brian carroll on Sun, 15 Jul 2001 17:57:38 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Seeing Cyberspace : public domain

[thanks to Pit and others for corresponding on this idea... for all
animations, photographics, and infographics in the main essay please
visit the project url: ]

	S E E I N G  C Y B E R S P A C E :

	The Electrical Infrastructure is Architecture

brian thomas carroll - independent researcher -
september 2000 - june 2001. release 07.04.01, public domain. no copyright. welcomes grants, donations, and sponsorships.

Introduction: 	0. [ Abstract | Acknowledgements | Dedication ]
Infrastructure: 1. [ Electrical Tools, Buildings, & Systems ]
Cyberspace: 	2. [ Electrical Energy | Warfare | Economy ]
Crises: 	3. [ Electrical Outages | Inefficiency | Pollution ]
Strategy: 	4. [ Electrical Planning | Design | Architecture ]
Objective: 	5. [ Electrical Order | Action | Electronetworking ]

I N T R O D U C T I O N :
[ Abstract ]

[image of electrical outlet and plug]

Through architectural language, one can see the otherwise intangible Cyberspace
materialized in the power, media, and technological systems of the Electrical
Infrastructure. In so doing, pressing issues such as war, energy inefficiency,
global warming, pollution, and economic instability can be structurally related
to the seemingly separate experience online the Internet. Identifying this
relationship can help to educate and organize citizens whom want to address
common yet otherwise ignored needs of the representative human public.

[ Dedication ]

	To Those Working In

	The Electromagnetic Wilderness -

	May You Find A Wildflower

	And Cultivate A Garden

I N F R A S T R U C T U R E :
[ Electrical Tools, Buildings, & Systems ]

Cyberspace is the electronic internetwork materialized within the artifacts and
assemblages of the Electrical Infrastructure, a symbolic new architecture
representing electrical space-time, aesthetics, and culture. Its precedence is
in the sublime, where metaphor itself becomes reality.

Envisioning this 'structure beneath' Electrical Civilization requires
recognizing the vital interconnections between our tools, buildings, and their
inherent but often invisible infrastructural systems.

[image of sidewalk vault for underground electrical power]

Traditionally infrastructures have performed a critical role for understanding
how a particular building exists in the world. For example, an architectural
analysis of a classical Roman bath would be incomplete if it ignored the pipes,
water, and remote aqueducts that enabled it to function.

Today the predominant infrastructure is not water but electricity in all of its
phenomenal dimensions. It has become the new architectural order in the built
environment. Consider Le Corbusier's cryptic statement in "Vers Une
Architecture" in this regard:

"Architecture can be found in the telephone and in the Parthenon." [1.1]

[1.1] Towards a New Architecture. Le Corbusier, 1927. Translated by Fredrick
Etchells. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1960. Page 19.

Le Corbusier relates architecture with its infrastructural extension when
juxtaposing the new order of electricity with the standard of architectural
order in the Western tradition. This paradoxical statement makes conceptually
visible the interconnection between the telephone and its assemblage of
telephone lines, poles, switches, and buildings which enable it to function.

Examining the relationships between these different types of Electrical Tools,
Buildings, and Systems allows the ongoing emergence and manifestation of the
Electrical Infrastructure to be rationalized in architectural terms.

For example, Cyberspace remains an incomprehensible, immaterial, and abstract
entity as long as we continue to disregard its physical foundation in the
artifacts of the Electrical Infrastructure.

It is only an illusion that a `virtual' building on a computer screen can be
totally detached from the `actual' world of architectural objects and their
physics. The computer tool is housed by an electrical building connected to the
electrical power system. Together this infrastructure materially represents and
sustains the trompe l'oeil of otherworldly immateriality while simultaneously
depending upon a physical assemblage of wires, plugs, and sockets to
distribution lines and poles, transformers, transmission towers, and electrical
power plants. Without these extensions, Cyberspace would cease to exist.

[image of electrical distribution pole with streetlight fixture]

Seeing Cyberspace in turn enables us to better understand the new electrical
space-time, aesthetics, and culture of the Electrical Civilization that we now
live within.

As the discipline of architecture has taught legions of questing students, one
must know well the foundation upon which one designs and builds. Thus we need
to study the natural and artificial electrical worlds if we want to understand
the virtual electrical world of Cyberspace.

Today's projection of an aestheticized 'virtual' image upon the world-screen of
Cyberspace is not sufficient. The assemblage of electrical artifacts of the
computer network themselves needs to be investigated: from the screen to the
guts of circuitry, through power plugs and outlets and into the wires suspended
from electrical poles and towers, traversing transformers and substations so as
to arrive at the `bricks and mortar' power plants which transform the coal,
oil, atoms, water, wind, and sunlight of nature into power.

Underlying this artifice is an untold cosmology of the natural electrical world
of molecules, atoms, and electrons which constitute matter, life, and thus
humanity. The electromagnetic Earth, its charged atmosphere, and electrical
lifeforms having evolved from the theoretical Big Bang of electromagnetic
energy billions of years ago. Human beings ascended with an electrified brain,
nervous system, senses, and consciousness which were essential for designing
and building the Electrical Civilization we inhabit today.

While Cyberspace has always existed in the atmosphere of our minds, it is only
now that we are able to literally see it externalized within our speed-of-light
electrical technologies.

With so much complexity, enormously rapid change, and exponential evolution it
may seem improbable that any larger holistic perspective of Cyberspace can be
accurately integrated with the centuries which precede it. Yet, upon deep and
sustained reflection this has been proven not to be the case, and reason will
eventually prevail:

An Architecture exists within the Electrical Infrastructure. [1.2]

[1.2] The Architecture of Electricity. Brian Thomas Carroll, 2000. Logical
proof that the electrical infrastructure is architecture. Online thesis at

Subsequently, seeing Cyberspace requires seeing the Electrical Infrastructure
as a representation of our economic, social, and political culture in built
form. This not only allows one to decipher the interconnections between the
natural, artificial, and virtual worlds but also provides overwhelming evidence
that an Electrical Order permeates everything that exists.

Ironically, we have always built with electricity. It is the electrical force
which resists the pull of gravity against the molecules that hold up the
buildings made of brick, concrete, metals, and stone. Over the last 2500 years
humanity has successfully harnessed this underlying mystery by bringing it to
the surface of our reality, and we are now able to mediate and build with it
directly. This is evidenced in all that is electronic: from the Human Genome
Project mapping the human genetic code to the deep-space probes Voyager I and
II which have exited our Solar System, extended as ambassadors of our emerging
Electrical Civilization.

C Y B E R S P A C E :	[ Energy | Warfare | Economy ]
[ Electrical Energy ]

The grand project that is Cyberspace is grounded in the mundane realities of
what it is required to sustain it. Today's multitudinous technological
breakthroughs such as the Internet are still reliant upon ancient and recurring
themes tying the diagnostic health of Electrical Civilization to its sources of
energy, war, and economic stability.
[image of electrical powerlines]

Electrical Energy: In its current manifestation, generating electrical power is
mainly a destructive endeavor of extracting resources from the Earth as fuel
for the electrical grid of power plants and the technologies it runs. 2/3rds of
the electrical power generated is lost to waste heat before it can ever be
used, due to large scale, highly-centralized production facilities and the
hundreds of miles of transmission and distribution power lines the energy must
transit before being consumed. When the power finally reaches an electrical
device even more energy is wasted in its inefficient use.

Futhermore, non-renewable fossil fuels are being burned at an ever increasing
rate. Oil is still the lifeblood of Electrical Civilization, without it most
every machine would cease to function. With its use also comes oil spills,
toxic refinery emissions, and geopolitical wars to control the limited
resource. Likewise, coal is a temporary but plentiful energy source, yet
coal-fired power plants are at the same time the leading cause of greenhouse
gases which are suspected of causing Global Warming. So too, nuclear power
plants are still widely used, even though there currently exists no safe way to
dispose, no less store, the subsequent radioactive nuclear waste for hundreds
of thousands of years into the future.

[ Electrical Warfare ]

There is an intimately close relationship between the military-industrial
complex, the energy sector, and energy policy. This is because energy is
strategically important to national security and geopolitics. In the United
States, for example, the Department of Energy [DoE] is a major part of the
Department of Defense [DoD]. Likewise, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission [AEC]
oversees both research and development for nuclear power plants and weaponry.
Energy is a keystone between national and international security agendas.

Thus any attempt to dramatically alter the development of the Electrical
Infrastructure often fails outright because any challenge to the current
policy, driven by an industrial worldview, falls back onto the shoulders of
authorities in the national security and energy administrations and their
military and industry contacts, all of whom have a vested and short-term
special interest in keeping the bureaucracy of power functioning as it is,
fundamentally unchanged.

Instead of implementing a proactive energy policy with conservation measures,
public investment, and strategic redesign, there are energy wars.

Nuclear weaponry is devastatingly destructive. The theory of `mutually assured
destruction' (MAD) that kept Cold War superpowers in a precarious balancing act
remains today, because with more actors on the world stage the likelihood of a
regional nuclear war turning global increases. In addition, terrorists could
detonate a device such as the infamous nuclear suitcase and destroy an entire
city. Currently less than a dozen countries maintain an arsenal of tens of
thousands of nuclear weapons.

The impact of nuclear weapons ranges from conventional explosive power to
specific effects on the Electrical Infrastructure. Intercontinental ballistic
missiles [ICBMs] can carry payloads of several nuclear warheads, each of which
can annihilate an enormously large percentage of all buildings and inhabitants
within several miles of impact, including making the environment radioactive
and uninhabitable for generations thereafter.

[image of decommissioned antiballistic missile (ABM) radar site]

One type of nuclear weapon specifically targets the Electrical Infrastructure
and would likely be used in limited nuclear warfare. The electromagnetic pulse
bomb is a small nuclear warhead detonated in the atmosphere above a targeted
area. The electromagnetic pulse [EMP] it radiates is a bursting of gamma rays
that disables or destroys all unshielded electronic equipment in the targeted
area. Thus an EMP bomb could not only render much of the military inactive, but
also all of the computers and regional networks that sustain Cyberspace. So too
the electrical energy relied upon by millions of civilians for heat, light, and
power would disappear instantaneously and indefinitely.

Oil embargoes can also be used by oil-exporting countries to leverage their
power over oil-importing countries for geopolitical ends. When the Organization
of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) raised oil prices in the 1970s vast
energy conservation measures were enacted in the U.S. to counter the total
dependence upon this energy source. Ultimately, an oil embargo could devastate
the entire communications, energy, and transportation infrastructure as it
would be ground to a halt for a lack of oil to lubricate, power, and run the
machinery keeping everything in motion.

Thus wars have and will continue to be waged to protect and exploit the world's
energy resources in the name of national and international security. This is
because today's geopolitics are energy politics whose policies are driven by an
institutionalized energy ideology that protects often despotic industrial modes
of operation.

A common tactic in electrical warfare specifically disables or destroys the
Electrical Infrastructure, as the U.S. and its Allies have recently displayed.
In Serbia a 'graphite bomb' cruise missile was tested in which canisters of
graphite tape exploded into great nets of ribbon above power lines, which then
short-circuited the electrical grid by causing power spikes and arcing. In the
Gulf and Serbian wars, electronically guided `smart bombs' sought out
electrical power plants and telecommunications facilities via artificial
intelligence (AI) software and global positioning systems (GPS) so as to
disable the electrical command and control of the enemy forces.
[image of electrical light switch]

Thus whole countries, their soldiers, and civilian populations can be cast into
an isolated darkness within hours of war. It is one thing to have an act of
nature cause a power outage, but another to have an enemy of war turning the
lights off at will. This is the new nature of warfare, and the Electrical
Infrastructure is the main target.

The electronic computer is critical to all of the above mentioned military
technologies, yet nowhere are its potential capabilities for offensive and
defensive action more likely to be fully expressed than in the realm of
information warfare and electronic espionage.

Security Experts utilizing networked computers can manipulate electronic
information, including turning off portions of the electrical grid. Computer
viruses can be unleashed to damage networked computers on a global scale and
disrupt electronic banking and global stock markets. And electronic
surveillance technologies can be utilized by security agencies and others to
covertly monitor Cyberspace under the aegis of looking for terrorists, spies,
and subversives whom threaten the established order, the UKUSA Echelon network
being the most notable of these.

The architect John Young is spearheading the effort to disseminate information
on these societal, and thus architectural issues which includes cryptography,
privacy rights, and designing building for protection from electromagnetic
surveillance. [2.1]

[2.1] Cryptome. John Young, Architect, 1997-present. Materials on freedom of
expression, privacy, cryptology, dual-use technologies, national security and
intelligence. Online at

Such advocacy work raises the ire of many in the reigning power system, as any
effort to substantially alter the Electrical Infrastructure threatens the
national and international security establishment if it opposes the outdated
industrialized world view of total control and unquestionable authority that
runs Electrical Civilization today.

Yet, if an energy policy guided by a shared human interest were to be enacted,
it could invert the pyramid of electrical power by democratizing its present
and future development.

[ Electrical Economy ]

Cyberspace ceases to exist without electricity. And without the wars that
sustain and protect it so too would the New Economy as it depends upon
Electrical Power, Media, and Technology in order to function.

In the last one hundred years electrification has transformed the entire
economic, social, and political culture from a pre-electric to an electrical
state of affairs. Yet the industrial power plants of the Old Economy remain the
foundation for the New Economy of the Internet and the World Wide Web. The
electrical current generated at these plants are the vital prerequisite for
electronic commerce in Cyberspace.
[image of an array of electrical meters]

In particular, the automated and standardized manufacturing processes of the
electrical factory of the Old Economy today still represents most all goods and
services produced, sold, and consumed in today's global marketplace, including
nearly every piece of computer hardware that makes the New Economy possible.
All areas of the economy, both New and Old, are thus influenced by and reliant
upon electricity in order to function.

The New Economy of Cyberspace represents a paradigm shift from the material
tangibility of molecules of atoms into the abstraction of sub-atomic bits of
electronic information, as Nicholas Negroponte first stated. For example, an
Old Economy bank with human tellers is transformed by the New Economy into
automatic teller machines (ATMs) and an online banking website, enabling
transactions 24 hours/day and 7 days/week via an electromagnetic bank card.

This dualism of the Electrical Economy has created a fissure both locally and
globally, and it is not yet known how or whether this gap will be bridged. The
problems of the Old Economy are amplified in the New Economy where inequality,
classism, and poverty persist unabated. Organizing labor in the high-tech work
force and addressing the Digital Divide are two recurrent themes in a new

The symbiotic relationship between the mature and elderly Old Economy and the
exuberant and youthful New Economy can be seen in the electronic pulse of the
stock markets. The most important fact being that both require the Electrical
Infrastructure in order to keep their pulse, and profits, alive. If the
electricity stops flowing, so does the money and economic devastation can be
the result.

In summary, the electrical `structure beneath' Cyberspace is dangerously energy
inefficient. Wars are needed to obtain and protect strategic energy resources.
And the local and global economy of Electrical Civilization depends upon this
subsidization of power in order to function and to grow.

Challenging the underlying energy policy of the Electrical Infrastructure
requires questioning the modus operandi of national and international security
agencies, the energy industry, and government officials and their entrenched
special interests. It must become our responsibility, as public citizens, to
change this dystopic system for the better by transforming the rules by which
it operates. An architectural `way of seeing' the Electrical Infrastructure
holds the key to this action.

C R I S E S :  [ Outages | Inefficiency | Pollution ]
[ Electrical Outages ]

Substantial reason exists for reconfiguring the Electrical Infrastructure as
multiple crises threaten the daily sustenance of our Electrical Civilization.
The impact of these critical lapses ultimately jeopardizes Cyberspace and the
New 'Electrical' Economy.

[image of Edison-base electrical fuses]

Electrical power outages are increasingly common. Blackouts range from minutes
to hours and days without electricity. Nature is often the cause with its
earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, heat waves, tornadoes, floods, and
thunderstorms. Going without power for any length of time reminds people of how
critically dependent upon electricity we have become, and how we cannot fathom
functioning normally without it. Basic skills such as cooking, cleaning, and
communicating, and advanced skills such as telecommuting via a networked
computer are all dependent upon a functioning electrical grid.

This dependency upon electricity is now causing a major crisis in California,
such that the supply from all of the active power plants on the electrical grid
can no longer meet the demand for power. The following scenario may foretell
what might happen elsewhere when the New Economy takes hold.

California is well-known for its natural disasters such as droughts,
earthquakes, and fires. But today the disaster is the Electrical
Infrastructure, such that during the holiday season residents were asked not to
use electrical lights for holiday decorations for fear of bringing down the
electrical grid. Electrical power production has been at over 95% capacity
dozens of times, and several times over 98.5% capacity, triggering `rolling
blackouts' where electrical power is turned off to roving sectors of the state
in order to keep the rest of the grid up and running. Even with temporary power
plants online and interstate power, the current demand for electricity cannot
be met.

In the epicenter of the New Economy, the Silicon Valley of San Jose, the demand
for electricity has increased because of the vast amounts of power needed for
buildings such as semiconductor fabrication plants (FABs) and web hosting
Server Farms. Some companies like database software maker Oracle are building
their own private power plants so as to not risk losing millions of dollars in
manufacturing costs when the power goes out. Several large corporate customers
receive rebates for voluntarily generating their own power in times of
emergency. Ironically, at the same time there is great opposition to building a
new power plant in the area while billion dollar companies such as Intel have
stated they will not build new facilities in California if the electrical
crisis is not resolved soon.

Add to this scenario the fact that electronic-commerce and dot-com companies in
California cannot effectively function without a steady and reliable supply of
electricity, and the state of disaster looms larger and larger. Furthermore,
the deregulation of the electrical power supply in the state has resulted in
electricity bills doubling and tripling in cost within a few months time, due
to high demand in the marketplace for a limited supply of electrical power. In
the State of the State Address the Governor, Gray Davis, spoke extensively of
the power crisis and rhetorically threatened to use eminent domain to take
public control of California's private power plants if necessary.

The electrical crisis continues day by day, and year by year, into the future.
What is happening in California and the U.S. may well happen in other places
the New Economy takes hold, and the Old Electrical Economy directs the action.
While acts of terrorism, sabotage, war, and natural disasters all cause power
outages, these events may soon become secondary to the disasters resulting from
short-sighted energy policies which misguide our Electrical Civilization today.

[ Electrical Inefficiency ]

The energy crisis of the 1970s led the United States and other countries
towards energy conservation. Daylighting, passive and active solar, energy
efficient windows, doors, and insulation optimized the energy efficiency of
buildings, which temporarily reduced demand for electrical power, and thus oil,
and the sense of threat to national security.

Still these gains did not affect the larger inefficiencies of the Electrical
Infrastructure. Because of economies of scale most electrical power plants
remain highly centralized with enormous generating capacities. More than 2/3rds
of the power generated is lost to waste heat through its transmission through
hundreds of miles of power lines in order to reach consumers. This centralized
design is also strategically vulnerable to any concerted attack in that a few
missiles could take down the entire electrical grid, whereas a decentralized
power system would make this scenario improbable.

[image of an electric powerstrip with electrical plugs and cords]

The electrical appliances industry has sought to make energy savings an issue.
Electric washers and dryers and refrigerators all use less power, as do most
computers. Even computer microprocessors like the Crusoe chip by Transmeta
seeks to be as energy efficient as possible in an effort to maximize its
effectiveness for use in mobile communications. Unfortunately these gains are
minimalized by some long standing problems. For example, the current battery
life of a laptop computer is 6 hours, a cell phone is a few days, and a
personal digital assistant (PDA) is a few weeks. Rechargeable batteries do not
store enough power for any substantial length of time, and disposable batteries
waste enormous resources for their temporary supply, all of which makes the
current battery technologies for portable electrical power untenable.

Another grand inefficiency exists in the planned obsolescence of electrical
technologies, especially computers. Expensive computer hardware has a practical
life span of only 2 or 3 years, while costly software devolves even more
rapidly, requiring constant upgrades. Older computers and software are rendered
obsolete as they are unable to function with the latest innovations. It is
believed to be more economical to purchase an entirely new computer system
every few years than attempt to upgrade an old computer at an equally great
cost. This waste of manufactured resources and the energy it takes to create
them is obscene and beyond reason.

In all, most every Electrical Tool, Building, and System of the Electrical
Infrastructure- including the Internet and its Cyberspace - depends upon
electrical power that is less than 33% energy efficient.

To say this is a crisis is an understatement-- it is an unethical policy that
benefits no one.

[ Electrical Pollution ]

While the theory of Global Warming is currently being debated by scientists,
everyone agrees that the weather has become increasingly unusual, and this has
caused both more power outages from weather-related disasters and increased
demand for electricity during statistically cooler and warmer than usual
temperatures. Not only do the seasons of the year seem to be shifting, but the
weather is becoming more violent, unpredictable, and extreme.

Not surprisingly, fossil-fuel electrical power plants are the number one cause
of the pollutants released into the atmosphere which have led to this effect on
the global environment. Yet no significant change in energy policy is in sight
which would reverse this global trend.

Attempts at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with the U.N. Kyoto
Protocol on Global Warming in 1997 have so far been unsuccessful. For example,
at the November 2000 meeting in the Hague, Netherlands, the United States
government opted for the short-term economic profits rather than risking
changing the way the Electrical Infrastructure works. In 2001, the new U.S.
Administration, heavily supported by the oil and energy sectors, continues to
disregard the strategic importance of addressing these problems proactively.

Ignoring energy policy will be the Achilles heel of the New Electrical Economy.

Millions of tons of highly-toxic, non-biodegradable electronic equipment is
discarded at city garbage dumps and landfills, causing pollution when their
rare minerals and radioactive components are left to stew, leaching toxins into
the soil. Likewise, billions of disposable batteries are discarded, releasing
toxins and contaminating the environment while their mined and manufactured
resources are thrown out as pure waste.
[image of a pad mounted electrical transformer in built environment]

Controversy also surrounds emissions from electromagnetic fields [EMFs] and
whether or not they are cancer causing. International investigations have been
launched to study communities transversed by high-voltage power lines whose
residents have unusually high rates of cancer and birth defects. Similarly,
research is being conducted which questions the relationship between mobile
telephone use and brain tumors.

While the negative effects from EMFs are hotly contested, it is important to
remember that we do not know the full effects of our increased exposure and
proximity to EMFs on the human body and brain. At the same time we exist
enveloped, en masse, in dense fields of electromagnetic radiation.

At some point a relationship between human health, disease, and living in an
Electrical Civilization will be recognized. Two medical reseachers are of note
in this regard. Dr. Merrill Garnett whose work in electrogenetics offers a new
approach to cancer treatment. [3.1] And Dr. Andrew Marino whose extensive work
focuses on the relationship between human physiology and electromagnetism.

[3.1] Dr. Merrill Garnett. Medical research reveals "the presence of corollary
dynamics of the genetic code by which specific DNA coded segments and cell
membranes exchange ultra-low frequency sinusoidal electrical currents" For more
information see:
[3.2] Dr. Andrew A. Marino. Research includes the books Electromagnetism &
Life, Electric Wilderness, and Foundations of Modern Bioelectricity. See
website for more information:

The threat of contamination of humans and the environment by lethal doses of
nuclear radiation is also ever-present. Nuclear war is one precedent. Another
is revealed in the meltdown of reactors at nuclear power plants such as that in
1979 at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, USA, and in Chernobyl, Ukraine in
1986. Added to this is the very real possibility for a nuclear meltdown of the
reactors onboard any of the hundred or so nuclear submarines, ships, and
aircraft carriers patrolling the oceans of the world, or decommissioned and
abandoned in naval graveyards.

Furthermore the spent fuel from all nuclear reactors has to be safely disposed
of - yet this is currently not possible.

Attempts have been made to bury nuclear waste underground and in concrete casks
in the oceans. Still, given the time needed for the radioactive elements to
decay, these will inevitably leak deadly radiation. Humans will have to live
with radioactive waste for generations upon generations to come. While the cost
of generating nucleur power may seem cheap in terms of price per kilowatt hour
or a good solution for Global Warming, the unknown costs are never included in
the economic price tag. And the people will end up paying for the cleanup from
nuclear contamination and for storing nuclear waste for hundreds of millennia
to come.

Because of this, the true cost of our energy policies must include rendering
the planet Earth increasingly uninhabitable for human beings. While nature will
survive, we may not.

The crises of Electrical Civilization that we are now experiencing are caused
by an outdated and destructive energy policy of the industrial era and mindset.
Instead of changing its course, governments and industries have bunkered down
to protect the inherited Electrical Infrastructure in the name of short-term
profit. This approach totally ignores the fact that the crown jewels of the New
Economy and Cyberspace will no longer exist if the Electrical Infrastructure
fails to function, which it will do unless we radically change our local and
global energy strategies.

Concerned politicians, scientists, and activists have all been unable to
accomplish this task by reason alone. There are too many special interests with
too much power controlling the future direction and development of the
Electrical Infrastructure, well outside of the public's democratic control.

A new common sense tactic is required which will unite public citizens whom
want to change this outcome. With the passionate will of planners, designers,
and architects supplementing that of the politicians, scientists, and activists
the case for change will be made crystal clear:

A new public energy 'policy' will be constituted, ratified, and enacted in the
democratic and grassroots redesign of the Electrical Tools, Buildings, and
Systems that constitute our shared Electrical Civilization.

As Le Corbusier implied: architecture cannot be avoided. The revolutionary
opportunity now exists to understand the Electrical Infrastructure as the
literal representation of the reigning economic, social, and political order.
If we can begin seeing Cyberspace as a physical extension of this `structure
beneath' Electrical Civilization, we can also commit ourselves to strategically
rebuilding it in a more progressive direction, optimizing its long-term
viability and thus our own.

Revisionist policies based on the virtues of the industrial power system, such
as national security and cheap gasoline, are delusional in that they only serve
the powers of the past, and which threaten the very democracy that supports

Instead, strategic energy policies are needed that will free the public from
the crises that continually plague us, inherited through the industrial power
system and its worldview. Our goal should be to inhabit a democratic, just, and
two-thirds sustainable Electrical Civilization by 2100 common era.

S T R A T E G Y :  [ Planning | Design | Architecture ]
[ Electrical Planning ]

What is needed to change the misguided industrial worldview that continues to
develop the Electrical Infrastructure?

Public awareness through education of the cultural aspects of the Electrical
Infrastructure. That is, to understand from both scientific and artistic
vantages how our economic, social, and political systems are ordered by

With unified actions in Electrical Planning, Design, and Architecture working
in collaboration with other disciplines, the human public can once again lay
claim to its destiny to self-determine its future.

As a goal unique to our century, the strategic redesign of the Electrical
Infrastructure will be the greatest building project of the 21st century,
preparing the formwork and framework for a democratic and sustainable
Electrical Civilization, into the future. The effects of doing nothing are
predictable. More nuclear wars, increased pollution, and an irreparably broken
society due to a lack of vision, courage, and a will to change the status quo.

A new holistic understanding of the Electrical Infrastructure can be revealed
by investigating and interrogating everyday Electrical Tools, Buildings, and
Systems. It consists of shared and open standards, is both cooperative and
competitive, and is organized around public and private partnerships between
governments, citizens, businesses, organizations, and professionals whom value
social and economic profit alike. As a decentralized strategy it utilizes
grassroots efforts to enact large scale changes that are otherwise impossible.

In this way, the problems of the past and the possibilities of future of the
Electrical Civilization can be seen in their full spectrum, through a shared
and multidisciplinary scientific and artistic awareness with which we can
develop a working model for changing the industrial system of power.

Now it becomes absolutely essential for planners, designers, and architects
amongst other artists, to coordinate their efforts so as to implement the
necessary changes in the built environment as part of their civic duty as
citizens of the world. By recognizing the vital importance of the Electrical
Infrastructure our daily livelihoods, artists can create and sustain this new
awareness for the public at large, which will someday become 'common' sense.
[image of an electrical power substation]

Electrical Planning investigates and interrogates Electrical Systems which need
to be strategically organized by multidisciplinary planners so as to securely
establish a democratic Electrical Infrastructure and the Cyberspace reliant
upon it.

To do so requires planning a decentralized network of community-based power
plants. When feasible electricity should be generated from alternative and
clean energy sources including wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower. In
addition, small localized power plants burning natural gas, oil, and coal
should be used to reduce the inefficiency and pollution caused by larger
centralized plants. All residential, commercial, and industrial sectors will
need to be required to generate a portion of their own power and to sell any
excess back to the community electrical grid.

Microturbines and cogeneration technologies can help accomplish this task as
can fuel cells, a technology which has existed for more than 150 years. Fuel
cells create electrical power through an electrochemical reaction of oxygen and
fuel, without combustion, with applications ranging from power plants to
batteries. One future envisions fuel cell automobiles whose excess electrical
power is fed into to the electrical grid when not in use. Also possible is that
someday every building may be powered by its own fuel cell. Even so, we can no
longer wait for a theoretical silver bullet to solve today's planning problems
sometime in the indefinite future.

The adoption and enforcement of energy conservation measures via local planning
codes will be critical to any electrical planning initiative. All buildings new
and old must be required to conserve energy when and wherever possible, and it
should be a violation of the law if they do not.

Energy conservation is not only an environmental strategy but also an economic
and military one, certainly not to be dismissed as "a personal virtue" as U.S.
Vice President Cheney did, who heads the planning task force for the nation's
public energy policy.

Planning for self-reliance and energy efficiency will limit power outages
caused by disaster, decrease pollution, and reduce greenhouse gases. Localized
power will also enable a new electrical grid to be built that communities will
be in control of. Long term, a reduction in energy costs and less dependency
upon foreign resources such as oil and gas will help deter and avert
unnecessary energy wars. National and international security would also be
strengthened by having hundreds of thousands of sources of electrical power
rather than a small number of highly-centralized targets in times of war.
Governments could spur these necessary changes by offering tax breaks, rebates,
and subsidies.

The need for Electrical Planning is further strengthened if telecommunications
technologies such as fiberoptics, cable, satellite, and broadband wireless are
taken into account. For how are the electronic internetworks that constitute
Cyberspace going to function if the Electrical Infrastructure can no longer
maintain itself, due to a total dependence upon a centralized electrical power,
as is proving to be the case in California?

Planning this new Electrical Infrastructure will demand both public and private
collaboration and investment, and a shared and public vision of what kind of
world we want to live within during the next century. Profit will be realized
from investing in large-scale cultural transformation. And a bond between
citizens, businesses, and government will form, solidifying and stabilizing
communities by raising the standard of living through long-term planning for a
sustainable Electrical Civilization.

[ Electrical Design ]

Electrical Design investigates and interrogates Electrical Tools. The creation
and innovative use of Electrical Tools by designers and artists is essential
for strategically realigning Electrical Civilization with a public purpose.

Of the trillions of Electrical Tools in the present world almost all rely upon
electrical power plants and batteries, including websites, movies, microwaves,
cell phones, and light bulbs. Their use cannot be separated from the negative
effects of the Electrical Infrastructure, including war, pollution, and
inefficiency. But this relationship can first be identified and then changed.
And designers and artists have the freedom and opportunity to help in
transforming the cultural reality.

Industrial designers can have an enormous impact on the future development of
Electrical Civilization by promoting standardization, reuse, upgradeability,
sustainability, energy efficiency, and recycling of millions of products that
are placed on the market every year. The throwaway culture of Electrical Design
we have inherited needs to be disposed of, and its salvageable parts and
processes recycled and put to better use.

Electrical appliances offer one example of how energy conservation has been
adopted by industry, but this is nowhere near enough. Every product should be
designed to meet strict but reasonable guidelines for maximizing energy
efficiency, product lifespan, and product recycling.

If private industry cannot pursue this vision, then government regulation at
the local or national or international levels will be required. It is not about
private choice but about public duty. Nobody profits when products waste
energy, resources, and pollute the environment. Our time to act is rapidly

Product design could play a unique role by creating public awareness of the
total energy cost of a product, making sustainable Electrical Tools into a
marketable design goal.

Further, as Anthony Dunne states, electronic product design needs to "[go]
beyond optimization to explore critical and aesthetic roles for electronic
products ... raising awareness of the electromagnetic qualities of our
environment." [4.1] One such opportunity exists in the desperate need to
redesign the chaos of electrical plugs, cords, and outlets which in the U.S.
remain fundamentally unchanged since the 1930s.

[4.1] Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience and Critical
Design. Dr. Anthony Dunne, 1999.

[image of electrical power cords]

Visual designers, painters, filmmakers, and sculptors can make Cyberspace and
the Electrical Infrastructure more readily visible to the public by using
electrical iconography in their work.

For example, the oil paintings Telephone Pole and Sun on Allen Alley (1994) and
Telephone Pole (1994) by Joe Blanchette materialize the abstract electronic
internetwork of Cyberspace in the everyday built environment by presenting the
electrical distribution pole as an aesthetic artifact. [4.2]

[4.2] Joe Blanchette, Painter. Works explore 'the interplay of light upon
surfaces and objects and how they effect the viewer at an emotive level,
specifically in relation to awe.' Paintings online at:

So too, various artists including electronic, computer, Internet and video
artists, filmmakers, composers, and musicians can explore the relationship
between the medium of their work and the system of electrical power upon which
it depends.

As a case in point, Powerlines, the film by Helen Hall, poetically documents
the effects of electromagnetic radiation upon biological organisms through the
mediums of dance, film, music, and narration. [4.3]

[4.3] Powerlines. Film and Soundtrack, 1998. Helen Hall. Interprets the
mysteries of electromagnetism. Online at:

Using unique skills and vantages, designers and artists can thus raise public
awareness of the system of electrical power by radically reinterpreting it,
becoming the vanguard for redesigning Electrical Civilization.

[ Electrical Architecture ]

Electrical Architecture investigates and interrogates Electrical Buildings as
an extension of the Electrical Infrastructure.

A generic term with a generic definition, Electrical Architecture is the
architectural exploration of electrical phenomena which makes possible the
logical analysis of the buildings of Electrical Power, Media, and Technology.
Understanding any Electrical Building requires comprehending the infrastructure
of Electrical Tools and Systems which enable it to function.

[image of electrical and telecommunications service drop on exterior of

For example, to understand an electrical dwelling today it becomes necessary to
acknowledge its programmatic and structural relationship to power plants, radio
and television stations, and telecommunications facilities. Without these other
buildings, their tools, and infrastructural systems such as power lines,
distribution poles and transmission towers, the dwelling would have no light,
no heat, no power and by default no connection to Cyberspace. The inhabitants
would no longer exist in the 21st century, but in the pre-industrial era of the
18th century Enlightenment. Which is exactly where architecture exists today
for those whom continue to deny or disregard this most basic fact of life.

The traditional architectural concepts of form, light, structure, space, and
materiality have been transformed through electrical knowledge. Light consists
of electrically charged photons, spatiotemporal phenomena are electromagnetic,
and building materials are composed of atoms held together by electrons in
orbit. But these are not just opinions. They are universal truths which the
reigning system of traditional architectural knowledge stands in defiance of.

Yet now that architectural explorers are beginning to see electrical lights
shining everywhere in the form of the screens of Cyberspace, the opportunity
exists to rationalize the origins and meaning of electricity in relation to
architecture. This requires dissolving the overruling paradigm of total
authority over expert but limited knowledge, and freeing the idea of
architecture by allowing it to be reborn anew in the 21st century context of
Electrical Civilization.

Once a basic knowledge of electricity is established, the dependency of
architecture upon the Electrical Infrastructure can be revealed for what it is.
Doing so will reawaken the discipline to its vital mission as public servants
of the natural and built environment and will give rise to an architectural
movement addressing the ongoing issues of pollution, inefficiency, and war that
are eternally waiting to be addressed by the profession. With this new vantage
Electrical Buildings can be strategically redesigned, with the possibilities
limited only by the architectural imagination.

Immediate results will come from 'seeing Cyberspace' from an architectural
point of view. That is to say that the ethereal and immaterial aspects of the
Internet and WWW are actually grounded in the everyday electrical artifacts
which exist as a new order in the built environment. Seeing Cyberspace thus
means seeing electrical space-time, aesthetics, and culture in the electrical
distribution poles populating the world by the billions, similar to the columns
of the Greek and Roman classical orders. Building in both thought and action,
architecture can make clear what no other discipline can.

For example, Electrical Buildings can integrate distribution poles and power
lines into their designs, juxtaposing Cyberspace and actual space. Analysis of
this symbolism could unveil what has previously been considered invisible and
nonexistent. That is, that Cyberspace is a physical and tangible place, all
around us in the built form of the Electrical Infrastructure.

Furthermore, electrical iconography can be explored in a way like no other, as
every electrical artifact from meters and antennas to power lines and computers
can be reinterpreted for their symbolic architectural meaning. This exploration
could delve into the expression, improvement, and conceptual coordination of
these disparate parts.

Seeing Cyberspace is only the first step. If people can `see' Cyberspace they
can also begin to comprehend the much larger Electrical Infrastructure of
Power, Media, and Technology. Doing so will be the impetus for an Electrical
Architecture which integrates the sustainable Electrical Systems of planners
with the innovative work and Electrical Tools of designers.

With enough awareness of the phenomena of electricity and architectural study
of the Electrical Infrastructure, a paradigmatic state of reasoning will be
unveiled showing that electricity is beyond doubt the new architectural order
in the built environment. And, remembering Le Corbusier's sage statement that
the engineer's aesthetic is architectural, the Electrical Infrastructure will
then be transformed into an Architecture of Electricity for those whose mind's
eye can see it and build it.

The current configuration of the Electrical Infrastructure is unacceptable and
must be challenged and fundamentally changed through the strategic redesign of
Electrical Tools, Buildings, and Systems. Planners, designers, and architects
are thus needed to aid the work of politicians, scientists, and activists,
along with other citizens, businesses, and organizations to redirect the course
of Electrical Civilization on a scale thus far inaccessible to the public will.

Once the fundamental importance of the electrical 'structure beneath' our
everyday lives and livelihoods can be realized, we can begin to rebuild a
locally controlled, democratic, and sustainable Electrical Civilization. But to
do so we first need to find a way to work together, despite our differences

O B J E C T I V E :  [ Order | Action | Electronetworking ]
[ Electrical Order ]

Electrical Order is cosmological, beginning with the Big Bang billions of years
ago. As the natural world of electromagnetic matter and energy evolved, so did
humanity. Using our electrical minds we researched and helped develop this new
order over a period of 2500 years, creating millions of electrical artifacts as
a result. In the last 200 years we constituted the artificial electrical world
with electrical generators. In the last 100 years we harnessed this artifice to
lay claim to the virtual world of Cyberspace through the telecommunications
technologies of the telephone, radio, television, and networked computer.

As our understanding of electricity has evolved so too has our awareness of the
Electrical Order everywhere around us. From atomic bombs to deep space probes,
we have became ever more reliant upon this force, to the point where the order
of tradition has been surpassed by the predominant model of electrical space
and time, aesthetics, and culture.

[image of satellite dishes at television station]

This new Electrical Order, common to humanity, manifests itself within the
assemblage of Electrical Power, Media, and Technology whereupon the subliminal
force of nature literally surfaces in the artificial and virtual worlds of
Electrical Civilization. This paradigmatic event culminates in the symbolic
transformation of metaphor into reality: the Electrical Infrastructure becomes
Architecture, representing economic, social, and political culture in built

Our critical task of the 21st century requires a basic understanding of this
new Architecture of Electricity and an awareness of the design flaws in the
current infrastructure upon which Electrical Civilization depends; including
the negative aspects of the current Electrical Order that need to be publicly
recognized before they can be radically readjusted.

Yet at the turn of this millennium conceptualizing a `world order' based upon
electricity carries with it the extremely negative connotation attributed to
the ideologies of globalism and the `new world order' which to many promotes
inhumane, unjust, and corrupt policies. As a case in point, Craig Baldwin's
hybrid sci-fi/documentary film "Spectres of the Spectrum" (S.O.S.) explores the
total control of the `new electromagnetic order' by transnational corporations,
and the resistance movement against this all-encompassing power. [5.1] S.O.S.
offers a realistic critique on where discourse begins today, at the point of
war and the gathering of forces to reclaim our future back from the past.

[5.1] Spectres of the Spectrum. Film, 1999. Craig Baldwin. More info at:

The main contributor to this decline of Electrical Civilization is the
industrial worldview which constrains all economic, social, and political
decision-making to only those options sanctioned by the reigning order of
tradition, locally and globally. As a result, the Electrical Infrastructure has
become the severely broken foundation of 21st century society, which under the
rubric of change will only become more and more centralized and secure in its
total control of power and authority over the cultural order of things.

This dangerously undemocratic power system and its policy can, must, and will
be fundamentally changed. We, as fellow human beings, require it for our
collective survival.

[ Call to Action ]

The Electrical Order is neither inherently good nor bad- but it can be designed
to promote the status quo or change it. This explains the paradox of seeing
Cyberspace in the Electrical Infrastructure common around the world. Doing so
enables one to compare and critique both paradigms, new and old, through their
ordering of space and time, aesthetics, and culture in built form.

Seeing Cyberspace within Electrical Tools, Buildings, and Systems provides an
immediate opportunity to unveil the epic story of electricity and its role in
defining the larger world-picture. Through an architectural awareness the new
Electrical Order can be seen in every nation on Earth in the electrical power
plants, transmission pylons, substations, distribution poles, and power lines
of the Electrical Infrastructure.

[image of the words "high voltage" electrically welded on metal vault for
accessing underground electrical service]

By recognizing this common Architecture of Electricity in our everyday lives,
the potential exists for the democratic and sustainable redesign of Electrical
Civilization. This is a call to arms for all planners, designers, architects,
patrons, citizens, businesses, organizations, and governments to pledge their
support to facilitating this enormous and important public endeavor.

Only by working together can we redirect the course of Electrical Civilization
for the better by renewing its greater sense of cultural and ethical purpose,
and our own. Please join this effort and contribute your unique skills to this
public pursuit through working on these, our shared goals.

[ Electronetworking ]

Please join this effort and contribute your unique skills to the public pursuit
of electronetworking:

[image of electrical distribution poles and powerlines with caption:
"localize & democratize electrical power today!"]

Public Energy Network:

Collaborate with citizens around the world to help establish and promote a
democratic energy policy initiative that is sustainable, feasible, and is
representative of the public interest.  * developing *


Join the Electromagnetic Internetwork and help raise public awareness of
electromagnetism -- matter, energy, & in-formation:


Electronetwork Databases:

Register to add contact information for individuals, businesses, governments,
and organizations whose work involves electromagnetism and its related issues.


Electronetwork Resources:

Contribute educational and multidisciplinary hyperlinks of electromagnetic
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{ matter, energy, and in-formation }

public domain. no copyright. 2001.

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