"How does one connect a country to the internet?"

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Mirjana Tasić (centre) at the 30th International Public ICANN Meeting, where the RNIDS Assembly ratified the Letter of Intent with ICANN, signed by a Serbian delegation, in Los Angeles from 29 October to 2 November. Image: Firstsite and Aleksandra Domanović in From yu to me, 2014. 

The following interview was conducted for From yu to me, a documentary film by artist Aleksandra Domanović that narrates the emergence of the internet in the former Yugoslavia, with a particular focus on the .yu domain name. The interview was previously published in a new catalogue produced by Domanović and firstsite, ColchesterBorka Jerman-Blažič played a key role in establishing the internet in Yugoslavia just as the country fell apart; she also registered and initially administered the .yu domain name.

Aleksandra Domanović: As Yugoslavia was starting to disintegrate in the early 1990s, it also became connected to the internet. You played a key role in establishing this connection. How did it all happen?

Borka Jerman-Blažič: It was on 6 August 1991 that CERN debuted the World Wide Web, which was to become the basic service of the modern internet. Just two months after, I attended an Internet Engineering Task Force meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I saw my colleagues working on their home computers just by simple login via the TCP/IP protocol and a Telnet user service. I decided to set up a connection to the internet the moment I got home! (All we had was an email service using old transport protocols known as X.400 and X.25.) At that time I was engaged as secretary general of the Yugoslav Network for the Academic Community, YUNAC, on behalf of which I applied for an internet connection. We managed to connect in November 1991; at that time, only sixteen countries had access to the internet, including Yugoslavia.

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The Unfinished Business of a Yugoslav Internet

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Aleksandra Domanović, From yu to me (2014). Commissioned by Rhizome, Abandon Normal Devices, and Fridericianum.

Aleksandra Domanović used to own an international sampler of domain names: aleksandradomanovic.sk, aleksandradomanovic.rs, aleksandradomanovic.si, aleksandradomanovic.eu. It's usually enough for an artist or other public figure to claim their name on .com, and Domanović did, but by staking out real estate in the top-level domains governed by Slovakia, Serbia, Slovenia, and the European Union she reminded herself, and anyone else paying attention, about the friction of states and networks, names, and domains. Domanović was born in Yugoslavia, and when it was gone her citizenship drifted. If for some of its users the World Wide Web appears boundlessly ephemeral in comparison to the permanence of statehood, in Domanović's experience of recent history, states and domains alike are tools of control that can be surprisingly fragile and flexible.

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Aleksandra Domanović's Internet Realism

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From yu to me (2014). Still frame from single-channel video with sound.

Aleksandra Domanović's From yu to me was commissioned by Rhizome, Abandon Normal Devices, and Fridericianum. View the work and read an accompanying text by Brian Droitcour here.

"Every map of the internet looks the same."

Multi-directional trees, hubs and spokes and branches, clouds of varying density: to Alex Galloway, writing in his book The Interface Effect, the many attempts to visualize information society all begin to look the same. Maps of the internet, he argues, tend to conceal more than they reveal; the main purpose they serve is to dazzle the beholder with the complexity of it all.

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Stealth Infrastructure

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Published in collaboration with VVVNT

Cell tower disguised as fir tree, Bedfordshire, UK. Photo: Dragontree.

"The Critical Engineer considers any technology depended upon to be both a challenge and a threat. The greater the dependence on a technology the greater the need to study and expose its inner workings, regardless of ownership or legal provision. "

            – The Critical Engineering Manifesto, 2011-2014

SIGHTINGS 

My first conscious contact with telecommunications infrastructure came in the form of a telephone call that simultaneously rang for about a hundred people.

It was called a party line and was common in the 80s in rural New Zealand and other areas too sparsely populated to justify a unique telephone cable to each household. Instead, the telco ran just one line out from the nearest exchange as though the whole community were a single address, and then wove it across the hills, through wooden T-poles, stitching farm to farm.

It worked like this: each farm was given a ring pattern similar to a phrase of Morse Code. Our antique phone with its wooden housing and little metal bells would ring with a dozen different patterns a day, but the rule was that you'd only pick up when the call was for you.

Naturally my sisters and I broke that rule once or twice, trying to keep a lid on our giggles as we lifted the wrong pattern. Though the system practically implemented wiretapping, we knew listening in on others was wrong and, apart from the odd prank, our Party Line worked quite well. As far as I knew the whole world was wired that way, that telecommunication anywhere would imply an open infrastructure with a contract of trust at the center. 

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A Surf Session with Cory Arcangel

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Arcangel Surfware.

On Saturday, May 17, artist Cory Arcangel will present a solo exhibition and pop-up store, "You Only Live Once," at the Holiday Inn New York-Soho, featuring a new clothing and lifestyle merchandise line, Arcangel Surfware. We met for a session at his Brooklyn apartment to talk about surfing tricks and habits, gear, and how things change for each generation of surfers.

Can you start by showing me something from your browsing history?

Most, I'm not going to say all the time, but more often than not, my deep surfs revolve around late-80s/ early- to mid-90s metal. (Laughter.) I've been going deep into Steve Vai lately.... Here's all my Steve Vai searches.

Wow, that's a lot of Steve Vai.

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Go Fucking Do It

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Neoliberalism is not merely destructive of rules, institutions and rights. It is also productive of certain kinds of social relations, certain ways of living, certain subjectivities….at stake in neo-liberalism is nothing more, nor less, than the form of our existence—the way in which we are led to conduct ourselves, to relate to others and to ourselves.

—Dardot & Laval, The New Way of the World: On Neoliberal Society

"Your Lazy Life Ends Today!" proclaimed a recent promotional tweet by Go Fucking Do It, a new productivity app.

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Larping Off the Grid

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Courtesy of Isaac Eddy

The year is 2020, and four months ago, a federal mandate required everyone to wear a biometric device that would not only track physiological and behavioral characteristics, but transmit this personal data to the public and the government in real time.

The company that invented this device—ePublik—never intended for their technology to be used for government surveillance. Acting in protest, its engineers have found a way to unlawfully hack the device and temporarily disable the live stream. Those courageous enough to disobey government surveillance for brief moments of unmonitored alone time are joining what the media has called the Aloneing Movement.

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How to Speedread Properly

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There's an underlying assumption in most of the thinkpieces spawned by emergent speedreading apps: that you'll be using them to catch up on the massive assortment of thinkpieces you don't have the time to ingest.

Velocity, Spritz (which is actually proprietary tech, not yet an "app"), and the 2006 web-based spreeder all facilitate speedreading via a method known as Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP). RSVP, as spreeder marketing copy explains, focuses on "silencing subvocalization" (which, in turn, is defined in Velocity's copy as your "inner voice"). spreeder and Velocity accomplish this by basically flashing words at you really fast. Spritz adds its own "Optimal Recognition Point," often a vowel, in red so as to excise time-consuming eye movements. In each case, the eye is presented here as the blood-brain barrier, with the text ever trying to pass through it more efficiently. This is a rather unique method for dealing with the stresses of the war-like domain of the longread; now you can "read" everything.

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