The conference closed on a shockingly optimistic and unified note (I am a little cranky right now because I just wrote a long post all about this and somehow evil T-Mobile erase it or ate it or found it unworthy so it is now lost; undoubtedly it was completely brilliant, creative, insightful, well-reflected, generous, and accurate; anything I write now will wither in comparison). Why such a great note? Likely because of three crucial interventions that resulted in the sense of a politics around P2P/open search, a politics that would assert the failures and limits of a search (foregoing the knowledge claims of a god/subject supposed to know and thus attempting to divert transferential investments into authority) engine. This could seem counter-intuitive. Who wants a search engine that doesn't claim to be reliable, thorough, and objective? Perhaps those who recognize that there is no such search engine and take responsibility for this limited, partial, and shared knowledge. The three interventions:
Florian Schneider directly politicized open search. It had been implicit in the discussion, but he made it explicit and political. He also used the term exodus as a kind of movement constitutive of the political.
Daniel van der Velden rendered exodus as more of a decision, and thus as requiring a kind of awareness or even consciousness (which makes the projects demonstrating the failures and interventions of google--which doesn't live up to its anti-evil ideals--all the more important).
For me, these two ideas seemed to conflict. There is hardly an exodus from google, rather the opposite--the problem is the way people flock to it, rely on it--like Wal-Mart and McDonalds.
But Florian Cramer traversed this dilemma, refused the false choice--and gave a rousing speech that all agreed marked an appropriate end point for this phase of the conversation. So, he said that exodus is a metaphor, with limits, and that exodus can't mean here anything like a kind of neo-luddite movement/moment. And, he refused the demand for an image. More specifically, he said that the very question of 'what would a European search engine look like' should be eliminated (for good techie reasons involved API, available public interface). There isn't one answer, one image, one model.
This fits well with the theme of the imaginary that I took from the conference. It accepts neither the imaginary, nor calls for a symbolic (name, authority, law). It traverses these with a different kind of accountability (clearly not quite ready for release, but maybe soon in beta). Maybe this is something like an act in information politics.
And, if information is value and search engines add, create, and arrange value, what sort of value would P2P search engines create?