Walker Art Center

this is by no means easy, but we think that it is necessary if we are to map an info-geography that does not recapitulate the borders of the physical world today. Such an info-geography might interact with the bound-edness of the physical world in unforeseen ways.

Here we would like to come back to what Guna said about the institutions of hospitality that can permit forms of nomadism to flourish. Of course the Web is a highly contested space, and the fragile commons of the digital domain is now in a constant state of siege because of the way in which regimes of intellectual property (patents, copyright, trademark, etc.) construct enclosures on the field of code, signs, and knowledge. This goes so far as to impose on the maps of our fluid info-geographies the barbed wires of physical borders--of reter-ritorializing (as Yukiko might say) that which has been at its foundation deterritorialized. This is what happens when, for instance, the regional encryption systems construct territorial limitations on the usage of DVDs.

This is a situation that we can either accept or work around and against. The attempt to ensure that a digital commons remains a digital commons is precisely the effort of ensuring that spaces remain hospitable to the flows of cultural nomadism, among many other things. The commons remains such because people continue to travel through it. This is what ensures that it does not become proprietary.

This means that there can be no naive belief in the inherent freedom or openness of digital culture, or an innocence as regards what must be done (repeatedly and constantly) in order to keep the commons, common.

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From: Steve Dietz <steve.dietz@walkerart.org>
Date: Thu Mar 14, 2002 5:52am
Subject: Re: nomadism and routes


I am interested in the "asymmetry of ignorance" and how it maps "a model of globality [that] need not be in any one direction." When Raqs first raised this asymmetry, it was, of course, very recognizable.

The model I would like to make more explicit, however, is that of the network. As has been pointed out, the nodes of a network are nondirectional, providing, potentially, a different way of mapping relationships that does not rely on notions of center and periphery. The network is also an amplifier that can invert the asymmetry of power (and ignorance?) and allow for the conventionally unempowered to act with great effect, for the localized (wherever they are geographically) to have global impact.

This network can be used to try to close down borders or to hack them, to encrypt or to decrypt, to be an "old boys network" or to become something else. It, like technology, is not good or bad, but I do think it models a way to affect practice.

Finally, Yukiko made a very important point about the IO_dencies project when she said that no one person had or could have the overall view of the various flows. There could be no master narrative. This is a commonplace observation by now, but nevertheless there remains this "drive to understand," and it is always difficult to retain a sense of this understanding as contingent and incomplete yet adequate and compelling.

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From: yukiko shikata <sica@dasein-design.com>
Date: Tue Mar 19, 2002 3:40am
Subject: Re: nomadism and routes