[mtp-teoria] [Fwd: [spectre] New Network Theory, Amsterdam, 28-30 June 2007]

slavo krekovic slavo at 34.sk
Mon Jan 8 20:55:10 CET 2007

Subject: 	[spectre] Final Call for Papers: New Network Theory, 
Amsterdam, 28-30 June 2007
Date: 	Mon, 8 Jan 2007 14:59:43 +0100
From: 	Sabine Niederer <sabine at networkcultures.org>
To: 	spectre at mikrolisten.de


International Conference

Location: Amsterdam
Dates: 28-30 June 2007

Organized by: Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, Institute of 
Network Cultures (Amsterdam Polytechnic, HvA), and Media Studies, 
University of Amsterdam.


New Network Theory, the 2007 ASCA International Conference, organized 
by the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), the Institute of 
Network Cultures (Amsterdam Polytechnic) and Media Studies at the 
University of Amsterdam, has issued its first call for papers. The 
conference, to be held on Thursday, 28 June to Saturday, 30 June, 2007, 
also includes a public program with renowned speakers.

Significant dates

Deadline for Submission of Paper Abstract (500 words) and Biography 
(100 words): 10 January 2007

Submit to: networktheory at networkcultures.org

Acceptance Notification:  1 March 2007

Further inquiries to: Dr. Eloe Kingma, Managing Director, Amsterdam 
School of Cultural Analysis, Oude Turfmarkt 147, Oude Turfmarkt 147, 
1012 GC, Amsterdam, tel: +31 20 525 3874, asca-fgw at uva.nl.

Conference organizers:

Geert Lovink (Institute of Network Cultures/University of Amsterdam)
Sabine Niederer (Institute of Network Cultures)
Richard Rogers (University of Amsterdam)
Jan Simons (University of Amsterdam)

Locations: Pakhuis de Zwijger Media Warehouse (28 June), University of 
Amsterdam (29-30 June)

Invited Speakers and Facilitators: Katy Borner, Wendy Chun, Nosh 
Contractor, Florian Cramer, Mario Diani, Matthew Fuller, Martin Kearns, 
Valdis Krebs, Alan Liu, Noortje Marres, Anna Munster, Claudia Padovani, 
Jussi Parikka, Warren Sack, Ramesh Srinivasan, Rob Stuart, Tiziana 
Terranova, Kenneth Werbin. The speakers and facilitators are 


General Introduction: Rethinking Network Cultures

The object of study has shifted from the virtual community and the 
space of flows to the smart mob. When the object of study changes, so 
may the distinctions that dominate, particularly the schism between 
place-based space and place-less space, both organised and given life 
by networks. We would like to exploit the potential of writing 
contemporary network theory that suits and reflects the changes to the 
objects of study that come to define our understandings of network 
culture – a post-Castellsian network theory, if you will, that takes 
technical media seriously.

It is time to look for elements that can make up a network theory 
outside of post-modern cultural studies (which marvelled at the 
place-less place) and ethnographic social sciences (which reminded us 
of the ground). What network culture studies needs is a ‘language of 
new media,’ perhaps even signage, to speak in terms of Lev Manovich; 
what it currently has is a science-centered ‘unified network theory,’ 
to paraphrase the language of Albert-László Barabási.

Whilst it may come as no surprise to critical Internet scholars, the 
notion that networks are not random but have underlying structures 
remains the key insight for network scientists. Instead of posing new 
questions, the work that follows from that insight often seeks to 
confirm that structure and its accompanying patterns, across more and 
more network-like objects. The question remains which specific 
contribution critical Internet scholars and practitioners can make to 
opening up network thought. Such is the purpose of the network theory 
conference. How must we rethink network culture with a renewed emphasis 
on technical media and social software?

Suggested Topics:

Networks and Social Movements
Anomylous Objects, Parasites of the Net
Networking and Social Life
Social Software and Insider Networks
Network Policy
Network Governance / Organised Networks
Actor-Network Theory and the Assemblage
Gamers Contribute to Network Theory
Network Knowledge Production
Networks and Disengagement
Media Networks
The Link
Locative Media and Networks
Mapping Quests

Other topics may be suggested.


Prospective Themes and Panels:

Networking and Social Life

‘Networking,’ colloquially speaking, continues to be encouraged in our 
professional lives, but no one seems to have thought through how life 
would be guided if we apply network theory to professional ‘networking’ 
rather literally.

As network scientists’ terms and ideas spread, it is of interest to 
speculate about one’s social life governed by the power law, 
preferential attachment, hubs, self-organization, swarming and 
cascading effects. To network in a colloquial sense, essentially is to 
connect oneself with a hub. As the hub receives more connections (or 
becomes ‘preferentially attached’), the hub may become a 
superconnector, handling a disproportionately large number of 
connections relative to those of the other hubs in the overall network. 
As the network continues to grow through self-organisation, general 
knowledge of the existence of the superconnector may cause swarming 

A superconnector, network science reports, has the greatest 
vulnerabilities, however. If the superconnector cannot handle the 
traffic, the network breaks down. If there's breakdown, with or without 
cascading effects, which determines the extent of the damage, you’re on 
your own again. One implication is that one should continue to seek 
fresh hubs (as long as they last), and keep them from becoming 
overheated superconnectors. Hub-seeking behaviour, along with 
superconnector-care, come to guide social life.

Social Software and Insider Networks

What if the social software model, which performs networking in private 
and public spheres simultaneously, came to dominate our social life? 
One could argue that we would witness the spread of insider influence. 
Would networking be the means by which we discuss and effect social 
change, above all else?

Having registered with social software, your friends may write to you, 
asking you to associate yourself with them and their acquaintances in 
an online environment. You cannot see your friends’ networks unless you 
join, too, making it something of a secretive realm at first. 
Invitations sent by the software are becoming more explicit about why 
you are invited, and the purpose of social software:

"Since you are a person I trust, I wanted to invite you to join my 
network on LinkedIn. I'm using it to discover inside connections I 
didn't know I had. It's interesting to see the level of access you can 
have with only a few people in your network."

It may be unreasonable to concern oneself with the prospect of everyone 
creating and building insider networks. The democratisation of insider 
influence (social software for all), however, seems contrary to (or 
perhaps helps to explain) the current infatuation with governance and 

Network Policy

Moving to the level of social policy, we can ask about the effects of 
network-centric thought put into practice institutionally. We are used 
to the phrase, “it’s company policy,” as a justification for a 
particular decision that has been taken for you. “It’s network policy” 
is a phrase not yet in circulation. What if it were to change our ideas 
about what is ‘social’?

Perhaps it was the accessibility of Barabási’s Linked (2002) that 
prompted networks to be given to great expectations, ones they may not 
be able to meet and ones that may change our ideas about what is 
‘social.’ In Linked, the special case studies and stories that 
connected the small community of social network researchers for so long 
grew beyond the realm of familiarity, dependability and implication. 
Network research was no longer in the business of studying social 
influence only, and usually after the fact.

Before, they asked: how did the Medici family increase its power base 
in Renaissance Florence (strategic marriage); which mid-western doctor 
should be approached by a pharmaceutical company to serve as the broker 
for spreading the word about a new product? With Linked, networks moved 
on to account for many other phenomena, including the spread of disease 
(HIV-AIDS). Since then network thought could very well lead to 
prospective planning; controversial action could be undertaken by 
employing a kind of ‘network policy’ that would supplant social policy.

Historically, waiting lists in hospitals, for example, were determined 
on the basis of first come, first served, where an extreme emergency 
would call for the queue to be jumped. With a network policy the hubs 
should be served first, as they have a greater chance to spread disease 
than the isolates. They are better networked.

Networked Multitude

Whereas networks hardly played a role in Hardt and Negri’s popular book 
Empire (2000), in Multitude (2004) the network form of organisation 
reached centre stage. According to Hardt and Negri, “the multitude must 
be conceived as a network, an open and expansive network in which all 
differences can be expressed freely and equally, a network that 
provides the means of encounter so that we can work and live freely in 
common”. Beyond good or evil Hardt and Negri, like the scientists, now 
see networks everywhere we look – “military organizations, social 
movements, business formations, migrations patterns, communication 
systems, physiological structures, linguistic relations, neural 
transmitters, and even personal relationships.” The multitude authors 
present distributed networks as a general condition. Hardt and Negri: 
“It is not that networks were not around before or that the structure 
of the brain has changed. It is that network has become a common form 
that tends to define our ways of understanding the world and acting in 

 After September 11, 2001 the enemy is not a unitary sovereign state, 
but rather a network, Arquilla and Ronfeldt wrote in Networks and 
Netwars (2001). Networks move in to failed states, taking them over, 
allegedly, but without re-establishing the borders. The enemy, in other 
words, has a new, sprawling form. But that particular military insight 
reverberates to the technical media, too. According to planners of the 
war against terrorism the Internet is not well equipped to face up to 
the networked enemy, at least not with its currently protocol. Is the 
end-to-end principle on which the Internet is based increasingly viewed 
as quaint architecture?

Dawn of the Organized Networks

At first glance the concept of ‘organised networks’ appears oxymoronic. 
In technical terms, all networks are organised. There are founders, 
administrators, moderators and active members who all take up roles. 
Think back to the early work on cybernetics and the ‘second order’ 
cybernetics of Bateson and others. Networks consist of mobile relations 
whose arrangement at any particular time is shaped by the ‘constitutive 
outside’ of feedback or noise. The order of networks is made up of a 
continuum of relations governed by interests, passions, effects and 
pragmatic necessities of different actors. The network of relations is 
never static, yet is not to be mistaken for some kind of perpetual 
fluidity. Ephemerality is not a condition to celebrate for those 
wishing to function as political agents. The theory of organised 
networks is to be read as a proposal, a draft, a concept in the process 
of becoming that needs active steering through disagreement and 
collective elaboration. (See the Fibreculture mailing list, discussion 
on organized networks in November/December 2004 and Ned Rossiter's 
upcoming book Organized Net).

Needless to say, organised networks have existed for centuries. Their 
history can and will be written, but where would that bring us? The 
networks we are talking about here are specific in that they are 
situated within technical media. They can be characterised by their 
advanced irrelevance and invisibility for old media and p-in-p (people 
in power). General network theory might be useful for enlightenment 
purposes, but that doesn’t answer the issues that new media-based 
social networks face. Does it satisfy to know that molecules and DNA 
patterns also network?

Truism today: there are no networks outside of society. Like all 
human-techno entities, they are infected by power. Networks are ideal 
Foucauldian machines: they undermine power as they produce it. Their 
diagram of power may operate on a range of scales, traversing 
intra-local networks and overlapping with trans-national insurgencies. 
No matter how harmless they seem, networks bring on differences. 
Foucault’s dictum: power produces. Translate this to organised networks 
and you get the force of invention. Indeed, translation is the 
condition of invention.

Mediology, as defined by Régis Debray (1996), is the practice of 
invention within the socio-technical system of networks. As a 
collaborative method of immanent critique, mediology assembles a 
multitude of components upon a network of relations as they coalesce 
around situated problems and unleashed passions. In this sense, the 
network constantly escapes attempts of command and control. Such is the 
entropic variability of networks. Network users do not see their circle 
of peers as  a sect. Ties are loose, up to the point of breaking up. 
Some would say the user is just a consumer: silent and satisfied, until 
hell breaks loose. The user is the identity of control by other means. 
In this respect, the ‘user’ is the empty vessel awaiting the spectral 
allure of digital commodity cultures and their promise of ‘mobility’ 
and ‘openness’.

Networking and Disengagement

Networks are everywhere. The challenge for the foreseeable future is to 
create new openings, new possibilities, new temporalities and spaces 
within which life may assert its insistence on an ethical and 
aesthetical existence. Organised networks should be read as a proposal, 
aimed to replace the problematic term ‘virtual community’. It should 
put the internal power relations within networks on the agenda and 
break with the invisible workings that made out the consensus era. 
Organised networks are ‘clouds’ of social relationships in which 
disengagement is pushed to the limit. Community is an idealistic 
construct and suggests bonding and harmony, which often is simply not 
there. The same could be said of the post-9/11 call for ‘trust’. 
Networks thrive on diversity and conflict (the notworking), not on 
unity, and this is what community theorists were unable to reflect 
upon. For them disagreement equals a disruption of the ‘constructive’ 
flow of dialogue. It takes an effort to reflect on distrust as a 
productive principle. Indifference between networks is a main reason 
not to get organised, so this aspect has to be taken seriously. 
Interaction and involvement are idealistic constructs.

Passivity rules. Browsing, watching, reading, waiting, thinking, 
deleting, chatting, skipping and surfing are the default condition of 
online life. Total involvement implies madness to the highest degree. 
What characterizes networks is a shared sense of a potentiality that 
does not have to be realized.

Millions of replies from all to all would cause every network, no 
matter what architecture, to implode. Within every network there is a 
long time of interpassivity, interrupted by outbursts of interactivity. 
Networks foster, and reproduce, loose relationships – and it’s better 
to face this fact straight into the eye. They are hedonistic machines 
of promiscuous contacts. Networked multitudes create temporary and 
voluntary forms of collaboration that transcend, but not necessary 
disrupt the Age of Disengagement. The concept of organised networks is 
useful to enlist for strategic purposes.

Media Networks

After a decade of ‘tactical media’, the time has come to scale up the 
operations of radical media practices. We should all well and truly 
have emerged from the retro-fantasy of the benevolent welfare state. 
Networks will never be rewarded and ‘embedded’ in well-funded 
structures. Just as the modernist avant-garde saw itself punctuating 
the fringes of society, so too have tactical media taken comfort in the 
idea of targeted micro-interventions. Tactical media too often assume 
to reproduce the curious spatio-temporal dynamic and structural logic 
of the modern state and industrial capital: difference and renewal from 
the peripheries. But there’s a paradox at work here. Disruptive as 
their actions may often be, tactical media corroborate the temporal 
mode of post-Fordist capital: short-termism. It is retro-garde that 
tactical media in a post-Fordist era continue to operate in terms of 
ephemerality and the logic of ‘tactics’. Since the punctuated attack 
model is the dominant condition, tactical media have an affinity with 
that which they seek to oppose. This is why tactical media are treated 
with a kind of benign tolerance. There is a neurotic tendency to 
disappear. Anything that solidifies is lost in the system. The ideal is 
to be little more than a temporary glitch, a brief instance of noise or 
interference. Tactical media set themselves up for exploitation in the 
same manner that ‘modders’ do in the game industry: they both dispense 
with their knowledge of loopholes in the system for free. They point 
out the problem, and then take off. Capital is delighted, and thanks 
the tactical media outfit or nerd-modder for the home improvement.

The Link

What constitutes linking, and how could we describe its mirror phantom, 
or rather, its shadow? The link as a reference to another informational 
object only comes into being as a conscious act. There is no automated 
process of putting links. And there is no unconscious or subliminal 
linking either. These could all be worthy scientific propositions but 
as of yet they do not exist. Linking is tedious work. It’s an effort 
and should be considered ‘extra work’. There is no routine in linking. 
It’s a precise job that needs constant control. But the opposite of the 
conscious link is not the broken but the absent link. What is the 
lifespan of links and networks?

Locative Media and Networks

The Internet has long been considered as the next step in the process 
of abolition of space and time constraints through media. Wireless and 
mobile media seem to have brought this process further along: people 
and places can be accessed anywhere any time. Paradoxically, the 
mobility of mobile phones, PDA's, portable game consoles, MP3 players 
and other devices have also re-introduced questions of space and place. 
'Where are you?' is probably the most frequently used opening sentence 
of a mobile phone conversation. Activists, 'flash mobs' and soccer 
hooligans use mobile technologies to coordinate surprise actions at 
specific places and specific times. Mobile technologies have moved 
computer games from the desk-top screen into the streets (e.g., Pack 
Manhattan). Geographical Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographical 
Information Systems (GIS) have given the term 'navigation' back its old 
meaning: from 'surfing in cyberspace' (remember Netscape Navigator) it 
has re-acquired the meaning 'finding one's way through geographical and 
physical space'. Streets, buildings, objects, animals and people can be 
'tagged' in order to provide location-based and contextual information 
about their whereabouts, preferences, medical needs, bank accounts, 
sites, businesses, institutions, histories, and sales and discounts.

Cyberspace and the so-called 'real world' converge into what Lev 
Manovich has called 'augmented reality,' and in this 'augmented 
reality' it does matter where you are. Locative media allow people to 
map and share their own cartographies (which implies the dazzling 
theoretical possibility that there are as many maps as there are 
map-makers), but they also allow authorities to keep track of everybody 
and everything. Locative media (in combination with biometric 
technologies) might also give rise to two extreme forms of 
claustrophobia: on the one hand one might ask whether it will be 
possible to ever break out of one's own maps (a new variety of the 
Cartesian question), and on the other hand one might ask whether it 
will be possible to keep out of sight.

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