When the Federal Communications Commission last week issued its final network neutrality rules and said they would go into effect at the end of November, lawsuits against the policy could finally begin. Verizon and Metro PCS, both wireless carriers, had already made clear their intention to sue and were widely expected to be the first to do so. Instead, they were beaten to court by the activist group Free Press—one of the strongest supporters of network neutrality.
Free Press has asked a federal appeals court to review the FCC’s rules—not because it finds them too strong, but because it finds them too weak. The group particularly objects to the way in which wireless companies are exempted from most of the meaningful anti-discrimination policies in the rules. While wireless operators can’t block Internet sites outright, and can’t simply ban apps that compete with their own services, they can do just about anything else; wired operators can’t.
The historic video magazine Radical Software was started by Beryl Korot, Phyllis Gershuny, and Ira Schneider and first appeared in Spring of 1970, soon after low-cost portable video equipment became available to artists and other potential videomakers. Though scholarly works on video art history often refer to Radical Software, there are few places where scholars can review its contents. Individual copies are rare, and few complete collections exist. This Web site makes it freely available and searchable on the Internet.
During the first decade of the 21st century the academic discipline of media studies failed to develop a compelling agenda. Media turned out to be empty containers, individualizing people rather than imagining collective agendas. The growth of ‘media’ could lead to its ultimate implosion. If ‘media’ have gone digital and become the network glue between devices, there is a danger of defining the boundaries of media studies purely for the sake of the discipline itself. Media studies then becomes self-referential, defined solely in terms of its self-defense against predatory competitors. For instance, if media cannot be distinguished anymore from urban life, geography and location-based services, then what is the task of media studies? Public Relations is a trap here: to study media is not identical to its promotion. We need media researchers to reflect on how they use their object of study in the research methodology itself. In a media society of compulsive immersion, this is no easy task. Indeed, many would charge such a call as regressive, harking back to the Cartesian myth of critical detachment. But as we will argue, we consider the work of reflexive mediation – of concept production – necessary if such a thing as media critique is to exist at all.
For the past decade media studies has struggled to keep up with the pace of techno-cultural change. The methodologies and concepts of the broadcast era of ‘mass media’ are of little use when analyzing networked digital cultures. The globalization of higher education and the increasing competition between disciplines over diminishing funds and international students has further exacerbated the unconscious crisis of media studies. With a push towards vocational training, stagnating cultural studies and a distaste for theory in general, film and television studies can only make defensive gestures towards the ever-expanding digital realm.
The future of media studies rests on its capacity to avoid forced synergies towards ‘screen cultures’ or ‘visual studies’ and instead to invent new institutional forms that connect with the trans-media, collaborative and self-organizational culture of teaching and research networks. Unless media studies makes such a move, it will join the vanishing objects it assumes as constitutive of media in society. In this essay we want to go beyond an inventory on the state of the art and use the example of organizing networks as a concept in development that might revitalize education and research in this field. The work of organizing networks, a concept proposed by us in 2005, involves the invention of new institutional forms immanent to communications media.1 Such a collaborative process mediated through network culture conditions the possibility of disciplinary transmutation.
“Human communication is an artistic technique whose intention it is to make us forget the brutal meaninglessness of a life condemned to death. By “nature,” man is a solitary animal, because he knows that he will die and his community will not matter in the hour of death: everyone must die alone. Moreover every hour is potentially the hour of death. Certainly, no one can live with the knowledge of this fundamental solitude and meaninglessness. Human communication spins a veil around us in the form of a codified world. This veil is made from science and art, philosophy and religion, and it is spun increasingly denser, so that we forget our solitude and death, including the death of others whom we love. In short, man communicates with others. He is a “political animal” not because he is a social animal, but because he is a solitary animal that cannot live in solitude.”—
The barring of collective bargaining are not the only changes being proposed. One of the most widespread has to do with creating “charter” universities, or private or semi-private institutions. The basic principle is that, in exchange for “deregulation,” states will provide less public…