Library Juice 4:16 - May 2, 2001


  1. Nicholson Baker's Double Fold: Reviews and discussions
  2. Cites & Insights 1:5 (May 2001) now available
  3. expands
  4. Chicago Free Press: "Indecent proposal"
  5. How the open source movement is changing historic archives
  6. Libraries in a Digital and Aggressively Copyrighted World
  7. A Librarian's Guide to Latino Services
  8. Publish Free or Perish
  9. Columnist Opines Against Censorware, Gets Column Blocked
  10. Survey on the preservation of newspapers collections in Africa
  11. Richard Chabrán wins the 21st-Century Librarian Award
  12. Project for Public Spaces
  13. Kent State University: May 4 Collection
  14. May Day
  15. Labor History Bibliography
  16. Classic and neo- information (editorial)
  17. On Electronic Civil Disobedience

Quote for the week:

"You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike."
-From the original text based adventure game, Colossal Cave

Homepage of the week: Aran Lewis


1. Nicholson Baker's Double Fold: Reviews and discussions

Two from the Village Voice:

From the Washington Post:

From the NY Times

US News:

A Nicholson Baker Fan Page

CS Monitor

Baker's American Newspaper Repository:



Chronicle of Higher Education:

Discussion threads from the Archives list:

Discussion threads from Ex-Libris

2. Cites & Insights 1:5 (May 2001) now available

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large 1:5 (May 2001) is now available, at

This issue is 16 pages and includes the first full-scale informal
research report in CI:CAL--"Getting Past the Arc of Enthusiasm," a
report on the status of early free scholarly electronic journals.

What's in the issue:
* Changing Attitudes: Celebratory Notes on State Library Conferences
* PC Values: May 2001
* Getting Past the Arc of Enthusiasm (the fate of early free scholarly
electronic journals)
* Press Watch I: Eight articles
* Trends and Quick Takes: Seven items
* Press Watch II: Three articles
* Coyprights and Wrongs: Drawing Conclusions
* Review Watch: Seven reviews in six categories

Note for anyone wishing to cite past issues: once a new issue is out, the
revised URL for the past issue _should_ remain stable, and I have no
objection to links pointing directly to _past_ issues.

In another week or so, the CI:CAL FAQ will be revised to show the pattern
for past-issue URLs. (Not that anyone would normally cite anything in
CI:CAL, but "Getting Past the Arc of Enthusiasm" might be an exception.)

-walt crawford-

3. expands

News and reference portal Researchville as expanded -- over 500 free U.S.
daily newspaper archives can now be accessed directly at the site.  (press
release is at

Thought you might like to know.

Best regards,
-Bob Poulsen, President
 Researchville . .

4. Chicago Free Press: "Indecent proposal"

"When a 15-year-old lesbian in Portland, Ore., first became aware of
her sexual orientation, she had
nowhere to turn for help but her local public library. There, surfing
the Internet, she found information and resources that helped her cope
with coming out--a process that drives countless GLBT youth to despair
and even suicide every year."

5. How the open source movement is changing historic archives

By Joyce Slaton

"A new generation of "open source" archivists are arguing that archiving
needs to change radically. Archives shouldn't be sunk into mines, and
they probably shouldn't be owned by large corporations. A growing number of
these new-school archivists, like San Francisco's Rick Prelinger, are
creating publicly available, free-for-all archives on the Internet that
offer new answers to the question of what to do with the billions of pieces
of historical material rotting away in libraries, foundations, and
university archives all over the world..."

6. Libraries in a Digital and Aggressively Copyrighted World

Retaining Patron Access through Changing Technologies

Ann Bartow

".....The so-called electronic revolution in data technology has
been widely (if ambiguously) extolled as a transcendent force
propelling expansive distribution of information, and in many contexts
this is an accurate articulation of the impact of recent technological
innovations. Paradoxically, however, transformation of the mechanisms
of information delivery actually threatens to impede access to
information to patrons of nonprofit libraries, as data transfer
technology enables micro-managed control of access, giving content
owners the ability to control and restrict access to their
informational wares with considerable precision. At a time when
technology can enable unprecedented access to information, content
provider business practices can undermine and virtually incapacitate
the ability of nonprofit libraries to maintain the level of access
provided by traditional paper-and-print books and periodicals. The
goal of this article is to articulate the necessity, importance, and
rectitude of establishing for individual library patrons real space
access as the minimal standard of free, unfettered, and unmonitored
entrée to information in the electronic future. Despite the fact that
access to information is seemingly broadening geometrically, library
patrons need, and ought to be guaranteed, a minimal level of access
that comports with pre-Internet real space access. This concept, a
cognizable penumbra of interference-free, library associated
information access, will be denominated for the purposes of this
discussion library use, a library-specific conceptual cousin of the
fair use concept found in section 107 of the Copyright Act of
1976,[4] guaranteed to all library patrons...."

Full article at:

7. A Librarian's Guide to Latino Services

A Librarian's Guide to Latino Services is a new project by Yanira Vegerano
& Heather Booth, U of I at Champaign-Urbana students, packed with resources
many libraries will find useful.  This from the site:

"We are interested in this problem because of the discrepancy between
population and actual services provided. Because we hope to work in an
atmosphere that is multicultural and that serves the actual needs of its
population, we feel this is an important inquiry."


8. Publish Free or Perish

Life scientists are urging publishers to grant free access to archived
research articles

When a molecular biologist or a biochemist has made a discovery often after
many months or even years of tedious experimentsthey tell the rest of the
world by publishing their results in a scientific journal. So far, these
journals have controlled who can read them and who cannotbut maybe not for
much longer.

E-mail, Internet discussion groups, electronic databases and pre- or
e-print servers have already transformed the way scientists openly exchange
their results. And in the life sciences, researchers are now demanding that
their work be included in at least one free central electronic archive of
published literature, challenging the traditional ownership of publishers.
The demand has sparked widespread discussions among scientists, publishers,
scientific societies and librarians about the future of scientific
publishing. The outcome may be nothing short of a revolution in the
scientific publishing world.

9. Columnist Opines Against Censorware, Gets Column Blocked

[ Blocked! ] On Wednesday, Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page
wrote a column criticizing blocking software and the laws requiring its
use in public schools and libraries. He wrote that the "Law of
Unintended Consequences" applied in this case to Jeffrey Pollock, a
Congressional candidate who supported blocking software until he found
that his own site was blocked by Cyber Patrol.

Wait, it gets better. Mr. Page's column was blocked by CYBERsitter as a
result of the phrases he used in the text (CYBERsitter causes the
browser to display the bogus "Network error" message shown above). A
look at the CYBERsitter log file indicated that the column was blocked
because he used the words "porno[graphy]", "Internet porn[ography]" and




Don Wood
Program Officer/Communications
American Library Association
Office for Intellectual Freedom
50 East Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611
1-800-545-2433, ext. 4225
Fax: 312-280-4227
intellectual freedom @ your library

10. Survey on the preservation of newspapers collections in Africa

Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001 16:35:06 +0200
From: Marie-Therese VARLAMOFF <marie-therese.varlamoff[at]BNF.FR>

During the last IFLA Symposium "Managing the Preservation of Periodicals
and Newspapers" that took place at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in
Paris, August 2000, the extreme fragility of those publications was
highlighted. All the participants from Africa underlined the specific risks
threatening their collections and have requested the collaboration of their
colleagues to preserve that irreplaceable cultural and historical heritage.
IFLA PAC, in the framework of JICPA (Joint IFLA/ICA Committee for
Preservation in Africa), is consequently launching a survey to try and make
the inventory of the main titles owned by each major institution (archives
or library) and to find out missing issues. Later it is intended to fill in
the gaps by producing duplicates (microfilms or CD ROMs).
Anyone wishing to participate in this project is welcome and a
questionnaire in English or in French is available on the JICPA website :

For more information please contact :
Marie-Therese Varlamoff
Director of the IFLA PAC (Preservation and Conservation)Programme
Bibliotheque nationale de France
Quai Francois Mauriac
75706 PARIS Cedex 13

Tel : + 33 (0)1 53 79 59 70
Fax : +33 (0)1 53 70 59 80

e-mail : <marie-therese.varlamoff[at]>

11. Richard Chabrán wins the 21st-Century Librarian Award

"We are very pleased to announce the winner of the first annual
21st-Century Librarian Award competition: Richard Chabrán, Librarian and
Director of Communities for Virtual Research at the University of
California at Riverside.

Throughout his distinguished career, Mr. Chabrán has worked to develop new
tools and strategies for accessing information -- on the part of scholars
and the broader public. He is playing a significant role in the development
of public policy securing libraries' critical place in the shifting
information landscape. His long-standing and active commitment to
addressing the information needs of low-income and underserved communities
has shaped UC Riverside's Community Digital Initiative, an innovative
community technology center, and informs the work of Communities for
Virtual Research, the research and policy center which he directs.

We look forward to hosting Mr. Chabrán in Syracuse at our award ceremony in
the fall. Congratulations to Richard Chabrán and many thanks to our
remarkable group of nominees."

Kizer Walker, MLS student and chair, 21st-Century Librarian Award

12. Project for Public Spaces -

        This nonprofit organization provides publications, technical
        assistance, and research to projects aiming "to create and
        sustain public places that build communities." Initiatives and
        completed projects for urban parks and markets,
        transportation, and livable communities are all described, as
        are the organization's principles. They conduct training
        workshops for designers and planners of public buildings,
        sell books and other materials on public spaces, and provide
        links to other related resources. - ht

From Librarian's Index to the Internet -

13. Kent State University: May 4 Collection

        The definitive source of information on the shooting of
        students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. The
        collection contains primary source materials from faculty,
        students and administration, court papers and documentation,
        as well as photographs, press clippings, memorabilia and
        artifacts. An index for searching specific items or terms is
        provided, as well as a May 4 Web Exhibit; an annotated
        bibliography of books, articles, and Web sites; FAQs; and
        links to other sources. An online form allows for questions or
        comments (all comments become a permanent part of the May
        4 Archives). Visitors may also participate in the May 4 Oral
        History Project. - sas

From Librarians' Index to the Internet -

14. May Day

Date: Tue, 01 May 2001 11:49:23 +0800
From: "Shannon Sheppard" <holtlabor[at]>
To: "H-LABOR" <H-Labor[at]>,
"H-UCLEA (H-NET List for Labor Studies)" <H-Labor[at]>,
"PLGNET-L" <PLGNet-L[at]>

Please forgive any duplication.

The Holt Labor Library's May Monthly Feature honors May Day:
We have included a selected bibliography from the library's collection and
links to related web sites and archives.

Shannon Sheppard, MLIS
Holt Labor Library
50 Fell St.
San Francisco, CA  94102
phone:  (415) 241-1370
email:  holtlabor[at]

15. Labor History Bibliography

Compiled by Ann Sparanese

16. Classic and neo- information (editorial)

You've undoubtedly noticed that the pace of cultural change has given
rise to new uses to the word "classic": classic rock, Classic Coke,
classic cars.  When new things replace old things, the new things
usually lack something that we didn't appreciate before it was
missing.  What is missing from the new then gives a new value to the
old thing that can be indicated with the word "classic."  (The word
"retro," by contrast, is trivializing.)  I think that this is
sometimes more than simple nostalgia; it is part of how our culture is
dealing with the fact that change, or even what is commonly thought of
as "progress," is not exactly the same thing as improvement.  (This is
true even if you don't prefer classic rock).

This editorial is concerned with the way a new concept of information,
which I will call neo-information, has replaced the old, which I will
call classic information.  Understanding this conceptual change is
essential for understanding the "information age."  It is also important
in thinking about the role of libraries in an "information society." (The
idea I am sketching out here needs to be worked out further, someday, when
I am not so lazy. If you want to help me think about it, please contact me
at Rory[at] .)

Classic information is knowledge about facts or events or the
communication of that knowledge.  Libraries provide classic
information in the sense that they provide access to reference
materials and the facts contained therein.  Classic information, is,
in a sense, that which is "about" reality.  Long before the
information age, libraries provided the classic information that is
contained in almanacs, directories, dictionaries, etc.  Libraries also
provided access to literature, but literature was not information or
something that information could contain; it was a different category.
Classic information is a much more limited concept than

What I call neo-information is the concept of information created by
Shannon and Weaver, and is the accidental development that, in my opinion,
gives their work its social significance.  Shannon and Weaver created a
special definition of information for use in their theory - it became that
which could be carried by a signal in the process of electronic
communication.  Electronic signals now primarily carry images and
sounds; thus, images and sounds are now also information

Neo-information is also "that which is about reality", but in a new
way: in the sense that it is form abstracted from substance or that
which gives order and pattern to physical matter.  Thus, your DNA
contains the information that gives order to the protein molecules
that make up your body.  The TV signal contains the information that
gives order to the electrons that hit the phosphorescent screen. There
are machines, used by engineers to create models, that take
three-dimensional maps or designs created on computers and turn them
into three-dimensional objects.  And, a TCP/IP stream might contain
the information that makes up Sartre's Nausea, thus making literature
a subset of neo-information.

In a sense, neo-information is just overgrown classic information:
nothing more than very extensive knowledge (whether in someone's mind
or only in a device) of facts and events - the facts and events that
make up reality.  But in becoming so ubiquitous it has become
something new as well.  Perhaps the main feature of the contemporary
age is the way in which the images and information with which we are
surrounded have become our reality.  Where Jean Baudrillard speaks of
images and simulacra, he could just as easily speak of neo-information
(or the mediated world we create through our use of neo-information).
Where information was originally "about" reality, in the age of
neo-information it has become the substance of reality itself.

This characteristic of neo-information is what reveals the value of
classic information.  Where neo-information creates a new reality that
is dependent upon it for existence, classic information is dependent
on the real world which it is "about" and privileges that reality.
Classic information, therefore, has the potential of maintaining our
connection to the real world and authentic existence, while
neo-information offers a connection to itself via images, and privileges

Today, classic information and neo-information exist side by side
under the same name ("information"), and that is the source of a problem,
in that neo-information borrows from the moral authority of classic
information.  Classic information is related to truth telling,
investigative journalism, critical reflection and sworn testimony; the
practices which bind us to reality as a group.  Thus we have the moral
weight of the saying, "information wants to be free" and the
traditional values of librarianship (equity of access to information,
intellectual freedom).  Because it falls under the same title of
"information," neo-information borrows from the value of classic
information and uses it to support its own form of non-connection to
reality.  This is evidenced in legal protection for the crappiest
corporate entertainment, commercial billboards, and the other junk
that makes up our mental environment, and their presence in libraries.

Drawing a distinction between classic information and neo-information
is important for thinking about library services in the information
age.  In an age where the majority of our experience throughout the
day is taken up by "information," how can we begin to think about the
future of an institution we understand as being based on "information
provision?" With information so ubiquitous, how can we have any claim to
being "information professionals" any more than a graphic artist who uses
Photoshop or a television producer is an "information professional?"

The answer is to conceive of information as it relates to libraries in
terms of classic information and not neo-information.

Shannon and Weaver have been nothing if not a source of confusion for
our profession.


Information Theory of Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver

Baudrillard on the web:


17. On Electronic Civil Disobedience

by Stefan Wray

Paper presented to the 1998 Socialist Scholars Conference
Panel on Electronic Civil Disobedience
March 20, 21, and 22
New York, NY

I heartily accept the motto, -- "That government is best which governs
least;" and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and
systematically. Carried out it finally amounts to this, which I also
believe, -- "That government is best which governs not at all;"
                                     - Civil Disobedience, Henry David

Civil disobedience has been part of the American political experience since
the inception of this country. But today, as we enter the next century, we
are faced with the possibilities and realities of different, hybrid,
electronic forms of civil disobedience. A fusion of computer technology
with the more traditional forms of American civil disobedience has created
new electronic and digital varieties of CD that take place in cyberspace,
on the Net, or in the matrix.

The term electronic civil disobedience is borrowed from a book by that same
name. The Critical Art Ensemble's (1996) Electronic Civil Disobedience
provides us with a useful benchmark or launch pad from where we can travel
back to the historical practice of civil disobedience in the United States
and travel forward to the imagined practice of civil disobedience in the
near future. One thing is certain, we have only begun to realize the full
potential of how computers will change political activism. Another thing is
also clear; electronic civil disobedience will be part of this trajectory.

One hundred and fifty years ago, in 1848, the same year that the Communist
Manifesto was published in Europe, Henry David Thoreau delivered a lecture
titled "Resistance to Civil Government," which was later published as an
essay called "Civil Disobedience." Thoreau's essay on civil disobedience
emerged from his own personal refusal to pay a poll tax as an expression of
his opposition to the United States' war against Mexico. (Thoreau 1968)
Since Thoreau's time the tactics of civil disobedience have become woven
into the fabric of dissent in this country, as individuals at the
grassroots have continually attempted to participate in civil society.

Thirty years ago, in 1968, evolving out of the experience of activists in
the Civil Rights movement, civil disobedience became an important and
widespread tactic used by the opposition to yet another imperialist war,
the United States' war against Vietnam. In 1971, as historian Howard Zinn
describes, "twenty thousand people came to Washington to commit civil
disobedience, trying to tie up Washington traffic to express their
revulsion against the killing still going on in Vietnam. Fourteen thousand
of them were arrested, the largest mass arrest in American history." (Zinn
1995, 477)

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the tactics of civil disobedience and
direct action were taken up by a number of social movements. The
anti-nuclear movement began to engage in mass civil disobedience starting
in the mid 1970s - with large arrests at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant
in New Hampshire - and continued using this tactic through to the end of
the 1980s - with mass arrests at the Nuclear Test Site near Las Vegas,

In the 1980s, the radical wing of the environmental movement, represented
by groups like Earth First!, reinterpreted notions of civil disobedience in
order to apply these tactics to rural and isolated settings where old
growth forests were being devastated. Thoreau's ideas were brought to life
again by authors like Edward Abbey, who paid him homage in an essay called
Down The River with Henry Thoreau. (Abbey 1981)

Other radical groups, like ACT-UP, made sure that civil disobedience
maintained an urban presence. Using shock tactics, such as forcing ones way
onto the set of a live national news broadcast, ACT-UP activists pushed
civil disobedience more in the direction of in-your-face politics as a way
to emphasize the urgency of the AIDS crisis.

In an odd twist of irony, by the late 1980s and more so in the early 1990s,
even groups on the right began to adopt tactics of trespass and blockade.
The so-called "pro-life" movement started to physically block abortion

At the beginning of the 1990s, the Gulf War - or more appropriately the
U.S. war against Iraq - was yet another moment in which opposition was
expressed in acts of individual, small group, and mass civil disobedience.
In the fall of 1990, a small group of 14 anti-Gulf War activists, mostly
students from U.C. Berkeley and San Francisco State, occupied and held for
several hours an Army Recruiting Center in San Francisco before being
arrested. Also that fall, an adhoc coalition opposed to the war, called the
Bay Area Direct Action Network, began to strategize about different ways to
block building entranceways and highways. When the United States started to
drop its "smart bombs" on Baghdad tens of thousands of people poured into
the streets of San Francisco.

One notable action at this time was the occupation and blockage of the Bay
Bridge that connects San Francisco to Oakland and Berkeley. Following a
physical blockade that delayed the opening of the U.S. Federal Building in
San Francisco, thousands of protesters started to march downtown toward the
financial district. At the last minute, these protesters turned, took
another route, and easily pushed pass the dozen or so Highway Patrol
attempting to protect the bridge. This throng of people made it nearly all
the way to Treasure Island, the mid-way point on the bridge, before being
met with a massive show of force by the Oakland Police Department. While
unreported by the mainstream media, similar acts of blocking government
buildings and major highways occurred all up and down the west coast.

So, over the course of the last 150 years, since the publication of
Thoreau's Civil Disobedience, we have seen the tactics of individual,
group, and mass civil disobedience applied to varying degrees by a quite a
number of social movements in the United States. In the second half of the
twentieth century, civil disobedience has been practiced in every decade.
Sometimes it has been successful. Other times it has failed. Given that the
objective realities of U.S. society are not likely to alter radically any
time soon, we can safely assume that radical social movements, in one form
or another, will continue to adopt the strategies and tactics of civil
disobedience into the 21st century.

But, in the next century, most of us will witness, and some of us will
perhaps directly experience, a striking difference in the form and manner
of civil disobedience. Unlike in Thoreau's time, when the telegraph had
barely gotten off the ground, and even unlike during the tumultuous 1960s,
when the Vietnam War was televised - but when computers were still
monster-sized machines off limits to most people - we, today, live in the
age of the personal computer. We live in a computer-based information age.

As hackers become politicized and as activists become computerized, we are
going to see an increase in the number of cyber-activists who engage in
what will become more widely known as Electronic Civil Disobedience. The
same principals of traditional civil disobedience, like trespass and
blockage, will still be applied, but more and more these acts will take
place in electronic or digital form. The primary site for Electronic Civil
Disobedience will be in cyberspace.

In the next century, for example, we on the left will witness or be part of
an increasing number of virtual sit-ins in which government and corporate
web sites are blocked, preventing so-called legitimate usage. Just as the
Vietnam War and the Gulf War brought thousands into the streets to disrupt
the flow of normal business and governance - acting upon the physical
infrastructure - future interventionist wars will be protested by the
clogging or actual rupture of fiber optic cables and ISDN lines - acting
upon the electronic and communications infrastructure. Just as massive
non-violent civil disobedience has been used to shutdown or suspend
governmental or corporate operations, massive non-violent email assaults
will shutdown government or corporate computer servers. Given the expected
continued rapid growth and development of computer technology, and given
the increasing knowledge, sophistication, and expertise of a growing body
of cyber-activists, there is no telling exactly how electronic civil
disobedience will play itself out in the future. But we can be certain that
electronic civil disobedience will undoubtedly become an important element
in the emergence of new radical social movements in the years ahead.

There are already examples now in existence of the theory and the practice
of electronic civil disobedience, as well as evidence of government and
corporate awareness of the potential threat posed by sophisticated

To gain some understanding of emerging theory on Electronic Civil
Disobedience it is probably best to first look at several short pieces by
the Critical Art Ensemble. In 1994 the Critical Art Ensemble produced a
work called The Electronic Disturbance and in 1996 they produced a sequel
called, not surprisingly, Electronic Civil Disobedience. Both works argue
that capitalism has become increasingly nomadic, mobile, liquid, dispersed,
and electronic. Moreover, they argue that resistance needs to take on these
very same attributes. Instead of physically blocking a building
entranceway, or occupying a CEO's office, Critical Art Ensemble argues that
we need to think about how we can blockade and trespass in digital and
electronic forms.

Not only do these works by the Critical Art Ensemble begin to establish a
language with which we can develop ideas about and continue to practice
electronic civil disobedience, they also make a case that practicing
electronic civil disobedience has become imperative because increasingly
traditional forms of CD have become less and less effective. They argue
that the streets have become the location of dead capital and that to
seriously confront capital in its current mobile electronic form, then
resistance must take place in the same location where capital now exists in
greatest concentrations, namely in cyberspace. While the second part of the
Critical Art Ensemble's argument makes sense, the statement that the
streets are completely useless needs to be qualified. For example, we can
not discount the role that street protest played in the collapse of the
Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. This adds credence to
the notion that rather than pure electronic civil disobedience, we are
likely to see a proliferation of hybridized actions that involve a
multiplicity of tactics, combining actions on the street and actions in

The intellectual roots of the Critical Art Ensemble's work, especially in
relation to their nomadic conceptions of capital and resistance, can be
first traced to Hakim Bey's (1991) T. A. Z. The Temporary Autonomous Zone,
Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism, who in turn borrows ideas about
nomadology from Gilles Deleuze's and Felix Guattari's (1987) A Thousand
Plateaus. Bey's temporary - and nomadic -  autonomous zones, existing in
cyberspace, become the launch pads from where electronic civil disobedience
is activated. The influence of A Thousand Plateaus, especially the chapter
called "Treatise on Nomadology and the War Machine," can be seen running
throughout the Critical Art Ensemble's work. All of these works just
mentioned should be required reading for the serious student and
practitioner of electronic civil disobedience.

Besides examining hypothetical ideas in these theoretical works, we can
actually see that incipient electronic civil disobedience has started to be
practiced. One site for discovering such practice is within the global
pro-Zapatista movement that has come into being since the January 1, 1994
Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico. Since just days after the emergence
of the EZLN onto the global political scene, computers, and more
specifically, computer-based communication over the Internet, primarily and
originally in the form of email, have become key and central to the
existence of this global Zapatista inspired movement against neoliberalism
and for humanity. With each passing year, since 1994, the level of computer
sophistication has increased. What began as mere transmission of EZLN
communiques and other information via email became also a network of
hypertext linked web sites. In borrowing another term from Deleuze and
Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus - in addition to nomadic - the movement of
information through these various cyber-nets of resistance has been said to
have occurred rhizomatically, moving horizontally, non-linearly, and

Rhizome is word that comes from botany and is used to describe certain
types of tubers, that as a system of roots expands horizontally and
underground. The adjective rhizomatic have been used in a political context
as a way to describe the distribution, spread, and dispersion of
information on the Net about the Zapatistas. Rather than operating through
a central command structure in which information filters down from the top
in a vertical and linear manner - the model of radio and television
broadcasting - information about the Zapatistas on the Net has been said to
be moving from node to node, horizontally and non-linearly. This is
relevant in that the method of announcing and distributing information
about electronic civil disobedience actions has occurred in this rhizomatic

For example, arising out of this increased cyber-activism around the
Zapatistas, and following the recent Acteal Massacre that took place in
Chiapas just this past December, a group calling themselves the Anonymous
Digital Coalition, which we believe originated in Italy, began to post
messages onto the Net calling for cyber attacks against five Mexico City
based financial institution's web sites. The intent of their plan, which
was promulgated far and wide via this rhizomatic system of distribution,
was for thousands of people around the world to simultaneously load these
web sites on to their Internet browsers. The idea was that repeated
reloading of the web sites on to numerous people's browsers would in effect
block those web sites from so called legitimate use. The only evidence
available to me that this action worked is an email message I received from
someone who said that they made repeated attempts to access these sites
during the aforementioned time, but could not do so.

Another example is even more recent. Last month, when it looked as if the
United States was going to launch another bombing campaign against Iraq, a
national news story appeared describing how the Pentagon had allegedly
noticed an increase in the number of hacking attempts into Department of
Defense computers. Whether these cyber assaults are real or a figment of
the Pentagon's imagination is irrelevant. The point is that this level of
cyber-activism directed against a government institution is yet another
potential scenario that we will in the future either be witnesses to or
participants in.

As is to be expected, the roots of future government crackdowns against
electronic civil disobedience already exist in the present. Since as early
as 1993 there were warnings coming from RAND of impending netwar (Arquilla
and Ronfeldt 1993). Soon thereafter, the U.S. military establishment began
to worry about netwar or its more universal term, information warfare. In
1996, The Nation published an article describing a report produced by the
Pentagon's office on Special Operations Forces in which they make
recommendations to counter or contain possible netwar or information

But as attempts to prevent people from engaging in traditional civil
disobedience have failed before or have at least not been universally
successful, we can expect that whatever net the government creates in
attempts to capture future cyber-activists will be strewn with holes and
ways of evasion will be possible. One possible technical solution that will
enable cyber-activists to flood government or corporate email servers -
potentially to the point of these servers crashing - is the off-shore spam
engine, a web-site form-based means of directing multiple email messages to
targeted email addresses, anonymously.

To conclude. While it may be partially true, as the Critical Art Ensemble
claims, that participation in street actions has become increasingly
meaningless and futile and that future resistance must become primarily
nomadic, electronic, and cyberspacial, it is doubtful that physical street
actions, involving real people on the ground, will end any time soon. What
is more likely is that we will see electronic civil disobedience continue
to be phased in as a component of or as a complement to traditional civil
disobedience. In the near future, we can expect to see hybrid civil
disobedience actions that will involve people taking part in electronic
civil disobedience from behind their computer screens while simultaneously
people are engaging in more traditional forms of civil disobedience out in
the streets.

As we consider the trajectory of resistance in the United States and as we
envision the possibilities of resistance increasingly taking place in
cyberspace, it is important to remember that civil disobedience has been an
important part of the history of political growth and change in this
country. Thoreau's contribution, by example and by word, influenced
generations that followed. But today, we stand at a new crossroads, one in
which these older forms of resistance and protest are being transformed.
While it is useful to consider the path that civil disobedience has taken
up until now, we also need to be aware that our political terrain is
changing dramatically. In the 21st century, electronic civil disobedience
will occur.

                                - End -

Word Count: 2,830

(Stefan Wray is a doctoral student in the Dept. of Culture and
Communication at NYU. His dissertation research focuses on international
grassroots political communication on the Internet. He received an M.A. in
Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. His masters thesis, "The
Drug War and Information Warfare in Mexico" is available at You can send email to him at:


Abbey, Edward. 1991. Down The River. New York: Plume.

Arquilla, John and David Ronfeldt. 1993. "Cyberwar is Coming!" Comparative
Strategy 12: 141-65.

Bey, Hakim. 1991. T. A. Z. The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological
Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia.

Corn, David. 1996. "Pentagon Trolls the Net." The Nation, 4 March.

Critical Art Ensemble. 1994. The Electronic Disturbance. Brooklyn, NY:

Critical Art Ensemble. 1996. Electronic Civil Disobedience and Other
Unpopular Ideas. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia.

Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus. Capitalism
and Schizophrenia. Trans. by Brain Massumi. Minneapolis: The University of
Minnesota Press.

Thoreau, Henry David. 1968. The variorum Walden and the variorum Civil
disobedience. New York: Washington Square Press.

Zinn, Howard. 1995. A People's History of the United States. 1492- Present.
New York: Harper Perennial.

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