refreshment of the old spirit; not, to be sure, mere perseveration, but something more like evolution, adaptation, and development (in the musical sense).  By definition, the latter are neither easy nor quick (though they can be, at times, sudden and painful).

One major factor, as I think has been mentioned here, is that the left/center political agendas of early network culture, which used a great deal of DIY, disruption, and indie-media tactics, are now seeing those same tools exercised to astonishing effect by the right/center and even the far right.  This may be the most dispiriting thing of all.  One might argue that the new factors for progress that digital networks brought (possibly summarized, albeit simplistically, as increased access) have now been amply r-purposed to block and even reverse progress.  This holds for a wide spectrum of definitions of progress.

Perhaps a general agenda and goals could better diversify beyond tactics, and to at least some degree beyond an immediately political focus.  The purpose of "network criticism" is a good starting point.  If network criticism and network critics no longer see a value in participation on nettime then archival is the most logical option.  

To me then, the question would be how and whether nettime's core mission of being a free and open forum for network criticism can be renewed or developed.  If we agree that network criticism is the purpose, roughly stated, then the following points might pertain.
  1. Nettime lacks diversity.  How can new, more diverse voices be encouraged to participate?  Diversity goals should cover a broad spectrum such as age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, academic background, philosophical outlook, subject matter, and the like.  
  2. Nettime lacks dialogue.  Can posters be encouraged to reply more to others' threads, and more constructively?  Maybe an informal practice of "at least three positive replies" could help.  
  3. Nettime's benefits are unclear, so a semi-formal re-statement of purpose may be in order.  Could a diverse group or committee create such a document, of no more than one page?  This could be posted to the list and re-posted as needed.  The committee could ask for group feedback.  The AE radio event could be a vital catalyst for this, or even its creative source.
  4. Nettime lacks enthusiasm.  The pioneering days of a brand-new internet are long past.  Can nettime evolve to remain relevant in a no-longer-young internet?  Arguably yes, though enthusiasm has cleared shifted away from long-form email lists to platforms with more instantaneity. 
It seems to me that item is the crucial question.  Sometimes magazines or restaurants or bands, anything involving enthusiasm, just run their course.  Participants age out or move on.  Climate, taste, and vernacular change.  Need, demand, and scarcity shift their forms.  As Keats wrote, "if poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all."  There may be more enthusiasm, in a paradoxical way, to archive nettime and thus retain as much of its time-specific character as possible.  

Perhaps one final thought regarding risk: if nettime becomes inactive, what will replace it?  What will be lost, and what are the consequences?  The risk may be unknown, hence unavoidable.

Whatever the outcome, nettime has done a great deal for network criticism and will forever be a valuable archive of its age.

Best regards,


From: <> on behalf of Felix Stalder <>
Sent: Tuesday, September 3, 2019 3:51 AM
To: <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> radio nettime: 8 Sept 2019 12:00-13:00
I would try to reverse the question. Not what are the costs (which are
hard to calculate anyway), but what are the benefits. And if they
approach zero, then it's time to stop in a decent way (and archive the
list for good). There is no use to do useless stuff. There is enough of
that on the world.

For me, the benefits have decreased, but are they close enough to zero?
What could be done to increase them? What would constitute a benefit,
and to whom?


On 02.09.19 22:28, Morlock Elloi wrote:
> If the cost of running the list was exactly zero (let's not delve into
> details at this point), would you still kill it?
> If yes, then we have an interesting case of potlatch, without bonfire.
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> #  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
> #  more info:
> #  archive: contact:
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#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info:
#  archive: contact:
#  @nettime_bot tweets mail w/ sender unless #ANON is in Subject: