Geert Lovink on Fri, 17 Jul 1998 17:42:33 +0200 (MET DST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> on

Balkans turn to Web for local news and war crimes trials
July 1, 1998 by Sharon Machlis (IDG) --

As war raged in Bosnia and "ethnic cleansing" claimed the lives of tens of
thousands, Dutch systems administrator Frank Tiggelaar said, he "knew as
much about [former] Yugoslavia as your average newspaper reader." 

Then Bosnian refugees moved into his apartment building and told him their
stories. Today, Tiggelaar, 47, and a small team of volunteers run an
ambitious Balkan news site on the World Wide Web called Domovina Net
("domovina" means homeland). It has about 10G bytes of data spread over
servers in four countries and includes video and audio streams from around
the world. Domovina Net also features news reports from Kosovo, the
Yugoslav province where Serb forces have repeatedly clashed with the 
majority ethnic Albanian population. 

The latest project, set to debut next month with backing from several
nonprofit groups, will bring to the Web real-time audio feeds from
the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Tiggelaar said that
will help media within Bosnia rebroadcast the trials as well as give sound
bites to other small media outlets in Europe. 

"It's an amazing information source," said Andras Riedlmayer, a
bibliographer at Harvard University who has launched a project to help
rebuild the collections of Bosnia's destroyed libraries at 
"There have long been sites on the Internet that were able to give wire
service copy," he said. "At Domovina Net, you have everything. You have
real-time broadcasts, you have multilingual renditions of the local
papers, of the international press. ... Basically, everything you want to
know is there or linked to the site." 

                  It all started in early 1995, when Tiggelaar met some
                  Bosnians who had fled the onslaught of Serb
                  nationalist forces and were desperate to keep in
                  contact with relatives still caught in the war.
                  Tiggelaar let them use his home computer and
                  Internet connection to send E-mail to Bosnia, where
                  there were rudimentary connections set up via
                  satellite between besieged Sarajevo and the outside
                  world. His Bosnian friends then asked about
                  starting a Web site with news from their country.
                  That site was launched in May 1995. 

                  Domovina Net now attracts 25,000 to 50,000 visitors
                  per week. They download about 8G to 9G bytes of
                  data weekly. 

                  Predrag Jovanovic, an engineering technician now
                  living in the U.S., is one of many Bosnian
                  expatriates who regularly use the site. Though he
                  said he sometimes is frustrated by the nationalist
                  tone of some broadcasts from the region, Jovanovic said,
                  "It's nice to hear news in my native language." 

Tiggelaar says he spends 10 to 25 hours each week working on the project
and a related effort to develop a high-speed satellite link between
Sarajevo and Amsterdam.In addition, he has a full-time job at the
BB&H Consultancy in Amsterdam.
The largest chunk of server space for Domovina Net is donated by and
housed at an outside Dutch Internet provider, XS4All. But much of the
audio and video production, such as converting satellite TV and radio
programs to Web RealAudio and RealVideo format, is done in Tiggelaar's
home, on several networked computers he also uses for his job. Tiggelaar
said his windows have been smashed three times, apparently by a
Bosnian Serb opposed to the site's stance favoring restoration of a
multiethnic Bosnia. A suspect was arrested the third time and deported,
Tiggelaar said. 

The International War Crimes broadcasts are tentatively scheduled to go
live on Domovina Net July 14. Those who have been working to have those
responsible for war crimes brought to justice are heartened by the effort. 

"People who really want this information will be able to get it," even
those living in Serbia and Croatia where local nationalist media are
unlikely to broadcast the trials, said Riedlmayer, who testified before
Congress as an expert witness on the genocide in Bosnia. "Everybody will
have a chance to come to terms with what happened. That's one of the best
chances of preventing a repetition." 
#  distributed via nettime-l : no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a closed moderated mailinglist for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  URL:  contact: