Moneydick

Technology, Art, and Power

Tag: Internet

The ‘Assembly’ art project, a choreographed ‘mass visitation’ to disable a website

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have recently become a mainstream term: A large number of computers overload a server with traffic in the attempt to disable it. A DDoS event can also be coordinated in the vein of Internet art. During the middle of October, jstchilln.org, for a project by Brad Troemel, proposed

“to drain the maximum amount of bandwidth or potentially freeze the website to a standstill [...] On November 1st we encourage you to open as many tabs of Jstchillin.org as possible and leave them open all day. In doing so, participants may group together to temporarily remove this website’s existence on the Internet, putting a halt to its undesired effects on our community and the world at large.

A vote was taken to decide what website to ‘visit.’ What happened?

I had been following thejogging after discovering ‘Perfo Rmanceart‘, a Facebook user who conducted interesting and obnoxious online experiments like spamming the Guggenheim Museum’s Facebook page with links. thejogging was a stream of interesting experiments so when I saw the above page I went into my RSS reader and recorded the site’s final moments:

[iframe http://player.vimeo.com/video/18349005?byline=0&portrait=0&color=ffffff 563 422]

This kind of experiment interests me because it pushes the boundaries of Internet freedom and Internet art in a very public and well-documented way. In light of the DDoS attacks between Tumblr & 4chan and the more politically-motivated attacks against Paypal & Mastercard in response to their stance towards Wikileaks, this project is extremely interesting. Below is a bit more about this work:

  1. The artist’s statement at the beginning of the project
  2. A chronology of events and an essay written post-project: ‘Notes on Assembly’
  3. Brief interview with the artist, Brad Troemel, 12/2010.

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Geocities offered as 900GB torrent

Update: The torrent (641 GB) is here. And also available at Reocities.com.

I love this kind of stuff:

But you see, websites and hosting services should not be “fads” any more than forests and cities should be fads – they represent countless hours of writing, of editing, of thinking, of creating. They represent their time, and they represent the thoughts and dreams of people now much older, or gone completely.  There’s history here. Real, honest, true history.  So Archive Team did what it could, as well as other independent teams around the world, and some amount of Geocities was saved.

How much? We’ll never know. One of the Archive Team members called Yahoo! to find out the size and was rebuffed. When we called later in the year to ask exactly when the site was going down on October 26th, we were told that the person who spoke to us last had been let go. It must be like spring break down at that place.

But we know we got a bunch of Geocities sites – a significant percentage, especially of earlier, pre-acquisition data. We archived it as best we could, we compared notes, we merged and double-checked and did whatever needed to be done with what we happened to have.

So now, on this one-year anniversary, Archive Team announces that we are going to torrent it.

YES THAT IS RIGHT, WE ARE RELEASING GEOCITIES ON A TORRENT.

To be notified when the torrent is released, send an email to geotorrent@textfiles.com. Mash on the spinning molecule above to see the sort of beauty that has just been saved.

Cue the memories:

Exaggerating the cyberwar threat

In a June NPR Intelligence Squared debate on the question, “Has the cyberwar threat been grossly exaggerated?” tech commenter Bruce Schneier argued there needs to be a better language to frame infosec issues:

If we frame this discussion as a war discussion, then what you do when there’s a threat of war is you call in the military and you get military solutions. You get lockdown; you get an enemy that needs to be subdued. If you think about these threats in terms of crime, you get police solutions. And as we have this debate, not just on stage, but in the country, the way we frame it, the way we talk about it; the way the headlines read, determine what sort of solutions we want, make us feel better. And so the threat of cyberwar is being grossly exaggerated and I think it’s being done for a reason. This is a power grab by government. What Mike McConnell didn’t mention is that grossly exaggerating a threat of cyberwar is incredibly profitable.