Adnan Hadzi (UK)

WHY OPENNESS MATTERS: THE DEPTFORD. TV PROJECT.

Deptford.TV is an online media database documenting the urban change of Deptford, in South-East London. It operates through the use of free and open source software, which ensures the users continued control over the production and distribution infrastructure. Deptford.TV (http://www.deptford.tv) was initiated by Adnan Hadzi in collaboration with the
Deckspace media lab, Bitnik media collective, Boundless project, Liquid Culture initiative, and Goldsmiths College.

This paper argues for the importance of:
a) the use of open source software, which ensures the users continued control over the infrastructure for distribution;
b) the capacity building of participants in the technical aspects of developing an on-line distribution infrastructure that they themselves can operate and control, empowering them to share and distribute production work both locally and internationally.
This paper continues the debate raised in the Next 5 Minutes media conference (Amsterdam, 2003) regarding ‘tactical media in crisis’; a conference which in many ways marked the “crash” of an online activism based on a merely tactical approach. As McKenzie Wark and others stated during the conference: ‘can tactical media anticipate, rather than be merely reactive?’

The aim of a strategy is to generate a form of social contract; not only by enunciation or discursive agreements, but by actual practice. Existing networks, applications, artefacts and organisations like The Pirate Bay, Steal This Film, Deptford.TV, the Transmission.cc network etc. in effect constitute strategic entities that re-write the rules of engagement with digital media on an everyday basis. The problem being, that many of these entities become deemed illegal, quasi-legal or illegitimate by the current copyright legislation, something which can only really be addressed through finding new ethical frameworks which can appropriate what is already happening but in terms which do not frame it in the old dichotomy of ‘legal’ versus ‘illegal’.

As Michel de Certeau makes us aware of, strategies differ from tactics in that they are not reactive to an oppressor or enemy. Rather, strategies are self-maintained, autonomous, and – more specifically – spatially situated. If the ‘temporary autonomous zone’ (Bey 1991) of pirates, nomads and vagabonds is characterised not by permanence but by transience, still it might be seen as a means to generate short intermissions of stability; the establishment of momentary connectors, stable points, islands in the stream. The establishment of such islands is dependent on location and manual effort: different types of strategies that will become apparent throughout this paper.
An overarching issue for this paper has been the concept of ‘data spheres’ and of strategies aiming to build, uphold and defend these generative spheres. Adnan Hadzi presents a case for the strategic use of copyleft licenses within the datascapes of peer-to-peer networks by establishing data spheres: basically, acknowledging the need for a social contract which can uphold an ethical viability for those data spheres that have already emerged, but are currently branded illegitimate or at least non-sanctioned.