Liveblogging: Cloud Culture

I’m liveblogging the launch of Charlie Leadbeater’s Cloud Computing: The Future of Global Cultural Relations.  Keep refreshing this page for updates.  I have no power here so I may not last the full session but I’ll go as long as I can!

On the panel is Catherine Fieschi, Charles Leadbeater, Paul Hilder and Ekow Eshun. Lloyd Davis intros eveyone and sets down the rules of liveblogging and tweeting! 🙂

Catherine Fieschi begins by backgrounding the development of the Cloud Computing Project.  She notes that the British Council was interested in te impact of cloud computing on culture and how we store data, information and cultural data.  They believe that as relationships through culture change, then the British Council needs to look in to this.  It’s also an acknowledgement of a step change in cultural production.  Aside from the transformations that the technologies mean for work, there is a change in what we think about cultural relations; how we engage with curated works.  All the questions about how we curate, exhibit and preserve cultural works are being affected by cloud computing. The important thing is the future of global cultural relations.  Counterpoint are thinking in new ways about communications – no longer about broadcasting or public diplomacy, but about 2-way conversations.

Charlie is now up and I’ve lost some of his presentation as my connection went down, but he notes that the history of technology saw communications being about channels of communication.  he remembers when cable tv was the future of the comms, and he remembers hearing Raymond Williams speaking about technologies and policies being at loggerheads or going in different directions.  But most recently the development of cloud computing provides great opportunity for accessing, amending and contributing to creative content.

Like a cloud, these technologies are drifting above us – a potential rather than a place.

Charlie says that industrial policies need to assist the sharing of knowledge and the openness of platforms as a means of maximising cultural production.  We’re so interested in the battle fo the Murdoch emplire to defend itself that we’ve almost forgotten the technologies are already being established and guidelines for access to content are being established by the new players in the market.

He notes that algorithms are shaping our choces.  Facebook recntly suggsted that he reconnect with his wife, and Amazon recently suggested he buy his own book. These are amusing examples, but intelligent algorithms are also developing.

Charlie says he’s deeply positive about the technologies, and has great hopes for promoting collaboration and democracy.  But he feels the next decade holds a fight for control of the web and these technologies.  We need to be clear about what we are fighting for.

Paul is now up responding to Charlie.  He feels it’s the most interestign things he’s read in a while. Leadbeater’s notion of cloud capitalism leaves Paul thinking whethre he’s a cloud capitalist or a cloud socialist.

Avaaz’s 4 million members are coming togther over the internet to try and make change.  They try to remove barriers to the cloud.  They’ve assisted in development of tools that circumvent censorship in places like Iran.

Paul says he’s trying to support the cloud, looking for network effects or virality.  Avaaz also tries to do open source advertising, and did this on the issue global climate change last year.  Seeing what came in was an extraordinary experience as this citizen activism can influence big organisations.  But it was also empowering for smaller organisations.

Paul is keen on Charlie’s Open Cloud declaration.  It’s a realistic consideration of where we are now and where we are going – not unrealistic hippy counter-culturalism, but rather realistic consideration of existing corporate relations.

Power shapes the way we rule our lives and needs to be accountable.  If Google becomes genuinely and obviously evil, it’s cloud won’t last.  Accountability needs to consider issues of copyright, control of the networks, open, more reciprocal cultural relations and political decision making.  If you can get perspective on your clouds you can ride the turbulence and you can change it.

Ekow is now up.  He says the difference between the way we previously dealt with cultural productions was that we dealt with content in a perpetual past.  We now live in a perpetual present.  The cloud allows us to ask relevant and pertinent questions about power structures around us.  Galleries should be a site of dissent and sacrilege, not the new cathedrals.

We can all be better informed and can use that information to spread thoughts.  Downside is that we can also use this technology to spread rumour, disinformation, hate content, defamationm and private information – and it never disappears.  We hve to aks who owns that version of ourselves that is not quite true or accurate.

The way we live right now is this NQR versions of ourselves that aren’t quite us, but define us, because that knowledge is out there.  One can get paranoid about that.  but what is interesting is the tangling of these meta-real and appropriated content, and what comes out of this in terms of cultural relations. What is the culture under the cloud?  What will we make?  Ekow hopes that the culture that we end of creating has more individuals in it, more questions about who we are and how we live.


A distinguishment is made between the net – a network – and the cloud – a series of tools.  Some concernabout who owns information held on these clouds, and what we do if that information is suddenly removed and out behind a barrier.

Question: Cloud capitalists are obviously really bad people.  How are these people organising the cloud of the future.

Charlie: Trying to extract yourself from any of these tools – such as Facebook – is very difficult.  While technologies now might be run by organisations that have a belief in sharing, it may not always be so. So the irony is that the more your information becomes linked to any other piece of information, control of the linkages between these information sources is the real power of this society.

Paul: Doesn’t think the cloud is *just* a set of tools, but rather a more creative space.  It’s structuring our future in ways we don’t understand.  The relationship between clouds and factoids is really interesting.  As a practitioner in this field, we haven’t worked out how to prevent gaming the cloud with factoids.

I’m running out of juice here so mya need to update this all later, but hope this has been useful thus far.  Cheers all.

Be Sociable, Share!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.