Sailing Libraries and Floating Technotopian Shitholes


Just the other day a friend of ours, who we – coincidentally – met on the M.S. Stubnitz – an incredible art venue currently ported in Hamburg – during Chaos Congress, wrote about her dream of a “Sailing Library”. Returning from the conference Radical Openness, which was in Linz, Austria on a beautiful part of the Danube, she wrote …

At [ the] conference I slept on [a] boat, and met the owner, who is having multiple ships used as “artist in residence” places.  That made me wish again that my old dream would come true – a sailing library! With multi-lingual books! Mostly Alice in Wonderland & Little Prince , that I already have in 20+ languages … “

Someone replied on the list:

“Seriously? – A sailing library. In the 21st century.
I wish transition people wouldn’t be so hopelessly romantic. I mean,
there is actual lives at stake. People’s lives are getting destroyed, some
are dying.”

HE goes on to give a few valuable suggestions for digitzing books and spreading internet access, BUT it triggered our XLterrestrial technotopian critiques… and we had just read the section of Astra Taylor’s The People’s Platform, the chapter called “Drawing A Line” which debunks many dreamy digital revolutionary things ( that never quite match the sales pitch )… i.e. the dilemmas of EBOOKS …


And so we wrote in reply, and in defense of SAILING LIBRARIES :

” Hi xxxx xx xxxx et xxxx,

A few years ago we also dreamed about a kind of sailing library… but maybe more
as a touring media lab, and workshop and “media self-defense” space.

Back in the 90s we were quite astounded to discover that a Paris theater
group was passing through Berlin on a beautifully converted canal barge.
It was on its way to Budapest… and we actually had no idea that major european
cities were even connected by a vast system of waterways.

Not really clear about the feasibility and costs of such a project, but
the idea still appeals to us to have a floating , mobile teaching lab…

About a decade later, we were spending a lot of time touring the Danube
regions, and pondered it again… Was sitting on the Vltava in Prague, and
imagined “The Institute Of Unchartered Waters” (IOUW, or something like
that ) … which would be a bit like a travelling hacklab.

What would it take to get ahold of one of those nice-sized ferries ? Or a
good-sized barge, to convert the cargo hull like the french theater group.

What sort of EU funding could be accessed to make a project that
facilitated such collaborations between all the eastblock, balkan, slavic and danube
cultures ?

Years ago we had also met Slobodan Dan Paich, a serbian artist who had accessed
a GIANT military 500-personal carrier ( a deco-era passenger ship from the famous Mothball fleet in the Carcinas straights renamed multiple times, last known as The Golden Bear ) and turned into a cultural center… The ARTSHIP.


It was TWICE the size of The Stubnitz, which is Already an unbelievably
massive ship. The costs to maintain it were immense, and on top of that
neither the port of Oakland nor SF ever gave him a decent birth, nor
proper licenses to operate as a public space in the harbors.

BUT it thrived for a few years as an underground fringe , kinda hidden,
and not entirely legal cultural space in the shadows. It was MINDBLOWING !
he pulled it off for awhile.

STubnitz is still thriving, and has been plotting to sail to North Africa
for a few years. If they pull it off, it will be a brilliant cultural
exchange ! ( the kind of project that makes a multi-million euro shithole
operahouses like Bayreuth and the new Schloss in Berlin look like gilded
toilet seats for wealthy jack-offs ! )


re: Transitions, eBooks and romantic Walmarts and Tescos of Digital Culture

We are currently reading Astra Taylor’s incredibly sharp
“The People’s Platform – Taking back power and culture in the Digital Age”

Xxxx Xxxx sent us a link for a downloadabe pdf – if we don’t post it
here, check back for it later at :

It debunks ALOT of shit about the net DREAMY and technotopia…

In one chapter called “drawing a line” she lays out some shocking analysis
about digital books…

” Printed books, it turns out, are a surprisingly resilient technology. I
have editions on my shelves that are a century old and are still perfectly
functional; they have been owned and read by others, they have been moved,
and dropped, spilled on, and written in. While i may lust after my
grandfather’s library, my grandchildren will not care to inherit an
antique kindle or an ipad any more than i want last decade’s clunky
desktop. Some may protest that is the nature of technological innovation,
but much of our consumption is driven not by advances in engineering but
by planned obsolescence. ”

She goes on to dissect the tech culture and its hidden costs, the massive
amount of (dirty) energy required, the massive ewaste dumps in Nigeria, the
precious minerals and water required for production…

” … it is estimated that mining the gold necessary to produce a single cell
phone – only one mineral of many required for the finished product -
produces upwards of 220 pounds of waste ”

etc. etc…


Some technologies like books and bicycles, SAILBOATS and LIBRARIES look like
LONG-LASTING precious human-scale inventions afterall … ones that the
digital evangelists are forgetting, discarding, trampling or leaving far behind in their cyberDREAMS, self-driving Google-tracked cars and a general Walmarket-ization of culture available through downloads from noxious clouds !


Note : this is from the “uncivilization” mailing list  – for discussing radical sustainability and survival … contact us if you are interested to take part.

to be cont.

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