Stalder, Klutenberg answer questions
Duration: 00:25:54; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 1.831; Saturation: 0.214; Lightness: 0.071; Volume: 0.106; Cuts per Minute: 0.656; Words per Minute: 135.588
Summary: Stalder, Klutenberg have a question and answer session.
Shuddha asks Felix Stalder and Eric Klutenberg a question each, about the possibility of peer-to-peer production of ideas influencing the making of material objects, and his model, respectively.
..I found the kind of implicit relationship between the old industrial economy and the new information economy, and the two kinds of information economy that you were talking about quite fascinating.
What I'm interested in, and this is a purely speculative question, so please feel free to dismiss it, is.. how perhaps the older world of manufactured processes, of the making of things, might actually now begin to be influenced by the networked information economy model.
Which is to say that, for instance, and I think it's already beginning to happen in the area of medicines, with generic medicines for instance, with of course, the materiality of the fact that the pirated CD you buy is also a thing, it's not just an information, it's also something you actually pick up in your hand.
Or with.. with more sophisticated desktop publishing options, books, perhaps even clothes, because I've begun to see how in many shops and boutiques, you are asked to protect the intellectual property in the shop. Not steal the clothes, but don't steal the design.
So is there a possibility that you see that the.. the kind of peer-to-peer production of ideas that we are all familiar with within the information space can begin to happen possibly also in the making of material objects and processes? I mean, could it change the way public transport works, as an example. That's my question to Felix.
And can I.. or should I do it later? Ok. Should I do it now, or should I do it later? (you have another question?) For Eric.
Um, I was.. I'm slightly uncomfortable Eric, with the kind of.. the models that you're proposing, because they presume I think a commitment to a form of public broadcasting that.. in which the assumption is pluriformity, is access, is a kind of democratic nature.
As someone who has actually you know spent a long time trying to convince both societal actors as well as state actors at one time about the necessities of public broadcasting and then given up in India, I'm somewhat wary, because all this can work provided that the coalitions that govern policy at the moment are as committed as you are to pluriformity.
If we take for instance the, and I think here we have to be also aware of the fact that what carries the day is the fashion for the latest within technology or within information or culture policy. So, we have a convergence created in India that's actually far more invasive and dangerous, as far as I'm concerned, even the older broadcasting books. And people now talk about convergence, which is.. that is to say that print, broadcast mediums must conform to the kind of standards being set by the new convergence bill in which all telecommunication mediums and electronic publication mediums get collapsed.
I'm increasingly coming to the view that we must argue for communications not in terms of culture, but in terms of utility, because the con.. the question of cultural content is something that I would hesitate to have anyone legislate on. I'd leave that, you know, free, but insist on a kind of.. kind of investment, social.. socialised investment in the building of the best, sort of, pikes, right? And then not worrying so much about how the production of content is going to happen, because if the production of content happens according to your model, then in many parts of the world, let's say China or India, public broadcasting might take a very different kind of picture.
World Information City
(take a few more questions)
I have a question for Felix. I don't have a disagreement with the way.. with what you propose, but I have a few worries in the way you set it up, which have to do with.. the sense that I get is.. is.. the industrial economy, the informational economy, in some parts of your presentation as stated, you know, one kind of economy gives way to another kind of an economy in a very real sense, and in other parts as a kind of imagination of how things may work or do work in certain parts of the world.
And I'm worried about the first part, and the implications for that, in thinking about how things operate globally. So if.. if you're going to think about the alliance between the north and south, does the state's theory help, you know? I just wanted to you know, to hear more from you on how you see these things, because some of these other theories: global city, risk society, all of them have this dual side to them, you know. Partly state, partly discursive.
Question about the sense in which Felix set up his theory of economies superceding one another, and the implications.
Is it possible to address the questions instead of..
To the second question, I think the way it's usually set up is.. is.. is.. this dichotomy between the industrial economy and information economy, that's kind of the.. the basic dividing line that you have in all kinds of.. of theory about information society and all of that. But what I think is actually more interesting is to say that an information economy has grown for all kinds of reasons, but has always existed.
There's an industrial model of it that looks at infor.. at an information economy the same as it looks at the production of material goods. And what we're seeing now is that within this.. this.. this larger development, there's actually a new kind of split happening between.. bec.. because kind of the information economy is.. is becoming dominant, but it's.. it's not a unity, it has at least two, and I think, obviously these.. these dichotomies are kind of ideal type, so I think it helps to.. to kind of tease out some characteristics rather than say, you know, ther.. there's only this.. this black and white.
But, I think that the.. the real kind of political conflict or the conflict at which a lot of resources are mobilized into.. and a lot of.. lot of actors are actually lining themselves up within.. within the framework of it.. is between different models of.. of how to organize the.. the.. an.. in.. infor.. an economy in which information is so critical.
But, that is not only a.. a purely economic aspect because within a certain way of think.. of thinking about information, there is a.. a surprisingly large and necessary place for resources that are not determined by capitalist logic. In.. in the same way that.. that you know R&D meets basic research, in a way, that is then opened to.. to various takers.
But this one, because it is.. it is.. it is a kind of resource you that don't need big laboratories to.. to produce, but something that actually all of us are producers of in our daily lives. It.. it affects us in.. in very different ways. So, basically what I try to.. to state is that the main conflict runs a.. you know, within the information economy because infor.. information economy, politically speaking at least, and this is enough within the.. Europe and North America has become politically dominant.
And it's.. it's absurd if you.. if you look it at it just from a.. a.. from a purely kind of economic point of view that.. the music industry, which is tiny, is able to.. to write copyright law. I mean, this is absurd. But it.. it has managed to kind of hijack or.. or.. or frame political discourse in a way that is.. tha.. that is quite unique.
So.. so that was basically what I was trying to.. to.. to set up and then argue that.. that one of the things that.. that kind of cu.. independent cultural producers are good at.. is not necessarily the economic or the.. the policy part of it.. but kind of the normative, the cultural part of it, what it means in envisioning new ideas of what it means to be.. to be a creative producer because these old ideas are still very much at the core of these industrial economies.
That was what I tried to do.
Man says that the information economy always existed, and now it affects as in different ways as everyone is, or can be, an information producer, and there is political conflict that it can run into.
In terms of the question how it affects physical production I think there is, I mean you mentioned it yourself, in terms of generic drug industry, I mean, it's.. particularly here, obviously, unfortunately going.. going to the wrong direction.
But.. but this is very much a.. an idea that you.. you are not entitled to.. to control your intellectual product to such a degree. You.. you're allowed to get some recognition and some kind of a generic license for it, so it's not.. it's not the pirate economy in that sense.
And there are plenty of other.. other examples, this.. this idea also, I mean from India of.. of producing very cheap computers. That the specifications are open, that anyone can produce it, but also anyone can change it, just if you change it you're not allowed to call it 'Simputer' anymore. So.. so they control kind of integrity and quality through their kind of, you know, identity.
But it.. it would.. it would create a different way of thinking about how hardware is.. is developed, even though I think the fact that material goods can be non-rivals, that they can be infinitely copied, gives this whole tangency a totally different dynamic.
physical production is affected in a different way, as they can be infinitely copied. Examples such as the Simputer, where it's not a pirate economy per
Addressing your question, it's actually, as far as I see, at least a double question. There's one hand that.. the concern about expansion of.. even further expansion of regulation that once you would put a public media policy in place that embraces all these different platforms fully, that means that everything becomes regulated, also those spaces that are now happily outside of regulation and share a great degree of freedom. And I see that the immediate problem, of course clearly, but at the same time I also see that internet regulation is looming on all different.. around all corners. In the Netherlands there is certainly a strong debate on regulating internet in terms of something similar to how other media spaces are regulated, and if you think back to Bertolt Brecht, a classic example in his radio theory of the late '20s, he also envisioned a completely democratic and decentralized communication space radio that was technically entirely possible, but was ultimately dissolved by means of regulation. So.. that.. the question of regulation is one that anyway I think we will have difficulty of avoiding, so it's rather now the question about what kind of regulation will be put in place.
And.. th.. it's interesting.. distinction you make between communication and utility. Because just to unpack that remark a little bit, once it is a utility, you can say certain infrastructures that need to be provided, much along the lines like I was talking with my production front idea, need to be provided by the government as a public good. Whereas what is actually carried over these infrastructures is.. is.. not directly regulated, so that it becomes a much more open space. That I see very much as a.. a.. a.. as a clever route. Anyway there has to be reconciliation of telecommunication laws and media laws, because these anyway are now intersecting in this terrain, and they need to be somehow reconciliated with each other.
Eric Klutenberg talks of the reconciliation of media and telecom laws and a democratic communication space.
But I was thinking very much of a.. a system in which the control of the government is really minimized, in terms of what kind of content is circulated, not just via internet but also via all the other media platforms, in which the role of the government is envisioned clearly as only providing the means by which it becomes possible to produce these media, both financial as well as technical and infrastructural, and sets a few very general guiding guidelines that it will anyway set for any kind of public communication that happens in.. into which it will also intervene if these rules are violated.
And you could create a much more open media sit.. broadcasting media situation that way. So you could basically instead of porting the broadcast media model to the internet, we do the reverse and we port the internet model to broadcasting and that is what this is about, and that is why it was way too radical even for the Greens to consider it for a moment, because governments generally tend to want to have control over what is circulated in these media and want to use it for their own clear purposes of some kind of more or less overt form of political propaganda, is what is identified by this Council as influencing the behaviour of people, and I found it a very clever move of these academics, these highly distinguished professors, that they moved government campaigns into the same section as commercial advertisements.
So, they really identified the two as exactly the same in terms of their strategic objectives in influencing public opinions and behaviour of people. And, the plea there is.. not just a plea this is enshrined also in current media laws that the government is not at all involved in this specific programming except for when it makes its own programs, of course. It can be.. the government can be one of the tenders, one of the parties who suggests media projects for this infrastructure. And, whether or not this is true, in case, in daily practice of course it is an entirely different discussion right now. In the laws it is enshrined like this, everybody agrees in Netherlands it should remain like this and it could produce a really exciting model, and I was really surprised that this scientific council, even though in the end they voted of course for the 4th model which more or less changes the current status quo a little bit.
But they nonetheless wrote it down in this official report and suggested it as a real possibility. I think it's a model that.. that should be explored, in terms of the responsibility of the government. Of course, governments especially in other countries than, in the.. well of Western European ones and relatively stable ones, want to have even more control of what is going on in the media landscape. But it is also a call to demand basically from these powers that they take their responsibility serious for an open and public communications structure.
Eric Klutenberg talks of content regulation and for the government to only provide General guidelines for public communication in broadcasting, porting the internet model. But this is much too radical. The government wants media to influence public opinion.
I think we'll have two questions, from Lawrence and Ravi, precise questions and precise answers, and then we can wrap up.
..modality.. places where..
It might be happening for a while, but you'll be surprised to know that it emerges the very next day. Maybe it comes back on the same place, to the same shops and same kind of stuff. So you know, and it gets distributed as well. So it's a contested ( ) and it's a.. it's a battle between those who enforce the law and those who live by violating law.
Question to Felix.
You set up a polarity between the old versus the new mode where the industrial information versus the networked information. And I'm not too sure about how useful it is to set up this kind of polarity. For example, I want to draw a linkage between different sets of practices and their relationship to property. The multiple and the complex tenure forms that we saw through Solly's presentation and other historical work. There are similar analogies that people are using to articulate the newness of the new information you know practices. Jeremy Rifkin for example talks about a move, a paradigm shift to the ideal age of access, moving away from the age of ownership, from the age of you know, title as it were, to an age of access, where people are not so interested in owning, as much as being part of ().
But if you look for example at certain land struggles, there are similarities in the strategies that they have adopted, there is a land struggle in India called the Krishnagiri Sanghatana which took their case before the Supreme Court, making a very unique constitutional argument that what they were interested in is not title, you know, in terms of the proof of the ownership of the land, as much as the use rights over the land. Articulating therefore a very different notion then of their relationship to land, which cannot necessarily in the form.. or be considered in your terms to be capitalist.
So I'm not sure whether the setting up of this as a new v. old, you know, polarity is useful or should we actually try to uncover a range of similarities you know, of practices that may challenge either traditionally perceived notions of property, or work beyond the frameworks that capitalism allows us to.
Felix Stalder talks of how it's not quite the old versus the new, but the new using old ideas, and his discomfort with the age of access metaphor. He talks of access that is required without having a controlling profit motive.
The question of usefulness, well it makes sense to make this.. dichotomy is always what you make it for. I don't say that this is the only way to.. to.. to look at these complex processes, whereas by looking at this in a particular way, you see certain things that are more difficult to see if you look at it otherwise. And, the.. the point that I'm trying to make is not so much an old versus the new, because in very many ways, the.. what I now call an industrial information economy is also quite new.
The role of patents in the economy, the role of.. the extension of copyrights, this is not.. not what ha.. this is.. this is very much a reaction to technological and political changes. So it's.. it's very much a.. a contemporary form. But it.. it embodies, or it uses, guiding metaphors or ideas on how to think about this, that are old. So I.. I'm not saying that we had something for a hundred years and now suddenly we have something new.
We have something new that breaks in very.. or.. or has a dividing line that is very specific. And.. and one way of looking at this is.. is saying the dividing line is different ideas of what information is. And you can probably, I'm not entirely sure, but you can probably say.. make it even broader and say it's a.. basically the difference between holding something and owning something, right?
And the moment.. the moment when you say you hold something, it's.. it's related to your use, while you can own a house and leave it empty, right? So.. so there are.. there are maybe ways of.. of kind of covering that, that are broader and include kind of material economy or material goods.
But I try to.. to basically make this argument within an informational setting. That.. that's why I try to do it like this. And they.. I think that.. why.. why I'm not so happy with this age of access metaphor because it's basically a.. we sell you.. you know, life will be a complete or a constant paying of micro-payments for micro-services, and that's how it's envisioned by Rifkin.
But I think that the fact that you.. But I think that the difference in organizing something.. a resource, a social resource, based on exclusion or an access is actually pretty.. a.. a very deep difference. But this access model, I think, is not contained within capitalism, but has all kinds of other layers that.. that can organize access without existence of a.. of a kind of controlling profit motive.
Eric Klutenberg talks of the need for truly democratic communications and the models to move to the centre of public consciousness.
I want to give a very comment to your remark. I really hope you are right, you know in this discussion, I mean, that's the first point, I really hope so.
I voice my concern because of what I saw in Sofia, what I saw in Belgrade, what I saw in Moscow in particular, in Moscow that.. I was really shocked, I was really shocked when I came into that space to see it sanitized like this. And I had never expected it in Russia because Russia is also still very much a country of.. of informal circulation in all kinds of ways. But there is another concern that I have, and that is that these models of.. especially the pirate model.. I would like to move this public interest into the digital commons, and the responsibility of public actors to take their responsibility.
I would like to move it from the margins where it is right now into the centre because that is where I think it belongs. It belongs in the centre of democratic society, to care of these new common public resources, and to adequately support them. So this is the political move that I want to make, and I want to be really bold. I am con.. convinced that it will happen in the Netherlands, I am really convinced that the government will not be able to in the long.. out.. long-run outrun its responsibility and in one form or another has to take it, and I would like to see this debate carried further to see if what is going on there can be.. and in other places can become a model for truly democratic communications, because that is what it is all about, as far as I am concerned.