requiem for certainty

Archive for the ‘internet’ Category

Simple Syllogism for the Internet Age

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1. Reality is only available as information (derived from a certain reading of Kant)

2. All information is available everywhere (derive fromd a prophetic internetworking theory)


3. All available reality is available everywhere

(The logic is rather unassailable but the premises may perhaps be doubted.)


Written by Colin Koopman

July 24, 2008 at 1:33 am

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Online Deliberation Conference

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I presented last week at a conference over at the Berkeley iSchool entitled ‘Tools for Participation’ on the subject of ‘Online Deliberation and Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing’ (DIAC/OD 2008).  There were a number of interesting projects, papers, and technologies presented, all of them focused around online participation, collaboration, and deliberation.  My experience at the conference reinforces my hunch that now is the time (for me) to take up cross-disciplinary collaborations in the context of internet research.  These should be collaborations amongst theorists and empirical inquirers (but also with practitioners, users, and developers).  One of the best ways of doing this is collaborative concept work – since concepts face both theory and practice at once.  Conceptualization need not aim for theoretical system-building nor empirical fact-collecting, but can rather aim for articulating our practices in the sense of both explicating their theoretical commitments (articulation as explication) and drawing out their empirical interconnections (articulation as linkage).  A guiding thought for me in this context is that we currently lack concepts adequate to the emerging internet practices that take an increasingly prominent place in our lives.  These practices demand the labor of conceptualization. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Colin Koopman

July 1, 2008 at 7:35 pm

New Book on Free and Open Source Software

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Just out.  Chris Kelty’s Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (Duke UP, 2008).  This is an important study of an important emerging practice: free and open source software.  I was at the release party for Mozilla’s Firefox 3 browser last week (thanks Nicole).  If Mozilla is any indication there is great strength and enormous potential for collaborative innovation in emerging open source practices.  The same could be said for Wikipedia.  And perhaps also for the OLPC. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Colin Koopman

June 26, 2008 at 3:32 am

There is no such thing as The Internet

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The common tendency to refer to ‘the internet’ as a singular noun is entirely mistaken: there is no such thing as the internet, and there is only internetworking. There are billions of little boxes which use electromagnetic waves and extraordinarily complex mazes of cables of all variety to link together various other plastic boxes of indescribable diversity by means of a plurality of layered protocols operating on a wide range of hardware and software platforms, and all this for the sake of an immense array of purposes, programs, and projects whose complexity is so great that the merest glimpse at just a portion of it would spin the head of even the most learned polymaths. There is no such thing as the public sphere in internetworking, because there is a plurality of public spaces, evolving and expanding every single day by means of the thunderous energy of the trillions of keystrokes which we collectively depress over the course of a single rotation of our beloved earth on its axis… Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Colin Koopman

January 11, 2008 at 3:57 am

Open Source Problematization

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I am currently looking at developing concepts adequate to the general problematization in which practices of ‘open source’ (by which I am broadly referring to open content, open source, open development, open platform techniques and practices). These concepts are probably most helpfully thought about in terms of inquiring into the ‘conditions of possibility’ of the emergent equipment in question. On this view, inquiry into problematization is meant to facilitate the development of general concepts which establish the conditions of possibility of the equipment at all. It is in virtue of these conditions of possibility that potential practices can come to be taken up as open source equipment. This is not yet to say, of course, whether or not these practices are as yet ‘valid’, ‘intelligent’, or ‘right’ uses of open source. It is only to specify that they are intelligible as open source equipmental practices. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Colin Koopman

November 26, 2007 at 11:16 pm

Dewey on Publics

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In his 1927 The Public and Its Problems John Dewey offered an argument concerning the relationship between publics and the state which is useful for thinking about the changing forms of public space and practice today, especially in the context of my current research on emerging internet practices. Although Dewey’s book is in my opinion needlessly difficult to follow (a common stylistic feature of Dewey’s labored prose), the core of the argument runs as follows. Dewey argues that public associations conceptually precede state associations such that states impress coherence upon publics. This, however, leads to a seeming paradox about contemporary political reality insofar as the state in Dewey’s day seemed very strong and efficient but the public it was supposed to organize was hardly perceptible. Had the state outgrown the public, thus becoming an empty husk of a political form? Dewey suggests that in response to this difficult problem we must work to reorganize the new public forms in which we find ourselves. Such reorganization, however, may require that we abandon the terms according to which the old public forms were organized. These terms were: organization shall take primarily on the basis of a liberal state which will proceed by way of instituting a distinction between public and private spheres. Dewey is not clear what new alternative terms are required but he does at least say this much: the new political organization shall be democratic and is likely to invoke democracy through a plurality of means including states, corporations, civic associations, and other public forms. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Colin Koopman

October 13, 2007 at 2:43 pm

Emerging Digital Practices

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Another angle I have been looking at in recent work is a sort of half applied-philosophy half theoretical-ethnography project concerning contemporary digital/internet practices. I am only just now kicking this work off. And I certainly have many more questions than answers. I’m in need of collaborators of all sorts in this so please post comments or email me your thoughts. The basic idea of the research project is an inquiry into the new forms of public and private space that are emerging around and within contemporary digital practices. This is currently shaping up as… Read the rest of this entry »