|Geert Lovink on Thu, 13 Aug 1998 08:59:36 +0200 (MET DST)|
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|nettime-nl: Nieuwmarkt, 19.8, 21.00: ECD, IW, ARS ELECTRONICA|
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1998 14:04:27 -0400 (EDT) From: Stefan J Wray <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Nieuwmarkt, 19.8, 21.00: ECD, IW, ARS ELECTRONICA AMSTERDAM MEETING IN ADVANCE OF ARS ELECTRONICA DISCUSSION ABOUT ELECTRONIC CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE Wednesday, August 19, 9 p.m. The square in front of De Waag (Nieuwmarkt) Next month, people from around the world will meet at the annual Ars Electronica festival in Linz, Austria, Sept. 7 to 12. This year's 20th anniversay festival gathers under the banner of INFOWAR. In advance of the Ars Electronica Infowar festival, you are invited to an informal meeting/discussion in Amsterdam on Wednesday, August 19, at 9 p.m., in the square in front of De Waag. (For those who can not attend, see below for Infowar listserv details) We would like to talk about several highly related subjects: 1) Electronic Civil Disobedience 2) Bottom-Up Information Warfare 3) Ars Electronica "Electronic Civil Disobedience" is the name the Electronic Disturbance Theater gives to its electronic actions against Mexican government web sites. (see: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/wray/ecd.html) The Electronic Disturbance Theater is a small net-based group in the United States that since April 1998 has targeted Mexican government web sites with its FloodNet software because of that government's continued low-intensity warfare strategy against the Zapatistas and others in southern Mexico. FloodNet is a distributed system, dependent on mass participation, that sends automated reload requests to a targeted site which has the effect of simulating a blockade, sit-in, or protest at the entranceway to the site. "Towards Bottom-Up Information Warfare" is an article just written that hopefully can be used to frame discussion around a grassroots Information Warfare theory and practice. (see below for full text or see: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/wray/BottomUp.html) The main point of the short article is that we need to negate dominant conceptions of Information Warfare that are primarily derived from a corporate-state and military-intelligence point-of-view. Secondly, we need to look for positive examples from our own experience to begin crafting a bottom-up approach to Infowar. Third, it seems that resistance to future war - which we may say has arrived - is a site for further exploration of a bottom-up view. >From looking at the web site of this year's Ars Electronica festival, it seems the subject of Information Warfare is being broadly interpreted. (see: http://www.aec.at/infowar/index.html) We can see a range of participants and sponsors, including people from more radical projects along with representatives of the U.S. military. This sort of "open source" environment has its advantages - we learn about them - and it has its disadvantages - they learn about us. One problem with placing such a wide, open, all-inclusive, frame around Information Warfare is that it then becomes difficult to get a grip on this more slippery and blurred, gray area, conception of Infowar. It is important to recognize and remember that, as in traditional or conventional war, in the realm of Information Warfare there are also distinct sides. Identifying these sides, the positions and interests they represent, is important. With respect to Ars Electronica in its totality and to the different sides or lines that will be drawn around Information Warfare, it seems there will be a group of people representing the corporate-state or military-intelligence IW points-of-view, there will be a group representing the bottom-up or radical grassroots IW perspectives, there will be some with an digital arts perspective on IW, and then there will be a majority who don't allign themselves - or who are not alligned - with any one particular conception of Information Warfare. The tendency of some may be to maintain or obtain a consensus, an agreement not to disagree, around Information Warfare, preferring the more muddled gray area middle ground, while the tendency of others will be to take a more critical approach. This latter approach in which sides are clearly noted and defined, it seems, is what is necessary for developing a bottom-up critical approach to Information Warfare theory and practice. By beginning discussion around these sorts of matters now, we go in to Ars Electronica with a better sense of who we are and where we stand in relation to others present. Beyond Ars Electronica being a useful site for the furtherance of bottom-up Information Warfare theory, the festival also should be a venue to advance techniques and tactics. In the end, this may be the more important potential of Ars Electronica. After all, the best bottom-up Information Warfare theory is useless if the means to engage in information-based conflict do not exist. Software devices like FloodNet are important, but they can not be effectively used as singular instruments. There needs to be a multitude, an array, of FloodNet-like devices in order to realize the full potential of the SWARM proposal (the next phase of bottom-up Infowar practice?), the enactment of a simultaneous, collective, mass action in cyberspace involving multi-source and multi-range software devices. (see: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/wray/swarm.html) If you can not come to this discussion then join on-line discussion around these subjects: go to http://www.aec.at/infowar/FESTIVAL/ find netsymposium find instructions for subscription *************************************************************************** Towards Bottom-Up Information Warfare Theory and Practice: Version 1.0 by Stefan Wray August 5, 1998 (Stefan Wray wrote his masters thesis on "The Drug War and Information Warfare in Mexico." (http://www.nyu.edu/projects/wray/masters.html) He is a New York member of the Electronic Disturbance Theater and is working on a doctorate degree in communications at New York University.) 1.0 Bottom-Up Information Warfare Bottom-up Information Warfare (BUIW) theory/praxis is needed because dominant IW conceptions are not based on our interests, but on the interests of the corporate-state and its military-intelligence community. Bottom-up IW theory/praxis should negate dominant corporate-state/military-intelligence IW theory/praxis and should affirm our digital resistant experience and related theory/praxis. Resistance to future war, totally dependent on information and communication technology (ICT), is a useful area for exploration and elaboration of bottom-up IW theory/praxis. Many of today's conflicts verge on future war and current resistance to them provide sites for developing bottom-up IW ideas and practice. 2.0 Negation of Dominant Information Warfare Conceptions A negation of dominant corporate-state/military-intelligence IW theory should be based on a close examination of the sources of these dominant conceptions, the content and main conclusions, the underlying assumptions and myths, and the context from which IW theory was produced. Primary sources for dominant IW theory/praxis are U.S. academicians, scholars, and analysts from places like the RAND Corporation, the National Defense University, the U.S. Air Force, other branches of the military, public and private universities, and 'independent' think-tanks. Dominant IW theorists argue that, in today's information society, nations and corporations are increasingly vulnerable to information-based attacks aimed at ICT infrastructure. With the end of the Cold War, the ideology of Information Warfare - often in conjunction with Drug War ideology - provides the state and the military with a new rationale for growth and expansion. 3.0 Affirmation of Resistant Information Warfare Conceptions An affirmation of bottom-up Information Warfare theory/praxis means learning who we are, consolidating our own theory/praxis, and recasting dominant myths and assumptions with ones more suited to our interests. So far, bottom-up Information Warfare actors are an international mix of computerized activists, politicized hackers, new media theorists, digital artists, and others at the juncture of computers, media, radical politics, and the arts. The theoretical basis for bottom-up Information Warfare is from a mix of related sources including work on nomadic warfare (Bey; Deleuze and Guattari), on electronic disturbance and civil disobedience (Critical Art Ensemble), on tactical media (Next Five Minutes), and others. Bottom-up IW praxis is not widespread, but one example of incipient work in this area are the Electronic Civil Disobedience actions against the Mexican government that use a device called FloodNet. 4.0 Resistance to Future War The Gulf War has been called the first Information War because of the heavy reliance on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for military and propagandistic purposes. Since the Gulf War such reliance on ICT - on InfoWar technology - has become commonplace for both military conflicts, such as in former Yugoslavia and in southern Mexico, as well as for law enforcement efforts, for example, to control drugs and immigration. For all intents and purposes, future war has arrived and people who resist war today are finding that new means of electronic, digital, or virtual resistance are becoming both possible and necessary. Cyberspacial resistance to future war enables polyspacial hybrid forms of resistance that combine the older rural-agrarian and urban-industrial models of warfare, with the newer cyberspacial-informational forms. 5.0 Global Zapatista Internet Resistance A current example of hybrid rural, urban, and cyberspacial resistance is the case of the global pro-Zapatista movement, which has demonstrated how the Internet allows non-state actors to build networks of solidarity and resistance across national borders. Immediately after January 1, 1994, the Zapatistas had a strong Internet presence. Through email listservs like Chiapas95, Cc: lists, and an array of interconnected web sites, a global pro-Zapatista movement formed. This year political communication moved toward political action as, for example, the Electronic Disturbance Theater started Electronic Civil Disobedience actions against the Mexican government. Also on several occasions this year, anti-government and pro-Zapatista messages have been placed on Mexican government web sites. 6.0 An Electronic Boston Tea Party As the Paris Salon is to political communication on the Internet, the Boston Tea Party is to political action; more so it is a metaphor for direct action. Although the bias of Internet politics favors the more passive discursive space of political communication (the salon), things like Electronic Civil Disobedience campaigns against the Mexican government (the tea party) are expanding the range of possibilities. While individuals and small groups have experimented with electronic resistance there is still room for more experimentation and development of techniques and devices. A particularly intriquing idea, that has not been tested, but that has been proposed to Ars Electronica is a proposal for a SWARM, an advanced, multiple source, ECD action happening on different levels and in different spaces, somthing like a simultaneous convergence of numerous electronic Boston Tea Parties. 7.0 Conclusions There is a need for an elaboration and an expansion of bottom-up Information Warfare theory/praxis. For this there needs to be a negation of dominant top-down conceptions of Information Warfare and an affirmation of resistant bottom-up conceptions. The sites of resistance to future war are good locations for further thinking and practice of bottom-up Information Warfare. The global pro-Zapatista movement is one site where such experimention with electronic resistance has taken place. Finally, there needs to be more experimentation and development of electronic techniques and software devices for more advanced electronic civil disobedience. -- * Verspreid via nettime-nl. Commercieel gebruik niet toegestaan zonder * toestemming. <nettime-nl> is een gesloten en gemodereerde mailinglist * over net-kritiek. Meer info: email@example.com met 'info nettime-nl' in de * tekst v/d email. Archief: http://www.factory.org/nettime-nl. Contact: * firstname.lastname@example.org. Int. editie: http://www.desk.nl/~nettime.