[iDC] The Future of the Humanities

Janet Hawtin lucychili at gmail.com
Sat Jul 16 11:50:53 UTC 2011

On Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 12:35 PM, Brian Holmes
<bhcontinentaldrift at gmail.com> wrote:

> Examples of how culture and the arts become alive in society, with and
> beyond the tech entailed, might be the most important thing this list
> could offer.

some thoughts

If the changes are a result of economic or business management
approaches which see the market as the mechanism of choice then
perhaps the most direct way to widen the room in society for wider
schools of thought is to incorporate them into schools of economics
and business management? To include environmental and social
perspectives in those programs so that they have a wider understanding
of cultural and environmental infrastructure/assets?

This kind of economics sees consuming as an act of agency. Choosing a
product for fair trade or other reasons for example. But this kind of
agency has variable franchise based on wealth and is reactive or
passive because it can only choose from what is offered. It is similar
to using a market as a means to impact climate change imho because yes
it does possibly move wealth in a different direction but in itself it
is only able to show possibilities as money would tell it.

If consumer choice is a primary mode of engagement then how can
democratic thinking and discourse adapt to a shopping context? It
needs to be fashionable, a trending topic and to find ways to express
and negotiate subtle choices with a community with limited attention?
How do you compete with commercial interests on behalf of cultural
interests in this kind of space? ie If kids choosing to buy into these
ideas and courses is important, where do kids go to see rich thinking
and expression in practice? Where could they participate or ask
questions? Listening to question time in our parliament does not help
imho because the interactions usually avoid the substance of the
issues and are more argument than debate.

Some online lobby groups are having effect. http://www.getup.org.au/
but they tend to propose an action and invite participants.
ie They too are framed for a reactive community which can buy in to a
given perspective.

Open source, free software and creative commons communities are
obvious existing structures which are collaborative and designed for
constructive practice. Michel Bauwens describes peer to peer
collaboration as another sphere beyond private and state, making the
civic space a sphere of production. Advocacy through making.

For these functions to continue there needs to be legal permission to
interact with information, hardware, networks, whatever the making
materials are. These permissions are contested by business interests
and as a matter of trade advantage. This week there is a release from
wikileaks showing the specifics of the funding which the US put into
changing the New Zealand copyright law. This is an area where advocacy
in the public interest is vital.

There are other artist and maker communities which are not necessarily
structured in the same way as open source or creative commons
practices. They too are enabled by a legal right to use cultural
materials/ideas, workshop space, access to equipment for making in the
public sphere.
They can also be activities which happen in private homes/studios/workshops.

At an art community meeting recently one artist pointed out that he
had successfully proposed artworks for street roundabouts
because there was a budget for implementing the street infrastructure
and he could quote to make a public art piece which was developed as a
part of the infrastructure work. Perhaps there are other larger
building or infrastructure projects which could be worked with in this

In South Australia there are festivals which create a pulse for
performing and visual arts. There are also sporting events like the
bicycle Tour Down Under which attract crowds and some arts events are
geared to attract those crowds. The wineries are also supportive of
the arts and function both as galleries and as venues for festivals
with food wine and performances.


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