t byfield on Sun, 17 Aug 1997 06:33:08 +0200 (MET DST)

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Re: <nettime> Who is paying you?

director@kaapeli.fi (Sat 08/16/97 at 05:41 AM +0100):

> Name.space deals with changing the way we think about net space mapping.
> The reason information about it is distributed on Nettime is because it is
> connected with organizations invovled with critical media & art. If
> Name.Space becomes successfull, it will support artist activities. 

So we've been told. Of course, the corollary is that if it doesn't become
successful, it won't support any such activities; Mr. Cook seems to think
that it won't succeed, and AFAIK he's well informed in this matter. Given
the size and power of the "major players"--for example, the White House--
he's probably correct; so if name.space fails, it doesn't reflect on Paul
or the merits of his project. IIRC name.space is pressing a lawsuit; that
will very likely take years of appeals, procedures, compliance and so on.
So, for me, the question is: How does Paul define "success"? If that is a
precondition of supporting artistic activities, then when does it happen?
When name.space turns an annual profit of one dollar? Or ten million dol-
lars? Presumably, since name.space is a for-profit company that draws its
revenues from providing a service in a competitive field, it will have to
follow normal corporate procedures--upgrading its equipment, lowering its
prices, expanding its range of services--or go bankrupt. Needless to say,
these very real forces will discourage devoting resources to artists: not
yet, we can't do it yet, maybe next year... The idea that name.space will
somehow just slowly make more money and help artists is completely naive.
How? By providing space on servers? So what? That isn't exactly something
to yell about. OK, then, by providing financial support? Well, name.space
will need to set up a not-for-profit, otherwise it will have to pay corp.
taxes on profits it just gave away, which would be crazy. But an NFP will
cost money to maintain--so, not yet, we can't do it yet... Not to mention
the fact that if name.space gives away profits, then investors will avoid 
it like the plague, which will limit name.space to revenues it draws from
its services--which will place its competitors at a strong advantage, and
thereby jeapordize the funding of artistic activity: so not yet, we can't
do it yet... And so on. This is the logic of the market, which isn't very
abstract: at root level, it involves people who think in particular ways,
laws, institutions, limitations. Lots of people try to do it differently,
and most of them go out of business. Maybe name.space will succeed, maybe
it won't; but mostly what I see coming out of name.space is what Mr. Cook
said--self-promotion. I've worked with and for lots of people who dangled
the carrot of communal promises in order to recruit support. It's boring.

Why has not man a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason: man is not a fly.
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