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By DorotheeGestrich, Section whatever...
Posted on Sat May 8th, 2004 at 07:51:59 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
Let's think about hospitality. With the world wide web there is a platform created on which this old cultural practise and tradition of hospitality could take place in a new way. But how is hospitality applied and developed in the internet, a medium, in which equal exchange far away from hierarchical structures was seen as an idealistic goal? What happens with the special rules in hospitable relations and hospitable laws, f.e. concerning immigration within the practice of online hospitality? What role do you think play special types of hospitable partners, generous or selfish hosts, parasitical and scrounging guests?


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I think that not only the direct possibility to interact, but also the technical conditions play an important role in the realisation of hospitality in the net. The terms guest and hosts which are used in computer language as well, reflect a hospitable idea, but it depends on the perspective which role hard- or software, servers and internet pages, applications or browsers take.
Like it happens in hospitable offline situations with families and friends, you can observe that online hospitality doesn't take place between single persons only but is expanded or restricted to entire groups, email addresses or data packages of the same heritage. Further I saw rules of modest hospitality in some communities that resemble the `old' etiquette even if the so called netiquette seems to be antiquated after the first ten years of the world wide web. But I think that even if the online guest has the opportunity to enter all homepages, all houses in the net without invitation, you still might feel lonely in the net. Nobody cares personally about you. I only become visible if I pay with information. And still personalization on the amazon site is not necessarily meant personally. And doesn`t the possibility to stay anonymous or to choose fictive characters not even shorten (hospitable) online relationships?
Nonetheless I think that there are few hospitable relationships within the net in which pick-up the original idea of the veritable, absolute and selfless hospitality. Much more often it seems to me that hospitality is a deal concerning reciprocal interests: information is made available in hope to gain money or to achieve information as well. In some of the communities hospitality functions alike the principal of exchange: only those get information, who register and give away personal data. Further I experienced unbalanced hospitality: internet hosts craving for recognition with endless but useless flash intros, stingy ones who refuse to put necessary information online and others with financial interests who spend a lot of money to come into view of potential guests. But I think that not the hosts are determining online hospitality. It is maybe more the parasitical guests that influence and structure online exchange. Information is copied unasked, pictures are stolen and in the context of web sharing you probably also downloaded a lot, but made only little own data available. We parasite and reproduce, enlarge data, feed the world wide web to keep it running.
And of course legal laws and economic interests try to influence and undermine the traditional values of hospitality applied online. Commercial and (state-) powers try to repress the free exchange in the net as it is visible in the discussions about peer-to-peer. Either the guest has to accept uncountable advertisement banners to attain information or s/he has to give away personal data and a credit card number to get access to certain places. And finally you have to pay for the Internet connection.

Do you also think that hospitality in general is only occasionally an altruistic affair? And do you imagine any successful approaches of net specific hospitality that aim to make the special conditions of the Internet a subject of discussion and use them in an adequate style?

Check out to get to know the best guest of the world wide web and see his album of his journey through the homes of all sorts of internet hosts.

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Welcome to my Homepage | 6 comments
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[new] parasites (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#2)
by DorotheeGestrich on Mon May 17th, 2004 at 05:33:09 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
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Let me answer with a quotation of Morten Soby that I like very much: "Not everyone will feel at home in the cybersphere's interactive net, but we do not really have a choice."
There are indeed few hospitable relationships within the Internet which similes the original idea of a balanced hospitality without parasitical behaviour, but there are some successful approaches of net specific hospitality that aim to make the special conditions of the internet a subject of discussion and use them in an adequate style like Irina Aristarkhova's virtual chora, where the guests had free ftp-access and the possibility to "establish" on Aristarkhova's web site for a while.
But looking on the whole I also have the opinion that the possibilities of the Internet, for example undermining locality and gender-role-expectations, are not exhausted or fulfilled, but there are even new forms of a net-specific culture established that may lack equal possibilities for discourse and democratic contribution.

[new] parasites (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#1)
by GabrielPickard on Wed May 12th, 2004 at 05:54:27 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
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You've got some interesting points there. I think that the parasitical reader is the biggest symptom of the worst problem the web has. It's not that people shouldn't plagiarise or have full access to sharing information. The problem is that for all its theoretical speed and diversity, the www lacks a certain immediacy of discourse. And as long as it still remains the main format of expression and exchange on the internet, that will be relatively hard to change. Finding other forms also isn't easy...

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