call for panelists: Discourses of Legitimation in Knowledge, Cultural and Information Policy

I’m putting a panel for Interpretive Policy Analysis: Politic, Legitimacy and Power in Grenoble  France July 23-25 2010
Keynotes this year are:  Frank Fischer,  Bruno Latour, Bruno Jobert, Patrick Le Galés and Vivien Schmidt.

I need 200-300 word proposals from the panelists.
I need the proposals by 18 November 2009.

The topic of the panel will will be:  Discourses of Legitimation in Knowledge, Cultural and Information Policy.  I am looking for at least 3 more participants for the panel.

The idea is that in using interpretive methods, we find certain discourses that aim to legitimize certain policies related to knowledge and cultural policy in our society.  The papers should describe these discourses so that in the panel we can present them and discuss the similarities and differences.   For my perspective, I tend to be most closely allied with Habermasian and Lyotardian issues of legitimation and the issues of justification described by Boltanski and Thévenot in On Justification.  However, any model of  a discourse that legitimizes, justifies a policy will be considered for the panel.

I’d like to see papers for the panel of around 20-30 pages eventually, but the panel will minimally need to have presentations of 15-20 minutes.    If I get the papers, I’ll try to get them placed in a journal special issue or similar project.

Living with the everyday life of digital archives: The techno-social ambulations of 3… or more… online archives.

This is fundamentally a paper about the movement of techno-socialobjects which we call digital archives.  It is about the effects of those movements considered transversally.    The Center for Digital Discourse and Culture hosts several archives that are changing, becoming, and revising the relations between themselves, their users, and other communities. The archives that we host are to some people  unknown, but to others world reknowned. They include the Feminist  Theory Online archive, the Situationists International Online Archive , the April16archive, a mirror of The  Marxist Archive, and a mirror of the the  Bureau of Public Secrets. Those are just the more major archives   These archives are in part alive and in part dead, some are constantly updated and upgraded by their communities, others have not been  updated for ages. However the knowledge and meanings of these  archives construct relations to moving beings and their artifacts. This paper attempts to tell some of the stories of time, place, and movement of these archives within and through the beings and artifacts  in which they become embedded.  In doing that, the paper describes the  everyday life of the archives themselves as they are ambulant in  everyday life.

Using short narratives, this paper center several events and relationships that changed the archives and mobilized them in some relation to everyday life. The stories used will deal with the ambulations of the Marxists archive in 2007 when it was attacked by computers in China, the movements of Feminist theory websites as it becomes embedded in and migrates through textbooks and academic papers  becoming something new, while remaining unchanged, the Tragedy of  April16archive and its relationship to the Northern Illinois  University shooting, and possibly the trials and tribulations of  Situationists International and the Bureau of Public Secrets in  relation to their original print existences.

Through telling the stories of these techno-social ambulants as archives in everyday life, I hope to show their movements and embeddedness in everyday life; their capacity for change and becoming  in relation to all varieties of institutions and communities, from  local users to nation states and to show how their existence allows  for a transversal analysis of cultural relations in relation to the  archives as they migrate through and among those institutions and  communities.

The Political Economy of Information in an Age of Speed and Excess

When information explodes, systems fail. In our current age, the ability to govern is predicated on the control and distribution of information. This paper confronts the inability to do that, it examines the techniques and systems of informational governance, notes some their defects, demonstrates the incapacities and draws the conclusion parallel to Virilio’s Information Bomb, we are due for a failure.

Informational power is a power of control, control of distribution, control of origination. It is a power of establishing borders, territories, and limiting access. It is predicated on assumptions of normality, and when the normal becomes too fast, too informationally productive, and generates enormous surpluses of capacity, like a bomb, the excessive power; the excessive information explodes. It breaks the boundaries, overwhelms the territory, and forces humans to develop new tactics for management, for governance. I argue that this is the state we are in, a state of excess, of being overwhelmed by information and power, because we have built an informational infrastructure based on speed and power.

There is no end in sight for the progressive development of this infrastructure. With terabit/sec speeds already in place, it is likely already beyond the limits of real human understanding, and we are beginning to see how it manifests itself as a tool of transformation or weapon of destruction of the institutions built on fordist and post-fordist understandings of information, such as music, movies, banking, which have strong informational ties, but this is just the start of a more pervasive creative destruction.

Faced with these issues and their immanent explosion, I look at the proposals for governance, for creating a sustainable political economy that governments are using around the world, such as defining information as artifacts and allowing patents, redefining copyrights, and developing international trade regimes surrounding information. I contrast the governmental systems with the growing cultural awareness of the issue and introduce the question: what if governments fail? how does society reterritorialize information, and what cultural toolkits seem to be arising in the face of speed and excess, such as open source, open content, and related movements that arise out of and restructure the excess into new cultural systems.

Hybridizing Culture through Code and the Creation of a Transnational Knowledge Class.

This paper presents the theory that software code and the practice of coding is a system of communication above and beyond the code itself. It posits that the language and practices of coding are a method that allows knowledge and culture to move from one cultural milieu to another, and creates through that movement, a transnational coding culture that is built upon the shared experiences and understandings that surround coding practices. By analyzing the modes of cultural transmission available to a particular group of programmers that use the internet extensively, I show that these modes tend to discipline and educate, and slowly indoctrinate newer members into the community of knowledge that embodies this transnational class. This power of code to bridge and then hybridize cultures is significant in that it is highly formalized and rigorous, and thus provides a stable platform for coding expertise to transition, however, as we will see coding expertise is not all that becomes hybridized.

Moving from Interdisciplinarity to Transdisciplinarity information studies

In this paper, I argue that Information Schools are on the cusp of a very difficult transition. The ubiquity of information is pervading previously disciplinary endeavors. Not only is computing found in all disciplines, both in general use, but also in fields such as Humanities computing, Social Science computing/E-Social Science, Biological systems computing, but so is information and information technology, with parallel fields. Those fields are traditionally interdisciplinary in nature, in which people use techniques, methods, and knowledges from different fields and use them to produce new knowledge. A transdisciplinary field is different, it’s object of study cannot be captured by interdisciplinary techniques, It requires the development of new foundations, such as those found in informational concepts and models. Transdisciplinary fields are ones in which the globality of the object cannot be fully understood from any single disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspective. The conceptual and thus linguistic tools for understanding

The transdisciplinary opportunities of information science and technology were noted before, (Lyotard). They were a popular in certain optimistic and utopian discourse from the 1970’s and 1980’s, until the popularization and formalization of commodity computing and specialized tools transformed many viewpoints away. The discourse of transdisciplinary informatics still exists in the background of many discussions. As informatics has pervaded other disciplines with the growing number of hobbyists and hackers, a new set of institutional transformations is arising. This institutional transformation could have significant effects on information schools, either opening up a world of opportunity or isolate them

Internet Research

Internet Research is research that investigates the way individuals, communities, and nations, use computer network technologies and the interconnections those technologies provide in their everyday lives as parents, researchers, workers, entertainers, institutions, governments or whatever they were, are or are becoming. It is an expansive field for research and has become accepted Since its first Internet Research conference in 2000, the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) has produced a solid body of research, exemplified in its Research Annual and numerous publications.This presentation will provide an overview of several trends and methods within the field of internet research as exemplified by the AoIR’s first five conferences, and extrapolates some future directions for research based on those trends and methods. Some of the specific trends that will be discussed are: the internationalization of collaborative internet research, the development of an understanding of community norms and self-governance of internet-based organizations, and the needs for ethical internet based research. Some of the methods that will be introduced will be qualitative research, ethnographic research, community and/or network modeling, and mixed methodology internet research. These trends and methods in internet research point toward a future in which ethical, transdisciplinary research, pursued across national boundaries will become the core of the major projects for internet research.

Towards Archiving a Generative Culture: the Australian Creative Resources Online project

Towards Archiving a Generative Culture: the Australian Creative Resources Online project. This paper explores the possibilities of moving beyond the archiving of digital objects as fixed and unchanging reference points for culture and demonstrates that we can archive those cultural objects but we must also archive the mutations that cultural objects go through as they become new objects over time. Digitization of cultural objects creates a new source of mutability and a new location to generate cultural meanings through the combination, reinvention and serialized appropriation of cultural objects in their ever changing digital milieu. An object then is really fixed in place when it is archived, but it is a living document both of the digital and cultural world. It is not enough then, to just create the ‘archival copy’ with its manifold copies of the digital object, because people will manipulate it, will inscribe it with new meanings, with those meanings’ new points of negotiation, and new interpretations. These new meanings and the changes that occur to the objects over time need to be traced in order for the original meaning to be preserved in relation to the newer meanings. Without the documentation of change, the objects that we digitally archive lose meanings, much like when you move a document from its original context in a paper archive and place it in another context. Without documenting the change in the paper document, you change the meanings both of it, and those knowledges that stand in relation to it. In this paper, I am showing the beta copy of a database engine that is made to track and follow those changes.

In the ACRO project, we archiving the digital detritus of film, photographic, and musical production with an eye to their reuse. The purpose is to provide the common open foundation for future high quality production of cultural objects. We are forced to confront the problem of both derivative, remixed, and novel uses of digital objects. Objects that in fact are in a constant state of multiple use, and thus their meanings are changing in relation to each other. In order to resolve this, we are turning to socially constructed ontologies in order to both track changes over time, so authors can tell us that their contribution is a derivative of another contribution, but also to tag or label these new contributions more thoroughly with their own interpretation. Allowing users to both tag, to discuss and to maintain a glossary of meanings related to their discussion and tagging, allows the ACRO beta to maintain and track the mutations that digital media from within the system. By using microformat data in relation to user constructed data, we hope to operate in parallel relation to the growing standards in the cultural object arena, mapping the microformat and user constructed data into standards compliant metadata.

Open Source and Constitutive Productive Democracy

In What is Democracy, Alain Touraine presents a theory of the constitutive necessities for a capitalist democracy. This paper argues that Open Source as a property system based in licensing parallels and extends the Touraine’s theory and in that matter enables more fully the theory of equality found there, but it moves the property relationships from those prominent in monopoly capitalism to those prominent in late capitalism. Open source goes beyond the models of equality of nature, or equality of opportunity that constitutes democratic culture and introduces several forms of equality of access, such as an equality of learning, an equality of innovation or creativity. These modes of equality are also foundational to the development of the democratic state. Where the development of proprietary systems, and their institutional technics based in absolutist models of property are perpetuating in monopoly capitalism and centralizing wealth thus promoting economic inequality, they do not provide for the equality of innovation which perpetuates the growth of equality in the state. Touraine promotes education as a primary tool to move toward an equality of access to capital, but in the information age, open source combined with cheap access to computers becomes access and control of the means of production. This moves the possibility of the unification of the conceptualization of the productive act and the democratic act in a very profound way. In this paper, I describe the open source system of property relations as an entryway into the unification of the constitutive requirements of production in the information age with the the constitutive elements of democracy in any age.

The economic sociology of objects on the internet

“A code is a tool well known to lawyers in the sense of a set of texts which have the force of law”[1]. Digital objects as internet objects are codes in that they are a set of texts that have the force of law, as objects created in the world, but also as as text embedded in a system of conventions. They form a non-arbitrary, yet socially constructed set of goods in the networked world of production.

In this paper, I introduce aspects of the economics of convention as a way of understanding the way that internet based objects operate both in both the real and virtual aspects of our everyday lives. I also introduce the idea that as much as we need to focus on creating internet objects for our real and virtual environments, we also need to participate in the creation of the conventions surrounding those objects. It is those conventions that define the object in social, political, economic, and intellectual space, and these conventions legitimate the continued practice of creating internet objects. The economic and other implications of the internet object in both its real and virtual existence arises out of those conventions. Conventions order the market, but we as engaged creators of internet objects have the opportunity to encode and order the conventions.

The idea of convention in this paper arises out of two fields. The first is the economics of convention(EC), which is closely related to the second which might be termed ‘pragmatic sociology’ which is represented in the French tradition by Latour, Callon, and others.[2] Both fields focus clearly on human actions and considers only the inscriptions of those actions into their whole social world, which is ‘socially constructed’ in so far as the construction is discerned by action in the world and in this respect objects in that world exist as intersubjective constructs only when they can be seen to have a relation to actions. Actions have a clear relation to the social, political, ethical, and ontological systems have in the world, because humans structure their actions according to such conventions. Increasingly action oriented concerns are becoming part of the design processes.[3] To understand an individual actor in this world of production, one must start as Storper and Salais do with “… the individual’s interpretive effort, a strong form of action in itself.”[4]

A philosophical definition of a convention is: A regularity R, in the behavior of members of a population P, when they act in a recurrent situation, S, is a convention, if and only if, for each example of S, for the members of P: Each conforms to R Each anticipates that all others will conform to R; Each prefers to conform to R on the condition that others do so. Since S is a problem of coordination, the general conformity to R results in a coordination equilibrium .[5] in [4]

The more common understanding is the way in which things done, or operating agreement through which everyone abides. short, we can understand a convention as a coordinated collective action [4].

We come to know and understand conventions in our everyday lives as we identify, negotiate, and construct them in order to manage our increasingly complex lives. Conventions proceed through time and either become reified in physical structures such as architecture or institutions. Internet objects are very much the in this understanding of convention. They are mutable, but so are other conventions that eventually become real parts of life. Coming to terms with these conventions as part of our social system requires that we act reflexively in respect to their creation.

From this framework we can see how internet objects are interpretable as conventions. Internet objects are defined by their creator/s and then people tend to come to an interpretation of their existence online and off. Because of the architectonics of the conventions of the virtual and real world, internet objects become normal objects in many ways, much like conventions may be come real as objects or as social facts.

Internet objects as code regulate human actions much as regular objects in the real world, until the point in which the conventions no longer regulate, but there are intervening considerations in conventions that transform the way people act. People ‘invest’ in conventions, because the normal operation of a convention increases the overall capacity of the system for participation. That is, because conventions are continually accepted or renegotiated, people tend to accept them because they make existence in the world more efficient. Were we have to renegotiate the internet object at each juncture, the maintenance of the object would quickly become insurmountable. The insight this gives us helps to explain how internet objects become stable social and thus they also become economic conventions over time.

From Structured to Open Development: Open Access, Digital Archives, and Cultural Informatics

If the idea is for universities to be involved in the development and dissemination of knowledge in the face of the increasingly burdensome intellectual property regimes, then one way to accomplish this goal is to open the systems of knowledge at its point of origination. The argument of this essay is that for development to be successful, open and interpretable archives of knowledge, much like the great libraries of the world, need to be made accessible to the developing world so that they can develop systems that allow culturally situated development of the knowledge that they contain. The current model of knowledge production and distribution in university frequently abstracts significant culturally specific information that grounds the knowledge. In short, much like in Boyle’s day, to gain access to the complete picture of the knowledge represented in a scholarly paper or book, you need to have access to more than the paper itself (Leviathan and the Airpump). You need to have actually been there and observed the knowledge being produced (Science in Action). However the volume of papers and their requisite practices multiply and verify the results of scientific action giving us a body of knowledge that can be interpreted and built upon. However, in the last 25 years the amount of knowledge produced in papers is significantly more than the amount of knowledge that is published, which is significantly more than is openly accessible to people in the developing world.