People, 1. -  3. October 1998
Pit Schultz

- What does "Cultures of electronic networks" mean? What does this new practice in culture production look like? What are its strengths?

Electronic networks can serve as a medium to bring people with similar interests together. if the electronic networks itself become the interest you have a strong loop which seeks for reference and contextualisation. Electronic Cultures are the basis of many rich social or technical innovations, they are needed to develope a language which goes beyond the programming languages or the press articles popularizing the internet. The Productivity is not at first to come up with products but to develope a sense and a language for the full potential of new technology including the dark sides of it. The strenghth of a critical multivocal aproach which includes the faulty and problematic and pluralistic sides of a new technology is to be both ahead of the pure technical development and besides of it, relativating technolgy as the only driver in history and combining it with the non-technical aspects of life. Therefore electronic cultures develop sustainable models of living with technology, changing and updating it within the larger frameworks of cultural knowledge.

- Where are the existing structural failings (economic, infrastructure and legal), which the Best Practice models introduced have to combat? And how can these be remedied?

a) economic/infrastructural failings large investments into representative media circus art which is outdated within years. "hi-end" interactive installations which need intensive maintanance, huge research projects with results noone ever has heard about, "multimedia" and cdrom when network technologies were already on the rise, less investment into people then large technical infrastructure (outdate fast), less investment into small modular projects then big centralized institutions, (big enterprises) and big risk of complete misinvestment. Almost no investment into public archives, translation funds, small scale projects, the "transrapid"-syndrome, big projects take more money over a long time, even if completly questionable.

b)legal failings
- imposing copyright issues onto small and rather unpopular/specialized archives
- censorship and content control at universities following the moral panic about child pornography
- privatizing and commercializing public content, expensive catalogues instead of open archives.

Remedy: federal, decentralized structure. Every major European city needs self-organized small media institutions, ‚cybersalons' providing learning resources and public access, special literature, and lecture series, artist presentations and workshops. Funding should work over "low budget" central funds, but also local funding, and income through membership, providing internet ‚bandwith', translation (for publishing projects), informal eductation, and distributed archives, with the control instrument of publishing/documenting the results on the net. Such institutions need a strong network, based less on bureaucratic overhead then simple groupware tools (adress data base, schedule, discussion board, document repository) to the direction of shared exchanged standards (audio, video) and public digital content. Representative needs will be covered by museums and theaters. The advance of such a structure is it's cost-effectivness. Better investing into 15 small institutions then one big one. The public would rather organize locally through participation then through consumption and weekend tourism.

[In more words: The existing strucural failings lay in the underestimation of computers, digital code and networks as a driver for fundamental change in the definition of property, economic exchange, institutional infrastructure and social control. Today we live in a time where both good and bad effects stand in crude contrast to each other. Both is possible, emancipation and new sense of community, as well as paranoia of surveillance and economic exploitation. On a smaller scale structural failings happen around the centralisation and top down organisation of net processes. Taken the cultural field, of huge institutions unable to react to the ongoing changes, investing more into media circus and the representation of power then into (cultural) innovation and research. The best model against the globalizing effects of the internet is a combination of global and local structures, while the local structures should have the priority because this is where the body lives. Institutions should work locally and develope international networks meeting in annual gatherings, the democratic definitions of goals and needs for the means of shared infrastructures should get decided during such events. Local institutions work as hosts for research, salons for local scenes, informal eduction, lecture series, smaller events, and the mediation of broader issues into the local context. An international structure, like a mailinglist alone is nothing without the various local nodes of different media cultures mainly emerging in bigger metropoles. A small media institution is nothing without an exchange on the international level, e.g. through a mailinglist and gatherings. Bigger institutions should be, like bigger enterprises today. broke down into smaller independent cells which are establishing exchange standards. New technologies can be used to reduce bureaucratic overhead. Common resources can be shared, and schedules and larger projects can be planed together. A differentiation and positive competition which is not dogmatically against com dialectic of very local activitiy with global exchange.]

- How can the so-called Best Practice models be integrated into the EU's promotional structures? What policy changes are necessary for this?

Europe is based on a network of cities, based on this culture the european union is already existing since a long time. In communities like "electronic culture" frequent exchange (online) and meetings (offline) is usual. The variety of cultural differences allows a much finer and deeper reception and development of digital technologies. The best example for this is the development of electronic dance music in europe, which happens in exchange with the electronic music cultures of a few US-american cities and a network of european cities and places. With electronic art and media theory it is simliar, while the US developes the technology, europe is developing technoculture. In the future technology will have more and more cultural effect, interface development, content, application development, workflow management. Culture is not the autonomous zone without contact to the real world. Internatinal exchanges in such communities happen with Easteurope, Asia, US and australia, on a very normal daily basis on mailinglists like nettime, syndicate or xchange or through lecture series and small international symposia.

Needed policy changes are:
1) basic funds for research projects to develop better community and groupware tools for the interaction of virtual projects and small scale projects
2) finance translation and small publication
3) organize a ‚travel agency' to coordinate lecture series and central events. (a yearly gathering, a summer academy) the needed infrastructure of both, small institutions, as well as virtual networks is already there, it only needs the to reach the next level of organisation.

Biography: born 1965, Heidelberg
studied computer science in Berlin
1991 co-founder of Botschaft e.V. (interdisciplinarian cultural foundation in Berlin) collaboration in several local, national and international exhibitions and group projects
1992 mediactivism during gulf war, berlin symposium on urbanism & speed, collaboration at the Thing BBS network
1993 e-smog Archive, exhibitions in public space, wmf club interior design, collaboration with Daniel Pflumm berlin/munich/london/vienna
1994 museum fuer zukunft, radio projects berlin/hamburg/cologne/zurich/new york
1995 co-founder of the nettime mailinglist moderator of the nettime list co-editor of ZK Proceedings (5 until now)
1996 Stipendium at Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien exhibition at Manifesta, Rotterdam
1997 co-organization of Hybrid Workspace, DocumentaX
1998 Fellowship at Kunsthochschule fuer Medien with Diana McCarty

published: in Spex, Frontpage, de:bug, Zitty, and in several anthologies of media theory and media culture together with Geert Lovink Netzkritik, a German collection of textes from nettime, ID - Archiv, 1996. ZKP 1- 5, periodical collection of nettime textes.

Institution: nettime is a mailinglist. It is also network of individuals from different countries, disciplines, enterprises and institutions sharing an interest in a critical discourse on the polical and cultural implications of media and technology. With more then 900 subscribers from about 25 different countries, yearly gatherings at different conferences, a periodical publication (ZKP) and several attached events, publications and projects nettime is providing a platform for international exchange between artists, journalists, philosphers, programmers, organizers. Nettime serves most of all as a collaborative filter of revevant textes and as a selt-sustained Alternative news channel, informing about art events as well as distributing rare theoretical textes For free. Nettime is a non-commercial venture based on a gift-economy of giving and taking into A continous flow of textual production.
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