(Eng) Parigi '95 IRC log

SW (sjwright@vaxc.cc.monash.edu.au)
Fri, 1 Mar 1996 01:51:55 +0100

Here's a translation of Hobo's intro to his recent post on the Parigi '95
IRC log.


Hi. What follows is an extract from the transcript of the IRC session held
on 23 February 1996 as part of the public meeting in Padova on the theme
'The Class Struggles in France. And in Italy?'.

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is a form of communication on the Internet that
allows a conference in real time between people in different parts of the
world. On average between 2,000 and 4,000 people are using IRC at any given
moment, meeting in common interest groups known as channels. During the
Padova meeting, which was held in the local COBAS premises on their
inaugural night, a computer was linked to channel #parigi95. This allowed
communication between those engaged in the debate unfolding in the COBAS
offices, and participants based in Australia, the US, France, and other
parts of Italy. The operator sitting at the computer sought both to convey
to those in the IRC conference a sense of the interventions in the hall,
and to relay back in turn their impressions, opinions and questions to
those gathered in Padova.

Rereading the transcript in the cold light of day, having put the questions
and answers into the consecutive order they had sometimes lost in the heat
of the moment - emptying them therefore of the emotions which had
inevitably accompanied this first 'pioneering' attempt at a 'virtual'
assembly - one realises that, contrary to what might have been expected
from a means so dedicated to information like the computer, that the
experiment revealed the emergence of the purely 'communicative' aspect over
the 'informative' one [Translator's note: in Italian 'informatica' is also
a adjective that denotes computers]. In other words, the synthesis of
information concerning what happened in the COBAS meeting place was
marginal to the communicative synergy born almost magically from the
awareness of being present 'hic et nunc' [here and now], even if physically
thousands of kilometers away. The participants expressed a total
predisposition to communication, determined by various factors: foremost
amongst them the possibility of resurfacing their own presence, via a
'teletransport' through the computer network, within the context of a real
discussion. Their intervention in the debate, while limited to brief
questions and still briefer replies, conferred a very satisfying sense of

If it is true that 'the medium is the message', this was particularly so in
this case, in which the 'informative' contents were received much more
through the sensations evoked by the means itself than through the
information transmitted.

In the meeting hall, someone has asked at the beginning, 'what's the
computer got to do with the meeting?', when the question could have been
expanded to, 'what's McLuhan got to do with the COBAS?'.

Perhaps it is not chance, but rather a sign of the times, that at the
inauguration of the new COBAS office, discussing France and the first
post-fordist strikes to occur, workers have chosen to counterpose to the
new networked global enterprise their own 'global village' of solidarity
and sharing of struggles.

Profit Margin
xchange BBS
Melbourne, Australia

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