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More to Wi-Fi than meets the eye
This project informs and adds new dimensions to the use of short-range wireless broadband technology using the PCM-5823 computer and the Red Hat Linux operating System. I like it very much. I am also inspired to read of the enthusiasm it has generated in the United States of America which I have always found to be such a lively hotbed of the good, the bad and the ugly. I live and work in Australia and France and through my membership with Net Art News at rhizome.org I find out about projects such as these. Julian Bleecker’s Wi-Fi.Bedoiun is one of two I have seen and read about so far (the Guantanamobile Project being the first), and they both really hit the spot! Thank the good lord (or whoever) for you critically minded people who strive to remind us of the social and cultural imbrications of technologically-mediated mobility. The Italian novelist and semiotician Umberto Eco once wrote about the nomenklatura (in the soviet sense of the term) of the masses saying that, “There is a risk that we might be heading toward an online 1984, in which Orwell's "proles" are represented by the passive, television-fed masses that have no access to this new tool, and wouldn't know how to use it if they did. Above them, of course, there'll be a petite bourgeoisie of passive users - office workers, airline clerks. And finally we'll see the masters of the game, the nomenklatura - in the Soviet sense of the term. This has nothing to do with class in the traditional, Marxist sense - the nomenklatura are just as likely to be inner-city hackers as rich executives. But they will have one thing in common: the knowledge that brings control. We have to create a nomenklatura of the masses. We know that state-of-the art modems, an ISDN connection, and up-to-date hardware are beyond the means of most potential users - especially when you need to upgrade every six months. So let's give people access free, or at least for the price of the necessary phone connection.”
Full interview at http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.03/ff_eco_pr.html
Lee Marshall conducted this interview with Umberto Eco back in March 1997. It’s frightening to think that by simply updating the technology-speak in Eco’s words, the sentiment almost ten years on could quite probably remain the same and be published today. I use, work and sometimes even create and tackle the Internet as a medium but I share scepticism in what I have also seen as the highly commercialised and “same as” spread of Wi-Fi Internet hot spots for the nomenklatura across the globe. I’ve now read about a project that both informs and invites me to become a participant in a far reaching and innovative connected experience. I believe we have a unique opportunity here to explore a future technology-based mobile service that Julian suggests is capable of creating new independent webs of activity (as opposed to the same old activity on the web – bravo!). I know a little bit about Wi-Fi and its non-Internet applications and have been involved in the development and making of a wireless Analog to MIDI digitiser for interactive performance (in this case not web associated) and believe me, there’s much more to Wi-Fi than meets the Eye!
- Damian Castaldi, Sydney South, 02.06.2006