Monday, November 16, 2009

Mutable Manifesto

My 1996 rant (some would say manifesto), "Leaving the Virtual Ghetto," has been virtually republished at Mutable Sound. It's actually hard to articulate what I must have been thinking while flourishing this 1996 writing style. It is part manifesto to be sure, but as I re-read it almost 14 years later I realize why things took a turn in my so-called career right around this time (a year before before launching GRAMMATRON but having presided over Alt-X for three years already). Basically, very few peeps were willing to vocalize what was to me the most obvious thing in the world:
Alternatives to this End of Intelligent Writing and its potential distribution channels are quickly coming into view. The vast untapped lands of cyberspace, the place where any number of commercial, governmental and alternative computer internetworking environments come together to form webs of virtual (or niche) communities, has opened up the possibility of a truly democratic means of creating and disseminating the creative writing of our near-future. Instead of a multi-layered Author-Agent-Editor-Publisher-Printer-Distributor-Retailer-Consumer formula, we may be entering the age of True Dispatch, that is, Author (Sender) - Interactive Participant (Receiver). Visionary writers of the near-future are desperately trying to transgress the dead weight of book matter so as to secretly enter the realm of the Electric.
At the time, it seemed strange to me that there were still a lot of peeps bemoaning the fact that a lot of our citizenry did not really read much any more and that we were witnessing the rise of an illiterate America. But who out there was reading the books and magazines published by the sophisticated literary and intellectual elites in the first place? The high school drop outs in Small Town, USA? Sure, there were and still are way too many people who do not have the basic literacy skills in place to take their skills-set to the next level, but it seemed pretty clear to me back in '96 that not only would intelligent forms of reading and writing move to the networked screen environment, but that new forms of digital rhetoric, what my colleague Greg Ulmer refers to as electracy, would evolve with the rise of digital culture.

No doubt that the creative writing style in this ghetto-rant had an edge to it and was not quite yet Time magazine material, but since we were blasting this kind of message via Alt-X and Alt-X was one of the premiere online publishing networks with a crossover audience covering the literary, art, academic, theory, and underground culture scenes, the word got out and it was all the more easy to write these rants as part of an early online strategy to make the difference that made a difference.

Alas, it paid off.

Nowadays, I turn on the TV and tune in to PBS where I find Time magazine columnists and D.C. lobbyists arguing about how quickly the print publishing establishment will disappear or whether their new media strategies are too little too late.

Basically, my feeling about all of that these days is, "Who cares?"

If you are someone who has an urge to personally express yourself and have figured out how to experiment with the emerging forms of digital rhetoric one can code and distribute over the network, then just get to making new work and if you feel like "going public" with it, then that's easy enough.

Case in point: this blog post.

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