Politics and technologies of the amateur

22, June 2010  |  Published : Figures de l'amateur, Seminars  | 

Politics and technologies of the amateur

This seminar wants to initiate a new debate on the role and character of the amateur, his cultural, scientific and political practices, as they grow into the internet, with cellphones and mobile devices connected to the web.

As the notion of Web 2.0 is still vivid within its buzz, the figure of the amateur is really worth considering when a user-based internet is fed and energized by user-generated contents. On the blogs, the notion of « the cult of the amateur » (Andrew Keen) still raises comments and discussions. New and strange words have been coined to label those people who « make » the web : Prosumer (Alvin Toffler), ProAm (Charles Leadbeater and Paul Miller) or even Produser (Axel Bruns). Those hybrids are clearly toying around with the categories of amateur or users and professionals of the internet, but then who are the users and who are the producers ?

The great asymetrical distinction between professionals and amateurs as we have inherited in our modern era, is presently put to test. Up to now, an « amateur » was a « non-professional » and vice-versa, but it gets more confusing within the creative and transformative practices native to the web. There, virtuosi of a generalized remixability express themselves through Photoshop contest and YouTube parodies, and the tinker, hacker and do-it-yourself culture even influence the practices in the techno-science sphere (hackbio). Being a bit of both worlds the amateur may even belong to some kind of « zombie category » (Ulrich Beck).

This seminar has to confront the difficulties linked to the « amateur » category as it clouds the description of practices for themselves and their social impact and find out whether it is possible or not to use that notion to articulate the new challenges of a cultural policy through information and knowledge in the digital era.

To define the terms and challenges of such a contemporary politic toward the amateur asks for a careful analysis and inventory of the cultural modernity’s inheritance in its relationship with its technological environments. Theoretical imagination and vision is required to describe those practices without idealizing them and give reliable directions to public actions. If we are entering a century of cognitive capitalism, the politics of the amateur deal with the crucial issue of the rights of the publics, and the economy of crowdsourcing, which relies on the collective intelligence, the creativity and the know-how of the internauts at a challenging cost.

Calendar : Friday from 12h30 to 14h30 :

  • November 7th 2008 : Introduction to the seminar with Laurence Allard (The dispute around amateurs and the expressivist turn) and Bernard Stiegler (IRI)
  • December 19th 2008 : Cultural Remix and rights of the public, toward a french-touch Fair Use ? with Sebasatien Canevet (Poitiers University) and a presentation on transformative creative practices (music, video and games) by Gustavo Gomez-Mejia (Celsa-Paris IV)
  • January 9th 2008 : Geek, otaku, hacker and script kiddies… a new grammar with Nicolas Auray (ENST Paris) and Camille Paloque Bergès (Paris VIII)
  • January 30th 2009 : the long story of photography, audiovisual and amateurs, with Roger Odin (Paris III) and André Gunthert (EHESS)
  • February 6th 2009 : User-Turn : a democracy of use ? with Josiane Jouet (Paris II-Carism) and Stéphane Vincent
  • March 6th 2009 : The Crowdsourcing : the volunteer amateur at work with Marie-Anne Dujarier (Paris III, Polytechnic School, LISE) and Olivier Auber (Anoptique Lab)
  • March 20th 2009, 13h30-15h30 : Pornotube with paul Mathias (CIPH) and Maxime Cervulle (Paris I – LETA – CRICC)
  • April 24th 2009 : Experts and amateurs within technosciences with Madeleine Akrich (Mines-Paris Tech) and examples from hackbio experimentations
  • May 15th 2009 : Mobile culture, pictures from the amateurs and an economy of exchanges with Joëlle Menrath (Institute of research « Speech and Practices ») and Anna Jarrigeon (ENS-Lyon)
  • May 29th 2009 : Cultural policies 2.0, with Philippe Chantepie (DEPS-Minstry of Culture and Communication) and Joëlle Le Marec (ENS-Lyon) .
  • June 26th 2009 : Ending session / Séance de clôture.

Practical Informations :
The seminar will take place in the dedicated « Piazza room » of the College (120 seats, enter through a door on the right side of the piazza when facing the Pompidou Center )

November 7th 2008 : Introduction to the seminar

With Laurence Allard (The dispute around amateurs and the expressivist turn) and Bernard Stiegler (IRI)

December 19th 2008 : Cultural Remix and rights of the public, toward a french-touch Fair Use ?

With Sebasatien Canevet (Poitiers University) and a presentation on transformative creative practices (music, video and games) by Gustavo Gomez-Mejia (Celsa-Paris IV)

January 9th 2008 : Geek, otaku, hacker and script kiddies… a new grammar

With Nicolas Auray (ENST Paris) and Camille Paloque Bergès (Paris VIII)

January 30th 2009 : the long story of photography, audiovisual and amateurs

with Roger Odin (Paris III) and André Gunthert (EHESS) / Photographie, audiovisuel et amateurs, une longue histoire avec Roger Odin (Paris 3) et André Gunthert (EHESS).

February 6th 2009 : User-Turn : a democracy of use ?

With Josiane Jouet (Paris II-Carism) and Stéphane Vincent / User-Turn : une démocratie de l’usage ? avec Josiane Jouet (Paris 2-Carism) et Stéphane Vincent (la 27e région).

March 6th 2009 : The Crowdsourcing : the volunteer amateur at work

With Marie-Anne Dujarier (Paris III, Polytechnic School, LISE) and Olivier Auber (Anoptique Lab)

March 20th 2009 :P ornotube

with paul Mathias (CIPH) and Maxime Cervulle (Paris I – LETA – CRICC)

April 24th 2009 : Experts and amateurs within technosciences

With Madeleine Akrich (Mines-Paris Tech) and examples from hackbio experimentations .

May 15th 2009 : Mobile culture, pictures from the amateurs and an economy of exchanges

With Joëlle Menrath (Institute of research « Speech and Practices ») and Anna Jarrigeon (ENS-Lyon) .

May 29th 2009 : Cultural policies 2.0

With Philippe Chantepie (DEPS-Minstry of Culture and Communication) and Joëlle Le Marec (ENS-Lyon)

June 26th 2009 : Ending session

Politic and technologies of the amateur

This seminar wants to initiate a new debate on the role and character of the amateur, his cultural, scientific and political practices, as they grow into the internet, with cellphones and mobile devices connected to the web.

As the notion of Web 2.0 is still vivid within its buzz, the figure of the amateur is really worth considering when a user-based internet is fed and energized by user-generated contents. On the blogs, the notion of « the cult of the amateur » (Andrew Keen) still raises comments and discussions. New and strange words have been coined to label those people who « make » the web : Prosumer (Alvin Toffler), ProAm (Charles Leadbeater and Paul Miller) or even Produser (Axel Bruns). Those hybrids are clearly toying around with the categories of amateur or users and professionals of the internet, but then who are the users and who are the producers ?

The great asymetrical distinction between professionals and amateurs as we have inherited in our modern era, is presently put to test. Up to now, an « amateur » was a « non-professional » and vice-versa, but it gets more confusing within the creative and transformative practices native to the web. There, virtuosi of a generalized remixability express themselves through Photoshop contest and YouTube parodies, and the tinker, hacker and do-it-yourself culture even influence the practices in the techno-science sphere (hackbio). Being a bit of both worlds the amateur may even belong to some kind of « zombie category » (Ulrich Beck).

This seminar has to confront the difficulties linked to the « amateur » category as it clouds the description of practices for themselves and their social impact and find out whether it is possible or not to use that notion to articulate the new challenges of a cultural policy through information and knowledge in the digital era.

To define the terms and challenges of such a contemporary politic toward the amateur asks for a careful analysis and inventory of the cultural modernity’s inheritance in its relationship with its technological environments. Theoretical imagination and vision is required to describe those practices without idealizing them and give reliable directions to public actions. If we are entering a century of cognitive capitalism, the politics of the amateur deal with the crucial issue of the rights of the publics, and the economy of crowdsourcing, which relies on the collective intelligence, the creativity and the know-how of the internauts at a challenging cost.

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