Peter Lunenfeld on Wed, 30 Jul 1997 03:22:40 +0200 (MET DST)

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Re: <nettime> Soros as media virus

McKenzie Wark wrote:

>Whatever else he may be, it seems clear to me that Soros
>is a media virus. His name just pops up anywhere in
>connection with anything now. For example: its quite
>plausible that his company trades in SE Asian currencies,
>but i hardly think he's a major influence in the region.
>That his name is a convenient scapegoat for Dr Mahatir
>indicates to me that the extent of Soros the media virus
>is now amazingly global.
>Dr Mahatir's comments seem to me remarkably like blaming
>your country's economic problems on "Jewish bankers". His
>remarks have been received with the contempt they deserve,
>at least on this list. Pointing out what might be going on
>in SE Asia is not the same thing as "defending Soros". I
>think the point is rather that on this side of the world
>there are far more interesting things to talk about that
>Soros -- be that Soros the man, the banker, the philanthropist,
>-- or the media virus.

I think that people seem to have missed the point of Teo Spiller's
comments. He did not seem to be taking a position on Mahatir-vs-Soros so
much as he was questioning the frenzy of activity that this conflict was
stirring up on the list. I was interested in the way that the oppositions
kept mutating - first Malaysia-vs-Curency Trader, then everybody-vs-SLORC,
and finally Teo-vs-Linda - because, contrary to what McKenzie Wark states
above, this instantiation of Soros as media virus is indeed a topic worthy
of conversation.

Though I too live on the Pacific (LA may not be as geographically close to
the ASEAN nations as Sydney, but the nation state of California knows where
the money is), I profess no detailed knowledge of the currency swings in
Malaysia and Thailand. Nor do I have the same level of personal exposure to
Soros' foundations possessed by many others on this list members
(especially those living and working in Eastern Europe). In other words, I
am not an expert in either area. I would expect, though that the high
volume of messages on this topic has prompted other non-experts to post
their observations. In the former media ecology, most of those posting
would have been classically passive spectators reading/watching events
through the lens of corporate sector newsgathering and analysis units. In
the present moment, however, they/we are using and being used by the
nettime community as a possible information sources and/or commentators on
the events.

I'm not suggesting that we retreat into an endless series of
meta-commentaries on our commentaries (academia offers enough of that to
fill all of our collective lifetimes), just pointing out that it is not a
naive question to ask why some issues prompt us into posting while others
do not. In fact, these kinds of questions are absolutely essential if we
are ever to construct etiologies of media viruses.

Peter Lunenfeld
Program in Communication & New Media Design
Art Center College of Design

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