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SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT MAIL ART - PART-4
BY RUUD JANSSEN
ISSM : TAM950100
This text was written after my first experiences on the internet. Since this time I have written many more texts, but the first views I like to preserve as well.
WHAT IS THE INTERNET?
- The internet isn't a network of computers. It is a network of networks. It is huge and it changes every day. Like Dick Higgins said, you only know the internet of yesterday, because internet of today might have changed again.
- The aspect of internet that comes closest to mail art, is the use of e-mail and the getting of graphic files via internet. Looking at the home-pages sometimes is a mixture of this, but actually, you need to go to somebodies 'homepage' to read the info he/she put ready for 'anybody'. A homepage isn't a private piece of mail, it is a sort of electronic archive that is open for anybody that comes to the door.
- Everybody who is on the internet has normally two specific addresses. One is his e-mail address, and the other is the place where he has his 'homepages' with the information that he is sharing with the network. Some homepages are just a few lines, but some homepages are the complete files of a huge archive, a network, etc.
DO YOU HAVE TO JOIN INTERNET?
- Well, it is really up to you. Some mail artists want to play with this new communication-tool, but they soon find out that it isn't the same as the 'old- fashioned' mail art network. But some get addicted to the speed & the tremendous wealth of data there is all over the world..... Even the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg has their own site on the internet I found out recently
- Before judging what the internet is like, you should at least have tried it for some months. Some get very enthusiastic, and others are very disappointed. You can send only bits and bytes through the internet, so everything is digitized. Also no smells, no paint-structures, no three-dimensional pieces can be sent yet.....
- The only thing that is really fascinating is the speed and the price you see in the e-mail. An e-mail message takes only a few minutes to get to the server of the person you send it to (of course the mail only gets really there when the addressee contacts his server and reads the message). The price of a single e-mail is cheap when you send out a lot of them. The basic costs, the costs for having an e-mail address and access to internet, might be higher. But once you use it a lot, and see that an e-mail message only costs one phone-tick extra, then you realize it is cheap.
- But what I can send through the internet isn't always what I would like to send. I still send out a lot of 'snail-' mail and actually still prefer getting that over the e- mail.
- The electronic zines that exist are mostly just long text-files and only get interesting once you have printed them nicely on paper. But then you yourself determine the lay-out and the paper, the colors, etc... Most e-zines however also indicate the nicest mail art connected web-sites, just in case your are interested to see these things on your screen.
PROBLEMS OF GETTING ON INTERNET
- First of all you have to live in country that actually has an internet provider. In some countries there are only few computers, let alone internet.
- Then you need the hardware. A (relative) new computer with a modem. A phone, and the money to pay the phone-bill. Some are lucky and work at a College or University of firm that has an internet-service, and they can use the tool from their boss. Not that many have a private access-code since it is an expensive joke to have this access, in Holland it costs about 30 Dutch Guilders (about 20 US$) each month to have a private access.
- You also must be used to using the computer for your communication. Some feeling for the use of software, and once you are working with computers you will discover the 'language of computer-users', which isn't always that understandable for the newcomers.
PROBLEMS OF BEING ON INTERNET
- It takes time to get your mail, read it, and then to answer the electronic mail. Because of the speed, a reply might be there even after a few minutes, and continue communication is something we aren't always looking for when exchanging art. Time is needed to let things work out in your mind.
- The e-mail messages are mostly in plain ASCII-text. Sometimes you might get an encoded file together with that e-mail message. Then you will have to find out how to de-code it. Some MAC-files can't be read on a DOS-computer without the proper programs, and the other way round, DOS-files are not that easy to manipulate on a MAC. Computers all over the world aren't compatible yet...
- Getting your information on the internet isn't just done by the sending of e-mail. There is also the HOMEPAGES. Actually it is a kind of digital archive that someone has made and is accessible via internet. Al things are digitized, and mostly you can upload (=send to) or download (=get from) information, data, digital graphic files, etc. The strong point of the homepages is that they are accessible to everybody all the time (unless too many people want to watch them on the same time) and that there is the unique possibility to make links. A special keyword on one homepage can be linked to another page on a completely different computer. This if how you 'browse' the net (web), by just clicking the pages you want to see. From the digital 'Louvre' you could instantly go to a linked page of a museum not in Paris, but in New York. You don't even realize sometimes that you are travelling around the world just like that.
- Moving on the internet, changing you electronic address, is something that happens quite a lot. The internet is made out of electronic connections, and if someone on the net decides to have access at another computer, instantly his old e- mail address is (normally) gone. There is the possibility get to get your mail forwarded when you leave a computer. You just have to pay for such a service, but sending out your new addresses is cheaper. Printed information about the internet therefore is always not good information. It is the basis for all those NET-magazines that are printed and lie in the store. It contains the latest news, and after a month of so, there already have been lots of changes again.
- Most internet-providers set the limitations for the use of you internet-account. Limitations of the memory for your homepages, limitations to the sizes of e-mail messages you can send out or receive, just to mention a few. Also there are the limitations of the computer you use to access the internet-provider, the speed of your modem, and etc. etc.
MORE INFO ABOUT INTERNET.
date of WWW-version: 2-8-1997
- I myself have written a series articles called "electronic mail art" There are 11 issues, and they document the beginning-times I was starting to look at the electronic communication on the internet. More recently I published a larger article called "Mail Art, Internet and Networking". For the college I teach I am actually now being paid to investigate the use of internet, so I myself have lots of books and magazines about it.
- Another project I am undertaking is the "MAIL INTERVIEW" project. Some interviews are done on internet, some interviews are even published on internet, and some users and non-users of internet give their views in these interviews.
- You don't have to depend on the network to get your information. There are lots of internet-magazines (.NET , WIRED, etc.) and books ("How to use the internet" and many more....) in the bookshops everywhere. They will get you started, and from there it will direct itself.
there are also secret thoughtspublished on this site.......
Ruud Janssen - TAM
5000 JJ Tilburg
Reproduction of this text is allowed provided that the text isn't changed, source is mentioned, and a copy of the magazine where the text is included in, is sent to TAM.
updated version: 2-8-1997
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