:: about us :: projects :: reviews :: events :: journal :: friends :: list archive :: subscribe ::

fibreculture meeting 2001

public debates - melbourne - 06 DEC 01

f i b r e c u l t u r e
inaugural meeting melbourne - 07-08 DEC 01

f i b r e c u l t u r e
inaugural meeting - convenors, special thanks and sponsors

fibreculture politics of a digital present

6 - 8 December, 2001, Melbourne

Noting a vacuum in critical Australian net culture and research, fibreculture was founded as a mailing list in January 2001 by David Teh and Geert Lovink. The purpose of the list has been to exchange articles, ideas and arguments on Australian IT policy and practice in a broad context.

Conference Details/Report

The inaugural :: fibreculture :: meeting, held December 6th through 9th, considered four key areas of net culture and research: theory, policy, education and the arts. Co-organised with Cinemedia's Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), a public debate on the evening of 6 December preceded the meeting. The debate sought to address these issues in dialogue with a wider audience.

A 2 day meeting followed the debate. All were welcome.

Both events brought together a community of critical thinkers engaged with new media/Internet theory and practice, with a view to constructing a strategic program of how Australia might better support innovation, R+D and the applications and culture of new technology.

A reader was prepared for publication prior to the fibreculture meeting. It can be ordered by clicking here!>>> fibreculture reader. Submissions of 1500 to 3000 word short essays, position papers, or manifestos were invited that address at least one of the four key themes, and these were posted to the fibreculture mailing list and subject to peer review.

The aim of the fibreculture meeting was not to present formal papers, but to circulate papers in advance which could operate as a point of reference and basis for discussion during the meeting.

We aim to produce more readers, monographs, edited collections and newspapers. Proposals to the list are most welcome for future publications. To join the fibreculture mailing list, send an email to We see this as one key intervention into the current political economy of commercial academic publishing and the "command economy" approach to academic production by DETYA.


D I G I T A L P U B L I C S a debate

Thursday 6 December, 2001, 7pm — 10pm
Organised together with Cinemedia’s Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

Treasury Theatre, Lower Plaza
1 Macarthur Street, East Melbourne

Registration: at the door ($10 full/$7 concession) — Note Cinemedia at Treasury Theatre does not offer EFTPOS or credit card transaction facilities.

7pm sharp


Moderator: Geert Lovink

7.15pm — 7.50pm

Session 1 — Net Theory

Key Speaker: Mathew Allen, "The Copy: Theorising the Net through Virtuality"

Virtuality has been central to analyses of the Internet. Yet virtuality does not entirely account for the way the Internet reshapes and transforms 'the copy' - that central feature of Internet transactions and governance (as in, for example, caching, copyright, cutting/pasting). In this short paper, I hope to identify the key role that the image of 'the copy' can play in theorising the Internet in a world accustomed, since Benjamin, to think first about the copy of the image. In doing so, I will suggest, too, what 'theory' might be as a practice and a posture in Internet Studies.

Mathew Allen is Associate Professor in the School of Media and Information, Curtin University of Technology; author of Smart Thinking; and the Executive of the Association of Internet Researchers (

Respondent: Esther Milne, writer and PhD candidate, Department of English with Cultural Studies, University of Melbourne.

7.50pm - 8.25pm

Session 2 - Policy, Intellectual Property Rights, Commercial Practices

Key speaker: Victor Perton, "Policy, Politics & The Web - A New Democracy? Technology v Culture"

Westminster Parliaments are combative environments at odds with current perceptions and values. In an age of instantaneous communication, the time has come to revisit the design principles that have influenced our present institutions and processes and bring them up to speed with our thinking, our technical capacity and our desire to better realise the principles of 'democracy'. The changing expectations being constituted by the simultaneous influence of mass media messages and the potential for closer, unmediated proximity between the citizen and government, enabled by new technology, define what E-democracy, representation, direct participation and the policy processes of the future will be.

Victor Perton is Victorian Shadow Minister for Technology & Innovation; Victorian Shadow Minister for Conservation & Environment; former Chairman, Victorian Government Multimedia Committee, Data Protection Advisory Council, Electronic Business Framework Group.

Respondent: Tom Worthington, Visiting Fellow in the Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, Australian National University; electronic business consultant; author of the book Net Traveller; information technology professional.

BREAK - 25 minutes plus launch of book, Politics of a Digital Present: An Inventory on Australian Net Culture, Criticism and Theory

light snacks and drinks available in foyer

8.50pm - 9.25pm

Session 3 - New Media Arts/Culture and the Arts

Key Speaker: Terry Cutler, currently a member of the Australian Information Economy Advisory Council. He is a member of the International Advisory Panel of Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor, reflecting his strong interest in the role of, and opportunities for, Asian countries in the new information era. Terry Cutler is also Chairman of the Australia Council, having previously chaired its New Media Arts Board, and he is on the Council of the Victorian College of the Arts. He has previously served as a director of Cinemedia and Opera Australia.

Respondent: Amanda McDonald Crowley, currently Associate Director, Adelaide Festival 2002. Cultural worker, researcher, facilitator, curator working primarily in the new media/ electronic arts field. Previous Director of the Australian Network for Art and Technology.

9.25pm - 10pm

Session 4 - Education

Key speaker: Paul James, "The Networked Society: A Report on Knowledge"

Taking issue with the politics of Lyotard's report on knowledge (the oft forgotten subtitle of The Postmodern Condition) this talk takes up the issue of knowledge and its networking. It argues that we have seen a intensified commodification, rationalisation and codification of knowledge that belies the hopes and dreams of the cyber-utopians for a world of free exchange. The talk will look at things such as changes in the university sector and the academic publishing industry. It will argue that the packaged internet-delivered article and the consultancy report are becoming pre-eminent intellectual commodities.

Paul James is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University; President of Association for the Public University; author of Nation Formation: Towards a Theory of Abstract Community; editor of The State in Question: Transformations of the Australian State and Technocratic Dreaming: Of Very Fast Trains and Japanese Designer Cities; editorial member of Arena publications.

Respondent: Anna Munster, Lecturer in Digital Media Theory, School of Art History and Theory, College of Fine Arts, UNSW. She is also a media artist whose work ranges across new media, time-based and photomedia (see her online work: Anna has written for ctheory, m/c, Photofile and Artlink among others and is currently researching biotechnical art and ethics.

Closing Panel


Inaugural meeting, 7 — 8 December, 2001

Organised together with the Centre for Ideas, Victorian College of the Arts (VCA)

234 St Kilda Road

Southbank, Melbourne VIC 3006

Registration: $50/$30 full; $30/$20 single day (payable at the door — NOTE cash or cheques only). Registration includes lunch, tea, coffee and copy of the book, Politics of a Digital Present: An Inventory of Australian Net Culture, Criticism and Theory.

Venue: a PDF map of the room locations can be downloaded from — go to the link "About the VCA" and then"Where is the VCA?".


Friday 7 December

Venue: Room 216 in the Music School (entry from St Kilda Road)

10.00am — 10.30am

Introduction of ::fibreculture:: facilitators and organisers

10.30am — 12.30pm

Mapping Australian FibreCulture

Round with introductions and 3 minute presentations

  • Researchers, critics, theorists, writers, programmers, designers, developers, consultants: WHERE are you and WHAT are you up to?

12.30pm — 1.25pm — Lunch break

1.30pm — 3.30pm

Session 1: Network Theory/Philosophy


  • Debating neo-empirical approaches and the return of objective social science after the exhaustion of post-structuralism

  • Crisis of the offline (AI/VR) body centred Deleuzian notions

  • Hegemony of digital Darwinism and biologism within new media arts and IT industry

  • Importance of media archaeology, mapping pre-histories of new media

  • Global governance debate

  • Public Domain vs. the Corporate State

  • Problematic relation to Cultural Studies

  • Network theories for the future-present

3.30pm — 4pm — Tea/coffee break

4pm — 6pm

Session 2: Policy


  • Telstra, broadband, right of access, bandwidth

  • Australia and the censorship tendency (political, pornography, gambling, etc.)

  • Alternative plan for IT Centre of Excellence

  • Mapping the policy players

  • How to fight the consumerist ethos in IT policy — "access" as cyber literacy and skill, not high bandwidth data-gluttony

  • How can ::fibreculture:: be heard and operate on the policy level?

  • Policy futures

6pm onwards — drinks/dinner party (location to be decided)

Saturday 8 December

Venue: Federation Hall (entry from Grant Street, Southbank)



11.00am — 1pm

Session 3: Culture and the arts


  • Cult of representation, proximity to political power

  • Patronage system (cultural state apparatus)

  • Primacy of aesthetics

  • Lack of game/ and e-literature funding

  • Deliriating over an (absent) synergy of arts and science

  • Generationalism in new media arts

1pm — 2pm — Lunch break

  • screening of The Code — a Linux documentary from Finland

2pm — 4pm

Session 4: Education


  • Current approaches/paradigms: teaching new media/internet studies and e-learning

  • Corporatisation and the Virtual University — profit obsessions, confused IT sovereignty, limited teaching and research outcomes

  • What constitutes the mode of production?

  • Relationship between curricula development and university funding and policy

  • Both government and opposition share limited horizons. How can we explode these?

4.15pm — 6pm

Closing session ::fibreculture meeting::

  • Directions of ::fibreculture::

  • Discussion about the list

  • Legal structures for ::fibreculture:: as formal organisation

  • Futures: the place of ::fibreculture:: within policy making, research funding and practice


Convenors & Sponsors

Hugh Brown (Brisbane)
Geert Lovink (Sydney)
Helen Merrick (Perth)
Esther Milne (Melbourne)
Ned Rossiter (Melbourne)
David Teh (Sydney)
Michele Willson (Perth)

With special thanks to:

John Arnold, Head of School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University

Alessio Cavallaro, Producer/Curator New Media Projects Cinemedia’s Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

Nikos Papastergiadis, writer and Head of the Centre for Ideas, Victorian College of the Arts (VCA)

Louise Adler, Deputy Director of VCA

Arena Printing and Publications


Click here!>>> friends to visit our friends

Centre for Ideas, Victorian College of the Arts
Cinemedia’s Australian Centre for the Moving Image
Humanities Division, Curtin University of Technology
Monash Publications Grants Committee
School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University
The Power Institute, University of Sydney