PRINT Summer 2003


Open Books

In some ways the Net remains like a seedy nightclub: The fuzz rarely knows what’s really happening, even if they bust in occasionally. Subversive projects flourish in the shadows of more respectable activities, and despite Napster’s public evisceration, kids, opportunists, and indie types enjoy a new class of open-source browsers, peerto-peer tools, code libraries, and uncontrollable flows of cultural data (music, movies, porn, writing). Out of this wellspring comes

A free archive of radical writing or “backup system for scientific and artistic purposes,”, created by German artist and activist Sebastian Luetgert, differs from Napster, Bearshare, and the like in that it’s not an application and doesn’t offer audio or video files. Instead of facilitating decentralized sharing among many participants, presents a tightly curated, comparatively static inventory of ASCII (plain text) documents. Those looking for Anne Rice or Harry Potter will be disappointed. But for tactical media heads,, stocked as it is with works by Guy Debord, Luther Blissett, Matthew Fuller, and McKenzie Wark, will be the library carrel they never had. Other free reads are sometimes canonical (Les fleurs du mal, Crime and Punishment), generally radical (Burroughs, Red Army Faction, Empire), and often technocultural (Kathy Acker, Baudrillard, ADILKNO). lacks a simple, easy interface, but its design—conceptual, dense, and labored—fits its sprawl of thick, intellectual properties. Borrowing Situationist/anarchist strategies to defy copyright and to appropriate material and acting on the conviction that texts “change lives,” Luetgert offers precisely enough free culture to last “3 months 0 weeks 3 days 13 hours 36 minutes and 3 seconds” . . . and counting.

Rachel Greene