David Garcia on Mon, 14 Oct 2019 13:31:09 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Some open questions.. some leading questions

- What Would a Knowledge Democracy Look Like -

The workshop The War on Knowledge on Thursday 17th of October in Brighton’s 
Digital Festival. 

The workshop is an attempt to help flesh out questions that are around issues variously  
described as the "epistemic crisis” the “post truth era" the “digital tailspin” and “dark epistemology”. 

Preparation for the workshop generated quite a number of questioned that featured that I tried to address 
in an article I posted about a week ago. But for the purposes of Thursday I have sought to boil things down to a list 
of questions and throw them open to Nettime hoping for some some thoughts to be dropped in the “bowl". 

Just for info the workshop will be led by Marc Tuters and Emillie de Keulenaar of the Amsterdam based 
research group OiLab who have investigated the dark corners of the internet and tracked and analysed the 
emergence of alternative knowledge regimes. The event will also enlivened by the presence of scholars and 
artists from across the region (and beyond) we will also be joined by members of the Forensic Architecture 

The ideal outcome of the workshop would be to flesh out some fresh answers to the question: what 
would a *knowledge democracy* look like?
Here are a bunch of related questions that might need to taken into account along the way:

* The internet is frequently blamed for the epistemological crisis. Given that a general erosion of trust in science 
and its institutions and has been in train for decades to what extent can today’s version of the internet be 
legitimately asked to shoulder so much of the blame?

* Are the tactics of far right populist movements the cause of the epistemic trouble we are in or rather an 
aggravating and contributory symptom? Where are the correlations that demonstrate that the internet 
represents a significant 'step change' in the epistemic trouble we are in ?

* Can we be more precise about the relationship between the hyper polarisation of today’s politics and the knowledge 

 * What other elements that need to be factored in?  

* Are these problems simply (as analytic philosophers might argue) problems of language, logic or perception 
or has the nature of how we discover (or construct) facts and truth claims fundamentally changed ? 

* Can the pursuit of knowledge be reduced to "various competing realities, past and present, each trying to impose 
its own set of values, beliefs and behaviors.” ? Doesn’t the reiteration of this post-structuralist trope play into the hands of 
the far right who denounce all inconvenient evidence as ‘fake news’.?  

* Are today’s facts more provisional and dynamic.? And if so what would that mean for how we organise 
society and do our politics.     
* If we accept that scientists and other technocratic authority figures"can’t have their facts back” (Maares) as there is 
"no norm to return to” then must we give up on the task deciding on more or less valid contributions to public knowledge ?

* Can we evaluate the rival claims of re-establishing a relationship between citizen participation and expert knowledge 
e.g. “open verification” “citizens assemblies” etc ?

* Is the day to day relationship between knowledge, power and the citizenry actually often quite banal as it falls under the expanding 
province of quasi judicial regulatory regimes and their systems. The -expertocracies- and technocracies largely inaccessible to public 
scrutiny or accountability? 

* How can this essential regime be respecified?

* If the above is the case would it be useful to de-dramatise the case studies and the language of crisis, war, dark, tailspin etc or is this 
terminology appropriate descriptors of current conditions? (I include the name of the workshop in this critical question.)

* If arriving at public facts can only happen in the public domain where are the frontiers of invention for collective action to 
transform the public domain and make it fit for a 21st century democracy: a knowledge democracy ?

-More questions most welcome-


David Garcia


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