Hello from Pointcastville

Have been following a discussion on the Rhizome Raw listserv (via RSS) about the relevance and future of Rhizome.org (a new media non-profit affiliated with the New Museum that started as a listserv and has been slowly adding bloglike features). Patrick Lichty, who considers himself a "90s generation" net artist, has this to say:

Content - the listserv, while vibrant in terms of lists like Empyre and
IDC, are largely '90s modes of communication. Instead of circulating
content, digital discourse has turned into a "booth" mentality, in which
bloggers pointcast and hope that people aggregate their blog. It isn't
about the collective discourse as much as a constellation of little
stations and brands. Many of them are structured so that they might
even make money from their brand of content, such as
ichanhascheezburger.com (a LOLcat site) that is the source of income now
for the creator.

The next generation of New Media artists (from which I am from the prior
gen) have a different set of agendas, priorities, and degrees of
support. [...]

Secondly, from having hung out for a long time, it was [the original Rhizome crew's] primary
conceptual project for the first 2-3 years; I didn't see them out on a
lot of residencies, writing for other entities, maybe a little curation.
But from my vantage point, for the first couple years, they
didn't do much else.

And lastly, from two-three places from the preceding, although we are in
a period of "social media", it appears that it is a particulate cloud of
individuals trying to promote their own work/agendas and forming
alliances/networking for enlightened self-interest rather than acting
collectively. In many ways, it feels like grass-roots collectivism
versus free-market competition.

I had a bad experience with the Empyre listserv a while back. They invited four bloggers as guest panelists and the bloggers immediately started posting links to their blogs to show what they were working on as opposed to lengthily describing it. This led to accusations that the bloggers were self-obsessed and the panel devolved into a (boring) lists vs blogs debate. Three of the panelists bailed after the first week of what was supposed to be a month-long dialog.

At the recent Internet Sleepover I got a fair amount of grief for turning off my comments. Some people were nice to say they valued it as a forum for discussion of Internet art issues. I enjoyed that as well. Lichty is correct that I've been "pointcasting" but the objective wasn't just to get passively "aggregated" (added to people's RSS feeds) but to provide a forum for issues that weren't being discussed elsewhere on the open Net. After a few years we ended up with a de facto collective of regular commenters. Some of whom occasionally expressed their dissatisfaction with the content of the ListServs.

Digital Media Tree, where my blog was until July, lent itself to this community of interest because it remained very open and easy to comment to. No registration, no prior vetting of comments, no "captchas". It was little slice of 1999, when blogs first started in earnest. Now that I'm at Word Press I would have to impose some restrictions on comments or stay up to date on the anti-spam plugins to keep the raw sewage of the Internet off the page, neither of which I'm eager to do. Comments were also getting burdensome at the Tree--it took a lot of energy to keep the threads interesting and somewhat civilized.

While I mull over the "comment dilemma" I welcome all who made the move with me over to this URL. I will try to keep it interesting despite the lack of intermittent fights erupting over the issues of the day. This blog will be more content-oriented, as in my art and music--that's one reason I moved, knowing full well that many were more interested in the fights.

Congressmen Evade Flak (Literally)

Plane with U.S. lawmakers shot at in Iraq

Fri Aug 31, 2007 3:10PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A military airplane carrying four members of the U.S. Congress came under fire over Iraq on Thursday but the plane was not hit and no one was hurt, a spokesman for one of the lawmakers said on Friday.

The C-130 cargo aircraft conducted evasive maneuvers after a nighttime takeoff from Baghdad, said Ken Lundberg, spokesman for Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, who was on the plane.

In addition to Martinez, the plane was carrying fellow Republican Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, and Alabama Rep. Robert "Bud" Cramer, a Democrat.

Lundberg said Martinez had been told three rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the plane. But a senior U.S. defense official in Washington said small arms fire appeared to have been responsible.

"He (Martinez) had just taken his body armor off and was getting ready to snooze," Lundberg said the senator told him. "Then there was a flash of light, and the plane started banking in different directions."

"The whole incident was over in three to five minutes," Lundberg said, and the aircraft flew on to Amman, Jordan.

A statement from U.S.-led forces in Iraq said the plane "observed surface-to-air fire" upon departure from Baghdad and dispensed flares and conducted "standard evasive maneuvers."

The fire originated several miles from the plane's location, the defense official in Washington said, speaking on condition of anonymity as U.S. forces in Baghdad were officially responsible for commenting on the incident.

"They (the crew) did all the right things, they took all the appropriate precautions, but it appears they were at an altitude that did not put them at any danger from the type of small arms fire that they received," the official said.

The lawmakers had spent the day in Baghdad and were briefed by U.S. Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus.

A number of U.S. lawmakers have been visiting Baghdad ahead of a series of pivotal reports to be delivered to Congress in coming weeks on the security and political situation in Iraq.

Good thing they're safe, but if any of these guys had been killed by Iraqi rocket-propelled grenades--excuse me, small arms fire--after their junket, this fall's congressional "debate" about whether to continue to escalate the war in Iraq and commence one in Iran might go differently than it will.