I like what Terence is saying here… it is important! Until philosophers open up and truly engage in this new media our culture is doomed. We no longer live within the older framework of books, why not accept that fact, begin to adjust and use the democratic medium of the internet to begin healing the nations, and each other? Why do academic philosophers feel afraid to use every means they have available to open up and engage those to whom they aspire to communicate?

In fact I’ve often wondered why philosophers haven’t taken advantage of such new applications as TeamSpeak, Ventrillo (applications that allow for hundreds to listen or exchange in dialogue; hold lectures, etc.); online collaborative tools, etc. I almost think that most philosophers are too tame, to unadventurous, too grounded in the older book based world view to explore these newer technologies, much less actually use them to engage with each other or the world.

Yes, yes, I see video and you-tube, but that is passé and one-sided, we need more open collaborative dialogue. And, I hate to say it, but the young are light years ahead of such staid philosophies. Even at my age I have explored the gaming worlds of Eve Online, Lotro, Secret World, Rift, Guild Wars and used both TeamSpeak and Ventrillo to communicate with the denizens of multivalent guilds collaborating toward objectives and binding each other to friendships across thousands of miles, working with people from Russian, China, Africa, Australia, Europe, US, South America… if philosophers were as adept at this type of cooperation and engagement as these young and old gamers are we would begin to formulate some sound alternatives in this world….

I’ve often thought we need a sort of RadioLivePhilosophy blog, something like what Figure/Ground is doing but with actual live instances. Easily done with such things as Internet Radio or Podcasts: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/

Are collaborative sites like Zoho, Huddle, GoToMeeting, etc.


Is dialogue possible across the gap of intellectual, spiritual, and social incommensurability? Is any desire of open exchange in philosophy doomed to frustration due to the sociological determination of the conditions of academic status and communication? Do digital media change nothing in terms of the cliques and lobbies and clubs of mutual admiration that constitute much of the academic milieu as a closed society? Or can the internet favour acts of enunciation, and thus of individuation, of a new and more democratic nature?

I find the “one-sided dialogue”, a Feyerabendian concept, where one goes through the moves of a dialogue with someone who is incapable of exchange on free and equal terms (except with respected peers, selected “cronies”), in the hope of furthering the discussion of ideas and of continuing one’s own individuation and that of one’s readers, a very interesting idea, and a useful spiritual practice.

I think philosophical…

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9 thoughts on “

  1. I began my blog two and a half years ago and have kept up a pretty steady output over most of that time. The cognitive and existential impact of the internet seems to me to be immense and as yet unfathomed. I think that beyond the usual divisions between academia and entertainment there is room for the participative and the contributive web. I take very seriously Bernard Stiegler’s prescription that we must “practice the pharmakon” to limit its toxicity and open to its life stimulating powers, and that it is no use trying to avoid the pharmakon. But I am sick of mostly coming up against brickwalls of disdain and indifference. As you say I feel free to say what’s on my mind and there are many discussions I would like to participate in, where I feel I have something to contribute. But I am neither a colleague nor a student, so that seems to leave me in what for many is a no man’s land reserved for the casteless untouchables.


    • After thinking on this and seeing what Figure/Ground: http://figureground.ca/ is doing I have hope in the young who will carry the day anyway! The young people of the planet know its up to them to make these changes, that the actors on the stage are those who get the job done rather than talking about it. In such sites as Figure/Ground I see the next stage of interactive academia happening already… this can only bring about more empowerment and collaboration. I like what they are doing and support such activities…


  2. I think there are so many barriers involved not the least of which are coming to something like shared vocabularies/working-definitions and of course the various personalities/agendas and how they interact/project. I try and do a bit of collage here and there but not sure that we can get much deeper than that, spurs and sparks…


      • don’t really see F/G breaking down these barriers, think they take more time/commitment/interaction to work through, years maybe?
        my hope is that by working on a common project/problem we might come closer to something more collaborative but it would take working through something with more resistances and affordances than texts alone.


  3. My concern really is that a distinction should be made between cronyism and those who have a truly open, democratic agenda; not between the academy’s purchase on approved ideas and those who want to distribute “open” ideas with liberating media technologies. I see cronyism on the part of para-academics and bloggers as much as I do on the part of academics who use those same technologies (both of whom I have nothing against for the sake of anyone’s particular status). In fact, to me, the worst culprits (sorry for the offense to anyone) is the noise of twitter and gossip of facebook.

    But it is not those *mediums* per se admittedly which are the problem. The problem is what sorts of personalities are involved and how personalities generally *can be* affected by those media. In my experience, the media involved nine times out of ten alters perceptions unfairly and does so for the worse. For as much as I hear about the great friendships created online and all of the “benefits” (which typically are political), I also hear about the wars created online. And when the effects of the wars created online spill over into the realm of “real life,” those negative outcomes FAR outweigh whatever great things happen when we meet online friends in person.

    Alot of this would be “settled” by simple real world physical interactions, eye to eye, face to face, in person, with no screen of any sort between. I’ve been threatened with extortion, my wife and I both have been threatened, I’ve had others contact my job with things that had absolutely nothing to do with me, I’ve had people run their mouths about me on their blogs with one-sided stories and complete lies according to how some situation happened in *their* sick mind, the standard bs of twitter and facebook, and yet these people know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about me. Nothing about what I actually think, nothing about what I actually do, nothing about my health, or what I’ve been through since ’09, nothing about what I’ve given up and sacrificed, hell, not even about what my ideas are *actually about* – and certainly not about how I’d react to that kind of bullshit IN PERSON. I’ve been stalked, slandered, libeled, threatened, all by people who, given a personal interaction with me, literally wouldn’t last two minutes trying that kind of shit. I seriously don’t play those kind of games because I’m real. That’s what’s funny is that people *KNOW* that about me, but somehow these technologies let people get away with absolute lunacy. I can’t just chalk that up to, well, “that’s the internet.” Hell no. I’ve had to lawyer up and literally consider restraining orders for sickos online; yes, “well known” philosophers who have their own blogs and who try to come off as the “sane” one. Yet I am judged by these peoples’ friends? Those who from comments “made in passing” pass some kind of judgment on me when my side of the story was never even told? Bullshit. To me, that’s the “one-sided dialogue” that is in question here. At least I’ve tried to have some class and NOT respond to these creeps’ tactics. Silence may just be the best answer so that their trashy low class ways are on display for the world to see. But I can’t say that if, or when, I meet/met them in person that I wouldn’t confront them. I would.

    Therefore, what troubles me THE MOST is those who CLAIM to have a democratic agenda, who CLAIM that they are open to proposals, to collaboration, to interacting with you, but ARE NOT. Then that hypocrisy finds its way onto the blogs, onto facebook, onto twitter. It is the shit talking, the running of mouths, by those who have the audacity to do it behind your back, and when caught run like cowards. It’s the utter hypocrisy which bothers me the most.

    Terrance has a great blog, as do you. But I know tenured professors who use blogs as personal mouthpieces to take cheap potshots. Tenured professors who hold agendas and who *use their status* to amplify those mouthpieces, unfairly despite the “democratic medium.” (It’s also ironic that the cronies who bitch about our “democratic blogosphere” are the worst offenders of taking the cheapshots).

    I have to admit an opposing point. There are those who are just philosophers (let’s call them that for the time being), those “outside of academia” who are just as bad. Their status is amplified by self-serving alliances with those among the stacks. There is a tension then between how we perceive the legitimacy of power given online mediums, and where the power truly lies. A blogger? A tenured research professor? A community college instructor? A graduate student? Just someone who is interested? Whose ideas “count?” Whose ideas are *actually* considered (and counted)? My thought is that the power should correspond to the ideas themselves, not *just* to their dissemination or even use among the supposed powerful. These days cheap ideas are used as weapons. Not even good weapons, they are used as cheap shots, “one offs,” insults, dilutions. This is not a “dig” at the blogosphere, it is reality.

    The wall (in my opinion) isn’t between academics with books and “outsiders” with blogs and .pdfs. It’s between those who have truly democratic intentions, those scholars and philosophers who are truly decent human beings, and those who are, well, otherwise. I don’t know, maybe I am seeing a distinction to be made between good and evil in all of this. You tell me.

    Because I’ve vented quite abit a degree of anonymity would be appreciated.


  4. Yea, I understand what you mean dm. I think that’s why the study of different periods of effective communication help: I think of the Salons of the Enlightenment, the coffee houses in England, Amsterdam, Brussels in 16th and 17th century. Paris in the early twentieth with their cafes… without a rallying point, a place that people can feel both comfortable and able to interact… in the past it was certain cities (ergo, the cosmopolitan aspects of the older philosophies, etc.) But somehow we have to combine modes and be inventive, and shape something like those old worlds into an internet collaboration world for philosophical speculation. The biggest problem is always as in the past: egoists, nay-sayers, and curmudgeons who want to dampen and derisively castigate such endeavors. For all our supposed global participation we still have so many emotional and mental barriers to overcome….


    • yep, one of the many problems of those who wanted to leap over the tensions/limitations of human-being to get to the things themselves is that we have not resolved/addressed the all-too-human aspects of communicating/researching, philosophy as auto-bio-graphy. I’m with Stengers and Rorty that we should own up to the rhetorical/suggestive/manipulative/projective elements of our critterly modes of acting out. I try and avoid argument and stick to adding what I can to the trajectories that others seem to be on, let those flowers bloom and buzz.


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