This month’s issue is built around the theme of the remix, touching on “DJ/VJ cultures, Aboriginal hip hop, peer to peer collaboration, collage philosophy, and art remixing science.”
I’ve done a lot of complaining lately that much of the thinking around new media in education is hidebound, stuck inside a mindset that ignores digital media’s special attributes, and out of touch with developments in the wider web culture. Such whining is oddly satisfying to me, but useless, so over the next few weeks I’m going to be revisiting some of the articles in this issue more closely… checking out some old haunts such as Rhizome.org, and hopefully stumbling across some happy accidents along the way.
It might be fun, or more likely degenerate into pretentious wankery. For those of you wondering what relevance such dabbling might have for practitioners of online learning, I’ll quote at length from Sara Diamond’s introductory essay, “quintessence: art history shake and bake”:
Technology-dependent creativity tends to require intensive collaboration between individuals and practices. Artists often share their creative space with scientists, engineers, and technologists. “Collaboration” and “interdisciplinarity” are emerging as trendy catch phrases, especially at the institutional level, but collaboration remains a challenge for traditional institutions to support.
The relationship to collective production opens a different space for the audience; a space enabled by – but beyond – the everyday use of peer-to-peer technologies.
Over the past fifteen years, new media artists have been inventing tools. Artists invent for several reasons: either to critique existing technologies, or to make a gadget to run their show, or to genuinely create something new at the source. Sher Doruff’s team at the Society for Old and New Media in Amsterdam created KeyStroke (www.keyworx.org), a tool designed to enable artistic exchange in a shared collaborative environment. (It allows numerous artists to work together in real time online in a digital audio, graphic and textual jam session while audiences watch via their computer screens.) …This artistic practice has resonance in the world of software design. Some software architects have always considered themselves to be artists or writers.
The open source movement was built on the history of the free software movement. The latter believed that software was a fundamental resource and should be freely available, not owned. The open source movement is a less radical version of this: it believes that collective minds are necessary in the development of tools and complex systems. Progammer-collaborators co-own the software they develop. Versions must be credited and, if commercialized, paid out down the line. Arts organizations such as V2 or C3 all hold to the open source credo, and most artists who develop software choose to open source it. Some few, such as the UK’s Simon Pope, have pointed out that open source is a very masculine culture where competition for the best code drives production, and where collaboration is actually less present than might be imagined. Still, the culture of programming increasingly demands collaboration.
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