30 06 2005
The Vienna Document
Xnational Net Culture and "The Need to Know" of Information Societies , by Open Cultures Working Group
Vienna Draft Document by the Open Cultures Working Group hosted by "Towards
a Culture of Open Networks" - a collaborative program developed by Sarai
CSDS (Delhi), Waag Society (Amsterdam) and World-Information.Org (Vienna).
Information technologies are setting the global stage for economic and
cultural change. More than ever, involvement in shaping the future calls for
a wide understanding and reflection on the ecology and politics of
information cultures. So called globalization not only signifies a worldwide
network of exchange but new forms of hierarchies and fragmentation,
producing deep transformations in both physical spaces and immaterial
information domains. While global information cities increasingly resemble
neo-medieval city states, market concentrations establish a dominion over
knowledge. On the way to information feudalism, diversity seems to loose
out. Nevertheless global communication technologies still hold a significant
potential for empowerment, cultural expression and transnational
collaboration. To fully realize the potential of life in global information
societies we need to acknowledge the plurality of agents in the information
landscape and the heterogeneity of collaborative cultural practice. The
exploration of alternative futures is linked to a living cultural commons
and social practice based on networks of open exchange and communication.
We an open group of artists, researchers and cultural activists recognize
common ground for transnational exchange and collaboration towards a culture
of open networks. Cultural practices surveying information grids of global
cities paint landscapes of global transformations and provide depth to an
outlook towards a future that has already begun. Cultural investigations
into the urban grids of communicative practices are at the base of mapping
options and negotiating conditions of socio-cultural reality. Cultural
collaboration, providing a wealth of perspectives and ideas in communication
practices, is in itself a transformative process, an agency of change. We
need to value the diversity of emerging recombinant interactions and
networks of imagination that provide a rich resource for our future cultural
We applaud all initiatives that reclaim the benefits of new communication
technologies for the common public.
We know that the future is too precious to leave it to experts; digital
human rights in everyday life are everyone's concern.
We trust nodes open of information cultures to explore the diversity of
choices in the shaping of information societies based on semiotic democracy.
We recognize that street level open intelligence is of high public value and
a cultural process that is highly dependent on information climate and
We do not accept a world where popular culture and human heritage is fenced
in and IP restriction management separates us from our own thoughts.
We appreciate the fact that boundaries between users and producers become
permeable in new communication environments and new practices dissolve
traditional notions of authorship.
We are committed to critically observing the mindsets of possession and the
creation of scarcity as processes implementing control in the information
We refuse to live in an information society where nothing belongs to all of
us, but everything is owned by cartels, locking human knowledge into the
vaults of private interests.
We acknowledge that knowledge is for those who do, not for those who don't,
because cultural progress implies that ideas emerge from exchanges, from
communication, from interaction.
We do not want a world where you need a license to whistle a song or access
your own memories.
We value information as a human resource of cultural expression rather than
a commodity to be sold to consumers.
We anticipate a silent spring in Information Society's landscapes when even
a bird's song becomes subject of copyright control.
We realize that intangible information resources raise the issue of a
digital ecology, the need to understand ecosystems constituted by
information flows through various media.
We urge to ask who benefits from technology that is never neutral,
empowerment and participation or domination and containment.
We reaffirm that security concerns are not an excuse for pervasive
surveillance and control environments linking personal profiles and
producing social sorting and segregation.
This text is a document that emerged from a work meeting in Vienna June
2005. This draft of the Vienna Document is written by Konrad Becker and
Felix Stalder based on the inputs and contributions made by the members of
the working group.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the
European Union as part of the project Towards a Culture of Open Networks under the aegis of the EU INDIA ECONOMIC AND CROSS
The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of Waag Society
and its Partners (Sarai and Public Netbase) and of the people who
contributed to the discussions of the working group, and can under no
circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.