[Air-l] Researching over the line/horizon? - the great forgetting?
lachlan at london.com
Sat Mar 16 17:41:52 PST 2002
Calm down, calm down.
Offensive academic inquiry? What a novel idea.
Stepping over the 'line'? Since when has academic
inquiry been required to remain within known bounds?
Address the questions!
[perhaps I should have edited the 'lonely-heart seeks
similar' section from my CV...it is better to give love
than to constantly seek it]
The Air-L already has a set of protocols: academic
and IT related. I can assure you that the bounds of
permitted discourse are very highly policed. I have
already skirmished a number of times with the forces
of moderation. It is significant that these forces pretend
not to exist in this capacity. I have already received one
hint of litigation. Great stuff. A hint that, invoking the
discourse of the legal profession if I may briefly digress,
has no grounds and on the contrary leaves he who hinted
open to similar.
I think the question to be addressed regarding the range
of permissible questions and the acceptability of approach
is whether this policing is to be derived from an academic
discourse, or whether a 'set of rules' developed contingent
to the emergence of online communication aided by a
technology of distributed computing within highly
specialized conditions and communities
is to prevail over this discussion and inquiry.
The point is not a minor one. This, it appears, is a list
representing the state of academic inquiry into Internet.
The state of academic inquiry has been questioned. By me.
Regardless of method, regardless of offence, regardless
of reaction, notwithstanding any breach to good sense and
sound reason, and certainly without deference of 'polite
society'. People in industry, government, and in the general public
look to this Association to provide meaningful information
to help to inform them in their respective fields and duties.
The production of wealth, governance, the sharing in our
I would prefer that an academic discourse which here it
seems, going by the mandate of AoIR, is the discourse of
the study of culture, is privileged over an IT related 'discourse'
dependant upon a 'nettiquette'.
The reason is this: there are significant gaps, oversights
and repressions in research into Internet. The responsibility of an
academic research community, of which this list is a part, is
to consider a range of modes of approach and lines of
enquiry so that questions that may have been overlooked
may be identified, so that resources may be allocated and
applied to their research and study.
An academic community, of which this list is part, has a
responsibility to broader society to inform and to educate.
It is in a dialogue with this broader culture, it is in a contractual
relationship with the society formed of this dialogue, the social
I am all for rules. Believe me I am far from Anarchy on the
question of intellectual inquiry. However, I believe the list already
has a sets of rules, rules laid down during centuries of academic
and scholarly inquiry and rules set out to promote inquiry where
there is none.
Ignore these rules at your very, very great peril.
The Association of Internet Researchers has, it seems, chosen a
cultural studies mandate. This mandate promotes inter-disciplinarity,
that is it requires of us, whatever our specialism, and whatever our
ideological position on the question of whether qualitative or
quantitive methods of analysis provide greatest purchase in the
age-long quest for knowledge [for the grail, no less], to be open
to the ideas, opinions and to research approaches.
Again, this inter-disciplinarity is to a purpose.
With regard to the rules of academic inquiry:
I propose that the discourse, the modes of approach and
the means of critical analysis of cultural studies prevail
here. The reason is that this inter-disciplinarity of cultural
studies, far from being an innovative approach as it is often
assumed to be, speaks to broader society. This speaking to,
or dialogue with, broader society, church, state, commerce is
not particularly a new idea. It first appeared in its familiar form
in a directive of the Fourth Lateran Council: an instruction
that the 'leered teeche the lewd', in their own language, all
methods and means considered, without undue deference to
the authority of Latin, or the authority of the Church at that time,
or to put it plainly: the educated have a responsibility to inform
the uneducated in all matters. The european adaptation of the Islamic
model of the University, and much beside, was an outcome
of this welcome innovation in culture. The College of the Sorbonne
was I think the first University an idea that spread.
Are we now to embark upon a great forgetting of the work that
brought us to this place? For the sake of nettiquette whatever that is?
Simply to make things easier for the world of 'information technology',
information and knowledge management and administration, and
computing? I think not.
I am considered provocative in my approach. This is a curious
word and it is true that I did once say to Nikolas Rose, a
Professor at Goldsmiths College that my web publication
'difference engine' was provocative, but this was in the context
of the very early days of WWW (Jan 1996) and the purpose was
to discover the points where the host server and the host institution
correlated, and where they did not. By provoking, one found out
where boundaries lay, and one found out where there were none.
I do not think my research approach is provocative at all.
Now, where's my stipend, bursary, budget?
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