Blogs, Books and Networks
Ian Bogost has set up a lovely aggregator of speculative realism-related blogs, and I’m honoured to be included in the list. It is a wonderful idea to aid communication and strengthen the links among the blogs. My own list of ‘blogs-to-check-out-each-morning’ was getting seriously out of control. A quick one-page overview of all the latest posts will help me considerably.
Unrelated to this, but still about the blogosphere, the nominations for the 2009 edition of The Open Laboratory are now open (see the nominees so far here and the submission form for more here). Open Lab is a yearly anthology of the best science blogposts on the net (see the 2008 edition here), as nominated by the entire online science community and selected by an editor.
Now I can’t help but think: why is it that such a thing (from online publishing to real-world publishing) is still unheard of for the philosophy world, while much more common in science-related environments? For example, see also the Edge Annual Question book, by the Edge blog which promotes itself as being the gathering place of intellectuals of ‘the third culture’ (as opposed to Snow’s two cultures), and which ‘consists of those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectuals in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefining who and what we are’.
Of course, as I have observed before, there is nothing like ‘the philosophical community’ (you can put a physicist and a geologist in the same room, while you cannot with a postmodernist and a logician…), and that is an impediment for initiatives like this anthology. Moreover, I think that in the humanities there still is some latent skepticism about the reliability of (excessively democratic?) blogs as a source of material and as a place for discussion.
The SR network is the exception: even if with (growing) internal disagreements on several issues, this community is held together by (for philosophy) an unprecedented presence and diffusion on the web, in the form of blogs, and Ian’s aggregator is just the most evident demonstration of that. And this is not a mere coincidence, since it seems to me that the very theoretical development of the movement will be increasingly conditioned by the fragmented, real-time and open debates which can only happen within an online arena, just as the very origins of our interest in SR partially derive (this is my thesis) from the familiarity (Heideggerianly speaking) with IT and other nonhuman social prosthetics which is proper for our generation.
Now, if this is the case, what about creating an anthology of SR posts? Yes, I know that ‘The Speculative Turn‘ will be soon among us, but what I have in mind is slightly different. What I am thinking about is a publication which collects some significant posts from the SR community (including reviews which refer back to ‘real’ publications) where the significance of these is judged both on the base of the philosophical content regarding SR itself, and on the basis of how this content is carried forward by referring to a network of writers, made possible thanks to the technology that we all use. These guidelines would be exposed (and further thematized) in a meaty introduction (possibly written by more than one person, and maybe even in comment-and-reply form) capable of bringing forth this (to me at least) crucial point: a metareflection on the fact that our (online) reflections on the ontological status of nonhuman objects, and on the networked nature of a hybrid community of actants are in themselves supported by a network of actants, human (the writers) and nonhuman (the blogs themselves, the servers in some cooled rooms which are currently storing this blogpost, the computers which we use to compose them, the internet itself…). I think that, if developed carefully, this line of speculation could optimally bring together SR with technology studies and hyperlink theory, not to mention to give a theoretical support to the Open Access movement. As a matter of fact, in order for this to be in line with Open Access, the anthology should be an openly distributed publication (as in the case of re.press).
It is just a thought experiment. Any comments?