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[- The first principle of community is exclusion.
By Eric Hughes, Section discordia home improvement
Posted on Tue Sep 30th, 2003 at 06:17:37 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
Can we get over the collective delusion that we have to be nice to everybody we meet on the internet? The wonderful essay by Ivan Illich, "Silence is a Commons", underpins the typical "tragedy" of internet interaction—the idiocy of the commons—except that it's not a tragedy. Rather, it's an inevitability of putting too many people in the same place and expecting, with the tone of a benevolent autocrat, everyone to behave themselves. Without some form of exclusion, what might have been a community degenerates into a worthless brawl.


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

Not all brawls are worthless, mind you. The problem with mud-slinging is that it's not mud-wrestling, which is far more entertaining both for the participants and the audience. Community is about having something of value in common that can be lost; actions within a community have a danger and a hazard about them. The potential for loss is the constraint that gives structure to a community, and differing views on the common wealth invariably lead to conflict.

The typical mantra, that community is about inclusiveness, is getting the order of priorities backwards. Once a functional community is present, it may become desirable to enlarge it (at least enough for one of your friends). Yet this question itself presupposes a community and its inherent exclusivity. The opposite order of priorities, when there's any external value at all to the community, attracts nuisances, who will surely, given a bit of time, degrade the original value. For this situation, I recall Nietzsche's dictum "the sick need sick doctors". And let me flatter the reader: Yes, you really are better than most of the people on the internet, and yes, there are a lot of sick people out there, but no, you're not one of them.

I've signed up for Discordia on the strength of Geert Lovink's participation, whose work I've always admired (although I don't think I've ever told him this, having never met him or corresponded with him). There is a nascent value here that I'd like to possess, yet I'm wary about the all-too-common failures of too much openness. I want to participate in an aesthetic that seeks to hone the disruptive capacity of words upon the unsuspecting. I love throwing apples of discord; it is one of the pleasures of my life.

So, will Discordia develop the "shared wall" that is the original meaning of community? Or, shall I consign myself to the dilemma of inevitables? For anything that's worth eating attracts flies.

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

The first principle of community is exclusion. | 2 comments
[new] room for experiments (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#2)
by Aileen on Tue Sep 30th, 2003 at 09:48:11 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

It's interesting that you bring this up. In the course of long discussions about possible structures for Discordia in the development phase, we originally had a separate section for "catfights". I think the name changed a few times, but the idea was that there needs to room for conflicts, which inevitably arise. In the end it seemed to contrived and ultimately boring, though, to limit conflicts to one section. Instead we have the Secret Room, where the conventional rules of netiquette do not apply.
I agree that expecting everyone to behave themselves is neither realistic nor all that interesting in the long-run, but trying to find a structure that welcomes experiments - knowing that experiments can be quite messy - but doesn't just level out into indistinguishable noise is a point of contention in itself.
In any case, I think your "apples of discord" sound quite healthy.

[new] Vereniging in gesprek (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#1)
by AlleVanMeeteren on Tue Sep 30th, 2003 at 08:20:13 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

Eric Hughes starts his essay with a question. He asks "Can we get over the collective delusion that we have to be nice to everybody we meet on the internet?" I did not know that this was a collective delusion. And has the opposite be the case, that we just do no try to be nice.

But after this flying start, Eric leads us through reflections about conflict and the forming of a community.

This evening, I posted in a comment my idea about forming a community around and with a software-program inside Usenet. Not the idea itself.

Eric hopes that Discordia will also becomes a community in the original meaning of the word. But he is afraid of to much openness.

To unveil my idea a bit: this idea gives room to all openess, and still people help each other to find the treasures, they are looking for.

I hope the Eric and Geert will join my "Vereniging", at least taste its kidneys.


The first principle of community is exclusion. | 2 comments

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