Patrice Riemens on Sat, 10 Jan 2009 21:23:32 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Harv Stanic: ASCII: Amsterdam Subversive Code for Information Interchange.

ASCII .- ... -.-. .. ..
    Amsterdam Subversive Code for Information Interchange
    --- Internetworkspace --- 1998 - 2..?


    Internetworkspace  - A  free  and open  place  with free  internet
    access,  aggregating point  for all  people interested  in hacking
    together, or  simply hanging around  or on the net  while learning
    Free and OSS, creating and  mixing chaos for all people interested
    in free flow of information across any new or old medium.


    The idea of ASCII was conceived in late 1998 as there was the need
    for  a non-profit  'internetworkspace'  running on  free and  open
    source  software, and  spreading  the word  of  it's necessity  to
    enable, educate and prepare  people for the upcoming internet age,
    on-line privacy, as  well as need for people  to meet and exchange
    ideas and information face to face.

    click  start  to  stop

    Early  1999 in  its  first  incarnation cloaked  as  a cafe  ASCII
    emerged in a squatted house  with big shopping windows in a ground
    floor on the Herengracht, in  the historic center of Amsterdam, by
    installing Linux  on few  older machines and  opening our  door to
    everybody who needed free  internet access, email address, general
    tech  help or  just wanted  to  work together  with other  people,
    engage in  a collective, not sit  alone at home,  drink fair trade
    coffee, cheap bio-beer and so forth.

    goal..agenda..dogma..format C:

    Our main goal at that time  was to spread the word of the Free
    Software and  Open Source {(F/OSS)} movement  and provide free
    and  open access  to  the  internet and  give  our support  to
    EVERYBODY who  walked in, covering everything  from setting up
    an email  address to  free education in  Linux and  F/OSS. All
    that at  the time when  the internet was gaining  momentum for
    most of  the common  people who had  interest in it,  but were
    unable or  afraid to participate and join.  Microsoft with its
    Windows OS were gaining momentum too, so we tried to show that
    there's  more than  just  MS Windows.   We  tried to  convince
    people  interested  in free  flow  of  information that  using
    software made by the biggest multi-national corporation in the
    world could not be a  good idea.  Also Hotmail was popular and
    we tried to  recommend and help set up  other more private and
    secure  mail addresses for  our visitors.   That was  only the


    theory.. practice - phase O.I:


    In those days  many people were still only  just starting to grasp
    the  importance of  the internet  as a  medium, meeting  place and
    information  source.  We  didn't   claim  the  internet  was  more
    important than other media, or  that in order to have a successful
    project/campaign/activity   it  is  necessary   to  rely   on  net
    mechanisms. Radio,  for instance, is unsurpassed when  it comes to
    spreading   a  message  to   even  the   remotest  areas   of  the
    planet. However,  none of the "conventional"  media influenced our
    perception of  reality like  the internet did  then and  does even
    more  today.   That  is,   the  boundaries  of  participation  and
    observation/non-participation are clearly defined when it comes to
    reading the  paper, watching  TV etc. The  internet, on  the other
    hand, has a far-reaching  interactivity. It is a soapbox, library,
    publishing tool  and meeting place  at the same time.   Where else
    could  one  find  detailed   and  extensive  information  on,  for
    instance, genetic  modification, join  a newsgroup, put  a website
    up, find like-minded people  to organize a global campaign, spread
    news about local actions within minutes of them taking place - all
    of that just a click away..or a few?

    We felt that the Internet  should be accessible to anyone and that
    censorship sucks.   Infringement on free  speech, surfers' privacy
    and  over-commercialization   of  the  net   were  major  problems
    already. At this rate the net  would soon, we were sure even then,
    be one  huge billboard  where multinational companies  provide the
    world with  good, clean family fun.   Not if we could  help it. We
    also  hoped the  positive subversive  elements of  the  world will
    continue to infiltrate the net and create ways to keep information
    free. That was our vision at the end of the 20th Century.


    Consequence, agitation and involvement:


    After one  year of our engagement  in Amsterdam, we  felt that our
    local  involvement  and  teachings,   could  be  spread  to  other
    like-minded people and also spread and applied internationally, so
    we organized a couple of  international meetings on the subject of
    'internetworkspaces' and  spread the idea within one  year to more
    than 10  European countries and  around 20 or more  cities.  Being
    aware that the situation in Amsterdam  is not the same as in other
    cities, we  tried to help other  places that were  inspired by our
    idea to adapt to the specific local environment and circumstances.
    We  also  moved our  ASCII  'internetworkspace' around  Amsterdam,
    changing locations and adapting our space to our demands and being
    a  squatted  place  by  choice,  it  was  forced  to  move  around
    sometimes...   We  participated  on various  international  events
    providing our media-tech expertise  and knowledge to help activist
    media  centers on many  occasions Europe-wide.   Whether it  was a
    big-time     international    hack     meeting     or    big-scale
    anti-globalisation    rally    or    a   local    environmentalist

    In the meantime we took our local activities one step further.  We
    conceived  (amongst the other  numerous supported  activities like,    etc.)    an   independent
    city-wide  wireless  network that  should  offer free  unmonitored
    connectivity  without  the  need  of  commercial  companies.   The
    resulting Amsterdam Network Collective spanned a large part of the
    city and connected several  independent venues and many households
    in the  city. Also  this concept in  cooperation with  people from
    Leiden  and  London  wireless  communities  spread  all  over  the
    continent and  has inspired networks like Funkfeuer  in Vienna and
    Freifunk in Berlin.

    Then at some  point in time, after almost 8  years of existence as
    'internetworkspace' we decided that  we actually could close down.
    Internet was available all over,  Linux and F/OSS were not obscure
    hacker's  tools anymore  and  we had  successfully propagated  our
    ideas. They have since evolved and spread internationally.


    new step towards...phase II or was it phase III...?


    The conclusion was, in our case, that to do cool stuff one doesn't
    really need permanent space. The result of which would be creation
    of hierarchies within  the collective and a danger  of becoming an

    So, our future had to be shaped and we put on our thinking hats to
    conceive method  of a new  state or existence  in time. So  at the
    moment we  try to see and find  out how our ideas  and purpose can
    exist without  an actual space.   We, as a collective,  are spread
    all over the  world.  We meet sometimes in  person, we discuss and
    create  projects, but how  to put  it all  together in  theory and
    practice, that  is what we  see as a  new challenge to  be further
    explored. That is on our to  do list right now and this process is
    ongoing...and we know that answer is not '42'.

         .. -. - . .-. -. . - .-- --- .-. -.- ... .--. .- -.-. .

    "If you  can type 'man man'  into terminal, it means  that you can
    run Linux too.."

               ... an introduction into ASCII Linux lecture


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