Katie Hafner, Matthew Lyon: Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet (1996/1998)

29 October 2010, dusan

In the 1960s, when computers were regarded as giant calculators, J.C.R. Licklider at MIT saw them as the ultimate communication device. With Defence Department funds, he and a band of computer whizzes began work on a nationwide network of computers. This is an account of their daring adventure.

Published by Simon & Schuster
A Touchstone Book
ISBN 0684872161

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Timothy W. Luke, Jeremy Hunsinger (eds.): Putting Knowledge to Work and Letting Information Play: The Center for Digital Discourse and Culture (2009)

29 October 2010, dusan

The volume confronts many of the issues in contemporary academia as it meets the internet and computing in all of its spheres with many specific contributions on academic publishing, e-research, the history of the center, and related topics.

Publisher: Center for Digital Discourse and Culture, Virginia Tech Blacksburg, VA, December 2009
ISBN: 978-1-933217-00-0
A freely distributable, copyable, and downloadable digital e-dition in honor of the 10th anniversary of the
Center for Digital Discourse and Culture.
289 pages


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Seth Price: Dispersion (2002-) [English/Spanish/Basque]

29 October 2010, dusan

A provocative essay in which artist Seth Price examines the classical model of conceptualism, calling for a new public art, and arguing for less of a rupture between artistic interventions and distributed media.

Author: “This work bears a deep debt to numerous conversations with Bettina Funcke… Without her ideas and inspiration it would not exist.”


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Direct download (text only) [Spanish]
Direct download (text only) [Basque]

Harwood, Wright, Yokokoji: The Social Telephony Files (2010)

26 October 2010, dusan

Over the last twenty years the role of the telephone has been steadily reduced to that of an “interface” – for taking photos, bluetoothing business cards or connecting to an online service to find the nearest late night chemist. Sometimes people make phone calls. It is this rush to keep up with the latest augmentations of the mobile that has obscured the fact that the basic principle of person-to-person calling has still not reached its full potential after over 100 years. So in the first instance, social telephony is a historical project, returning to the handset, the voice, dialling and dialogue to re-imagine the phone call, to see where else it can go now that open source telephony allows us to build our own phone services.

Social telephony is thinking in terms of an “aesthetics of connectivity”, finding ways to build social networks between people that allow them to communicate in unexpected patterns and reveal different kinds of relationship. By taking advantage of the widespread use of phones we have developed arts projects that do not rely on unfamiliar computer systems and only require phone connectivity to take part. We have experimented with the use of auto-dialling to seek out potential participants, building the means of dissemination into the activity itself. We can allow people to pass content amongst themselves through their phones and across all national boundaries. By literally putting these abilities into the hands of our audience we have achieved more proactive forms of collaborative media.

This approach has also benefited from other kinds of connection. Our close collaboration with the Congolese community, especially Nostalgie Ya Mboka, has taught us that communication is not just about increasing the amount of information communicated. Their experience of exile from authoritarian regimes replaces a desire for quantity with a desire for channels, borderlessness and autonomy. The Coltan Wars, the most devastating yet least publicised conflict in the African continent, has shown us that an ordinary device such as a mobile phone connects us not only by wireless transmissions but also through a process of globalisation that includes historical currents, technological proliferation and the traffic of refugees.

How to make these myriad relationships tractable? Not to understand them as such, that is too naïve, but how to gain a purchase on them, a way into Congolese conversations, transnational trading routes and the Victorian inventions that spawned the modern global media empires. It was with this in mind that we developed the workshops and gallery based artworks, to bring into touch communities of migrants, young mobile phone users, critics and cultural audiences in spaces designed for more open ended reflection. This later work is designed not to communicate anything as such, but to reveal the shape of communication itself and a little about our place within it, so that when we perform something as simple as making a phone call we take part in a process that is continuing to shade its own particular cultural, historical and political outlines.

Special Edition for the exhibition of Tantalum Memorial, Arnolfini, Bristol, UK. September 25th to November 21st 2010

Contributing authors: Matthew Fuller, Anaclet Koffi, Vince Luttman, David Mandl, Yumika Tanaka and Yvonne Volkart
Publisher YoHa Limited, Southend-on-Sea, 2010
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license
ISBN 9781907379000


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YoHa: Coal Fired Computers (300,000,000 Computers – 318,000 Black Lungs) (2010)

26 October 2010, dusan

A one-hundred year old, 35-ton showman’s steam engine powers a computer with 1.5 tons of coal. Black lungs inflate every time a database record of miners’ lung disease is shown on the computer monitors. It feels like you’ve been invited into a fun fair, but one where the rides log their own accidents – a fun fair run by people who long ago became indistinct from the machines they maintain.

Over three days at the Discovery Museum, with groups of miner activists, Coal Fired Computers articulates relations between Power, Art and Media. A new work by leading UK media artists Harwood and Yokokoji (YoHa), in collaboration with Jean Demars, it responds to the displacement of coal production to distant lands like India and China after the UK miners’ strike in 1984/85.

Coal Fired Computers reflects on the complexities of our global fossil fuel reliance and especially on how coal transforms our health as we have transformed it. Today coal produces 42% of the world’s electricity, and in many countries this rate is much higher (more than 70% in India and China). This power is produced by descendants of Charles Parson’s 1884 steam turbines, also on display in the Discovery Museum.

It could be said that coal dust gets into everything. Sealed into the lungs of miners it forms visible blue streaks, like veins of coal. According to the World Health Organisation, 318,000 deaths occur annually from chronic bronchitis and emphysema caused by exposure to coal dust. The common perception is that wealthy countries have put this all behind them, displacing coal dust into the lungs of unrecorded, unknown miners in distant lands, however coal returns into our lives in the form of the cheap and apparently clean goods we consume.

Coal fired energy not only powers our computers here in the UK, but is integral to the production of the 300,000,000 computers made each year. 81% of the energy used in a computer’s life cycle is expended in the manufacturing process, now taking place in countries with high levels of coal consumption. The UK currently produces less that one third of the coal it uses, importing the majority of it and therefore displacing 150,000 tons of coal dust into unknown lungs.

Coal Fired Computers brings together these disparate elements into an artwork, allowing us to reflect on the complexities that have created and maintained power, the crisis of fuelling that power and its subsequent health residues.

Authors: Graham Harwood and Matsuko Yokokoji
Commissioned by AV Festival 2010
Produced in partnership with Discovery Museum.

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