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<nettime> Virtual Tropicalia - Richard Barbrook and John Perry Barlow i
Ray ganz on Sun, 16 Mar 2003 21:01:19 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Virtual Tropicalia - Richard Barbrook and John Perry Barlow inBrazil

(by way of richard barbrook)

This is a translation from portuguese of the interview Richard Barbrook and
John Barlow gave to the brazilian newspaper the "Folha de S.Paulo"


 The Cyber-romantics
 An ex-composer of Gratefull Dead and an university lecturer, both
ideological fathers of a "possible communism" on the internet, examine
their political differences as guests of the Midia Tatica Brasil, and stand
by the free exchange of music and information on the World Wide Web; this
unique meeting was mediated by the Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil.


Consensus between the two major intelectuals in relation to the internet
of today was always an utopia. Since the publication of his "Declaration
of Independence of Cyberspace" (96), the rancher and creator of the ONG
Electronic Frontier Foundation, John Perry Barlow, 56, exchanges virtual
acusations with the englishman Richard Barbrook, 46, lecturer at the
University of Westminster and author of the "Cybercommunist Manifesto"

Barlow: He said I had a belief in the free market and its infalibility
which I never had.

 Barbrook: You are a social darwinist!

 Barlow: And you are a punk rocker!

 This witty discussion ended up in this country thanks to the festival
Midia Tatica Brasil, which opens officially today and had a private view
last friday, in the presence of the minister of culture, Gilberto Gil, who
hosted both guests taking them to the circuit of Carnavais do Nordeste
(Northeast Carnivals), to a trip to the (his own) past in the Museum of
Dops and to a tribute to the rapper Sabotage at the Sesc Pompeia. On the
last sunday, between a fork full of feijoada (stew of beans) and a gulp of
caipirinha, the Folha put both "virtual enemies" face to face and talked
about culture, technology, digital music and politics.

 Folha - What do you think that makes technology a subject to be examined
in a cultural magazine?

 John Perry Barlow:We are not talking about technological matters. The raw
materials of the internet are the cultures. People become so obsessed with
the tools that they forget the reason why they are using them.

 Richard Barbrook: It's the establishment that wants to talk of
technology, to avoid talking about culture, politics or economy.

 Folha - What changed on the internet since the beginning of the 90s? Did
the commercial model win over the academic?

 Barbrook - No, what's interesting is that the internet is nowadays a lot
closer to the academic model than to the commercial means of
communication. Some tried to make television out of the internet, a place
to buy and sell entertainment sponsored by ads, but most of it is made of
people who use it to share information. Its amazing the internet has not
been turned into a corporation.

 Barlow- That is no big deal and you wrote why not. The web is naturally
an economy of sharing, and any attempt to transform it in anything else,
in a market of ideas, would be defeated.

 Barbrook - You (referring to the "californian ideology" of the magazine
"Wired", i.e, which was criticised in the "Cybercommunist Manifest")
preach a free commerce of ideas.

 Barlow - When people talk about a market of ideas they mean a dialog, not
an exchange involving money.

 Folha - The internet is the future of music? And the record labels?

 Barbrook - They still make money and they are going to take ages trying
to persuade us they can transform the world into a digital fantasy. The
question is: why would people buy music on-line if they have the tools to
make it and share it?

 Barlow - At the (independent festival) Midem, in Cannes, the executives
were affraid, but their answer was: use a bigger sledgehammer, find the
tools for a better repression.

 Folha - And would it be possible to make that kind of control?

 Barlow - Unfortunately yes. I think it is necessary for people to forget
some of my previous statements and realise that the internet can be
controlled and there are already some efforts of various governments
towards that goal.

 Barbrook: You would be surprised if that was not happening.

 Barlow: Yes, I never thought the industry would just roll and die.

 Barbrook: Yes, you did. You're just an old hippie.


 That's it guys. I know sometimes the english might sound a bit strange
but I tried to stick to the brazilian portuguese text as much as possible
instead of going for a more free translation. I think one still gets the

 Ray Ganz

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