Frank Fremerey on Mon, 5 Oct 1998 11:35:23 +0200 (MET DST)

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

<nettime> The need for public backbones

*** The Need For Public Backbones ***

preliminary message

We live in a world where borders - real or imagined - limit our ability to
move, think and create far beyond our actual potential. 

Some of these borders are of a natural, physical kind, borders we can not
topple - real ones. 

Others are constructed, recognizable by the need to enforce them -
imagined ones. 

I do not think we should limit ourselves to borders imagined by others,
but to a certain extent I think we should respect some borders which are
imagined, but through enforcement accepted as real by some of the other
inmates of our planet. 

Public Bandwidth

The Internet started in the US, although in 1947 some Europeans were
already discussing things like 'Hypertext'. It was also the US who cradled
the Web, who made the Internet take off, after - again - a European turned
an idealistic approach into a working model on which Marc Andreeson and
others created Mosaic and later Netscape, which really paved the way to
make the general public aware of the fact that this network existed for
nearly 30 years then. 

But in the US, adding to the impact the Internet already has naturally,
there was the Universities Network, which was opened to the public and
thus opened a space for experiment, a space for students turning small
companies, turning Public Offerings whichof the echoes were heard

So - politicians - if you want to keep unemployment-rates low by
exploiting more of the potential of your peoples and replacing obsolete
industries with more future-bearing enterprises you should certainly
follow the example of the US and - interestingly enough - *Bavaria*. 

Bavaria is better known for charging a US-provider for making access to
porn-sites easy and thereby earning money, charging the customers for
every single hour downloading smut from the Web and the newsgroups. Of
course this approach is questionable and I do not subscribe to the point
of view that a network-access-provider is responsible for things shipped
through the infrastructure he makes available. But anyway: there is a
certain truth in the words of the judge that should certainly be

End of first thesis: Public Backbones bring down unemployment rates, by
encouraging ideas to be turned into future-bearing enterprises.

Space for Experiment

It seems to have been a major topic at 'Art Servers Unlimited', that there
has to be built an infrastructure to support net.artists or people
providing access to arts and literature through the Internet (which is the
case for my company and Yes, we should not
starve and yes, there should be funding - public or private - for 

In the first thesis I pointed out that Public Backbones are a way to help
ideas grow into enterprises. And because the net sells through the content
in it, the creative community has to find a way to make the
access-providers pay for the content we create; or, as I put it in my
lecture on days '98, the people who visit the sites: the
viewers, listeners and readers. 

In contrast to the companies there is no general interest in the to make a profit. Most of the community only want to
have a space for their work, plus enough money to travel and meet the
people necessary to continue, to pay for food, rent, telephone,
electricity, hardware. Some of the artwork - maybe most of it - is not,
nor has it ever been, designed to meet the taste of the masses. MTV or CNN
or Microsoft are doing a better job at this and we do not tend to compete
with them. 

But has art not ever been able to attract the wealthy few and make them
pay? - People who later gave their collections to museums and thereby made
them available to the masses who were then ready to open themselves to
yesterday's way of expressing the current problems in a creative way? 

End of second thesis: access to network sells through content. Content
attractive to the masses sells through page-views, content attractive to
few sells through charging the few who can afford to make the content
available to everyone interested in it.

The Retired Creators

Have you seen John Walker's pages at (part of his
Web-project 'Index Librorum Liberorum' which translates to ' Index of
the free books')? 

Then you know what creative people can do for the Internet and its
content, when they have setteled, when they have no trouble anymore to pay
their providers who provide food, telephone or Internet-service or
whatever to them. OK, John Walker is special, because he was also creative
in his enterpreneur-career (he created Autodesk). But there are many John
Walkers, big and small and - by the way - did you think about the bucks Bill Gates may have earned, when he will have
retired in two or three years? 

He says he will give at least 95% of it to charity (which is the other job
that will keep him occupied for the rest of his life and still leave
enough to him and his family to make a living basically). Don't you think
he will put a little bit of it into the net-content-creating folks? Do you
think 'Corbis' is just another profit-center and not also something he has
a real interest in? 

The smaller creators are people who might have earned five or ten thousand
bucks a month for most of their working life. People who studied - i.e.
showed a certain interest in topics not directly connected to their
working-experience. A lot of them have books in their drawers or paintings
or compositions and just did not dare to go public with these during their

These 'hindered artists' would enjoy encouragement to publish from the and be ready to open their purses in return. Those are
the assets of ''. Those are the people to talk to, the people to
create privately funded Public Backbones by helping with their time,
experience and - yes - money. 

End of third thesis: Encourage the wealthy but shy creative people to
publish their work and you will find a way to finance yours.

to be continued

Frank Fremerey
Founder and CEO 
HOME - HochschulMediennetz Deutschland
Bonn, Germany, 11 July 1998

#  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: