Session 7

Pe 02.05 klo 09-12

Morning: Participatory platforms


"to join in, to take part, to involve oneself"

To 'partake of' something else.

In ownership terms, it can mean sharing something in common with others.
It is also a synonym for profit sharing.

In social, economical and political terms, it suggests the ability to directly engage in decision-making..
i.e. "in decisions directly proportional to the degree that particular decision affects him or her. Those not affected by a decision would have no say and those exclusively affected by a decision would have full say. Likewise, those most affected would have the most say while those least affected would have the least say".


  1. A raised stage from which speeches are made and songs are sung.
  2. A political stance on a broad set of issues, which are called planks.
  3. A raised structure from which passengers can enter or leave a train.
  4. (automobiles) A set of components shared by several vehicle models.
  5. (computing) A particular type of operating system or environment such as a database or other specific software, and/or a particular type of computer or microprocessor, used to describe a particular environment for running other software, or for defining a specific software or hardware environment for discussion purposes.


Historical and political term

"In a historic and political sense a *platform* means a program, an outline of theories or beliefs, future prospects and organisational guidelines on which a number of people can agree. An early example of such usage of the term can be found in a pamphlet entitled 'Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists' published by a group of Russian Anarchists, Dielo Trouda (Workers' Cause), in exile in 1926, which set out to establish a number of common ideas and working principles.

Since then, a 'plaform' generally meant a set of resources that could be material, organisational or intentional, which inscribed certain practices and approaches in order to develop collaboration. "

Gourynova, Olga (2007). Art Platforms: the constitution of cultural and artistic currents on the internet, DA thesis, TaiK, Helsinki. p12.


Participatory Platforms also known as web 2.0

A renewal of the usage of the 'platform' term is noted by Gourynova, originating from Tim O'Reilly's article where he describes "the (new) web as platform".

"Web 2.0, is an umbrella term, that has even been claimed as a trademark, designed to address the diversity of platforms enabling Internet users to participat, exchange, link, map, upload, post, and comment, - all in all, to create online within a certain social dimension.

Web 2.0 was coined by O'Reilly Media in 2004 to market the rising phenomena of online collaboration, sharing and communication with the interfaces of wikis, blogs, collaborative mapping or tagging platforms."

Gourynova, Olga (2007). p153.

Shift in technical production of online content.. platforms support anyone creating, uploading and editing data within the browser, without the need of own desktop software, HTML, ftp or server capacities.

However the term has been criticised for being merely a technical upgrade..
"what the Web was supposed to be all along" as WWW pioneer Tim Berners-Lee said.

"The term 'Web 2.0' was created as a business slogan, a logo, so it came as little surprise to hear that O'Reilly had applied for a patent on Web 2.0 as a trademark in 2003. The patent was pending the whole time O'Reilly was promoting it as a generic term. Despite the term's poverty, its success subsumes all the attempts to talk about social software, a participatory web, collective creation and other, different and pre-existing models."

Gourynova, Olga (2007). p155.


Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us


Valued Added / Created

A Message From Chad and Steve

Trebor Scholz:
"Who benefits from the value that individuals create through their online actions?
(information about yourself, choices you make -or dont make- in directing your attention, ratings you assign to other users or content)."

Trebor Scholz, Participatory Media: (Un)ethical Capitalism and the Sociable Web,
Beyond Broadcast 2007: Participatory Media
Download mpeg-4


Ethics of Web 2.0
according to Lawrence Lessig, October 2006.

Fake Sharing Sites: eg YouTube
True Sharing Sites eg Flickr


YouTube: From Concept to Hyper-growth

Co-founder Jawed Karim will explain the thought process and the events that led to the development of YouTube. This talk was given on Oct 21st 2006 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ACM Conference.


User Labour

Terranova notes a beginning of the awareness of "free labour" online: "In early 1999, seven of the fifteen thousand "volunteers" of America Online (AOL) rocked the info-loveboat by asking the Department of Labor to investigate whether AOL owes them back wages for the years of playing chathosts for free."

She is interested in "connections between the "digital economy" and what the Italian autonomists have called the "social factory." The "social factory" describes a process whereby "work processes have shifted from the factory to society, thereby setting in motion a truly complex machine."

And is "concerned with how the "outernet" - the network of social, cultural, and economic relationships that criss-crosses and exceeds the Internet - surrounds and connects the latter to larger flows of labor, culture, and power. It is fundamental to move beyond the notion that cyberspace is about escaping reality in order to understand how the reality of the Internet is deeply connected to the development of late postindustrial societies as a whole."

Terranova, Tiziana (2003). "Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy"

User Labour Markup Language: A framework for sustaining user labor across the web.

Meta Markets

Double Happiness Manufacturing

Amazon Mechanical Turk


"The 'call for participation' - in recent times a common meme within socially engaged art and media projects - invites participants to act as both creators and consumers of the process, creating valuable cultural/institutional/social capital. Caution should be applied in the ethics of this activity, as Kleiner and Wyrick remind us in the article 'Info-Enclosure 2.0', that '[p]rivate appropriation of community-created value is a betrayal of the promise of sharing technology and free cooperation' [1].

Meanwhile, reinforcing this perspective, Michel Bauwens recently wrote about the importance of making a distinction between peer-production processes and 'crowdsourcing' - a buzzword of 2006 in business circles regarding the political/economical model of outsourcing labour to the public online multitude. Whereas peer-production is mostly defined by 'voluntary engagement, a production process under the control of the participants [including] universal access property regimes: Most corporate-driven 'crowdsourcing' will only apply the very first principle, i.e. voluntary engagement; they will aim to drive the production process, and the results will be proprietary. In terms of hierarchy of engagement, 'crowdsourcing' is more akin to swarming than to the collective intelligence of an intentional community' [2].

As a curator of workshops, and an artist-organiser concerned with forming intentional (but mostly temporary) communities, I am also someone who has devised and driven production processes, materially and electronically, in presence, but also remotely. This is a moment to reflect upon which position I have been, am, and wish to be sitting in.. Have I been co-ordinating peer-production; or have I been crowdsourcing?"

Tähtikuvitelma: The Parable of Participating in the Night Sky 2.0
Essay published in 'PixelACHE Festival of Electronic Arts and Subcultures 2007' catalogue 03.2007,

[1] Dymtri Kleiner & Brian Wyrick, 'Info-Enclosure 2.0', MUTE Magazine Vol 2 #4, January 2007:

[2] Michel Bauwens, 'Why Crowdsourcing isn't Peer Production', accessed 03/2007:


Art Platforms

"[A]n art platform is a web platform that solicits, induces and contributes to the creation and development of a cultural or artistic practice. It may indeed provide its major technical, cultural and communicative infrastructures and manifestations.

An art platform is aimed at supporting and stimulating creative initiatives and work, and it provides a possibility for the continuous exhibition of artefacts, often accompanied by reactions to them, variously framed and working as productive feedback and as a distinction mechanism. Serving as a quality reference pool, an art platform builds upon a history of a practice, creating a context as well as enabling its current developments, adding a social development to creative work. Sometimes there is also a set of instruments for particular kinds of creative work available. An art platform also often puts efforts into translating digital creative processes to offline or more official cultural scenes. Different ways of establishing connections between cultural movements of different times and orders may also be developed. Most art platforms organise (ir)regular 'real-life' gatherings such as festivals, concerts, workshops or those of a less formal nature.

Art platforms can be clearly differentiated from archives and databases aimed at collecting and historicising media art.. Such archives are attempts to document and preserve digital forms of art, aimed at constructing durable systems of contexts and links, at building histories by selected theorists or artists. While classifying and preserving digital media art is an immense topic in itself, that produces radicially different experiments, archives and databases of art that tend to work primarily with the catergories of the past, future, art, theory, education, museum, collection, exhibition, and others. In contrast to that, art platforms focus on the living practices in their blurry and 'dirty' forms and aim at mapping widest possible assemblages of radical ideas, unknown territories, and invisible practices in their becoming."

Gourynova, Olga (2007). Art Platforms: the constitution of cultural and artistic currents on the internet, DA thesis, TaiK, Helsinki. p12-14.


Differentiating from 'Web 2.0' interpretations of platform..

Art Platforms: single-interface vs Participatory Platforms: multiple-interface

"Single-interface platforms have a single entrance, a point of concentration, of maximum understanding of the resource. Such an interface may include a list of categories, whether a quite straight-forwards toxonomic database interface.. If you visit a multiple interface platform there is no homepage or main entrance for everyone. In the blogosphere, you navigate through personal blogs, through photographs and cross-references, by means of usernames, friends, comments and links. Although banal, this distinction reveals a further, more fundemental one: single interface platforms are devoted to a single 'theme', a shared aesthetic, creative, and political horizon.

If, on multiple interface platforms, there are tools that help maintain the 'healthy' functioning of the system (for instance, 'abuse teams' in the case of blogs), with single interface platforms there is a need for moderators who are responsible for the development of the interface, which in fact means certain control over the content development of the entire system.

Such centralisation renders moderation very crucial, and is far from being 'automated curation'. It is taste-based individualised decision-making processes developed over time. Precise moderation, especially at the beginning, and the considered construction of a system is nessesary to the survival of the platform and success of the current. Moderation, together with the users' input, helps develop the cultural movement and its discourse.

Multiple interface platform users visit selected pages. With singular interface platforms. the user, interested in the current the platform is devoted to, can explore the entire database. Contributing to such a platform, the user enters and co-creates a content rich context. With such platforms it is possible to develop an artistic movement, to add some missing elements to a creative activity, giving it a theoretical, social or political dimension.

If the major quality of 'Web 2.0' platforms is delivering desktop-like applications in the browser window, which allows the possibility of creating data online, art platforms work with artefacts created over some significant period of time, with the use of various instruments, in a fashion similar to 'professional' artist' work."

Gourynova, Olga (2007). p156-157.

However Gourynova notes that the actual difference between 'Art Platforms' and 'Participatory Platforms'..

In terms of how and what they (can) potentially produce, they use similar strategies, do complement each other, especially with the common "possibility of some genuine cultural and artistic production exist[ing] against a climate of mistrust on the part of researchers and intellectuals over the quality of the creative product produced on Internet platforms"…

"My claim in this respect is that. contra the critics of social network-based knowledge, the creativity of users across different kinds of platforms are, from digital folklore, the amateur, the creative and liberating practices of everyday life, subcultural expressivity, and graphorrhea to artistic production, capable of producing 'orginal' results, especially if certain human-mechanical mediations help channel the process not in the manner of 'limiting the power of the majority', but in terms of allowing for better expression, for self-unfolding of a diversity of concepts, practices, hierarchies, and values. Such potentials in fact also help re-create the figure of the intellectual. It is a figure that re-vitalises the zombie of the traditional intellectual specialist, making it more 'autonomous' and at the same time more intricately connected to production and the economy"

While traditional centres of knowledge are being challenged, due to their incorporation into corporate, business or political ambitions (eg. privatisation of universities), many internet users are gaining a new position, "fighting for a 'fairer' space or principle, trying to re-estabilsh creativity and autonomy through human-technical systems."

Gourynova, Olga (2007). p158-159.

Pit Schultz:
"Power users are the organic intellectuals who work between the frontiers on social implementations of upcoming standards, and expand and test their acceptability. They also socially develop new work disciplines, job models and cultural killer applications. The model of legitimation of the double bind of this emerging hacker class is symptomatic for the rest of society. In order to modulate and redirect power relations, the power user has to legitimate her access to power as a critical one. By referring to the forces of technical revolution and the crisis it led to, she is better on tactical reformism as an opportunity for individual freedom. At the centre of this double bind between technology and capitalism stands the relation to property and authorship, in which the power user works both on her own dissolvement as well as re-establishment."


*What are art platforms for?*

"Art platforms appear as experimental production and management systems focused on a certain format of cultural practice.. Most often, the cultural or artistic practice the resources chooses to contribute to and represent exists prior to and beyond the art platform in some more or less developed form, sometimes at the borders of art and culture, in 'grey' zones, or in the form of amateur practices. An art platform aims at fostering creativity, supporting, promoting, discovering, defining, shaping the field, contributing to its development, and, in sum, contributing to a more vivid materialisation or crystallisation of a particular artistic or maybe broader - cultural current."

Gourynova, Olga (2007). p15.


Further References

Gourynova, Olga (2007. Swarm Forms: On Platforms and Creativity. MUTE Magazine Vol 2 #4, January 2007:

New Climates for Curatorial Practice: Exhibiting Art Across Distributed Networks

Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists

What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software

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