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fibreculture meeting 2002

"Networks of Excellence"

Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
November 22-24 2002



The current policy fashion for creating elite Centres of Excellence that aim to foster innovation overlooks the importance of productive practices that are distributed, emergent and not so centralised. These might be called 'Networks of Excellence'.

The fibreculture 2002 'Networks of Excellence' conference will take on the questions of policy, production, aesthetics, politics and ethics of new media and the Internet, looking at the relationships between local and distributed modes of innovation in new media fields. It will be held at the Museum of Contemporary Art from Friday November 22 to Sunday November 24, 2002.

Fibreculture 2002 aims to bring together fibreculture mailing list
participants (and lurkers), including academics, educators, policy-makers, activists, artists and others with an interest in new media and the Internet in Australasia.

On Friday night a public forum will host prominent speakers discussing the state of new media policy and practice in Australia, including the recently established National Centre of Information and Communication Technology Excellence. There will also be a screening of video works exploring contemporary new media aesthetics.

Over the weekend sessions will operate in a round-table format, in line with the open structure of the list itself. Each session will have a theme, and a chair, but there will be no formal academic papers presented. Instead, anyone planning to attend is invited to submit positions statements on sessions to the list before the conference. Mark your posts by beginning the subject line with POSITION: and the session name. These position statements will be compiled by the chairs, and authors invited to speak during the session.

The conference will be associated with two planned publications:

1) a free newspaper on hot issues in Australasian new media and Internet policy and practice.

2) Online proceedings will published after the conference, and will feature refereed academic articles written for the fibreculture 2002 conference. A separate call for papers will be posted to the list soon.


Friday 22nd November

930am - 430pm New Media Mystery Tour

Enjoy the (real and virtual) scenery on a day tour of Sydney's new media hotspots. The Fibreculture coach will take an RL musical journey around the city. Will suit locals and visitors alike (seats are limited).

Meet at the George St entrance of the Museum of Contemporary Art in the Rocks at 9am for 930 departure.

6pm - 9pm Video Screening and Public Forum

American Express Hall, Ground Floor,
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

6pm Video screening: "Protection"
curated by Anna Munster


What are the most productive relationships between new media artists, theorists, teachers, policy-makers, technologists and activists?

Fibreculture aims to get people talking across the usual divides: across the lines between computer programming and media theory; between online activism and consultancy; between media policy and electronic art; between those in front of cinema screens and computer screens. While people in all these areas are interested in futures for information and communication technologies in Australasia, all don't necessarily share the same language, assumptions, aspirations and wider agendas.

However, perhaps it is the unexpected things that appear at these intersections, whether through collaboration or conflict, conciliation or complementarity, that excellence -- whatever that means -- might be generated.

How are collaborative and cross-disciplinary practices integrated with more specialised and discipline-based research? Is it possible to encourage research and development in written and audio-visual culture, or creative practices in information and communication technologies?

Speakers at the Fibreculture 2002 public forum will approach these kinds of questions from a range of positions -- technology research, electronic arts,
creative industries academia and politics.


7pm Arun Sharma
Director, NICTA - Sydney
National Information & Communication Technologies Australia (NICTA)

720pm Julianne Pierce
Australian Network for Art and Technology

740pm Terry Flew
Creative Industries Research and Applications Centre
Queensland University of Technology

8pm Kate Lundy
Shadow Minister for Information Technology and Sport

820pm Discussion

Saturday 23rd November

South end of Level 6, MCA

930am Welcome from Fibreculture convenors

10am (1) Introductions

Fibreculture subscribers and other conference attendees introduce themselves and outline some of their recent activities.

11am Tea and coffee

1130am (2) Peer-2-peer media
Chair: Anna Munster

Have networks for file exchange and collaborative political and artistic
practices changed and challenged the dominance of 'traditional' mass media? If so how have they? Are there significant new media forms which have emerged as a result of peer or user groups operating through networked communications? If so, how have they emerged? What are the processes? And, where do they manifest in on and off-line spaces?

This panel calls for position statements from, for example, independent
ezine publishers, laptop musicians and screen artists, net artists, blogging communities, and activists, to address how ICTs change or alter their modes of producing, distributing, responding and presenting emerging media.

1pm Lunch

2pm (3) Who says online education is the future?
Chair: Sherman Young

The future of education, apparently, is moving online. Bureaucrats, pundits and some academics champion the pedagogical possibilities of the new technologies - arguing that it results in greater access, efficiencies and opportunities? But what is really driving the move, and how successful have current implementations really been? Have solutions to date presumed a monolithic understanding of education that results in pre-determined solutions? What are the alternatives to products like WebCT and Blackboard? This session explores the issues surrounding online education, and encourages participants to share their experiences (both good and bad).

4pm Tea and coffee

430pm (4) Internet power struggles
Chair: Kate Crawford (Sydney)

Conflicts between corporate and public interests are increasingly fought over the territories of technical standards and regulations, but who really has authority over the internet? Does the open source movement provide a challenge to the operation of power and authority online?

Sunday 24th November

South end of Level 6, MCA

9.30am (5) Essential skills for the knowledge economy
Chair: Elaine Lally, UWS

What are the essential skills for the knowledge economy? The 'skills
shortage' we are reportedly facing seems to rest on the twin foundations of technology expertise and 'content' development. Are
there other skills that arts/humanities based researchers and
practitioners can find markets for in the new economy? If research is
the production of new knowledge, will the development of new concepts, new ways of thinking and new ways of representing be more highly valued than in the past?

11am Tea and coffee

1130am (6) Globalisation, anti-globalisation and the Internet
Chair: Graham Meikle, Macquarie

The Internet has been embraced by global corporations, governments and grassroots political interest groups. But do these three share the same visions about how this medium will operate? Are their ambitions compatible?

1pm Lunch

2pm (7) PAUSING ... CHECKING GLOSSARY ... ... ...

Chair: Ross Gibson, UTS

The Federal Government's Australian Research Council recently announced its four priority areas of research, one of which is 'Complex and Intelligent Systems'. All the early 'Priority Area' documents from the ARC were addressed to the 'pure science' community. However, the ARC has been startled (and perhaps a little delighted?) to discover that some sections of the social sciences and creative arts have responded to the 'Complex and Intelligent Systems' category with emphatic and rather bold offerings. Given that many exponents of online communitarianism and practitioners in immersive, interactive or improvisational arts have been working with ideas of 'emergence', 'stochastics', 'algorithms' and 'bottom-up self-organisation', and given that these words pepper the scientific papers too, we ought to pause for a glossary check. Artists, internet organisers and activists, linguists, physicists, biologists, cytologists, mathematicians -- all of us making the same noises. Is it possible that we are all trying to describe and know the same phenomena? And should we or should we not homogenise to converse?

True, something slouches to mind ... Jeff Bridges' beautiful stoner
response to the investigating detectives in THE BIG LEBOWSKI: "Aaawww ...comPLEXITY, Man!"

330pm Tea and coffee

4pm (8) fibreculture 2003?

A session to develop ideas and plans for fibreculture activities over the coming year. If you can provide ideas, resources, or connections, bring them along to this discussion!