From inter-subjectivity to multi-subjectivity: knowledge claims and the digital condition

Beautiful and open accessAbstract: One of the consequences of digitization is a deepening crisis of epistemology, caused by the proliferation of social, biological and machinic actors that overwhelm established methods of generating and organizing knowledge. Machine-driven analysis of large data sets is introducing a new way of doing science. In this, it is answering to this crisis while, at the same time, deepening it. Continuing to claim ‘scientific objectivity’ is becoming ever more impossible and in practice is likely to serve as a way to abdicate responsibility for the actual research and its consequences. Rather, we should seek to highlight the positionality and partiality of any claim, also and in particular in data science, thus rendering more obvious the need to combine competing claims into an understanding of the world that is not so much inter- but rather multi-subjective.

Keywords: epistemology, digitality, data science, reproducibility crisis, multi-subjectivity

One of the consequences of digitization is a deepening crisis of epistemology, caused by the proliferation of social, biological and machinic actors that overwhelm established methods of generating and organizing knowledge (Stalder 2018). And, since there is a close relationship between epistemology and politics, between ways of knowing and ways of managing the world, we are also in a deep political crisis. This manifest itself not the least in a populist rejection of ‘science’ and ‘facts’ (Manjoo 2008). This crisis of the established – let’s call it modern-liberal – epistemic-political order has created a space for the establishment of a new one, which doesn’t yet have a name, even if its outlines are already visible.

Armin Medosch (1962-2017)

[This was initially written for nettime, where many others joined in to complete the picture of a life well lived.] [Update, early March: We turned the many memories and remembrances into a small publication.]

Armin Medosch died yesterday, on the day two months after being diagnosed with cancer. I'm sure many people on nettime knew him very well. He was a true pioneer of the media arts and network culture scene in Europe. Indeed for much longer than even nettime exists.

I first learned of Armin not as a person, but a legend. In the early 1990s, he was one of a band of artists of an unqualifiable streak who roamed the Baltic sea on the Kunst-Raum-Schiff, MS Stubnitz. An 80m former freeze & transport vessel of the GDR high seas fishing fleet, they had re-purposed as a moving center for experimental electronic culture. He curated and organised exhibitions and symposia in Rostock, Hamburg, Malmö and St.Petersburg. The project was incredibly evocative, even for someone like me who had never seen the ship, because it fused many of the ideas that would come to define network culture, namely nomadism, a total disregard for established culture institutions, DIY and an exploration of the wild wastelands opened by the breakdown of the Soviet system, after 1989.

The War of Data against Communication

Talk at the Embros Theater, Athens, 30.09.2013

Spooky light and noisy sound, which fits the place and the theme of the talk. Check out as well Konrad Becker's talk, same event.

Das Paradox der "sozialen Medien"

Clemens Apprich gab der Springerin (Nr.3/2013) ein schönes Interview zu den "Netzkulturen der 1990er Jahren". Zentrales Thema ist die Hybridisierung von online und offline, und die lokale Spezifität, die sich daraus ergibt. Anlass dazu war die Publikation des Buches "Vergessene Zukunft. Radikale Netzkulturen in Europa", welches wir gemeinsam letztes Jahr herausgeben haben. Das Interview ist leider nicht online, deshalb hier nur als scan (PDF, 1.5 MB).

Cultures and Ethics of Sharing / Kulturen und Ethiken des Teilens

We are very happy and proud to announce the publication of our new book: Cultures and Ethics of Sharing / Kulturen und Ethiken des Teilens, edited jointly by Wolfgang Sützl, Felix Stalder, Ronald Maier, Theo Hug. It is a bilingual (English/German) collection of papers on empirical and theoretical aspects of sharing, both on-line and off-line. Some papers develop quite optimistic perspectives, but others show also how activities of sharing can be captured by very problematic interests. They all manage to highlight the richness of sharing in social setting and the wide-ranging questions a focus sharing brings to the fore.

Thanks a lot to all contributors to this unusual, because truly multi-disciplinary effort. We would also like to thank Innsbruck University Press for making available the book in full as free download (2mb).

From the Introduction

This is a volume of essays about sharing. Few people could have predicted that practices of sharing would gain such prominence in contemporary society. It is, arguably, one of the most unexpected developments of the early 21st century. Surprising, but not inexplicable. Over the last decade, numerous developments have taken place that created conditions under which new practices could flourish and the roles of sociability and sharing are being re-examined. For example, the very idea of man and woman as homo economicus, that is creatures that will naturally gravitate towards the pursuit of narrow self-interest and, thus, the need of society to organize itself as to make productive use of this supposed essential characteristic, has been called into question with renewed vigor.

Autonomie und Kooperation: Der Traum des Internets (INDES)

Für die Sondernummer "Auf der Suche nach Utopia" der Zeitschrift "Indes" (Göttinger Institut für Demokratieforschung) habe ich mich auf die Suche an der dem Internet innewohnenden Utopie begeben.

Die Zeitschrift ist leider im wesentlichen nicht frei zugänglich. Habe aber im Vorfeld darauf bestanden, dass mein Artikel online gestellt wird und nun ist gibt es ihn auch als schön gestaltetes PDF.

        Es wird sich dann zeigen, daß die Welt längst den Traum von einer Sache besitzt, von der sie nur das Bewußtsein besitzen muß, um sie wirklich zu besitzen. (Karl Marx, Brief an Max Ruge, September 1843)

Träumt auch das Internet von einer Sache, von der es nur Bewusstsein erlangen muss, um sie wirklich zu besitzen? Ich denke, man kann zumindest den ersten Teil diese Frage sinnvollerweise mit Ja beantworten, ohne gleich in die Sackgasse des Anthropomorphismus oder Determinismus einzubiegen. Dieser Traum wurde und wird in Internet-typischer Art von vielen, gleichzeitig und zeitlich verschoben, höchst unterschiedlich geträumt. Doch über alle Differenzen hinweg verdichten sich darin immer wieder zwei durchaus widersprüchliche Figuren: Autonomie und Kooperation. Wie für Träume üblich, sind ihre Konturen unscharf und instabil. In ihnen verschränken sich gemachte Erfahrungen in oftmals unvorhersehbarer Weise und artikulieren sich neu. Gleichzeitig stoßen sie neue Erfahrungen an, denn spätestens seit Freud wissen wir, dass Träumen, Erleben und Handeln ein Kontinuum darstellen.

Thoreau, Walden or the Life in The Woods

As with our colleges, so with a hundred "modern improvements"; there is an illusion about them; there is not always a positive advance.
The devil goes on exacting compound interest to the last for his early share and numerous succeeding investments in them. Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at; ... We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.

Source: Chapter Economy http://www.princeton.edu/~batke/thoreau/

les incoherents

La Mona Lisa fumant une pipeI'm doing research on the early practices of remixing and came across this gem from the late 19th century, by Eugène Bataille a member of an art group called "les incoherènts" which I had never heard of, quite frankly. Yet they did many of the things that later the dadaist and surealists would do, a full generation earlier.

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