Ilze Black (UK), Alexei Blinov (UK)

LOCAL PORTALS: EXPERIMENTS IN UBIQUITOUS NETWORKS.

“Internet is not simply “open” or “closed” but above all it is modulated.”(Galloway 2007)

Since the The Rise of the Network Society as elaborated by Manuel Castell (2000) and further questioned by scholars like Tiziana Terranova (2004), Geert Lovink (2002) and Alexander Galloway (2007) to name a few, networks have become the buzz word of the early 21st century not only in circles of academics or IT professionals, but also for the media savvy kids on the streets as social networking becomes the norm. Connectivity and access to the Internet have been promoted as basic human rights while the rise of digital commons is shadowed by corporate network monopolies. Today, it is more important than ever to untangle the invisible 'connections between dots and lines' by the help of analysing practical examples to improve our understanding of the underlying structures weaved into the fabric of the network phenomenon.

In the “wastelands left by the official media” the open culture practitioners, media activists and artisans vigourously challenge the existing technologies and network structures by staging collective experiments, be it a new open source kernel or wireless community network development that are built upon the prospects of open hardware or software. The roots of this innovating and resisting force can be traced back through the 20st-century radical media practice while some elements recall strategies used by earlier art movements. Tracing these histories will help us to understand better the role of those practitioners in contemporary contexts.

Using Galloway's graph theory perspective for better understanding of the networks this paper will highlight the experimental network projects developed by London based media art collectives HiveNetworks and Take2030. Through analysis of their collaborative projects and local network applications this paper will deal with a variety of network structures, focusing on the role of the participatory media and feedback cycles that make these networks alive. Likewise, the innovative networked media application concepts suggests not only some possible future network employments, but also highlights the changes in social relationships on macro- and micro-levels thereby redefining the concepts of power and accountability.