// Issue 1 2003 : The Politics of Networks


Issue Edited by Andrew Murphie

There are many who say that publishing today – especially the publishing of new ideas – is in trouble. In many ways, this is hard to argue with, especially as regards commercial academic publishing. At the same time it is, in fact, a very exciting time for publishing. Just as a revolution in music publishing and online distribution has changed the nature of music, new technologies have meant new modes of delivery and new forms of distribution are currently changing the way we engage with ideas. Perhaps most exciting is that it is suddenly much easier for new voices to find publication outside of the established academic presses, and to find new communities that are prepared to give these voices a context.

The Fibreculture Journal, the journal of the Fibreculture network of critical Internet research and culture in Australasia, embraces these changes. We are celebrating the launch of the Fibreculture Journal by publishing two issues. The journal provides a new online forum for intellectual debate about internet, networks and new media related issues. It looks towards a future of publishing that embraces networked multi-media. It aims to give expression to the many critical discussions emerging from the Fibreculture community, at the same time as providing a forum for discussion between the Fibreculture community and other networks around the world. The Fibreculture Journal is also one part of a general strategy on the part of the Fibreculture network to promote new ideas and new avenues of publication for ideas (the other two parts of this strategy shall be an online zine and an online press for monographs and other works).

This first issue of the Fibreculture Journal takes the politics of networks as its theme, inspired by the Sydney meeting of Fibreculturalists in November, 2002. The very idea of the network is something of a paradox in political terms. It promises all kinds of connection that seem inherently liberating and indeed, the network has set a lot of things free. Yet not all of these “freedoms” are quite what we might have wanted. Such paradoxes are taken up by the writers of this issue. Gillian Fuller discusses biometrics, in which networks of pattern recognition leave us ‘quite literally integrated into the matrices of movement’. Stephen Stockwell and Adam Muir point out that many of the technologies of the network seem increasingly configured by what they call the ‘military-entertainment complex’. Jon Marshall takes an anthropologist’s view of the Internet in relation to the social world with which it works. He looks at the real politics involved and questions hopes for new democratic processes. Ned Rossiter questions new concepts of creative labour and creative industries, their “legitimation” in new forms of IP, and the transformations of creative labour brought about by network societies. Belinda Barnet negotiates the subtle relation between technology as language, code or semiotic system and technology as material impacting directly upon bodies. She wants to extricate a politics of technology that sacrifices neither side of the equation, finishing with a call ‘to address the specificities of new media technology through the concept of the archive’.

Of course, the Fibreculture Journal would never have arrived without a great deal of assistance from many people. Despite my certain knowledge that all involved were immensely busy, the thirty or so referees surprised me with their generosity and precision in every case. As part of the Fibreculture network, the Fibreculture Journal is also grateful for the ongoing support of myspinach, which hosts the site. Personally, I have felt myself extremely lucky to work with the very active and hard working members of the editorial committee: Lisa, Anna, Ingrid, Esther, Ned and Gillian. Editing the journal has really been a collective experience of the best kind and I have enjoyed every moment of it thanks to tremendous support – both virtual and actual. I am particularly thankful for the work of the site manager, Lisa Gye, who is not only part of the editorial committee, but designed and built the site, and will continue developing the site as the journal grows.

We are open to contributions for future issues of the Fibreculture Journal, and invite people to contact the editors with feedback and ideas. We are currently thinking of possible future issues along the following lines:

* the debate between the different concepts of “new media” and “networked media”
* distributed aesthetics – to coincide with the Fibreculture network’s participation in Perth’s Biennale of Electronic Arts in 2004
* Multitudes, Creative Organisation and New Media Labour
* McLuhan Now! – Media Theory and Design after the Delirium
* Distributed Cognition, Distributed Networks: the theory, politics and technologies of models of thought.

We are, however, very open to ideas. Indeed, our main aim is that the Fibreculture Journal will be extremely responsive to the concerns of both the Fibreculture community and like-minded networks the world over.

Andrew Murphie – Editor – December 2003

fax:612 93856812 tlf:612 93855548 email: a.murphie@unsw.edu.au