Thursday, February 02, 2006

thin Edge of the Wedge

On theoreo practico sidees of things I was wondering if anyone is in touch with the fibrecultists.... Definitely could be good for some of this stuff and how to expand from a very loose into something else. Its a good group of mainly academic but some interesting people

I've cut and poasted the lates from the fibreculture list...... maybe its itneresting? Shoot me if its too ivory tower!

PS Also stuck comment son last pensive post... great!


Message: 1
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 11:55:57 +0530
From: avinash jha
Subject: ::fibreculture:: New Command and the Knowledge Question -
Invitation to contribute

[A pre-workshop publication containing significant contributions is
planned. So those unable to travel to Karachi may also contribute.
Discussion on this list is also welcome.]

Dialogues on Knowledge in Society-II
Invitation for write-ups, presentations, participation in the workshop
at WSF-2006 in Karachi

The New Command and the Knowledge Question

Virtual Domain

Questions related to knowledge have assumed radically new dimensions
with the emergence of the virtual world. We shall not attempt to
define what is a virtual domain or a virtual world. Is it the network
society? Is it the world of Internet? Is it the world of those who
have access to the Internet? Is it the world of just those who have
started spending a lot of time and doing a host of activities on the
Internet? Is it the new world of knowledge activity, power play and
finance? We have heard of virtual community, virtual society, virtual
forest, virtual experiment and what not. The idea and reality of the
'virtual' is in the making. The Internet (www) came into existence in
1990. So we shall not attempt a definition of the virtual. However it
is already perhaps an acknowledged fact that it is now the commanding
domain. The activity, development, interaction, formulation,
transaction, creation, invention, discovery, collaboration, criticism
etc. in the virtual world have taken lead and tend to give direction
to human activity everywhere, ?finance, science, art, entertainment,
name any.

We invite you to contribute to a dialogue for exploring the
relationship between the virtual domain and knowledge in society. We
believe that the knowledge question can help us interrogate the
virtual domain in both its philosophical and political aspects.

Knowledge in Society

Knowledge in Society may be seen as knowledge in different
locations - like the university and research institutions, monasteries
of different traditions, media, artisans, peasants, ethnic social
formation, social movements, ideological formations etc. These are
places where people engage in a variety of activities - productive,
religious, artistic, scientific and others. Their activities exhibit
paradigms of knowledge that are different from one another. Another
way of saying this would be they have different bodies of knowledge,
with different structure and logic, values, ontologies, ways of
thinking and speculation.

Such knowledge in society, other than in universities and
research institutions, is often described as just empirical,
cumulative, practice-based, and even superstitious. But then these
qualifications stem from a point of view that belongs to an era, which
is perhaps drawing to a close. We, who have great regard for people's
knowledge, lokavidya, or generally knowledge in society, believe that
it is not in need of criteria external to it because it is embedded in
the life of people at large where correctness and legitimacy has a
time-testing criterion (a real life consistency and delivery
criterion). But in so far as this knowledge is applied in broader
contexts, these criteria themselves are open to contention and

Hierarchy and Emaciation

Virtuality seems to legitimize all traditions and
locations of knowledge while elevating itself to a higher position
from where all knowledge is sorted and organized. In the process it
creates a new hierarchy in the sphere of knowledge. It is not merely a
structural rearrangement of locations but entails a certain emaciation
or atrophy of knowledge in society. They are now seen as places of
genuine human activity only to the extent and in the manner they
relate to virtuality. Can we propose a radical equality of all
knowledge locations as the basis of a future democratic society which
is also at peace with virtuality?

Knowledge Dialogue

Is virtuality the new location of the unity of the ruling
classes of the world? Has virtuality broken the concept of a community
as a face-to-face society? Is virtuality a new reality or is virtual
world only a world of representations? How do we start addressing
these questions? One way perhaps is to construct a universe of
knowledge dialogue that is simultaneously a political, economic, and
philosophical dialogue. This requires that no strict paradigm of
knowledge be allowed to govern the initial premises or the boundary

The knowledge dialogue that we are suggesting therefore
can take place in a universe of knowledge traditions and locations
where none is superior or inferior to another, virtuality included,
and by a method which recognizes theoretical constructs only in a mode
of transcendence, that is, the method involves transcending one's own
theoretical constructs. It is in some such knowledge space that this
dialogue is being proposed.


Contributions can take various points of departure and
attempt to address the question of virtuality or knowledge in society,
or the relationship between them. Writings that do not take explicitly
the context of virtuality are also welcome. Most welcome will be
contributions written in a non-technical language. Short stories or
narratives or even other forms of artistic creations may help in
creating fresh spaces of epistemic activity, not held down by the
given knowledge paradigms.

Topics can range from the question of property and knowledge, violence
and virtuality, art and science to knowledge and information,
innovation and freedom, law and virtuality to money and finance,
cities and media, and so on.

In what follows, we have formulated an illustrative list of questions:

1.In what sense is virtuality altering our concepts of property?
Present debates on intellectual property rights seem to be largely
governed by considerations of economics, law and politics. Are fresh
questions being thrown up in regard to the relationship between
private property and alienation? Is property now related to some new
form of alienation and human activity? Will addressing such questions
be relevant to reconstructing the debate on politics of emancipation?

2.Is virtuality just a new location for organization or a radically
new mode of organization? Is there a relation between this question
and images of new architecture of human settlements? Is the concept of
network essential to it or just a contingent expression?

3.How is virtuality reshaping scientific research and institutions? Is
the organization of science changing in a far-reaching manner? What
implications it has for scientific practice?

4.Is network society the virtual society? Is weakening of the
boundaries of the nation-state because the ruling classes are
reconstituting themselves through a new unity in the virtual space?
What is the consequence of such understanding for both the politics
that there is and the politics of emancipation?

5.In what sense is virtual real? Human sensibilities, physical,
aesthetic and ethical are simulated in the virtual space? Does it add
only a new dimension to human existence or transform it altogether?

6.Would art now be as respectable as science in the world of
knowledge? That is, does virtuality legitimize not only different
locations of knowledge as suggested above, but also creates legitimate
space for art in the epistemic world?

7.Knowledge in society is related to livelihood activity of the
people without often being mediated by business. Does the virtual
realm also provide such scope?

8. Software as knowledge, knowledge as software? What does the
primacy of software imply for knowledge?

[Workshop organised by Vidya Ashram, Varanasi (
and Indigen Research Foundation, Pune (]

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