[NetBehaviour] Communication in Online Communities

Randall Packer rpacker at zakros.com
Mon Oct 5 15:42:57 CEST 2015

I want to express a note of thanks to all those who have been participating in this interesting conversation. I have also adjusted the topic because we abandoned Geert’s interview long ago. 

I think this is a fascinating and relevant discussion for NetBehaviour and I too hope it will lead to a more focused discussion that could potentially lead to action. But in the meantime, it is an important conversation, because there are many here and elsewhere who are grappling with information flows among online communities: grappling with the conservation of knowledge, the ease of access, open source issues, sharing, collaboration and transparency. Clearly there is no one way of doing this, but I would propose that rather than getting overly fixated here on the list with the technical complexities of specific software and hardware solutions, which is enough to make anyone dizzy, (I agree with Annie this may be better served in a focus group), that here in NetBehaviour there is an opportunity to think broadly about collaborative online spaces that aspire to provide an alternative to the geographical and social limitations of face to face. 

I don’t think anyone here is suggesting a radical shift away from the ease and access of email, but rather understanding what is possible and what do online communities require to serve their needs. For me, one of the main reasons to be engaged here is to get to know artists from around the world, what they are working on, their ideas, etc. But another important reason is to participate in a shared knowledge base. This was the dream of Vannevar Bush back in the 1940s with his famous essay “As We May Think,” where he discussed the idea of the “cultural record” built by online communities with their communications threads and histories and digressions. He was concerned back then with how to organize the information flow, and now 70 years later, we are still grappling with the same issue. 

There are many important ideas embedded in this list, with trails of creative thought and production that lead in various directions. But how do you follow these trails? How do you search them? How do you distill them? Are we really using database technologically effectively to understand and organize the underlying narrative of our conversation and collaborative work? How would we ever access all the DIWO projects that have been produced here? 

These are the questions I am interested in and how they can be best served within the context of the collaborative online community of NetBehaviour. 

From:  <netbehaviour-bounces at netbehaviour.org> on behalf of Annie Abrahams
Reply-To:  NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity
Date:  Monday, October 5, 2015 at 7:07 AM
To:  NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity, ruth catlow
Subject:  Re: [NetBehaviour] Solutionism Re: An interview with Geert Lovink

Hi Ruth, just you  ...
I think it might be a good idea to set up a meeting with those who want to continue this conversation. Where? That's up to Ruth and Marc I think. I'll come whereever they go. (and then I decided to write to you only Ruth)
I want to be bothered less and less with testing new things, but if it's important, like staying connected to furtherfield, I will make an effort.
It's a political decision and I think you should decide wether to follow Randall's adobe or Rob's suggestion (the last one makes me afraid, bucause most things Rob proposes are complicated - but if he could make it "easy" I guess it would be fine and a nice experiment.
I can also understand it if you don't want to have such an online-live conversation now. Anyway my volunteering to be a "host" on the mailinglist stays, just tell me who and when to introduce ... (I could also ask others to be hosts, but I guess it would be better to wait until the situation of where you will go will be a bit clearer) most important question maybe Who wants to be actively involved?

bye bye

I'll have to be bothered with testing etc, because I'll have to find a new streaming interface (testing combination of opentok (is this relaiable? - I don't ask you Ruth :)) and openbroadcasting, and then find a strong server). maybe in january we will try to make it a common project with OUDEIS., maybe

On Sat, Oct 3, 2015 at 12:41 PM, ruth catlow <ruth.catlow at furtherfield.org> wrote:
Great point and idea Aharon!

>Indeed, I wonder how a change in the system might actually occur? A
changing day?

Right now- I find myself favouring the last thing anyone writes: )

Perhaps we could set up a time to discuss via live chat or google hangouts or somesuch with anyone interested.


 On 03/10/15 11:34, Patrick Lichty wrote:
Actually, while not a solution, I think a Diaspora node would be a great

On 10/3/15, 2:05 PM, "aharon" <aha at aharonic.net> wrote:


Very interesting quick mapping of possibilities, Rob + Patrick - Cheers!

Had some failed attempts linked with mailinglist and web oriented self
hosted "solutions"..

* Bridge between a mailinglist where each post becomes a blog-post that is
in turn being published on a twitter-like platform (old identica, can be
done nowadays with gnu-social).
Problem was plurality of possible triggers - via email, blog, identica -
made it fun but hard for people to follow content.

* Bridge between drupal and mailinglist. That was done via mailinglist and
drupal signup page. So when people registered in either, they were
registering in both.
The idea was that in this case, people could post to either list and/or a
drupal forum. These were interchangeable. So posts, replies etc were
published on both and people could use which ever tool.
That didn't catch up much for a few bugs and more importantly, people seem
a bit confused by the multiple platforms. Hard to tell whether a bugless
system would have caught up.

* A meta messaging system "MEM" where users could direct messages between
tools. e.g. Say Blooby fancied email and sent stuff, Zlooby could receive
the message as a txt or a blog post, or whatever they fancied at that
People could alter message retrieval as they fancied.
People could send stuff as they fancied.
The system itself MEM was centralised, but people's tools were as they
might want. All that needed was api registration.

(For me the interesting bit was that each activity was to create a string
that could be expressed in audio and lighting intensity/colour
instructions. Hence the networking was evolving visceral materials..)

Anyhow, MEM's funding went boom..

* A different approach entirely is that which we took in the recent
A network for a very specific community, developed with the community
members in bucfp.org ) The development through workshops that teased out
requirementts, offered possible solutions and through usage feedback, we
opted for temporary solutions to begin with. The idea is that this will
assist in initial usage and as the system is used more, we could alter it
later. (perhaps even via more similar workshops if needed..)

Not sure this is applicable here, because there is much broader
However it might be an idea to use the need for a change as an opening to
try various solutions live with the people involved? A sort of
evolutionary approach?

Indeed, I wonder how a change in the system might actually occur? A
changing day?

Apologies for too many questions possibly.. Hopefully some are apt.

Probably the gist of this is that it seems altering the communication
system and platforms can be a tricky process and it would be a shame to
lose people as a result.

Cheers and a fab weekend!


Any thoughts re a diaspora node..?

On Sat, October 3, 2015 07:09, Patrick Lichty wrote:
I think that as usual, you¹re brilliant.  The metric tracking idea seems
OK, maybe, but might be a bit of a red herring.

I think that Furtherfield is at a pivotal moment similar to the
institutionalization moment of Rhizome, where it asked; ³How can we have
maximum imapact/reach, etc?²

I know I¹m conflating a LOT of terms here, but I think my core argument
is sound.  I realize that the impetus here is to bring FF goodness to
larger groups and spread light in the jungle of other art communities.
a few things to consider.

So, what happened?  In my conversation with the execs there over time,
There was an admission that the lists were forumized to facilitate
institutional discourse, and Michael Connor even admitted to not
on community, and with the cutbacks, I¹ll be curious to see what Zach

Secondly, regarding bridge-building - this relates to serving inter
community needs. An extreme example is my conversation with Cao Fei
 the building of RMB City in Second Life.  She had no idea of the
necessity for community engagement before our conversation; she just
assumed that people would know who she was and flock to the servers.
she didn¹t realize was that Sl and the Artworld are totally different

Furherfield is in a much better position in that the ³new media² (sic)
community, as shown in my (hopefully) upcoming late review of ISEA that
Contemporary and the Tech Media artworlds are less divergent than
ever, probably (urrr�) thanks to the postinternets.  ISEA 2015 showed
 the art historical traditions are concurrent at this time, and piercing
the membrane might be relatively easy.

Back to Rhizome.

I think that Rhizome¹s path was a Faustian bargain.  Its decentering
 the community model, IMO, is coming to roost as the institutions are
giving it less resources (and isn¹t it even outside of the NuMu now?),
and there isn¹t a community except for the young blue-chips to rely on.
First, withFF¹s punk roots, I doubt that many of the pitfalls that beset
will hit FF.  And there is a valid question - how does FF continue to
evolve without neglecting its core values? Good question.

And I¹ll be selfish in that although I am not terribly active, the list
is my main umbilical to the community at this time, and I want it to
stay a
list.  I¹mnot against outreaches, don¹t think that the list should just
a haven for hoary New Media artists, but on the other hand, I feel that
the list has a good community that is pretty healthy.  I also think
 are good models like Nettime that are excellent cases to defend the
form, and�

For Powers¹ Sake, The Well???

There¹s is a case for the power of Ur-Forums and their continued power.
My buds Lebkowsky and Sterling rock the cybersphere every year from a
anciently formatted mail thread there every year through The State of
World every year.

I think FF has a precious resource in its list, and I¹m not in favor of
much more than incremental change.  The axiom of that which evolves dies
doesn¹t necessarily fit here, as it¹s a matter of community investiture
rather than logistics.  Looking at the list institutionally rather than
socially is a salient debate to have, and I don¹t want to lose the sense
of community I have here.  This is one of the last informal venues I
 to just shoot the shit, as it were, and I think it¹s one of the few
where you can in this format.

My .02 AED...

On 10/3/15, 9:01 AM, "Rob Myers" <rob at robmyers.org> wrote:

On 02/10/15 04:03 AM, ruth catlow wrote:

Furtherfield HQ (first think Google and then try to imagine the
An open-ended and non-enclosed structure with no basketball courts or
free candy vending machines?

Two issues
1) the cost and time associated with strategising, consulting,
designing, planning and remunerating all involved, for their efforts
while: future-proofing community infrastructure, caring for the
archive/database. We have had some really very good and generous
support from a number of people to help us understand what the process
might be, but the work still needs doing...and all risks mitigated!

2) connected to the above - maintaining the connections we all have,
while inviting in new and diverse (in age, background, device-loyalty,
 ethnicity) people.
There are a few approaches, with different affordances and costs
(economic and political).

1. Yay Walled Gardens!

Use Medium for publishing articles, hosted Discourse for mail/boards,
and Slack for co-ordination/chat.

Cost: 100USD/month plus your soul.
Demographic: Current.

2. All Zuck All The Time

Use Facebook Notes for publishing articles, Facebook pages for
discussion, and Facebook messaging for co-ordination/chat.

Cost: Zero, plus the souls of all humanity.
Demographic: Previous.

3. Current Free Software

Use Jekyll for publishing (mediated via GitLabs or at a pinch GitHub)
[TODO: comment system], self-hosted Discourse or Groupserver for
mail/boards, and an existing GNU social install or irc for co-ord/chat.

Cost: As much as hosting costs.
Demographic: current.

4. Hosted Free Software

Use Wordpress for publishing, see if lurk.org will host Netbehaviour on
 their Groupserver install, and use an existing GNU social install or
irc for co-ord/chat.

Cost: As much as the services cost, look for donations.
Demographic: Almost current.

For any self-hosted or donated services, stick them behind Cloudflare.
Good for DDOS and ssl, bad for centralization.

Choice of platform is to a degree choice of audience, cultural context
and politics. Not in a technologically deterministic sense but in the
sense that different book publishers or record labels are. Change the
system, exploit the system, or buck the system?

- Rob.

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26 09 14h  vivre entre – from estranger to e-stranger, une conférence performée
festival Magdalena,  La Bulle Bleue, 285 rue du Mas de Prunet, Montpellier

online performances On Object Agency 
with Martina Ruhsam
archives (text, script, video, images)
Marc Garrett interviewed me for the Choose Your Muse series on Furtherfield

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