Public Seminar will be a success when all our features are in active use, and there is a vibrant interactive response. Featured articles will be regularly published, followed by active debates and explorations. Contributors will publish blog posts as the events of the day or a film, a show or a journal article or book, inspires them. There will be continuing themes, around which multiple perspectives are presented and diverse experiences will be drawn upon: “Capitalism and its Alernatives” seems to be one, as do “gender and sexuality,” “democracy, media, civil society and the public life,” “psychoanalysis,” and “art, design and society.” We will see how this develops. There will be an active channel of video and audio presentations. We will use standard and experimental means to inform, stimulate intelligent insights and provoke discussions. (This is what we mean in our mission statement: “by any means necessary.”) We are working toward this end. And as we do so, we are defining collectively what Public Seminar is.
It has become clear to me what PS isn’t: not simply a blog, not just another academic website, not a newspaper, not a magazine, and not a seminar in the traditional sense of the term. Rather PS is becoming what we have named it, a public seminar. Public Seminar is a “public seminar.”
While Plato left the marketplace of Socrates to establish the academy for good reason, we are among those from the academy who wish to nurture our home, but also seek a return to a broad marketplace of ideas, indeed to help reinvigorate it. Thus, although many of the contributors are associated with the New School for Social Research, as professors, students, alumni and colleagues, we are working outside of the institution editorially, as an independent site in the world wide web, an open online public seminar (or an OOPS, coming soon another blog post OOPS versus MOOCs).
PS already is much more dynamic than the term website would suggest, but it is also much deeper than a simple blog. It is not a newspaper. What’s new today doesn’t define us, or our endeavors, though we do seek to address the problems of the day in deliberate, theoretically and historically informed ways. In our two months of constituting our seminar, we have been defining its project. If you want to know what PS is, I am happy to say visit and look around.
But of course, the project is far from complete, and we very much want our contributors, readers and viewers to help give it definition, this especially as we are more systematically reaching out to the larger community to advance PS. Look around, imagine what it could be, and propose, comment, criticize. And when you do so, realize that we have big ambitions.