# Apr 11, 2010

“Assumption 1. Participatory activity is like all art: it is presentational. It is not. There is no product put out into the world, like a play, video tape, piece of music, etc.

Assumption 2. Participatory activity has an audience to be taken into account, who stand or sit apart from it, just as a painting, or a play, etc… has an audience. It does not. There are only part-takers in a roughly planned program. They may of course attend each other, as card players might, or team mates in basketball; but watching and listening in the midst of doing is very distinct from the specialized observations of a physically passive audience (only the mind is awake for a traditional audience, at best; and it has no responsibility for the actual work. It can only judge).

Assumption 3. Participatory activity occurs in galleries, stages, concert halls, literary gatherings, churches, public showcases and plazas, etc. It Does Not. Instead, it is active anywhere else: in stomachs, or freeways, in compost heaps, through Fax machines, or at the work place. There may be many places together, or in some sequence; some planned, some by chance; or alternatively, spaces that move as in an airplane; and spaces that exist in the mind.

Assumption 4. Participatory activity, like all art, has a single time envelope ( the three week gallery exhibit, the two hour concert or play, the forty five minute video tape…usually at night, after dinner). It does not. Neither does it have a definite beginning or end. Rather, time, being mainly real, hence variable and discontinuous, is the time needed to grow tomatoes, the time when phone calls are made, a minute here, a year there…Time is sometimes lost, and part of the activity may be to look for it. It is always concrete.

Assumption 5. Participatory activity has distinctive identity; you can point to it like a painting, a poem, a church, a play. It does not. Most of the time, only the participants would know it was going on; and even then it would seem to be another aspect of ordinary life. If I see a woman combining her hair in a car mirror, how do I know if she is or isn’t participating in some event?

Assumption 6. Participatory activity can be judged like all art, i.e. like theater or Performance. It cannot. It is to be valued neither for its esthetic excellence nor for its good intentions to improve the world. But participants do not give up judgments; their questions are simply directed to the other matters of life: getting rid of snails in the vegetable garden without using poison, finding a decent mate, examining the lint in an old suit pocket…

Assumption 7. Participatory activity, like plays, concerts, Performances, has tapes and other documentation left behind to inform others of what happened. It usually doesn’t. Events are either too low-key for meaningful documents, or they are dispersed in times and places that can’t be followed. And there are problems of “performing” for the camera or tape, hence to an audience. Instead, unplanned gossip is a way of telling stories about an activity, if you wanted to do so. But you might not…

Assumption 8. Participatory activity, like all art, has a point to make, a high purpose, even if covert. It doesn’t. It can be interpreted in inconclusive ways.

Assumption 9. Participatory activity, like real art, can become a career leading to fame and fortune. It probably cannot. If it doesn’t appear to be art; it happens far from honored locations, and at odd and unmarked times; if it leaves almost nothing to posterity,—why should the world pay attention, much less money?

Assumption 10. Participatory activity, although unfamiliar now, will one day be recognized as a respectable art genre. It won’t because it’s not art. And if it becomes art, it will be just one more shaggy dog story.”

TAIL WAGGING DOG – by Allan Kaprow

# Apr 3, 2010

“Design Fiction is making things that tell stories. It’s like science-fiction in that the stories bring into focus certain matters-of-concern, such as how life is lived, questioning how technology is used and its implications, speculating bout the course of events; all of the unique abilities of science-fiction to incite imagination-filling conversations about alternative futures. It’s about reading P.K. Dick as a systems administrator, or Bruce Sterling as a software design manual. It’s meant to encourage truly undisciplined approaches to making and circulating culture by ignoring disciplines that have invested so much in erecting boundaries between pragmatics and imagination.”

Near Future Laboratory » Blog Archive » Design Fiction: A Short Essay on Design, Science, Fact and Fiction

“Complex societies collapse because, when some stress comes, those societies have become too inflexible to respond. In retrospect, this can seem mystifying. Why didn’t these societies just re-tool in less complex ways? The answer Tainter gives is the simplest one: When societies fail to respond to reduced circumstances through orderly downsizing, it isn’t because they don’t want to, it’s because they can’t.

In such systems, there is no way to make things a little bit simpler – the whole edifice becomes a huge, interlocking system not readily amenable to change. Tainter doesn’t regard the sudden decoherence of these societies as either a tragedy or a mistake—”[U]nder a situation of declining marginal returns collapse may be the most appropriate response”, to use his pitiless phrase. Furthermore, even when moderate adjustments could be made, they tend to be resisted, because any simplification discomfits elites.

When the value of complexity turns negative, a society plagued by an inability to react remains as complex as ever, right up to the moment where it becomes suddenly and dramatically simpler, which is to say right up to the moment of collapse. Collapse is simply the last remaining method of simplification.”

The Collapse of Complex Business Models « Clay Shirky

“It was really important that we used the reality of the building and its people in the story of the adventure, wrote the least possible fiction, because that meant that people wouldn’t know what was real and what was Rabbit. Because the authorship is obscured, it means that everything could be part of it, and perceptions of your place are heightened and transformed.”

All Play: Playing in a city

“The evolutionary environment for technology is messy, driven by failure. It is an environment in which needs and economics run amok, killing great ideas in the wrong habitat, preserving oddities in niches. It’s an environment which may yet change beyond recognition as the world changes. But I’m peculiarly reassured by how often our ingenuity can bridge the failure gap, how failure reveals the human.”

All Play: Pecha Kucha Fail

# Mar 29, 2010

“The check-in model dominates the current crop of location-based games from Foursquare to MyTown to Loopt and Whrrl. And understandably so. Checking in is very casual and maps very easily to what people already do. We go places and then we call people to let them know where we are and encourage them to join us. It’s like the location-based game equivalent of matching three. It’s a very casual mechanic which you can learn instantaneously. The advantage of simply checking in is that it integrates well with your life. It’s similar to the way many Facebook games only demand interaction once a day—they realize people probably only check into Facebook for a short period once a day, so you need to be able to quickly do your business and be gone. But I do think checking in is just the tip of the iceberg. If other games want to combine play with the world around us, they’ll have to develop additional mechanics.”

Being there is playing there: Checking in on the emergence of location-based games | Gamezebo

# Mar 28, 2010

“Considering the work by Henry Jenkins (2006) and others on the increasing role of the consumer as collaborator or co-creator of media content, I have to conclude that a possible third institutional logic is emerging next to, and in a symbiotic relationship with, editorial and market logics: a convergent culture logic. Work done following this logic includes the (intended) consumer in the process of product design and innovation, up to and including the production and marketing process.”

Deuzeblog: Media Work & Institutional Logics

“Describing the productive consumption within collaborative projects such as the Wikipedia and online news sites, Axel Bruns (2007 a, b) introduces the concept of the ‘produser’, a “hybrid user/producer” (2007a n.p.) involved in “the collaborative and continuous building and extending of existing content in the pursuit of further improvement” (2007b n.p.). Produsers contribute to the iterative improvement of goods and services, whether explicitly, in the form of online news sites (Slashdot, Digg) or knowledge projects (Wikipedia), or perhaps without their conscious knowledge, as happens when user purchase decisions contribute to Amazon’s recommendation services.”

Confessions of an Aca/Fan: Archives: The Moral Economy of Web 2.0 (Part Two)

“Immaterial labor finds itself at the crossroads (or rather, it is the interface) of a new relationship between production and consumption. The activation of both productive cooperation and the social relationship with the consumer is materialized within and by the process of communication. The role of immaterial labor is to promote continual innovation in the forms and conditions of communication (and thus in work and consumption). It gives form to and materializes needs, the imaginary, consumer tastes, and so forth, and these products in turn become powerful producers of needs, images, and tastes. The particularity of the commodity produced through immaterial labor (its essential use value being given by its value as informational and cultural content) consists in the fact that it is not destroyed in the act of consumption, but rather it enlarges, transforms, and creates the “ideological” and cultural environment of the consumer. This commodity does not produce the physical capacity of labor power; instead, it transforms the person who uses it. Immaterial labor produces first and foremost a “social relationship” (a relationship of innovation, production, and consumption). Only if it succeeds in this production does its activity have an economic value. This activity makes immediately apparent something that material production had “hidden,” namely, that labor produces not only commodities, but first and foremost it produces the capital relation.”

Immaterial Labor – Maurizio Lazzarato

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