AOIR 8 Vancouver, 50 Parties, etc. (Oct. 2007)

Heya. I am presenting in a panel at AOIR this year (the title of my presentation/paper is “The Technical Micropolitics of the Online Music Industry, 1997-2007″, abstract here). For those of you who’ve followed my blog, you’ll know something of what to expect, except that I’ll be strictly framing up the narrative in terms of something called “technical micropolitics”, which, with any luck, I’ll have a competent grasp of by the time the conference rolls along. Theory, y’know? One minute you think you’ve got it, and the next minute, well, you sound like Daffy Duck.

Which brings me to another announcement of sorts – one more suited to quacking unintelligibly [& yes, readers coming in via The ORG should get that one]. I volunteered to organize (hopefully not all by my lonesome self!) the Vancouver instantiation of something Jimmy Wales started called “Heather and Jimmy’s 50 Party Club“. See the links I’ve provided for as detailed an explanation as you’re going to get (which admittedly ain’t much), but in a nutshell, you can expect a gathering of an international set of free culture/creative commons/open source nerds drinking together in the same physical space and engaging in as-yet-undetermined activities to keep each other vaguely entertained. Go to the wiki and pitch in! Your help is needed. Know of a potential sponsor (hint – local microbreweries or wineries love nerds because nerds drink lots!)? A venue? An entertainment source? A fax machine we can rig up to send loopfaxes to Larry Lessig for quitting the good fight? Or do you just wanna show up and make an arse of yourself? Get with our little planning wiki, whatever the case. Let’s have some fun.

3 thoughts on “AOIR 8 Vancouver, 50 Parties, etc. (Oct. 2007)”

  1. Is that Feenberg’s micropolitics? If yah, how are you using it? I’m interested… I have used this nifty little concept myself, in discussing tech activism and the global justice movement.

  2. yeah, it’s Feenberg. how’m’I using it? well, if you know the concept, and you know about how music is made these days, you could guess that it centers around practices of sharing/sampling/mashing/open architectures vs DRM/licensing/takedown/walled content gardens. As technical practices they are in a sense non-ideological uses of the same code and the same networks, but they have far-reaching political and social implications.

    In the online music industry this struggle is obvious (examples – the battle over pricing and DRM in iTunes, corporate buyin and sellout of open arch. systems [CBS/], the crackdown on Internet radio & other sites of distribution that are not monetized in ways that sync with old school economic regimes, the free giveaway of music files as a revolutionary/rupturous act, and so on.

    comments? Am I way off base on this technical micropolitics thing?

  3. I use/understand micropolitics in the context of the new activism, which Feenberg says is characterized by small interventions in social life that are numerous and diverse. Despite their humbler scale, these interventions represent moments of agency that could converge to produce long-term subversive impacts. “The tensions in the industrial system can be grasped on a local basis from ‘within’, by individuals immediately engaged in technically mediated activities and able to actualize ambivalent potentialities suppressed by the prevailing technological rationality” (Feenberg, 2002, p. 105). This promises the possibility of rationalizing technology, and hence society, in ways that enhance democracy rather than social control. Democratic rationalization proposes a new sort of agency, wherein members of social groups engage reflexively and dialectically with the technical framework that defines and organizes them, recognizing themselves no longer as passive objects of technology but as active subjects capable of redefining the technical order. In starting at the end – with the consequences of technology – it is possible to envision a new beginning.

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