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[- FReeCognize Me..?
By GabrielPickard, Section question corner
Posted on Thu Oct 2nd, 2003 at 10:59:08 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
In the recent makeworld paper#3 (distributed at n5m, available at, another one of those.. texts (i guess it's basically manifesto-style) jointly written by Geert L. and Florian S. gets the last word.. Here are some (hopefully not too suggestive) questions (i really wanted to get this into the question corner and not the review-section - to try it out ;-):


[ --------------------------------------------- ]

- At some point they get to the proposed coupling of the struggles for freedom of movement and freedom of communication. Why this connection?
- I believe that it has to do with the constituency of a class-concept. Of the "Cognitariat", if you like. Now how does this Cognitariat relate to the billions of people who haven't used a telephone? Does "Proletariat" still apply to those?
- Is it an avant-garde, kind of like the 2nd rank, a proliferation of avant-gardism? (As "cognitariarism" requires both the sophistication of becoming becoming Cognitariat, as well as then leading the cognitarian struggle.)
- I am quite curious about what lies behind this "left-over slice of society", those poor as well as bereft of medial capacities and capabilities. However, here and there they might witness the silver lining of dense communication connecting the power-structure - also of their world - whizzing by. Any interesting stories to tell?

The program that Geert and Florian present this time is centrally concerned with freedom. Freedom is of course essential, but there are some tendencies to over-ideologize freedom, for example among (mostly) US-American free-speachniks, or (possibly) among the Oekonux-crowd.. not to speak of free-market liberatarians ;-}.. Florian and Geert also partially criticize these tendencies - but it all doesn't sound that ripe to me (most of the other parts of the text are quite inspiring though..). So will freedom be an effective call to action, in creating other worlds? And is that the question at all?

[ --------------------------------------------- ]

FReeCognize Me..? | 5 comments
[new] freedom of movement & communication (Avg. Score: 3.00 / Raters: 1) (#1)
by GeertLovink on Sun Oct 5th, 2003 at 07:09:01 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info) http:;//

Dear Gabriel,

thanks for your comments and questions.

We're no criminals, by the way. Our names are Geert Lovink and Florian Schneider...

Why the connection? Besides the fact that there are personal reasons for me, and political ones, one could say that the analogy between the struggles for open media architectures and the freedom of movement is one that *potentially* creates interesting social and intercultural coalitions. I don't mind if someone will draw up some meta theory about this (possibly a German...). But that's not the point. There is no urgent way to connect struggles into some totalitarian Struggle of all Struggles. That's not what we mean and stand for.

If people accuse us of being libertarians--so be it. There are plenty of libertarian currents. Here in Australia libertarians are bohemians from the left. In the USA some would think of the ultra conservative corporate think-tank the Cato Institute. Others would vehemently defend the term against the way in which neo-conservatives have highjacked the term. It's a struggle...

I don't believe in the class concept to start with--and I am deeply suspicious of anything that uses the highly ideological 'knowlegde' term.

Having said that, we believe that 'everyone is an expert'. That's not just a good campaing phrase. Your distinction between the 'real' poor and the cognitariat no longer exists. I am not sure who is behind this Digital Devide idea. The issue is that the vast majority of people on this planet are already connected. This does not mean that they have a phone at home or even have an Internet connection. It simply means that their lives are interdependent with the information economy. The 'leftist' suggestion that 'really' poor people do not communicate is nonsense. I am not saying this to make an ideological statement. It's an observation many people make these days. Perhaps many parts of Africa are left out, but that certainly doesn't count for India, China and big parts of Latin America.

Our emphasis on freedom stems from experiences with activists who--deep in their heart--long for a strong nation state that will regulate everything. We believe that this would be a reactionary step back. It's polemic anyway, but yes, in these times of surveillance and control, it could be good thing to build interesting libertarian coalitions. That's wasn't the case in the mid nineties--and might again change in a few years. That's why we have keep on thinking, and questioning our own premises so that we can act again and fall back into repetitive and predictable behaviours.


[new] need to communicate (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#3)
by Anonymous Stranger on Mon Oct 6th, 2003 at 03:39:49 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME

James Clifford who teaches at Univ. of California Santa Cruz writes about an Egyptian village (citing an anthropologist) that is pretty isolated yet many of the male villagers have little education but passports filled with stamps showing just how much they traveled (for employment far from Egypt).

The poor ex-pats/migrants who do housework in the Gulf States, take care of kids in Hong Kong, pick crops in Texas, sweep streets in Nice, have a strong need to communicate, usually with family back home. Phone calls are the top priority, then remittance checks, and email as a supplement that's growing in importance.

So Geert is quite right. These people are connected in so far as they are affected by the intensely connected organizations and governments and businesses.

My own interest is in redefining those who are not actively using the Internet (even if they are affected by it), and my article on the digital divide in the same newspaper Gabriel cites is a start. However, I have a much more ambitious project about the unconnected world I'm about to undertake (after a trip to Jordan), and I'll probably write about it later on nettime.
-Steve Cisler

FReeCognize Me..? | 5 comments

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