Sunday, 7 February 2016
Art & DG CONNECT: a ‘baker’s dozen’ of reasons not to participate in a proposal to ICT Topic 36
If you are thinking such things as "if we're not in the race …" or "it's worth a try …" and other such foolish thoughts, here are ‘baker’s dozen’ of reasons why they are foolish thoughts and you would be better devoting your energies to something more productive. I decided to do exactly this back in August 2014 and I have never looked back, and I was able to walk away because of experience, knowledge and insights, which lead me now to highlight the following:
1. Be honest, you and everyone else are primarily interested in the money so what you will create is a marriage of convenience which is not the basis for a happy marriage. You might be lucky and find someone who you do want to work with, but most likely you will be stuck with people and organisations who take more resources than they need, do very little in return, and who know little about the matter at hand. You will want a divorce.
2. Do you want to spend your time doing things that, you know are a waste of time, but some expert reviewing the project once it is up and running (if you manage to get one through the evaluation process) thinks that you should be doing, so that he (it is most often a man) can demonstrate his knowledge and that he is earning his review fee. Chances are he will not read all those useless paper documents that you will have to spend so much precious time writing.
3. Writing a proposal for an Innovation Action (IA) or a Coordination and Support Action (CSA) is very difficult and the chances are you will not write a very good one. But even if you do …
4. Do you really think that you proposal is going to be evaluated properly? Quite a delusion that you have! Chances are that it will not be properly evaluated, for all sorts of reasons: the wrong experts looking at it; their lack of experience in peer review; their cognitive biases; their hidden agendas; their misunderstandings that they should not be evaluating against that which they would wish to see; people who do not know the limits of their own knowledge, etc. Add to this some very basic yet common mistakes like experts not understanding the evaluation criteria, and, the sole expert with a negative view, out-of-step with the others, who, having decided that your proposal is weak, will drag down the consensus mark so that there is no chance of the proposal being funded.
5. The possibility that the Commission, a political organisation, have already decided who will be successful … surely you do not believe all that nonsense about proposals being fairly evaluated. Topics like ICT 36 are exactly the type where the Commission is most likely to manipulate the evaluation. Of course I must make clear here that this never happens!
6 ICT Topic 36 is not research! In fact it has been termed as “fiddling with technology”, which means that it is based on ‘end-of-pipe thinking’ where everything is decided, and you just get to look at it, make a few minor suggestions, and then everyone will dance around saying how marvellous ICT Topic 36 is. CSAs and IAs will consume your time in activities that are not research. The best you can hope for is that you might in the process find something of interest for later use … The fact that research is not wanted says a lot about the mind-set and level of understanding of the people in DG CONNECT. Read the descriptions that define what constitutes legitimate activities for CSAs and IAs, and then compare these with what is expected from a Research and Innovation Action, and you will understand what I mean.
7. You are unlikely to be involved in any art – more likely it is design that you will be participating in.
8. If you know anything about past initiatives that bring artists into industry/research projects, like Welcome Trust’s Sciart, the LA County Arts Museum A&T programme, Xerox Parc, and so forth, you will know that none of the lessons that can be learned from these have been incorporated into ICT Topic 36 – you can see this from the wording. Look carefully for the words that reassure you that there is protection for the artists and that you will not be exploited and then just discarded. Do you want to lose the right to use your ideas in any way that you choose?
9. After close to three-and-a-half years of engagement with artists, DG CONNECT are still caught-up in the same stupid notions of users and technologists suffering from deficits – this is exactly what they said at the very beginning in 2012. They still also hold to the (just as stupid) notion that special people called artists have special powers to address these imaginary deficits. They have learned nothing, which is no surprise for the mind-set from the outset was that they have nothing to learn, and they knew what art should be used for. Do you really want to be associated with such ignorant and arrogant people?
10. You can also see from the Call Topic wording that DG CONNECT are caught-up in the notion of the ‘elitism of art’, with creativity being the preserve of a few ‘special individuals’ called artists, and they think too that the ‘art object’ has a ‘special status’ which only people with money can own – the very things that many contemporary artists reject. They are the new wealthy patron of the arts!
11. You should know that organisations that appropriate art for their own agendas also end up imposing on artists, restrictions on artistic freedom. Surely you do not think you are going to be allowed to do what you want if it does not fit with DGCONNECTivism?
12 So whatever happened to distributed authorship? STARTS was put together behind closed-doors, and the infamous study was undertaken by a chosen few, who must be very special indeed, for they obviously had discovered the truth. So tell me please the names of the advisory group. We know a few, from quotes in the report, but who are the people that advised DG CONNECT? Not exactly the reference model of openness and transparency that the European Commission are trying to implement through things such as Science 2, etc.
13 The above is largely directed at people from the art world, but if you are a technologist you too should also be asking questions whether you should be engaging in ICT Topic 36. DG CONNECT have classified you as being one of the uncreative ones, not at all special in the way that artists are. This is insulting and completely wrong. It demonstrates also the contempt in which people, such as yourself, are held by this arrogant out-of-touch organisation. And this they have made very clear at every step of the way towards that which they decided upon over three years ago. One of the biggest problems that
Europe’s ICT sector faces is an organisation called DG
CONNECT and companies that still want to engage with them. What to do about the
problem that is DG CONNECT?
Our condolences if you find yourself in a position of having no choice but to apply. Fortunately we did not need to put up with DG CONNECT’s nonsense and are not interested in obtaining a share of the eight million euro. And that, as they say, has made all the difference. And what a difference it turned out to be. What this is however, will only emerge very gradually. Enjoy participating in the various collective delusions, of which there are many – a new Axial Age, etc. etc. etc.