InterCommunication ’91: The Museum Inside the Telephone Network (1991) [Japanese/English]

13 November 2017, dusan

The exhibition organised by the Project InterCommunication Center (ICC), founded by the Japanese telecom NTT, was a pioneering project investigating the implications of networked communication for the museum institution. The exhibition was only accessible to home users by means of the telephone, fax, and in a limited sense computer networking. It was meant as a model for a new kind of an “invisible” museum. Later it was followed up by another ICC exhibition The Museum Inside the Network (1995). The ICC opened its exhibition space in 1997.

The works and messages from almost 100 artists, writers, and cultural figures were available through five channels. The works in “Voice & sound channel” such as talks and readings on the theme of communication could be listened to by telephone. The “Interactive channel” offered participants to create musical tunes by pushing buttons on a telephone. Works of art, novels, comics and essays could be received at home through “Fax channel”. The “Live channel” offered artists’ live performances and telephone dialogues between invited intellectuals to be heard by telephone. Additionally, computer graphics works could be accessed by modem and downloaded to one’s personal computer screen for viewing.

Contributors include Laurie Anderson, J.G. Ballard, Christian Boltanski, Pierre Boulez, William S. Burroughs, Merce Cunningham, Daniel Buren, John Cage, Jacques Derrida, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Glass, Félix Guattari, Pontus Hultén, Derek Jarman, Jeff Koons, Daniel Libeskind, Jackson Mac Low, Judith Malina, Renzo Piano, Steve Reich, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Akira Sakata, Paul Virilio, Robert Wilson, Tadanori Yokoo, John Zorn, a.o.

Edited by Urban Design Research
Introduction by Akira Asada, Yutaka Hikosaka, and Toshiharu Itou
Publisher NTT, Tokyo, 1991
259 pages

Exhibition
WorldCat

PDF (76 MB)
PDF (hi-res, 235 MB)

Marie Marchand: The Minitel Saga: A French Success Story (1988)

18 March 2016, dusan

The only English-language monograph on the popular Videotex online service Minitel, which operated in France between 1978-2012.

“Minitel was proposed and adopted in 1978, the same year that Simon Nora and Alain Minc submitted their influential report The Computerization of Society in which they coined the term ‘telematics’. Minitel also came on the heels of a “phone-in-every-home” program (pre-dating the One Laptop Per Child project by many decades) that was proposed in 1975 by then-general manager of France Telecom Gérard Théry to increase subscriber telephone lines; Théry firmly believed the telephone was going to be the cornerstone of any computerized country – “A phone in every home is the cutting edge of a computer in every home.” Just three years later in 1978, 2500 people in the Parisian suburb of Vélizy had volunteered to use the system initially called “Teletel.” Marie Marchand tellingly writes in The Minitel Saga: A French Success Story that while “households used the system six times a month on average, consulting 20-odd services for a total connect time of one-and-a-half hours per month…”, “These overall figures concealed a number of pronounced disparities…Age disparity: people under 30 used their terminals more than those over 30. Gender disparity: women used them but little. Class disparity: top executives connected more often than midle management types, who in turn called more often than blue collar workers. Further, a flagrant disparity emerged in terms of services used. Five service providers alone accounted for over half the calls…” (53)

In 1982, instead of delivering increasingly expensive and difficult to update telephone book directories, France Telecom loaned Minitel terminals to residents all across France. By 1988, 3.5 million Minitel sets had been installed with users logging six million hours per month and taking advantage of 8000 services. And by 1999, roughly 9 million terminals could access to the network in turn used by 25 million people who took advantage of 26,000 services. By this time, not only had Minitel inaugurated an era that continues today of disparities between visible and invisible (or even absent) users based on gender, race, sexuality, and socio-economic status, but it also inaugurated the era of online pornography, the use of networks to coordinate student protests, and experiments with pseudonymous online identity.” (Lori Emerson)

Translated and adapted from the French by Mark Murphy
Publisher Larousse, Paris, 1988
ISBN 2035182409, 9782035182401
197 pages
via Lori Emerson

Resources: Minitel.org, Minitel Research Lab.

WorldCat

PDF, PDF (25 MB)

James R. Beniger: The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society (1986)

26 April 2014, dusan

“James Beniger traces the origin of the Information Society to major economic and business crises of the past century. In the United States, applications of steam power in the early 1800s brought a dramatic rise in the speed, volume, and complexity of industrial processes, making them difficult to control. Scores of problems arose: fatal train wrecks, misplacement of freight cars for months at a time, loss of shipments, inability to maintain high rates of inventory turnover. Inevitably the Industrial Revolution, with its ballooning use of energy to drive material processes, required a corresponding growth in the exploitation of information: the Control Revolution.

Between the 1840s and the 1920s came most of the important information-processing and communication technologies still in use today: telegraphy, modern bureaucracy, rotary power printing, the postage stamp, paper money, typewriter, telephone, punch-card processing, motion pictures, radio, and television. Beniger shows that more recent developments in microprocessors, computers, and telecommunications are only a smooth continuation of this Control Revolution. Along the way he touches on many fascinating topics: why breakfast was invented, how trademarks came to be worth more than the companies that own them, why some employees wear uniforms, and whether time zones will always be necessary.”

Publisher Harvard University Press, 1986
ISBN 0674020766, 9780674020764
493 pages
via babyalanturing

Review (JoAnne Yates, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 1988)
Review (Krishan Kumar, Journal of American Studies, 1988)
Review (Kirkus Reviews)

Book-inspired website
Publisher

PDF (16 MB, updated on 2016-6-16)