[NetBehaviour] "Networked Conversations as Activism"

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Thu Nov 28 19:16:55 CET 2019

Hi Helen,

My internet is not working so I'm typing on phone, but I like this article and these ideas a lot.  Verfremdungseffekt is a good new word I didn't know.

Are the performers and participants generally thinking of the conversations as art, an art form?  I think that idea of participatory art forms is important.  Bohm writes about group conversations in On Dialogue, thinking that if they happen similarly to what you describe then a change in consciousness occurs and new consciousness can occur.  He means dialogue as "through-meaning" or meaning-flow rather than exchange per se.  He doesn't really view it as art, more from a science standpoint, but the idea of "no pre-set conclusions" is key.

One challenge of the open-ended discussion I agree is effectiveness or "result." There can sometimes be a very predictable repetitive outcome, or an attempt to "do too much" that is either overwhelming or unfocused.  I do think there must be a middle road something like "beginner's mind" that can be both a worthwhile state in itself and contributive to something larger or in process (like say a method or manner, methode so to speak).  This mid-range is part of theater and literature since their prehuman origins I think, including shared visual imagery, symbols, abstractions, etc.

When you refer to global-local that has a relevance to middle or betweenness, with an emphasis possibly on the "present" as this meeting-space.  Where the present knowns of the past, our packets of info, can be called into play in the context of massive future challenges or unknowns, resulting in a known/unknown mix in the present space that can be literally new and permutations can lead to ideas or conditions that didn't exist at the start of the conversation.

I have usually found this approach to have a lot of elegance and relevance but it doesn't seem to fit most typical definitions.  Frankfurt school communicative theory sort of relates, but I'm not sure that Marx or Freud really do.  Postructuralist theory sometimes seems unnecessarily complex to me and perhaps obfuscating.  You can get a lot of complexity and change, perhaps sufficient, from rather simple "ingredients" like those you describe.  Certainly the natural world has tremendously complex and adaptive, innovative capacity with arguably no theory whatsoever.

Rambling now, but knot-riddled shoulder (I have device-shoulder symptoms lately) makes me think there is a vocabulary of nodes or topics, topoi, which come up in conversation but are often knotted.  Your method seems well designed to ameliorate these, and I think there may be a larger historical era calling for this.  It would be something like a network-literate set of manners for each node, methods that defer the fight/flight fixity that freezes up the knots.  The nodes roughly correlate to the spheres or disciplines of knowledge, so each discipline would need a conversible network-orientation to be achieved, plus popularly known or at least to those in conversation.  These would be site specific somewhat or situational, so I think your reference to situation is very relevant.

I do think the core method you have of conversation is the key though, say a general network intelligence method, which can be applied to all particular methods and help elucidate them.  For example network genetics, network biology, network dramaturgy, network math, etc.

Thanks for the very interesting article and link,


From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf of Helen Varley Jamieson <helen at creative-catalyst.com>
Sent: Wednesday, November 27, 2019 8:40 AM
To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Subject: [NetBehaviour] "Networked Conversations as Activism"

my article "Networked Convesrations as Activism" was recently published in the latest issue of Interact, a portuguese online magazine for art, culture & technology. the article discusses the use of cyberformance and networked conversations to encourage critical thinking & civic engagement. (it's in english).


the theme of the issue (30-31) is art, activism and digital networks, & it also includes a review (in english) of the cyberformance "Letters to the Earth" which we did in april this year (https://interact.com.pt/30-31/letters-to-the-earth/). there are lots of other interesting-looking articles, if you can read portuguese.

h : )


helen varley jamieson

helen at creative-catalyst.com<mailto:helen at creative-catalyst.com>
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