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<nettime> wsis digest no. 4
geert lovink on Fri, 12 Dec 2003 20:21:28 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> wsis digest no. 4

World Summit on Information Society
Nettime Digest, no. 4 December 11, 2003

(I arrived in Geneva today. In between all activities I made this quick
digest. It also contains some 'old' info. Over the weekend I hope to
compile more actual information. For more 'live' information please visit
the http://www.dailysummit.net/ blog and www.geneva03.org for counter
summit updates. Geert)

- Reports from We Seize! by Stefan Merten (Oekonux)
- Report of Hans Klein/Georgia Tech
- Global media struggle to define 'freedom'
- Radio Non Grata forced off the air
- Nations Chafe at U.S. Influence Over the Internet
- Human Right Causus Concerned about Outcome
- Mapping Geneva Project (Bureau d'Etudes)
- Assuming the GCNP position
- Migration, labour, media and organizing
- Alles nicht so schlimm (Florian Rötzer)
- WSIS text by Garth Graham


From: "Stefan Merten" <smerten {AT} oekonux.de>
Subject: [ox-en] Report from "We Seize!"


While being here in Geneva I also can try to report on what is
happening here at the "We Seize!" events. I don't know, however,
whether this is possible on the other days.

Monday has been the second day of preparation of the "We Seize!"
(after a year of online preparation). It started with a press
conference in the morning.

Press conference
- ----------------

* Jamie King who is one of the main organizers made a declaration you
  can find under


  (At the moment this page is truncated :-( .)

  One of the key points is that at "We Seize!" people who kind of live
  the information society already are gathering instead of some
  political leaders.

* The "We Seize!" event has not been planned to be a big event.
  Instead people from all over the world can participate online.

* The program has been outlined. Please check


  for an up-to-date snapshot.

* The streaming during the conference is made possible for "zero cost"
  by Free Software.

* Besides freedom of communication mentioned in the declaration
  freedom of knowledge was highlighted.

* The "Digital Divide" is never digital. Instead it is monetary.

* When accessing the Internet it is important to know how you can use
  it. This differs much from people getting connected to some business
  channels. Free Software is at the very base of this know how.

* If software is the basis of the information society putting
  copyrights on software is like putting a copyright on language. Also
  proprietary software sets the terms which people have to use to
  communicate. Free Software frees people to choose these terms

* It is important to prevent technological fetishism as it can be seen
  in the official WSIS to some degree (e-everything). Instead the
  people should be the most important thing.

* Free Software and its importance has been mentioned in many

* "We Seize!" has been named to make clear that we just take what we
  need instead of waiting what "they" give us.

* Besides Internet streaming other media is used by re-broadcasting
  the digital streams (radio, television). Also the "We Seize!" uses
  these type of media itself (particularly in the Polymedia Lab).

* Internet is a cheaper media than other regulated media.

* Program of Strategic Conference has been settled now. [Which changed
  since the press conference.] There are even printed versions.

* The key concept of "We Seize!" is to show autonomy, demonstrating
  networking, sharing of knowledge, and so on. Demonstrations on the
  street are not seen as a good way to show this autonomy.

* The wanted outcome of "We Seize!" is to have some substantial
  discussions, to learn something, check out practical solutions, show
  autonomy, connect groups which are subject to the same issues.

* There are attempts to organize self-organized networks independent
  from e.g. ICANN. This sort of networks becomes more important as the
  commercial networks prevent free flow of information. This is
  parallel to the success of Free Software.

* The commercial factions have more disagreement between themselves
  than to the Free Movement (e.g. IBM/HP vs. M$). The Free movement
  can grow in the cracks between these factions.

* CRIS published "We Seize!" in the official program. "We Seize!"
  itself has no relationship to the official process. CRIS has a foot
  in both areas.

In the afternoon the second part of the preparation took place. It was
mainly concerned with laying out the Strategic Conference
(http://www.geneva03.net/moin.cgi/StrategicConference). Actually the
first two sessions have been merged and the rest stayed as it was.

Tuesday was planned as the first day of the Strategic Conference.
However, it has not started yet. The reason is that the police is at
the location where the Polymedia Lab takes place. I don't know about
the details yet but I understood that the police lets people out of
the location only when they take all the equipment with them. Of
course this is unacceptable because part of the "We Seize!" event
should take place there. As far as I understood there is an agreement
of the owner of the location to have the Polymedia Lab there and for
instance people received a key for the location but there is no
written contract. At the moment there should be some negotiation
there. In other words: It's all the same as usual...

Sorry, this is all more or less rumour. What I know, however, is that
most of the people went to Polymedia Lab (I'm in the Usine at the
moment) and the conference is at least delayed. So much about

Actually there is not much to say about Tuesday. As could have been
expected the police action in the morning dominated the whole day and
so Tuesday is lost for the conference.

In the afternoon / early evening there has been a general assembly
where a dominating majority has been very much interested in
negotiations with the city council, protest actions which could be
taken, and the like. There were some people which were more interested
in having the conference because this was the reason they came to
Geneva but this played no big role.

As far as I understood the PolyMediaLab will take place in some other
space which has been made available by the city council. Day 2 of the
conference shall take place today while Day 1 is moved to tomorrow.

One note: I'm just reporting in some detail on what I find
interesting. So this does not claim to be complete in any way.

So actually the conference started on Wednesday. There is some IRC
channel set up for the conference:

irc.indymedia.org:6667 #sconf

It is projected on the screen in the conference room and it is logged at


I have been a bit late to the first session which was titled "INFOWAR:
REPORTS FROM THE FRONT". It was attended by about 30+ persons.

When I entered the session there was a presentation run by Jesus
Rogriguez (Venezuelan Community Media) (AFAIK) telling about the
situation in Venezuela in quite some breadth and detail. As someone
said even the topic of media has been touched at the beginning of the

Just one impression from the discussion I found interesting. The
speaker said something that there is even too much freedom of
information in Venezuela. This has been picked up in the discussion.
To me there was an interesting differentiation between freedom to
create content and the freedom of access.

After that there was a presentation of Sasha Costanza-Chock (FTAA IMC
http://ftaaimc.org). He talked about all sorts of repression headed
against the Indymedia Center reporting on some protests and against
the protests themselves. He also presented some videos from the
physical events (you can not film a denial-of-service attack, can

I have also been a bit late to the second session which was titled
"HACK_IT!". It was attended by about 30+ persons. I don't have any
idea whether I missed some presentation or there has been none. The
discussion was quite interesting and there was also a rather Oekonuxy
thread in it.

[Please refer to the logged IRC stream because it is a quite good

The third session was titled "AUTONOMOUS MEDIA". It was attended by
about 30+ persons. Actually the persons which attended the sessions
were more or less the same BTW. However, the third session has been
attended by some persons which had come especially for that session.

This session has been started by DeeDee Halleck (DeepDish TV) from USA
who is into community radio. She mentioned a conference back in 1979
called WORK and showed a film from that time. The basic message as far
as I understood is the scarcity of bandwith / frequencies is a
problem. Then she went on telling about the news program "Democracy
Now!" which is produced by DeepDish for instance where it is
broadcasted in the USA.

After that there was a presentation by someone from hackitectura.net.
This project is about hacking architecture.

[Please refer to the logged IRC stream.]

After that some guy from South Korea made a presentation about the
projects he is involved in.

[Please refer to the logged IRC stream.]

Actually only the hackitectura.net presentation had some discussion
while the other presentations did not provoke any reaction. It was
interesting that a lot of people had laptops on their knees and you
never knew whether they are busy taking notes or check their email or
what else. So one of the features of real space meetings - you can see
whether people stilll pay attention - vanishes in such a setup.

Mit Freien Grüßen



WSIS Video Diaries
OneWorld, UK
Young video journalists from India, Sri Lanka and Uruguay will be covering
a variety of topics taking place at the World Summit on the Information


From: Hans Klein <hans.klein {AT} pubpolicy.gatech.edu>
Subject: New Report: "Understanding WSIS"
To: air-l {AT} aoir.org

The UN World Summit on the Information Society is currently underway in

This report on WSIS is now available at the IP3 website:

"Understanding WSIS: An Institutional Perspective on the
UN World Summit on the Information Society"

WSIS is hard to understand. The 2003 Geneva meeting of the UN World Summit
on the Information Society has brought thousands of people to Geneva to
articulate a collective vision about the benefits and potentials of
information in society and the policies needed to realize them. Even
immediate participants have difficulty understanding what has been achieved.
With so many recommendations, which ones will lead to concrete political
action and social change? What is important and why? To help answer such
questions, this report provides an institutional analysis of WSIS. It
focuses on two main features: its characteristics as a policy forum and the
mechanisms available to it for policy implementation. This institutional
analysis is then applied to a set of WSIS policies to identify those with
the greatest potential to lead to social change. Two policies stand out:
Internet governance and
security.  The WSIS forum is well suited to bestow legitimacy on a proposal
to alter the existing Internet governance regime, and the available
implementation mechanisms are well suited to put such a proposal into
practice. Likewise, WSIS is an appropriate forum for promulgating a global
agreement on security, and the available implementation  mechanisms are also
suitable. Other policy topics considered are: free and open software,
communication rights, intellectual property,  human rights, and funding. To
say these policies are good candidates for action is not to say that they
necessarily will be endorsed and implemented.  Nonetheless, by identifying
issues that  "fit" the world summit institution, this analysis can help set
priorities for action and to gain understanding of outcomes.

Report available at: http://www.ip3.gatech.edu

The Internet and Public Policy Project (IP3) promotes Internet
policy-related research in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech. It
promotes dialogue between researchers within and outside the Institute,
offering forums for debate and discussion.

This report is a joint project between IP3 and Computer Professionals for
Social Responsibility (www.CPSR.org) with funding from the Open Society
Institute distributed through the Internet Democracy Project. Additional
funding came from the Georgia Tech President Undergraduate Research Award


Nations Chafe at U.S. Influence Over the Internet

        International Herald Tribune

PARIS, Dec. 7 - Paul Twomey, the president of the Internet Corporation
for Assigned Names and Numbers, found out what it feels like to be

On Friday night, Mr. Twomey, who flew 20 hours to Geneva from a meeting
in Vietnam to take part in a preparatory session for this week's United
Nations summit meeting on Internet issues, was escorted to the exit of
the meeting room by guards after participants suddenly decided to
exclude observers.

The move underscores the wrath of countries that for years have been
unhappy with what they perceive as their voicelessness over how the
Internet is run and over United States ownership of key Internet
resources. It also foretells the level of criticism that both the
United States government and the Internet Corporation, or Icann, may
face at the United Nations meeting, one of the largest gatherings ever
of high-level government officials, business leaders and nonprofit
organizations to discuss the Internet's future.

Formal meeting activities begin on Wednesday. Although more than 60
nations will be represented in Geneva by their heads of government,
only a handful of industrial nations are sending their leaders.
President Bush has no plans to attend, although the United States will
be represented by other officials.

To the great frustration of the international community, Icann, a group
ordained by the United States to oversee the technical aspects of the
Internet's address system, has been in a pole position of power since
its formation in 1998, deciding such issues as when languages could be
used as a communication tool by other nations.

Mr. Twomey, reached by cellphone outside the conference room, said: "At
Icann, anybody can attend meetings, appeal decisions or go to
ombudsmen, and here I am outside a U.N. meeting room where diplomats -
most of whom know little about the technical aspects - are deciding in
a closed forum how 750 million people should reach the Internet. I am
not amused."

Mr. Twomey said he, representatives of the news media and anyone who
was not a government official had been evicted from the meeting.

During the United Nations gathering, an expected 5,000 representatives
from intragovernmental, business and nonprofit organizations will try
to devise an action plan for the next phase of the Internet, addressing
issues like how to close the digital divide, supervise the Internet and
deal with problems like spam and pornography on the Web.

A principal point of debate will be whether the Internet should be
overseen by the United Nations instead of American groups like Icann.

Since the Internet first took root in the United States, American
interests were given priority. For example, the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology still has more Internet addresses than all of China,
according to Lee McKnight, an associate professor at Syracuse
University in New York and an M.I.T. research affiliate. By 2007,
though, more than 50 percent of Web users will be Chinese, according to
some forecasts.

Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, a Jordanian businessman who is vice chairman of the
United Nations Information and Communication Technology Task Force,
said that "the world should be grateful to Uncle Sam for creating the
Internet" but that it was time for the rest of the world to have a
larger voice in its governance. Mr. Abu-Ghazaleh said he planned to
present his own proposal for a new, more international management of
Icann at a private meeting on Tuesday.

To that end, all countries participating in the United Nations
gathering agreed today that a working group should be set up under the
auspices of the United Nations to examine Internet governance issues,
including the question of whether more formal oversight of Icann by
governments or intragovernmental agencies is necessary, said Marcus
Kummer, the Swiss Foreign Ministry's delegate and head of the United
Nations meeting's working group on Internet governance.

Tuesday's private meeting will bring together heads of state from six
African, five Middle Eastern, four European and two Asian countries as
well as the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, and Erkki
Liikanen, the European Union's commissioner for enterprise and
information society.

Conspicuously absent from the list of invitees in the private meeting
are Icann and the United States government, which has sent a delegation
of 41 people to the Geneva meeting.

High-profile Internet figures, including Nicholas Negroponte, Esther
Dyson and Tim Berners-Lee, are expected to attend Tuesday's private
meeting, as are senior executives from a variety of multinational
companies, including America Online, Microsoft, Boeing, Siemens,
Alcatel, Vodafone and the company that Abu-Ghazaleh heads, a
Cairo-based services company called the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization.

The meeting will address four topics: Internet governance, the use of
excess bandwidth to help development, connecting more people to
communications networks and finding the appropriate technologies.

At the heart of each of the four discussions will be the question of
what role government and intragovernmental agencies should play.

"The U.S. government position," a State Department spokesman said last
week, "is that the Internet is coordinated and led by the private
sector and should be private-sector-led. But we are committed to
assuring that Icann remains balanced amongst all stakeholders."

Many countries, however, do not agree with the argument that the United
States has no control or that Icann adequately represents the
Internet's global stakeholders. The United States government gave a
two-year contract to Icann in 1998 and was then supposed to withdraw
but has not.

Mr. Abu-Ghazaleh plans to propose, at the private meeting, that Icann
be placed under the umbrella of the United Nations communications task
force, which gives equal status to government, private sector and
nongovernmental organizations.

Under his plan, the United States would have permanent presidency of an
Icann oversight committee. The International Telecommunication Union, a
United Nations agency, and the International Chamber of Commerce would
also have permanent membership, as would the World Intellectual
Property Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and


Radio Non Grata forced off the air

Reporters Without Borders was today forced to suspend broadcasting of Radio
Non Grata, the pirate station it launched yesterday in the Geneva area to
protest against its exclusion from the World Summit on the Information
Society that began yesterday in Geneva. Three officials from France's
National Frequency Agency went to Ferney-Voltaire looking for Radio Non
Grata's transmitter, which was located in a rural area. Reporters Without
Borders decided to stop broadcasting because of the threat that all of its
equipment would be seized. According to the group the purpose of the
broadcasts was to condemn the organisation's exclusion from the summit and
to publicise the violations of free expression on the Internet committed by
many of the governments taking part.

Radio Non Grata can still be heard on the Reporters Without Borders website
: [http://www.radionongrata.info/]

Source: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=8774 - RFS


Global media struggle to define 'freedom'

Radio and TV broadcasters from over 100 countries are meeting in Geneva this
week at the World Electronic Media Forum (WEMF), a parallel event to the UN
World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Journalists from 250
broadcasters are debating the issues raised by the new global media
environment with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and activist groups.
Speakers at the opening session agreed that freedom of the media is
essential to build an open and inclusive information society, and to peace
and development in general. In his opening address, UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan expressed concern that although the electronic media were among
the world's most important vehicles for peace, progress and solidarity, many
millions of people were still outside their reach. But it is clear from the
outset that what represents media freedom for some broadcasters is viewed by
others as a licence to attack the legitimacy of elected governments. The
World Electronic Media Forum sees its role as tackling some of the issues
directly relevant to the media that are at risk of being marginalised at the
main Information Society summit. The WEMF sessions, which end on Friday 12
December, are being broadcast world-wide through the Eurovision network.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3306743.stm - bbc



GENEVA, DECEMBER 7, 2003 -- The civil society Human Rights Caucus of the
World Summit on the Information Society has many reasons to be concerned
as thousands of delegates converge on Geneva for the World Summit.
The Caucus, which includes more than 40 organisations, has been working
since the first preparatory meetings 18 months ago to ensure that human
rights are not left off the WSIS agenda.

Our first concern is about the lack of political will to address the
effective implementation of human right standards and how ICTs can serve
to enforce these. Rather than forward-looking strategies that address
the new potential and challenges posed by ICTs for human rights, time
and resources have been spent on defending principles that were agreed
upon 55 years ago. Even banal references to the Universal Declaration on
Human Rights have been debated and contested right up until the last
hour.   This opportunity to bring the human rights agenda forward has
been squandered.

The caucus has been involved in WSIS precisely because it was an
important opportunity to carry the human rights agenda forward. We aimed
to actually translate human rights principles to the context of the
information society.   Unfortunately, our task has become defending the
formal commitment to previously reached international consensus, that
is, preventing complete backtracking on human rights.

(More information on the caucus's interventions throughout the process
can be found at www.iris.sgdg.org/actions/smsi/hr-wsis)

The second concern of the Human Rights Caucus is the ongoing deplorable
human rights situation in Tunisia, scheduled to host phase 2 of the
Summit in 2005. The caucus joins many others in rejoicing that webmaster
Zouhair Yahyaoui has been conditionally released and hopes that he and
others imprisoned for exercising their human rights will be free from
official harassment and intimidation. The caucus considers this first
move on the part of the Tunisian government a step in the right
direction.  But this does not change the fact that there are very
serious problems remaining to be solved in order for WSIS Phase Two to
take place in Tunisia in acceptable conditions.

The most significant problems are the lack of freedom of speech and
freedom of information, the tight controls on the use of the internet,
the strict control over the media, and the constant intimidation and
harassment of people who dare to criticize the regime, however mildly.

The human rights caucus will be active throughout the Summit this week in
Geneva. Amongst other activities, the Caucus is a co-sponsor of the
World Forum on Communication Rights in the Information Society, to take
place on December 11 at Palexpo. With well-known human rights
leaders from countries where the information society is tightly
controlled (Souhayr Belhassen from OMCT and the Tunisian Human Rights
League and Sharon Hom from Human Rights in China) in addition to keynote
Aminata Traoré, the session promises an excellent overview of some of
the most contentious issues of the Summit. The programme can be found
here: www.communicationrights. It takes place in Palexpo, Salle
Mont-Blanc, starting from 9:30am.


WSIS Bureau d'études project:


others maps :



From: "Garth Graham" <garth.graham {AT} telus.net>
Subject: [wsis] Assuming the GCNP position

This is not an attempt to contribute to the December 2003 WSIS, but rather
to begin thinking about Global Community Networks Partnership (GCNP) action
leading up to WSIS 2005.

During the early stages of the preparation for WSIS, there were several
relatively unconnected and unresolved discussions about the need for a GCNP
position.  Recently, several of us, Mike Gurstein, Sergei Stafeev, Matt
Wenger and myself, decided to see if we could gather these threads together
in the hopes of rekindling that debate.  The results of our efforts are now
available at:

Notes toward a GCNP position in the ongoing WSIS process.

As you will realize when reading that document, our decision to revisit
GCNP position drafting was motivated, in part, by the recent appearance of
the separate Civil Society Declaration.  We still believe that GCNP
experience points toward significant principles structuring an Information
Society that are not yet present in the Civil Society Declaration, and not
at all present in the WSIS process overall.

The next step would seem to be a mechanism for some people to arrive at
rough consensus on the content of a position and a plan for its expression
under the umbrella of GCNP.  We are aware that the principles we outline
may mean surfacing tensions in GCNP about its role and purposes that remain
poorly articulated, never mind resolved.

You might then automatically assume that the second step was to engage
somehow with the WSIS Civil Society Groups to influence an expansion of the
common position.  Our own happy band of drafters has only achieved a rough
consensus that a wider debate needs to occur, not where that might lead.

Garth Graham
garth.graham {AT} telus.net
25-118 Aldersmith Place
Victoria, BC, Canada, V9A 7M9


Everyone is an expert presents:

Migration, labour, media and organizing --The back side of the information

Saskia Sassen, Chicago/London
Valery Alzaga, Mexiko City/Denver
Myoingjoon Kim, Seoul
and many others

Workshop starting at 1 pm
Presentations at 7 pm

Université Ouvrière de Genève
Place des Grottes
Geneva (CH)
(50 meters from the railway station)

What does migrant workers struggle have to do with the information

How can information and communication technologies empower social
struggles on a global level?

What's the link between the campaigns for freedom of communication and
the fight for freedom of movement?

On the eve of the UN summit on the information society the EVERYONE IS
AN EXPERT association calls to a debate about issues that are not
present on the agenda of neither govermental nor non-governmental
organizations: migration, labour, and organizing

Tabooing the so called dirty side of the information society comes as
no surprise: It refers to a naive view on technology and development
but also responds to the real threat and manifolded impact of
migration patterns to the existing world order.

Migration is not just a collateral damage of global capitalism nor a
dispensable side-effect of the information society: The political
power of exodus and refusal is subverting the souvereignity of both
the nation states as well as the new regimes of hyper-exploitation on
a global level.

As globalization from below, migration movements constitute a global
resistance against old and new economies and their modes of exclusion,
repression, division, separation, detention and selection.

Migration is the subjective, most pragmatic and realistic attempt, to
overcome a divide, no matter if it is conceived as digital or analog.


Digital rights management, the intellectual property discourse and
copyright issues refer more than accidentially to the postmodern
concepts of border management, migration control and racism.


Offside of the information highways there are numerous tracks and
trails, where migrants carry revolutionary experiences from the
periphery to the metropolitan centers and create hybrids of social


Collaborative research projects, migrant rights campaigns and worker
centers form new organizing models that respond to corporate attacks
on organizing, make creative use of new technologies and reach out far
beyond the idea of unity and union.

This event has been organized ad-hoc and very spontaneously. It is
meant rather as an strategic discussion than a conference. Therefore
the schedule is split up into two parts:

- A series of presentations by researchers, theorists, labour as well
as media-activists focusing on strategic questions of freedom of
movement, freedom of communication, corporate attacks on labor and
human rights, the multitudes and the constitutive elements of global

- A workshop on strategies with participants from various different
backgrounds presenting upcoming campaigns and projects, such as the
high-tech campaign of justice for janitors or the noborder-tour in
summer 2004.

Check out the stream at:


Alles nicht so schlimm (Florian Rötzer)
Kurz vor dem Weltgipfel zur Informationsgesellschaft weist die ITU in
einem Bericht darauf hin, dass die "digitale Spaltung" zwischen reichen
und armen Ländern gar nicht so schlimm und die Schließung der
"statistischen Spaltung" doch viel dringender sei.


From: "Garth Graham" <garth.graham {AT} telus.net>

For some time now, I have participated in a variety of conversations about
what it means to be in transition to an "information society." Some of
those conversations have served also to reflect broadly on the role and
purpose of Telecommunities Canada TC) and the Global Community Networks
Partnership (GCNP).  I have also been engaged in contract policy research
related to questions of governance online.  What I have sought to do, both
through my participation and my policy research, is learn how to express
and contribute a community networking view of that transition.  Recently,
I've completed an essay that attempts to blend together the two themes of
governance and community online into a sort of theory. The essay can be
viewed or downloaded from:

On that page, look for the title: "COMMUNITY UNGROUNDED: GOVERNANCE,

There are many people who have made a transition to a daily life heavily
influenced by being online and who, consequently, can see the world with
Internet eyes.  It has always felt curious to me how little the worldviews
of those people have been able to influence the agenda of the World Summit
on the Information Society, or in my own country, Canada, any of several
national dialogues on strategies and public policies to inform our own
processes of transition. A reflection that blends those two themes of
governance and community online surfaces a variety of issues that should be
on the WSIS agenda and are not, even in the draft Civil Society counter

Garth Graham
garth.graham {AT} telus.net
25-118 Aldersmith Place
Victoria, BC, Canada, V9A 7M9

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