Geoff —

Thanks for this. I agree with the outlines of what you say, and with most of 
the detail too. Felix and Doma have their own perspectives, so this is just me.

I'm not sure what you mean about a recurring argument, but that's not to 
suggest you're mistaken. As a mod, I probably see nettime through a more 
technical lens than most subscribers would, and that's no doubt shaped how I've 
talked about the list and its project. That said, I agree the problems aren't 
technical in nature, and neither would any 'solutions' be — if anyone's 
inclined to believe in 'solutions' (FWIW, I'm not).

One example, which Felix touched on: the quasi-generational aspect of email, 
both relative (when someone ~adopted it) and absolute (how old/young you are). 
As we noted in the announcement, it's morphed from a pleasure into something 
more like a utility — in part *because* of its standardization, reliability, 
etc. Like a lot of nettimers, I've spent decades teaching, and have a fairly 
broad experience of students' attitudes to email have become more negative. 
Saying it's 'dead' was hyperbole, i.e, an exaggeration with a seed of truth. 
Chalk that up to the context: an invitation may say 'happy holidays' or 
whatever, but it's not intended as a diktat (though I always hear a bit of that 
ideological force too).

To say that every discussion-oriented mailing list I'm on is graying would be a 
serious understatement. They might be fascinating, lively, provocative, solid, 
or whatever, but the retirement-home vibe is strong indeed. But in our case 
that's just one piece of a puzzle whose picture is very diffuse — with ~gender 
/ identity issues, regional concentrations, received norms about relevance and 
style, etc, etc. I think many would agree the list is great *and* has problems 
— or, if you like, could be greater in new ways.

It's plainly true that we're hopping on the fediverse bandwagon, so questioning 
the wisdom of that kind of precipitous action is, without question, wise. (It's 
also true, though less visible, that it's only the most recent move we've 
weighed.) But that implies another question: is 'doing nothing' — or at least 
following the same path wise? In the short term, sure, but in the longer term 
no, I think. Doing that would all but guarantee the list's historical 
weaknesses would only become more ingrained, and with that the list would 
become more and more insular.

If we had announced we autocratically decided to shut down the list, your 
criticism would be spot-on, but we didn't — or at least not quite. We did say 
that maintaining both 'infrastructures' seems like it'd be too much for us, but 
whatever decisions will be made in that regard can and should be collective. 
That's an invitation. We don't know to what exactly, or to whom, or when, or 
how, or anything else.

For me at least, that uncertainty was/is pretty much the essence of this ~move. 
It's a risk, but I think nettime's ~stagnation — not just as a list but as a 
larger project — is largely due to the fact that we haven't found ways to take 
new risks.


On 29 Nov 2022, at 22:19, Geoffrey Goodell wrote:

> I am confused by your recurring argument that the
> problem with Nettime is fundamentally technical in
> nature, or indeed that there is a problem with Nettime
> at all.  Speaking personally, Nettime works well for
> me.  I read interesting commentary from people I
> respect, with the reassurance that I can always add my
> voice to the symphony.
> The fact that I do not post more often is mainly
> testament to the fact that I am busy with other
> responsibilities.  I am sure that this is true of
> others here as well.  This problem will not suddenly
> disappear with a shift to a different choice of
> underpinning technology.  In fact, it will be
> exacerbated, because although I run my own e-mail
> server, the tools for engaging with the so-called
> 'fediverse' are not part of my workflow.  And so, a
> shift in technology will inexorably induce a 'shake
> out' in which people are forced to either adopt new
> workflows or face exclusion.  I would have thought that
> the moral foundation of Internet ethics would be
> incompatible with the use of force in this way.
> As far as I know, the argument that 'fediverse'
> technology, such as that used by Hometown and Mastodon,
> is superior to e-mail is weak at best and has never
> been articulated to this group.  As far as I know, such
> technology is in the hands of a handful of software
> developers and has not been subject to the same
> rigorous standardisation process of the sort that led
> to the establishment of e-mail.  I suspect that most
> people on this list did not use e-mail before 1977, by
> which point RFC 724 was already published [1].  Of
> course, this standard has evolved over the years, in a
> direction that has benefited the world and is now used
> by billions of people.  As far as I know, there has not
> yet been a comparable community-based effort to
> standardise the implementation of 'fediverse'
> protocols.  Here, we have precisely the sort of
> platform-based tyranny by fiat that the Internet
> pioneers laboured to bury forever.
> Finally, I find the argument that new technology can
> solve a fundamentally social problem to be absurd and
> somewhat hypocritical based on the topic of discussion
> on this list. While I am not convinced that the
> so-called 'fediverse' is a solution looking for a
> problem, I am also not convinced that it will make
> things better for us.
> Perhaps some of the maintainers of the current
> infrastructure are bored of the job to which they
> volunteered, years ago.  In that case, they should step
> aside and leave the task of maintaining this list to
> others. Surely there are democratic and
> less-than-democratic ways to achieve this; let's try
> something. Perhaps a call for volunteers might be a
> start.
> But what I can say with certainty is that if you pack
> up and go somewhere else, not everyone will follow you,
> and even fewer people will follow if you neglect to
> provide a solid argument for why.  Whether you like it
> or not, Nettime is more than a toy project of yours; it
> provides a valuable service that works.
> Geoff
> [1]
#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info:
#  archive: contact:
#  @nettime_bot tweets mail w/ sender unless #ANON is in Subject:

Reply via email to