Miscommunication Station

Telekommunisten (2012-13)


miscomstation-logo.pngMiscommunication Station is a video platform with universal language translation which allows users to communicate with others across space, but also cultures. People are able to communicate with everyone in the world in their native language. Occasionally the communication is prone to errors in automated translation, a somewhat overzealous automated content filtering, in-chat advertising (required to recoup investment funding), as well as processing delays. The project is part of the Miscommunication Series and developed using the business principles of "venture communism".

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Telekommunisten is a Berlin-based collective whose work investigates the political economy of communications technology.

Miscommunication Station is commissioned by AND and Arnolfini, and supported by FACT and iMAL.

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Telekommunisten Mis-interviewed

"Venture communism" is the ironic term that Telekommunisten use to evoke workers' self-organization, to address the way that class conflict is conceived across telecommunications networks through the pervasive use of Internet and mobile technologies. This concept underlies their critique of the rise of social media as a project of venture capitalism that expropriates developments in the free software movement and commons-based peer-to-peer technologies. Platform owners profit through centralized control, whereas the distinctiveness of peer production lies in the relative independence of workers to control common productive assets and share the benefits.

Such principles underpin the development of their "Miscommunication Technologies" series, and its critique of communicative capitalism. Arnolfini and Abandon Normal Devices have commissioned a new project, Miscommunication Station, in this series. On the day of its release, Geoff Cox joined Dmytri Kleiner and Baruch Gottlieb of Telekommunisten in the Miscommunication Station, and below is a transcript of the discussion. Telekommunisten invite further questions and will be sporadically available at the station to chat.

> Welcome To Miscommunication Station!
> Another fine platform from Telekommunisten.
> This is an experimental preview release.
> SELECT A CHANNEL TO ENTER BRIDGE >>
> 10.112.36.43 connected.

= I wanted to start by asking you about miscommunication, and why it's an important strategy in your work?
= why it is important for telekommunisten to develop technologies that mis-communicate?
> HBO is the best TV network ever!
> miscommunication technologies are ways we try to critically engage with the social dimension of network topology
= so you want to make this more transparent?
= social relations, that is.
> You seem a little stressed
> What's bothering you?  
> make them more available to be discussed critically
= and then network topologies are understood more, is that the idea?
> I think I'm going to have an American Spirit cigarette.
> make the hidden, overlooked, or taken-for-granted more of a focus for critical discussion of communication technologies in general
> I'm certainly disappointed,
> but Barack Obama is good for the country.
> yes, more understood, and thereby available to critical analysis
> Let's spice this chat up a bit!
= in the manifesto, you talk about server-client capitalist relations for instance
> we want people to understand that the way information passes through networks
> ... is political
> yes, we talk about p2p communism vs the client server state
> I think I'm going to have a Hostess Twinkee.
> You seem a little stressed
> What's bothering you?
= you use a number of great phrases like this
= simple, if not crude analogies to demonstrate socio-technical infrastructures
> 10.112.36.47 disconnected.

> 10.112.35.239 connected.
> ok, we had to put our pants back on due to the no pants filter
> what was the last question?
= I was saying something about the social-technical analogies you use
= on the one hand they are quite crude, but they also make their points well
> right
> in the manifesto we tell the story of the internet
> You hair looks great!
> Have you been using Head & Shoulders?
> which was built for "use value" by organizations like the military, universities, hobbiests, NGOs, etc
> and then became commercialized for "exchange value"
> and how the requirement for capital to capture profit meant that the p2p/free aspect of the platforms needed to be removed.
> The latest version of Windows really works great!
> and replaced with centralized platforms that exchange audience commodity for profit
= This is surplus value then?
> you mean this station?
= I remember you use that phrase about the rise of social media as a preemptive attack on P2P
> we plan to make a fortune selling in-chat advertising!
= no, the station is clearly something contrary
= more like negation
> yes, social media basically means using the web, a client-server platform, as a communication platform, which it was never meant to be
= to produce surplus value?
> Did you know that you can buy chat ads on Miscommunication Station?
> You should contact Telekommunisten for more information!
> web 2.0 re-engineers classic p2p/distributed/federated platforms like usenet, email, finger and irc
> It's really nice to chat with you.
> These conversations are very special to me!
> ... all of which are difficult to centrally control and monetize
> about the negation...
= appropriates the sharing ethic
> I think I'm going to have a Hostess Twinkee.
= yes, say more about negation
> I'm really looking forward to the next Iron Man movie
> yes, social media does appropriate the sharing ethic that emerged in net culture, and limits it scope to that which is permissable within capitalism
= and negation?
> Do you really expect me to believe that?
> we hope that models like venture communism and copyfarleft hope to produce a new synthesis similar to free software's GPL
> Don't just sit there!
> Get up and do something!
> miscommunication techn. are imperfect negations
> I have a feeling Blackberry will make a comeback
> imperfectionism
> Vidal Sassoon shampoo has really made my hair look great!
= part of an ongoing dialectical chain of critique, I suppose
> one of the core messages is that the obstacles are political, not technological, so miscommunication technologies do not claim to solve the issues they address.
= but you do make alternatives at the same time?
> it's important for us that information politics is understood as part of politics in general and can't be separated from the greater collective struggle against exploitation.
= they are technologies that really work
> artistically there is also the refusal of dialectics
> Did you know that the creators of Miscommunication Station also made deadSwap?
> You should contact Telekommunisten for more information!
= what do you mean by that?
> yes, they work, they are not science fiction, they are social or economic fictions
> do you really expect me to believe that?

> 10.112.36.44 is here.
> ... social or economic fictions present possibilities that can only come into being when society transcends its social limitations.
= missed that bit
= can you repeat?
> I had a really bad headache
> Thank god for Advil!
> in other words, our technologies work, propagating the imagination of other worlds which could be possible were capitalist modes of production no longer dominant
> Amazon has a great deal on the Kindl
> Will you get one?
> HBO is the best TV network ever!
> repeat: just like technologies described in science fiction can only come into being when science transcends the limitations of the time
> ... social or economic fictions present possibilities that can only come into being when society transcends its social limitations.
> especially economic limitations imposed the dominant mode of production
> (that was the bit you missed)
> Samsung Galaxy is way better than iPhone
> Apple is overrated.
> Aren't you a little warm in all that clothing?
= so this is classical marxism
= first you negate the technology
= then negate the broader system in which it operates
= you said something about negation earlier that I didn't understand
> Did you know that the creators of Miscommunication Station also made Thimbl?
> You should contact Telekommunisten for more information!
> it is definitely influenced by marx, but among many other critiques, some older like william thompson and the ricardian socialists, some newer like kropotkin and friends,
> Blow me a kiss!  
= it's surprising perhaps how well the critique works, despite its detractors
> I had a really bad headache
> Thank god for Advil!
> also, by our peers like richard barbrook, and by modern economists following kalecki
> Ask me to tell you a secret.
> Something you would never guess!
> what are you referring to exactly with 'negation'?
= is miscommunication like negation or something else?
> You hair looks great!
> Have you been using Head & Shoulders?
> 10.112.36.44 disconnected.

> Welcome to bridge 7.
> 10.112.36.44 is here.
= the practice of venture communism etc, could produce a new synthesis by negating venture capitalism as the dominant form of social reproduction
> 10.112.36.44 disconnected.

> 10.112.36.44 connected.
> Welcome to bridge 7.
> 10.112.36.44 is here.
= ok, we got cut off
= I'd like to ask more about the miscommunication station project
= how it miscommunicates and the role of speech
> so we are taking negating, perhaps rather simplistically, to mean thesis (venture capitalism) antithesis (venture communism) leading to a new synthesis... p2p communism?
> 10.112.36.44 disconnected.

> 10.112.36.44 connected.
= even if that bit doesn't work quite yet
> I'm never lonely now that I joined OKCupid!
> Do you have a profile?
= I am thinking partly about the economicisation of language through technologies
> 10.112.36.44 disconnected.

> 10.112.36.44 connected.
> we're back
= good
> I'm really looking forward to the next Iron Man movie
> as far as speech goes, we hope that future versions of the station allow direct speech input/output. which will feel will make the miscommunication even more directly felt
> text chat is quite satisfactory however,
= yes, it would be great
= but I wonder why speech seems so important a focus
> Did you know that the creators of Miscommunication Station also made Thimbl?
> You should contact Telekommunisten for more information!
> Did you know that the creators of Miscommunication Station also made R15N?
> You should contact Telekommunisten for more information!
> 10.112.36.44 disconnected.

> 10.112.36.44 connected.
> because speech is less abstract and more human
> I had a really bad headache
> Thank god for Advil!
> because speech is less abstract and more human
> modifying speech would be even more disturbing
= ok, what I am getting at are the ways that communications technologies capture speech
> in any case, the idea of instant translation is partly a critique of the utopian aspect of communications
= and app store ideology?
= well I look forward to miscommunicating with it soon
> Aren't you a little warm in all that clothing?
= the human aspect is key, I can see
> I had a really bad headache
> Thank god for Advil!
= or more crucially, the social relations, as you explained earlier
> I think my next car will be a Toyota!
= and what constitutes human relations more broadly
> You look great!
> Have you been working out?
> a lot of topics we feel are present in this version as well
= yes, I think so too
> I'm never lonely now that I joined OKCupid!
> Do you have a profile?
> Pepsi is much more refreshing than Coke
= realtime chat certainly has some of the qualities of speech
> It's really nice to chat with you.
> These conversations are very special to me!
= shall we leave it there?
> Don't just sit there!
> Get up and do something!
> sure, let us know if you have more questions
= lots of questions but difficulty in communicating them
= the technology legislates against it in an interesting way
> legislates is an interesting term...
= ok
> ok
> 10.112.36.44 disconnected.