Archive for the ‘web2.0’ Category

Michael Gibbs essay (full text)

June 18, 2007

Web 2.0
Michael Gibbs

Several commentators are declaring that the Internet is evolving from an information-based medium to a participatory social network. Dubbed Web 2.0 in 2004, it is seen as embodying a new and revolutionary digital democracy that enables everyone to be seen, heard and read, that allows information to be shared and that facilitates communication between communities of friends. Tim Berners-Lee, however, the original inventor of the World Wide Web, points out that that this has always been the way that the Internet operates. But perhaps the espousal of Web 2.0 is actually an attempt to re-hype the Internet after the disastrous crash at the beginning of the millennium. And what better way to do this than to tout its presumed democratic credentials and, in the process, to restore faith in its commercial prospects? The success of YouTube, MySpace, eBay, Second Life and Wikipedia prompted Time Magazine to declare ‘You’ as their 2006 person of the year, mediated, it is true, by a computer monitor which was represented on Time’s cover as a mirror. Everyone is now dreaming of being ‘discovered’ on the Net, of having their 2 minutes of fame, making a killing on Ebay, their blog rantings being taken seriously and their home-made video viewed by millions. Broadband Internet access means that the field is wide open – everyone can be a receiver or a broadcaster and there are hardly any censorship or time/space restrictions to contend with.

In Second Life, the virtual world operated by Linden Laboratories, you can construct an avatar for yourself and do things you’ve never dared to do in RL (Real Life). If you’re an artist you can open your own gallery and try to sell your work, although, judging from the results so far, you’re only likely to succeed if your work is either sci-fi or erotically oriented; conceptual art, it seems, is rather too rarefied for the instant pixel-recognition factor demanded by the digital environment.

Since digital video has become almost ubiquitous then maybe you’d like to try your luck on YouTube. Type ‘art’ into YouTube’s search function and you’ll get 163,000 hits, some of which have been viewed over a million times. The top-ranking items seem to be mostly examples of street art, ‘speed painting’ and computer animations, but if you search deeper (and especial;y by name) then there are several gems to be viewed, including early videos by Bruce Nauman, short Fluxus films and vintage films by Dali. Sometimes you’ll find that someone has simply gone to an exhibition, copied a video film or installation on their own digital camera and then uploaded it to YouTube.

A far more useful archive of artists’ films and videos can be found at Inaugurated in 1996 an an online archive of visual, concrete and sound poetry, UbuWeb has been growing rhizomatically and now offers a veritable cornucopia of historical and contemporary material in freely downloadable streaming MP3, MOV and RealVideo formats. Rare film and video footage has been converted to digital files, so now you can view important work by the likes of Vito Acconci, Yves Klein, Gary Hill, Pipilotti Rist, Chris Burden and Robert Rauschenberg, just to mention a few names. Much of the material is accompanied by useful explanatory and background essays and interviews. One of my favourites is the video clip produced by Joseph Beuys in 1982 in which he sings an anti-Reagan song with a pop group backing. Rock on, Joseph!

If the Internet is being increasingly used as a depositary of shared files, what has happened to Will it too find a place in the historical archives of the future? Some Net artists, it seems, are already focussing their attention on Web 2.0. Blogspot by JODI and Cory Arcangel, recently commissioned by the Impakt Festival in Utrecht as part of their ‘ is dead, long live!’ project, cannibalises Web 2.0 services like and the slide show sharing site and reprogrammes them into abstract streams of illegible data. If JODI’s deconstructions are now seeming a bit predictable (after all, they have been doing this sort of work regularly since the mid-1990s), then perhaps we need to look elsewhere for more radical and subversive forms of, for example, was created in Vienna in 1999 by Hans Bernhard and Liz Haas as a platform for hardcore radical activism aimed at big corporations. Their latest project, GWEI – Google Will Eat Itself, managed to fool Google (for a while, at least) by serving Google text advertisements on a number of dummy websites and then using a software hack to trigger automatic clicks. Since Google pays website owners a small fee for every click on one of its advertisements, Ubermorgen was able to collect this money and use it to buy up Google shares. The idea is that Google would eventually be paying for its own demise. So far GWEI has been able to purchase 292 Google shares and despite threats of censorship the project has already received a number of awards and been exhibited in Tokyo, Berlin, Paris and Seoul.

Ubermorgen was also involved in Amazon Noir, an attempt at hijacking more than 3,000 books (including, appropriately enough, Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book) from Amazon’s digital library by using the company’s “Search Inside the Book” function which enables users to search for keywords in about 250,000 books and then to download the single page in which that word appears. Amazon Noir sent thousands of requests per book and then reassembled the books into pdf format and distributed them through peer-to-peer networks. After threats of litigation the matter was settled out of court in October 2006 with the sale to Amazon of the Amazon Noir software for an undisclosed sum. Interestingly, the project was financed by a 10,000 Euro stipend awarded to Hans Bernhard by the Oldenburg-based Edith Russ Site for Media Art.

Digital activism and corporate media hacking represent the front line of the contemporary European ‘techno-fine-art avant-garde’. Web 2.0 is likely to be just as vulnerable a target, so it would not be surprising if services like YouTube and eBay are next in line for attack.

Michael Gibbs is a writer based in Amsterdam. ‘Web 2.0 Google Will Eat Itself’ was originally published in Art Monthly, issue 306, May 2007, p40.


Anne Wollenberg – reprint from the Guardian Online

June 6, 2007

I really liked this small piece from the Guardian newspaper last week, sadly I can’t reprint it in full…

Technobile: As if dating were not hard enough, social networking sites add another layer of anxiety to the process

Anne Wollenberg
Thursday  May 31, 2007
The Guardian

No one ever said that dating was easy. But when I signed up for MySpace and Facebook (and admit it, you have, too) I didn’t realise that I was subscribing to a culture of uncertainty even more likely to induce a cold sweat than an unanswered text message.These social networking sites masquerade as the singleton’s new playground. It’s kind of like browsing Amazon, but with people. But it’s a bit mad. If the woman sitting next to you on the bus asked you to be her new friend on the grounds that you were reading an article about a band she once listened to, you’d just feign deafness and swiftly move seats. In the world of MySpace, this sort of irrational networking is perfectly acceptable.

Keep reading the article here

upcoming conference on web 2.0 technologies

May 16, 2007

re-posted from the SPECTRE list – This conference is in Amsterdam on the 30th and 31st of May.

Virtueel Platform invites you to attend the international conference
Cultuur 2.0. The conference examines the impact of a series of
developments known commonly as Web 2.0, including sharing, ranking,
rating, collective intelligence, the wisdom & the dumbness of crowds,
empowering software, social software, community applications.

The conference brings together the cultural sector and the online and
ICT world to share, develop and learn to use knowledge, ideas and
technology. Will a Web 2.0 approach really bring about new kinds of
cultural content or is this merely a question of a temporary hype?

Cultuur 2.0 is made up of two days. The first takes the form of a seminar, in which the Web 2.0 way of thinking is taken apart,
questioned and applied to the current cultural climate and policy
development. To assist us on this journey will be international
speakers including Charles Leadbeater
(, author of the forthcoming ‘We
Think, the power of mass creativity’, Internet pioneer Bob Stumpel
(, Internet entrepreneur Boris Veldhuijzen van
Zanten ( and Andrew Keen
( who will be joining in via ‘video
conversation’. In addition a number of ministers from the former
‘Kabinet Online’ will debate on Professional versus Amateur

The second day of the Cultuur 2.0 conference on Thursday 31st of May
will be held in the form of a LAb.

In every Scenario LAb representatives of Web 2.0 and the Art/Cultural
sector will collide, work together, learn or maybe even melt together
as one.
The scenarios are: ‘Canon 2.0’ with the Rijksmuseum as a stakeholder,
‘Broadcasting 2.0’ with the VPRO, ‘Funds 2.0’ with Digital Pioneers,
and ‘Film 2.0′ with NFTVM. In addition there will also be an open
Scenario:’Lab 2.! 0©—’ lead by Willem Velthoven (Mediamatic). Guests
for this day are requested by invitation only.

A small exhibition has been put together showing examples of Cultuur
2.0 applications and cross-overs that coincide with the conference.

You will find more information on the programme here:

You can read news on the conference on our blog:

Registration for the first day via:

Fee: ¤ 75,- euro
Would you like to know more?
Please send an e-mail to or call
Virtueel Platform: 0031 20 6273758

This conference has been made possible by the Creative Challenge Call.

Virtueel Platform
Keizersgracht 264
1016 EV

Curatorial Statement

May 5, 2007

German follows English. This is a placeholder/abbreviated version.

“Audiences increasingly share control of the creation of information through the act of reception. Data can be configured in many ways, but only that embraced by audiences will determine the value of any exchange of data (and in this process, the creation of information). This can be the creation of art.” – Tom Sherman*

My Own Private Reality is a playful look at the hype surrounding what is called Web 2.0 – the proliferation of publicly accessible websites which allow communities of users to create and share content (writing, photos, videos, music, etc.) – something that previously was only done by professionals, self-taught enthusiasts, or organisations with staff members with technical and software know-how. With blogs, wikis, and centralised file-sharing sites, first-time users can now be as productive as the well-paid experts. How artists play in the online spaces between those populated by unpopular amateurs and well-known professionals is at the heart of this exhibition.

„Das Publikum nimmt wachsenden Anteil an der Hervorbringung von Information allein durch die Beachtung, die sie ihr zukommen lässt. Daten können auf viele Arten konfiguriert werden, aber nur diejenigen, die von einer Öffentlichkeit angenommen werden, bestimmen den Wert eines jeglichen Datenaustauschs (und damit die Schaffung von Information). Das kann die Schöpfung von Kunst sein.“ – Tom Sherman*

My Own Private Reality wirft einen spielerischen Blick auf den Wirbel um das Web 2.0 – die weite Verbreitung von öffentlich zugänglichen Internetseiten, die Gemeinschaften von Nutzern erlauben, Inhalte wie Texte, Fotos, Videos oder Musik bereit zu stellen und auszutauschen. Das war zuvor nur Profis, selbst angelernten Enthusiasten oder dem Personal zentralisierter Organisationen mit den entsprechenden technischen und Programmkenntnissen möglich. Mit so genannten „blogs“, „wikis“, und „file-sharing sites“ können heutzutage auch Internetneulinge genauso produktiv sein wie gut bezahlte Experten. Wie Künstler diese virtuellen Orte im Internet nutzen und bespielen, die von unbekannten Amateuren und namhaften Profis bevölkert werden, steht im Zentrum der Ausstellung.

*Tom Sherman, “Flying in the face of Abundance and Redundance”, Canadian Art, Summer 2006. Vol. 23, no. 2.