Geert Lovink on Fri, 11 Oct 96 07:44 MET

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nettime: report from Belgrade

From: Adrienne van Heteren <>

Dear Nettime,

Geert asked me to write something about the situation in Belgrade.

The B92 Internet server became active in november 14, 1995. Since then we 
have been trying to connect a lot of organisations and individuals 
working in the field of human rights, free media, and art. However media 
art projects are hardly existing here. There are a few people working on 
computer animation and that is it. There are some people working through 
us on web art, but we really still need to establish knowledge about who 
might be interested to use the technology and the possibilities to 
develop a major dynamic in that field.
Beside us there are two other providers in town, which are stronger and 
which are governmental. One is telefonia, the university provider and the 
other is BK, through EU-NET. The last one is really developping into the 
major commercial provider here.
We, however advanced, lack the political backing to develop into a major 
provider. We do not have sufficient local telephonelines, which is not so 
important, but our major drawback is our bandwidth towards Amsterdam. We 
need a lot of money to expand it to some decent digital link. In the near 
future we will be able to have that digital link and we are working on 
that, but until now it did not exist for us.
Our ambitions therefor are greater than our actual ability to deliver 
'access to all'.
Apart from these technical conditions, I think one other problem which 
cannot be solved by mere technological improvements, is that the 
character of use of the net is still limited. People still need a lot of 
education and creative imagination to invent interesting practices of use 
of the existing infrastructures. We are here really pioneering with that 
and you of course do get a serious division of 'class' between a few 
advanced users and a big mass of totally unaware people.

Bulletinboards like 'Digital city' do not exist here. We still do not 
have a cybercafe here, which would be necessary to have because a lot of 
people do not have the money to have an account with BK. We have a 
classroom which is accessible to the public, which acts a bit like that, 
but we only have 8 computers there, which is too little for the actual 
demand and we are not open all the time.
Politically I do not think the situation will change rapidly. The 
opposition strangely enough had a real change of winning the upcoming 
elections after they formed a coalition under the leadership of the 
former governor of the Yugoslav Federal Bank, Avramovic. 
Recent polls showed that he was more popular than the actual 
president, Milosevic. This might have been good for us. Not 
necessarily. Unfortunately he stepped down today. Apparantly 
for health reasons. True? For independent groups like us it is always a 
problem to expand without some 
form of protection, connection, or vague friendly relations. If you 
refrain from those, things are simply harder and mostly irrationally 

Drazen read this and he agrees with it and send his regards to you all 
and love from me,


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