Bar oder mit Karte? Warum wir neue Infrastrukturen des Geldes brauchen [re:publica 23: CASH]

Banner der re:publica 2023, CASH
Bar oder mit Karte? Oder doch per App oder Krypto-Wallet bezahlen? Wenn es um’s Geld geht, fehlt in Deutschland soziale Fantasie, Innovations- oder gar Risikobereitschaft. Diesen Zustand nehme ich nicht länger hin und frage: Welchen digitalen Euro braucht unsere Zivilgesellschaft?

Keynote auf der re:publica 2023: 6. Juni, 16.45 Uhr, Stage 1.

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Netzwerke im Kulturtransfer

Poster Netzwerke im Kulturtransfer

Kulturkontakte und Kulturtransfer finden stets in Netzwerken statt: Sie sind von Beziehungen zwischen einzelnen Vermittler:innenfiguren und vermittelnden Institutionen, von materiellen und konventionellen Handels-, Verkehrs- und Kommunikationswegen, von den transportierten Gegenständen und nomadischen Medien, und von den impliziten Protokollen für jede der einzelnen involvierten Kommunikationen und Kooperationen abhängig. Der in den letzten beiden Jahrzehnten rasante und innovative Fortschritt der Forschung zu Netzwerken in etlichen Disziplinen bietet den Geisteswissenschaften deshalb auch in diesem Bereich neue Herausforderungen und Chancen.

Die zweitägige interdisziplinäre Tagung Netzwerke im Kulturtransfer untersucht Prozesse der kulturellen Vermittlung dezidiert mit dem Blick auf jene Netzwerke, die sie ermöglichen und die von ihnen performiert werden. Es gilt, neue Verfahren und Begriffe zu entwickeln, die dem Fortschritt der Netzwerkforschung Rechnung tragen und zugleich grundlegend zum Verständnis gerade grenzüberschreitender kultureller Netzwerke beitragen – von der qualitativen und quantitativen Netzwerkforschung über Akteur-Netzwerk-Theorie und Akteur-Medien-Theorie bis zu Profilierungen zwischen system- und netzwerkorientierten Ansätzen.

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Circulating Indexicality, Cyberspace and the Early Web

logo the web that was

Looking back at 1990s representations of cyberspace always makes one feel alienated, a bit dislocated, and amazed at the same time. Did the American and Western European grasp of the World Wide Web really mix it with imaginations of cyberspace, all of the time? How could the mundane interfaces, modems, and slowly loading websites give rise to such an enthusiastic mapping of online spatiality, creating an unique visual culture of new cyberspaces? Some explanations for this are easier to give: Cyberpunk, Gaming Cultures and Media Arts had been engaged with online spatiality before the Web grew exponentially in a short time. Interlinking public, and especially urban space with representations of digital cities and information landscapes also did not start with the Web, as Kirsten Wagner has shown as early as 2006 (Wagner 2006). Yet some of the Web’s practices became quickly engaged with a translation of urbanity into cyber-urbanity, and affording a new situationist dérive while surfing. John Perry Barlow’s “Declaration of Independence” attempted to remove the cyberspace from the realm of old statehood and legality, while addressing its representatives at the highly localized 1996 World Economic Forum in Davos.

A lot of this resonates in and with Martin Dodge’s and Rob Kitchin’s seminal work of “Mapping Cyberspace” (2000), which we want to revisit here. For them, the “Web has become such a powerful interface and interaction paradigm that is the mode of cyberspace, particularly for the mass of users who only came online since the mid-1990s.” (Dodge/Kitchin 2000, p. 3). Along with Dodge and Kitchin, a slightly more systematic explanation can be made about the dynamics between locating the Internet, and the Web, topographically while at the same time accounting for its feelingly new information spaces and attaching a topological spatiality to them. Relations between topography and topology are, as I would like to argue, always shifting and relational, thereby relying on the evaluations of what kind of indexicality a mapping wants to achieve. So neither is topography bound to mimetic mappings of actual geographic space, nor is topology something only to be found in the realm of abstract diagrammatics and mathematics that refrain from any geo-indexicality. Methodologically, Dodge and Kitchin appropriated the whole range of digital cartographic options at hand, including a multitude of distributed mappings of geographers at universities and telco companies. Geo-indexicality thus almost always remained topical, even if it was absent in representations of, let us say, a hyperlink topology between websites like Ben Fry’s Valence (1999). “[G]eography continues to matter, despite recent rhetoric claiming the ‘death of distance’.” (Dodge/Kitchin 2000, p. x.)

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Standards Revisited

Thursday, 24 January 2019, University of Siegen
Herrengarten 3, 57072 Siegen, room AH 217/218

13:15 Opening Remarks: Standards Revisited
Sebastian Gießmann (University of Siegen) / Nadine Taha (University of Siegen)

13:30 Anna Echterhölter (University of Vienna)
Red and Black Boxes: Standardization as Mesuroclasm in German New Guinea

14:30 Nadine Taha (University of Siegen)
George Eastman and the Calendar Reform

16:00 Geoffrey C. Bowker (University of California, Irvine)
Standard Time: Computers, Clocks and Turtles – via Zoom Conference

17:00 Lawrence Busch (Michigan State University)
Markets and Standards – via Zoom Conference

Friday, 25 January 2019

10:00 JoAnne Yates (MIT, Sloan School of Management)
A New Model for Standard Setting: How IETF became the Standards Body for the Internet

11:00 Thomas Haigh
(University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee / University of Siegen)
The Accidental Standard: How a Box Became an Industry

13:00 Sebastian Gießmann (University of Siegen)
Standardizing Digital Payments

14:00 Anne Helmond (University of Amsterdam)/ Fernando van der Vlist (University of Amsterdam / University of Siegen)
‘It’s Graphs All the Way Down’

Standards are not easy to come by. As infrastructural media they coordinate the social to an ever-growing extent, thus creating conditions of cooperation. Standards do so not just by their sociotechnical power, but also by public uptake and controversies that put their accountability into question. They can also be understood as engineering and bureaucratic media that form a basis and condition for cooperation.

Historically, practices of standardization can be traced back to antiquity, especially in the history of coins, writing, and measurements. But pre-modern standards were bound to flounder and dissipate. Early modern knowledge cultures – partly – realized standardization via hand-made scientific instruments that extended metrological chains. While pre-industrial attempts to standardize the aggregation of information in administrative forms have been limited in scale and scope, 19th century industrialization interconnected with nationalized politics extended the territories of standardization. Media infrastructures such as the postal service and telegraphy became transnational through their administration in international organizations and a legal foundation via international treaties. Scale and scope of – inherently political and normative – standards and metrologies were at the same time constitutive for colonial prospection and rule.

Computing has given rise to its own regimes and obsessions of non-governmental standardizing. While early digital computers were unique, the trajectories of standardization were then tied to governmental contract research, commercialization and its coordinative and delegative practices. Serial production and the diffusion of architectural norms became a matter of economic competition in the era of mainframe computing in organizations. In multiple ways both the networking of heterogeneous computers and the success of the IBM-compatible PC did create a pathway to “open standards” that made computers publicly accessible. In the transpacific and global arena of hardware and software production, hyper-standardization has been an issue ever since. This also involves the questions of formats that mediate bureaucratic processes, textual representation, visual and auditory perception, and digital audiovisuality. Formats thus have become standards that mediate digital practices in their own right, just like network protocols and Internet standards. In many ways, the ecology of the World Wide Web is an ecology due to its standardizing bodies, communities of practice, and institutions like the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Our aim is to understand how standards generalize and universalize media technologies, and to ask: How do metrology, industrialization, and imperialism/colonialism intersect with standards? What is the relation between standards, digital media, and coordination? How to explain the longue durée, ecology, and the enduring power of standards to configure cooperation? What is the relation between standards, delegative power, scale, and scope of media?

Collaborative Research Center Media of Cooperation, University of Siegen CRC project A01: “Digital Network Technologies between Specialization and Generalization

Repositories in Cooperation

Varieties of Cooperation poster It is my great pleasure to welcome you to “Repositories in Cooperation”. Our panel for “Varieties of Cooperation” developed out of preparatory work for the Collaborative Research Center „Media of Cooperation“, in which we have attempted to refocus and reappropriate Susan Leigh Star’s and James Griesemer’s original notion of the boundary object. Within our 2015 workshop on “The Translation of Boundary Objects” we have started to re-engage with a more specific understanding that returns to Star’s list of four type of boundary objects: repositories, ideal types, coincident boundaries and forms/labels. The results of this have now been published in German as “Grenzobjekte und Medienforschung”, along with a translation of ten seminal texts by Star and her collaborators. As Erhard Schüttpelz has shown in his commentary on “This is Not a Boundary Object” all four types deal with the relation between modularity and extendability, with the relation between “parts” and “wholes”. [1]

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Kleine Theologie des Netzes

Zum Jahrestreffen des Cusanuswerks, das sich 2016 „Netzwerke“ als Titel gegeben hat, durfte ich einen Vortrag beisteuern. Die Präsentation führte noch einmal durch die verschiedenen Schichten der Netzwerkgeschichte: vom textilen Objekt, über die Theologie des Netzes, retikulare Objekte, Infrastrukturen, soziale Netzwerke zu den aktuellen komplexen Netzwerken. Prämisse war dabei: Wir haben unsere Netzwerke, aber unsere Netzwerke verstricken uns auch. Und es gibt kein Netzwerk ohne Objekte und wechselseitige Gaben und Nicht-Gaben. Die ambivalente Qualität des Netzes, und speziell des Fischernetzes, hat das Christentum mit dem Neuen Testament erkannt und fortan gelebt.

Das Programmheft notiert:
„Die globalisierte Gegenwart hat das Netzwerken ohne Zweifel in einen hektischen Dauerzustand verwandelt. Gerade in den digitalen sozialen Netzwerken zählt der Augenblick, oft zum Preis einer Ersetzung der Vergangenheit – aber auch der Zukunft – durch ein getriebenes permanentes Jetzt. Negative Dynamiken und Überwachungsdystopien können sich ebenso schnell verdichten und beschleunigen wie positive Momente sozialer Verbundenheit. Bei der Beschäftigung mit der Geschichte der Netze der Netzwerke gewinnt man immer mehr den Eindruck, dass andere Kulturen als die gegenwärtige durchaus besser verstanden haben, wie ambivalent sozialer Zusammenhalt im Zeichen des Netzes ist.

Mein Vortrag folgt deshalb der kulturhistorischen und theologischen Dimension dieses Alltagsgegenstands, der von der Antike bis in den Barock gerade aufgrund seines zugleich verstrickenden und verbindenden Charakters zur kollektiven Sinnstiftung beitragen konnte: „Weiter ist es mit dem Himmelreich wie mit einem Netz, das man ins Meer warf, um Fische aller Art zu fangen. Als es voll war, zogen es die Fischer ans Ufer; sie setzten sich, lasen die guten Fische aus und legten sie in Körbe, die schlechten aber warfen sie weg.“ (Matthäus 13,47-48)“

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Fluctuating Networks, Un/stable Platforms, and the Internet of Things

So here is what I wrote as an abstract for a talk on April 14, 2015. It was hosted by the fabulous Digital Cultures Research Lab and took place at the Stadtarchiv of Lüneburg.

My talk is go­ing to pre­sent some preli­mi­na­ry thoughts on the no­ti­on of “boun­da­ry ob­jects” in di­gi­tal in­fra­struc­tu­res. I am going to reconsider the relation “networks” and “platforms” from a network historical and STS point of view. The “Internet of Things” is actually fairly old, if confronted with earlier special purpose digital networks. But how may we speculate already on its remediating qualities in terms of new objecthood, networked agencies, and platform regulations?

I always wanted to refurbish the slides which I had written with the LaTeX beamer class for a change. But now we have got  the audiovisual documentary – splendid. Huge thanks to all the great people at DCRL! (And I still have to rework the slides at some point).

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DCRLecture: Sebastian Gießmann – Fluctuating Networks, Un/stable Platforms, And the Internet of Things

from Centre for Digital Cultures on Vimeo.