Blast the Bots - Praise the Databases
Five URLs from Geert Lovink
This time no fancy imagery. I am an ascci text addict and love databases. For me, they are the core and the very essence of computer networks, if we leave the day to day communication via e-mail apart. In contrast to the popular myths about the Internet, only very few people are truely dedicated to the building up of public and free archives. Don't believe the hype about 'collective intelligence' and the Net as a 'global brain'. These are the lies of our times. Most of the information available on-line will disappear in a few months or years. If stored and properly archived, it is most likely that we will have to pay a lot to get access to the corporate archives of the future. Freely accessible databases are the centre of the fight for public content. One of the heroes in this fight is Gert van Velzen (firstname.lastname@example.org), a digital storage maniac since the late eighties who is dedicating all his time to the archiving of all sorts of information from political movements. At this site you can find the famous newsgroup 'misc.activism.progressive', the mailinglist for an 'Other Europe' and the archive of the political provider contrast.org.
The etext archives (est. 1992) are home to electronic texts of all kinds, from the sacred to the profane, from the political to the personal. 'Our duty is to provide electronic versions of texts without judging their content.' Hunderds of zines have their e-archive here, texts about the Goddess Abiraami, etext carries a mirror of the Digital Computer Underground Digest (CuD), archives of the European Counter Network (activism) and the text archives from 'Arm The Spirit', the egoist e-zine 'Non.Serviam' (dedicated to Max Stirner), 'zigzag' (anti-marxist), 'Somalia.News.Update' and various legal and philosophical documents. The etext archives still operate entirely on volunteer labor and equipment. If you have time, skills, equipment or money that you wish to contribute, please contact: email@example.com
I am not a fan of New Age, so it is not likely that I would visit the site of some Canadian taoists. But tao.ca is different stuff. Behind categories like 'earth', 'mountain' and 'fire' one can find information about the International Forum for Indenpendant Media, The Anarchives, the booklist of The Freedom Press or the hackers zine Phrack. Here you can also find the activities of the Toronto-based 'Media Collective', who have been involved in the protests against the World Bank's conference 'Global Knowledge'. You can choose between 'ying' (low bandwidth) and 'yang' (high bandwidth), with pages under 'constant evolution'. But who cares? This is superior content for all those involved in direct action.
Search engines like hotbot or altavista remain unprecise for the time being. A solution for the random data trash are the search engines attached to specific web archives, in this case our mailinglist for 'net criticism'. Many who do not like to be subscribed to a list, are peeping into the latest postings, look for specific threads or keywords and authors. New mailinglists like 'xchange' (real-audio-radio projects) or 'recode' (for Australia and Asia-Pacific region) now have a web archive from the very start.
It took me a while to find this URL. This is a screen dump of the first interface of the Digital City in Amsterdam. Until october 1994 dds ran as a gopher system, without a graphic interface. It is part of a collection of screens, images and text archives of newsgroup, maintained by the 'archeological department' of dds. In January 1996, dds held a 'freeze' action in which the entire system was stored on tape. The Digital City now has almost 70.000 regular users, many of them new. Can a complex system like this, with such a variety of individuals and small groups of users develop a sense of history? With a city archive and its own cemetery, the Digital City at least gives it try. You can even see video images of the start of the project, back in January 1994, look with your Real Player at: http://www.dds.nl/~webmix/