net art, video, performance

Annie Abrahams

Preconditions for Online Participation

Summary:
In this article Annie Abrahams gives a short personal, yet critical overview of her always collaborative and often participatory artistic practice. Based on her experiences she tries to formulate some general preconditions for it to be successful. She finds that an awareness of hardware and software influences, clear and open protocols, familiarisation with the technology, an active role and a hospitable environment for the participants are obligatory to allow them to enjoy an aesthetics of attention and trust, where their choices and behavior count.

Preconditions for Online Participation should have been part of the PAIC (Participatory Arts for Invisible Communities) e-book published in 2018. For internal communication issues too futile and irritating to remember it ended as a not-even-edited blogpost on their website. This was hard, because I had done what was needed, and on time – they had not.

After regurgitating my anger I decided to also publish the article, meant for lay-wo-men, but not only, on my own website and to upload it also to academie.edu. Here you can download a Preconditions of Online Participation.pdf of the article (with images :)).

When participants connect, they have to find themselves in a hospitable environment. They need to feel welcome. In chatrooms during events for instance, I always ask someone familiar to the project to mediate, to answer questions, to animate, when I cannot do that myself.
Participation needs to be rewarding. When an interesting exchange is going on, this can be natural. Sometimes it is already enough to be seen present in a particular public event or to be part of a specific community. Concrete influence or agency by the members of the audience is also very motivating.
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