Institute of Network Cultures

At the end of the 20th century, hacking was bleeding edge. When the ideas, practices and pranks of this experimental niche of technophiles attracted the attention of a handful of activists in Italy, they understood that information and communication were what would give shape and voice to social, political, and cultural processes in the near future. +KAOS is a cut and paste of interviews, like a documentary film transposed on paper. It describes the peculiar relationship between hacktivism and activism, in Italy and beyond, highlighting the importance of maintaining digital infrastructures. While this may not sound as glamorous as sneaking into ...
Over 130 million images with the hashtag ‘selfie’ have been uploaded to the social media platform Instagram. In The Allure of the Selfie: Instagram and the New Self-Portrait, Brooke Wendt examines the significant hold that the ‘selfie’, or the digital self-portrait, has over self and society. Media theorist Vilém Flusser observed that society could become programmed to snap pictures for the sole benefit of cameras, as though under a ‘magical spell’, if photographs continued to be undecoded. Wendt examines this magical spell by analyzing users’ self-portraits on Instagram, one of the most popular contemporary platforms for image production. Marshall McLuhan’s reframing of ...
Beyond ICT4D: New Media Research in Uganda is a collection of ethnographic reports from diverse perspectives of those living at the other end of the African ICT pyramid. Crucially, these texts refocus on the so-called “ICT4D” debate away from the standard western lens, which depicts users in the developing world as passive receivers of Western technological development, towards Ugandans whose use and production of technologies entail innovations from the ground up. It is this ‘other’ everyday point of view that is too often missing in the ICT4D debate: valuable voices that put technologies, projects and organizations into their proper context. Conducted ...
C’Lick Me: A Netporn Studies Reader is an anthology that collects the best material from two years of debate from The Art and Politics of Netporn 2005 conference to the 2007 C’Lick Me festival. The C’Lick Me reader opens the field of ‘Internet pornology’. Based on non-conventional approaches and mixing academics, artists and activists, it reclaims a critical post-enthusiastic, post-censorship perspective on netporn, a dark field that has been dominated thus far by dodgy commerce and filtering. The C’Lick Me reader covers the rise of the netporn society from the Usenet underground to the blogosphere, analyses economic data and search engine ...
How to conceptualize online sociability in the 21st century? To answer this question, Communities at a Crossroads looks back at the mid-2000s. With the burst of the creative-entrepreneur alliance, the territorialisation of the internet and the commercialization of interpersonal ties, that period constituted a turning point for digital communitarian cultures. Many of the techno-libertarian culture’s utopias underpinning the ideas for online sociability faced systematic counter evidence. This change in paradigm has still consequences today. Avoiding both empty invocations of community and swift conclusions of doom, Annalisa Pelizza investigates the theories of actions that have underpinned the development of techno-social digital assemblages ...
Creative Networks explores the dawn of the Internet culture in the age of network society from the perspective of Eastern Europe. From a theoretical angle the networks are introduced and interpreted as complex socio-technical systems. The author analyzes the development of these networked self-organized formations starting off with ‘virtual communities’ of ‘creative networks’, which emerged during the early phase of the Internet, up to the phenomena of today’s online ‘social networks’. Along with the translocal case studies of Nettime, Syndicate, Faces and Xchange networks (as well as with the other important facets of the 1990s network culture in Europe), the ...
For millions of internet users around the globe, the search for new knowledge begins with Wikipedia. The encyclopedia’s rapid rise, novel organization, and freely offered content have been marveled at and denounced by a host of commentators. Critical Point of View moves beyond unflagging praise, well-worn facts, and questions about its reliability and accuracy, to unveil the complex, messy, and controversial realities of a distributed knowledge platform. The essays, interviews and artworks brought together in this reader form part of the overarching Critical Point of View research initiative, which began with a conference in Bangalore (January 2010), followed by events in Amsterdam (March ...
Culture of the Selfie is an in-depth art-historical overview of self-portraiture, using a set of theories from visual studies, narratology, media studies, psychotherapy, and political principles. Collecting information from various fields, juxtaposing them on the historical time-line of artworks, the book focuses on space in self-portraits, shared between the person self-portraying and the viewer. What is the missing information of the transparent relationship to the self and what kind of world appears behind each selfie? As the ‘world behind one’s back’ is gradually taking larger place in the visual field, the book dwells on a capacity of selfies to master ...
Depletion Design suggests that ideas of exhaustion cut across cultural, environmentalist, and political idioms and offers ways to explore the emergence of new material assemblages. We, or so we are told, are running out of time, of time to develop alternatives to a new politics of emergency, as constant crisis has exhausted the means of a politics of representation too slow for the state of exception, too ignorant of the distribution of political agency, too focused on the governability of financial architectures. But new forms of individual and collective agency already emerge, as we learn to live, love, work within the ...
Privacy, copyright, classified documents and state secrets, but also spontaneous network phenomena like flash mobs and hashtag revolutions, reveal one thing – we lost control over the digital world. We experience a digital tailspin, or as Michael Seemann calls it in this essay: a loss of control or Kontrollverlust. Data we never knew existed is finding paths that were not intended and reveals information that we would never have thought of on our own.  Traditional institutions and concepts of freedom are threatened by this digital tailspin. But that doesn’t mean we are lost. A new game emerges, where a different set of rules ...
This study examines the dynamics of critical Internet culture after the medium opened to a broader audience in the mid 1990s. It is Geert Lovink’s PhD thesis, submitted late 2002, written in between his two books on the same topic: Dark Fiber (2002) and My First Recession (2003). The core of the research consists of four case studies of non-profit networks: the Amsterdam community provider, The Digital City (DDS); the early years of the nettime mailinglist community; a history of the European new media arts network Syndicate; and an analysis of the streaming media network Xchange. The research describes the search for sustainable community ...
In March 2009 the Institute of Network Cultures brought 12 networks to Amsterdam for a week of getting things done. Aim of Winter Camp was to connect the virtual with the real in order to find out how distributed social networks can collaborate more effectively. The more people start working together online, the more urgent it becomes to develop sustainable network models. Do we just go online to gather ‘friends’ or do we get organized and utilize these tools to provoke real change in how we work together? How do networks deal with difference, decision making and economic issues? Together ...
Global gaming networks are heterogenous collectives of localized practices, not unified commercial products. Shifting the analysis of digital games to local specificities that build and perform the global and general, Gaming Rhythms employs ethnographic work conducted in Venezuela and Australia to account for the material experiences of actual game players. This book explores the materiality of digital play across diverse locations and argues that the dynamic relation between the everyday life of the player and the experience of digital game play can only be understood by examining play-practices in their specific situations.
From the fast-food industry to the sharing economy, precarious work has become the norm in contemporary capitalism, like the anti-globalization movement predicted it would. This book describes how the precariat came into being under neoliberalism and how it has radicalized in response to crisis and austerity. It investigates the political economy of precarity and the historical sociology of the precariat, and discusses movements of precarious youth against oligopoly and oligarchy in Europe, America, and East Asia. Foti covers the three fundamental dates of recent history: the financial crisis of 2008, the political revolutions of 2011, and the national-populist backlash of ...
How do global audiences use streaming platforms like YouTube, Netflix and iPlayer? How does the experience of digital video change according to location? What strategies do people use to access out-of-region content? What are the commercial and governmental motivations behind geoblocking?
Moving away from the strong body of critique of pervasive ‘bad data’ practices by both governments and private actors in the globalized digital economy, this book aims to paint an alternative, more optimistic but still pragmatic picture of the datafied future. The authors examine and propose ‘good data’ practices, values and principles from an interdisciplinary, international perspective. From ideas of data sovereignty and justice, to manifestos for change and calls for activism, this collection opens a multifaceted conversation on the kinds of futures we want to see, and presents concrete steps on how we can start realizing good data in ...
This reader is a collection of essays written by Turkish graduate students between 2003 and 2010 for Andreas Treske’s seminar ‘Image, Time and Motion’ at Bilkent University in Ankara, revised and actualized in 2010. Coming from a wide range of disciplines they had studied before, very rarely media or cultural studies, these students brought in their various viewpoints and methods, and tried to integrate their observations and understandings in a seminar related to cinema and new media to discuss and sometimes just to describe the influences of digital media technologies for themselves and their colleagues. Starting from the premise that ...
If we recognize that copyright is unfeasible, and unjustifiable, what should our response be? Immediately comes to mind that copyright provides an investment protection to blockbusters, best sellers and stars. It distorts cultural markets and pushes a wide variety of cultural expressions out of sight. At the same time, cultural conglomerates controlling copyright dominate cultural markets by owning the means of production, distribution, marketing and reception of cultural expressions. From the perspective of democracy and fair competition this type of market control is not to be tolerated. Thus, let us imagine what abolishing copyright would accomplish, while we do not ...
The Institute of Network Cultures (INC) analyzes and shapes the terrain of network cultures through events, publications, and online dialogue. Our projects evolve around digital publishing, alternative revenue models, online video and design, digital counter culture and much more. The INC was founded in 2004 by Geert Lovink, following his appointment within the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. A key focus is the establishment of sustainable research networks. Emerging critical topics are identified and shaped in a practical sense. Interdisciplinary in character, the INC brings together researchers, artists, activists, programmers, designers, and students and teachers.
The Incommunicado Reader brings together papers written for the June 2005 event, and includes a CD-ROM of interviews with speakers. The reader features: Jan Nederveen Pieterse on Digital Capitalism and Development; Roy Pullens on Migration Management (INC commissioned research); Alexandre Freire on Brasil and the FLOSS process; Solomon Benjamin on the E-Politics of Urban Land; and Maja van der Velden on Cognitive Justice.
Internet on the Outstation provides a new take on the digital divide. Why do whole communities choose to go without the internet when the infrastructure for access is in place? Through an in-depth exploration of the digital practices occurring in Aboriginal households in remote central Australia, the authors address both the dynamics of internet adoption and the benefits that flow from its use. The book challenges us to think beyond the standard explanations for the digital divide, arguing that digital exclusion is not just another symptom of social exclusion. At its heart, Internet on the Outstation is a compelling examination ...
Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron’s The Californian Ideology, originally published in 1995 by Mute magazine and the nettime mailinglist, is the iconic text of the first wave of Net criticism. The internet might have fundamentally changed in the last two decades, but their demolition of the neoliberal orthodoxies of Silicon Valley remains shocking and provocative. They question the cult of the dot-com entrepreneur, challenging the theory of technological determinism and refuting the myths of American history. Denounced as the work of ‘looney lefties’ by Silicon Valley’s boosters when it first appeared, The Californian Ideology has since been vindicated by the ...
This PDF / Print-on-Demand issue brings together a selection of texts in which the media theoreticians and nettime founders Pit Schultz and Geert Lovink jointly formulated the main features of the network critique concept between 1995 and 1997. At that time published in German in scattered publications and largely forgotten in the meantime, they are now published for the first time collected. They provide a glimpse into the early stages of the development of the Internet and the beginning of a critical debate characterized by a particular joy in discussion and speculation. The Internet was not yet a ubiquitous reality, but its future ...
MoneyLab is a network of artists, activists, and geeks experimenting with forms of financial democratization. Entering the 10th year of the global financial crisis, it still remains a difficult yet crucial task to distinguish old wine from its fancy new bottles. The MoneyLab network questions persistent beliefs, from Calvinist austerity, growth, and up-scaling, to trustless, automated decision making and (anarcho-)capitalist dreams of cybercurrencies and blockchained solutionism. We consider experiments with digital coops, internet-based payment and network-based revenue models as spaces of political imagination, with an equally important aesthetic program. In this second MoneyLab Reader the network delves into topics like the financialization ...
MoneyLab is part of a global movement that demands the democratization of the design of our financial futures. Audacity is essential in times of crisis. And so we must engage constructively with hackers, entrepreneurs, and other creators who take up the call for economic alternatives. One first step is a map of the present: What works and what doesn’t? What is worth pursuing and what must be left aside? Which histories bear on the present moment? And what are the limits of our economic imagination? The MoneyLab Reader brings developments in crowdfunding, currency design, technologies of payment, and other economic ...

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