The Oil of the 21st Century

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December 12, 2007

The River as Archive
with Lawrence Liang

Fri Dec 14, 7 pm - 9 pm: Lecture & Discussion
Fri Dec 14, 9 pm - late: Screening (*)
Sat Dec 15, 1 pm - 4 pm: Boat Trip (**)
Sat Dec 15, 9 pm - late: Drinks, Music, Video (***)

Wiederaufbau für Kreditanstalt
Mauerstraße 68, Ecke Leipziger
U2 Mohrenstraße, U6 Stadtmitte

For the last "Oil of the 21st Century" event in Berlin, we have invited
Lawrence Liang, a researcher with the Alternative Law Forum in
Bangalore, whose key areas of interest, in recent years, have been the
various conflicts that arise at the intersections of law, technology
and culture, and whose interventions in the ongoing debates about
Intellectual Property have become a point of reference for numerous
theorists and practitioners all around the world.

"The River as Archive" sounds like a highly speculative undertaking, but
if we start in India, take a closer look at the struggles against
displacement, expropriation, and the commodification of the biosphere,
the function of the river as a repository of knowledge, as a highly
contested medium that tends to resist the processes of privatization,
commercial stratification and control, becomes instantly evident.

Still, the idea of the the public domain as the "Commons" is, at least
metaphorically, based on solid ground, on land. One of the questions
that Lawrence Liang brings to Berlin is if the place of shared knowledge
shouldn't rather be conceptualized as a body of water: the ocean, the
sea, or the river -- and why, in the imaginary world of Intellectual
Property, water is exclusively reserved for the phenomenon of "Piracy".

While we still "navigate", or even "surf", the often shallow waters of
proprietary archives, a whole new universe of distributed repositories
has emerged that is built on "streams", or even "torrents". These are
not simply metaphors for the free flow of information, but highly
advanced technologies and protocols that rely on the concept of the
river, as archive, for reasons of performance and efficiency -- and
that threaten to obsolete the fortified repositories of information.

"The River as Archive" begins Friday evening and ends Saturday night.
We will hear a lecture, watch a movie, take a boat and have a party.

(*) With kind support from Pirate Cinema Berlin. For details, see:

(**) The trip starts at 1 pm at Mühlenstrasse (East Side Gallery, west
of Oberbaumbrücke, north bank of the Spree, S Warschauer Strasse),
at the new pier near the new billboard of the new "O2 World". The
boat has a capacity of approximately 30 passengers. If you like to
join us, please mail to in advance.

(***) This will be the closing event of Wiederaufbau für Kreditanstalt.

December 6, 2007

Wiederaufbau für Kreditanstalt
Mauerstraße 68, Ecke Leipziger
U2 Mohrenstraße, U6 Stadtmitte

Taxonomies of Intellectual Property
A List of Quasi Things

A workshop about the development of a mapping tool for a list of
quasi things. Kobe Matthys of Agency invites Peggy Pierrot and
Philippe Rivière.

Saturday, December 8, 2007, 3 pm - 8 pm: Workshop
Saturday, December 8, 2007, 9 pm - late: Bar
Sunday, December 9, 2007, 3 pm - 8 pm: Workshop

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is an agency
which was founded by the United Nations in 1974. Its
headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. WIPO's principal tasks
is to develop an international intellectual property
classification system. It cooperates with the World Trade
Organization (WTO) for the implementation of the TRIPS (Trade
related aspects of intellectual property) of the GATT agreement
of 1994. TRIPS imposes intellectual property law worldwide. The
main characteristics of this agreement on intellectual property
is that it is based on private rights, it demands from
intellectual property to generate profits and its system is
developed for the international trade of transnational
corporations. The standard of WIPO's international intellectual
property system means a threat to the diversity of practices.

Agency is an agency which was founded by Kobe Matthys in 1992.
Its post box is in Brussels, Belgium. Agency constitutes a list
of quasi things. Quasi-things fall just inside or outside a
category, they move from one category to another or they don't
belong to any category at all. Quasi things witness hesitation
in terms of classification. The list of quasi things includes a
diversity of examples of things that are excluded from the
current international intellectual property classification
system. For the purpose of evaluating intellectual property, the
law employs the division between categories such as nature and
culture, evolution and creation, object and subject, collective
versus individual... Many things are difficult to classify as
such. For example specimen 809 in the list is related to a
performance called "Sawing a lady in half" by the illusionist
Horace Goldin. Horace Goldin tried to use intellectual property
law (copyright, patent law, and trade secret law) as a way to
protect the secrets of this illusion. But intellectual property
law fails to protect the practice of magic.

This workshop will deal with questions of classification systems
and taxonomies of intellectual property, as well as discuss, in
the context of other archive projects, the development of a
website for agency's list of quasi things. At this moment, the
website is under construction at the URL: The
programming of this website in collaboration with Peggy Pierrot
started from the alteration of the content management system
called SPIP. SPIP is a publishing system for the internet
distributed under the General Public License (GPL) and developed
by e-zine uZine2. It is based on a MySql database. We will
discuss various questions which occur during the process of
transforming this online database tool into a topological
mapping tool.

Peggy Pierrot makes websites and radio programs, does
independent journalism and organizes parties.

Philippe Rivière programs SPIP content management system, edits
and develops the website of the journal Le Monde Diplomatique.

November 30, 2007

Wiederaufbau für Kreditanstalt
Mauerstraße 68, Ecke Leipziger
U2 Mohrenstraße, U6 Stadtmitte

Sonntag, 2. Dezember 2007, 19 Uhr
Die "Digital Divide" dekonstruieren
Nollywood, Mobiltelefone und der 100-Dollar-Laptop
Vortrag und Diskussion mit Jochen Becker

Digital Divide nennt sich die soziale, ökonomische,
technologische und geografische Spaltung des Zugangs zum
Datenverkehr. Die Gräben verlaufen quer durch die
Industriestaaten, vor allem aber zwischen Nord und Süd. Doch
gilt dies im Zeitalter der mobilen Telefonie und
fortschreitender Digitalisierung? Wer steht da eigentlich am
Graben und unterscheidet zwischen den digital haves und
have-nots? Dem verbreiteten Afro-Pessimismus zuspielenden Bild
der Ab-Gespaltenheit kann man entgegensetzen, dass die Rate der
Verbindungen des Globalen Südens ans Netz (Mobiltelefone,
Internetcafes, WiFi, WiMax) steil nach oben weist. Das Handy ist
hier zugleich Bank, Netzzugang und Navigator. Inzwischen werden
in den um Open Source und Creative Commons organisierten
Bewegungen die vorrangig eurozentrisch ausgerichteten
Fragestellungen über den Zugang zu freien Daten selbstkritisch
reflektiert. Am Beispiel des digitalen Kinos in Westafrtika, des
Booms der Prepaid-Telefonie in Kinshasa bis hin zum
Millionen-Experiment eines "100 Dollar Laptops" für den Globalen
Süden werden diese Verschiebungen vorgestellt.

November 23, 2007

Wiederaufbau für Kreditanstalt
Mauerstraße 68, Ecke Leipziger
U2 Mohrenstraße, U6 Stadtmitte

Sonntag, 25. November 2007, 19 Uhr
Die urspüngliche Akkumulation
Shakespeare, Das Kapital und die Commons
Vortrag und Diskussion mit Detlev Schneider und Johannes Wilms

Macbeth ist ein Drama allgemein über den Vatermord und im
besonderen über Königsmord; wobei "die königliche Macht, selbst
ein Produkt der bürgerlichen Entwicklung, in ihrem Streben nach
absoluter Souveränität" (MEW 23, 746) in der Figur des zu früh
gekommenen Diktators Macbeth gezeigt wird. Um 1580 ist im
elisabethanischen England die, wie Marx es nennt, ursprüngliche
Akkumulation des Kapitals, "die Verwandlung der individuellen
und zersplitterten Produktionsmittel in gesellschaftlich
konzentrierte, ... des zwerghaften Eigentums vieler in das
massenhafte Eigentum weniger, ... die Expropriation der grossen
Volksmasse von Grund und Boden" (MEW 23, 741) in weiten Teilen
abgeschlossen. Eigentum (property) und Kapitalform sind
etabliert. Die elisabethanische Zeit mag daher als eine Zeit der
Konsolidierung erscheinen, einer Blüte, auf die später die
grosse Industrie und die Monopole folgen werden. Geistiges
Eigentum (Intellectual Property) ist um 1600 kein Thema, weil
das Eigentum selbst erst Thema wird, so wie heute wiederum
geistiges Eigentum. Marx, gefragt, wie Leser/innen aus der
Mongolei, einem um 1880 tief-feudalen Land, "Das Kapital" lesen
könnten, gab den Rat einer reversen Lektüre - die mit der
sogenannten ursprünglichen Akkumulation beginnt und sich vom 24.
Kapitel nach vorne arbeitet. Heute, so die Hypothese, bietet
sich diese Lektüre an, um mit Marx das sogenannte geistige
Eigentum zu kritisieren.

November 14, 2007

Wiederaufbau für Kreditanstalt
Mauerstraße 68, Ecke Leipziger
U2 Mohrenstraße, U6 Stadtmitte

Thursday, November 15, 9 pm
Checks and Balances. Introducing Wiederaufbau für Kreditanstalt
Opening event with Jan Gerber and Sebastian Lütgert

"The Oil of the 21st Century" invites you, for a night of mostly
copyrighted music and some assorted drinks, back to a rather
historic street corner in South Mitte -- even though, ten years
after, that history may be relatively difficult to reconstruct.
As opposed to -- and across from the entrance to the parking
garage of -- "Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau", which is the
national "Bank for Reconstruction", "Wiederaufbau für
Kreditanstalt" means "Reconstruction for Bank". As a name for a
venue, this may be a slightly more honest assessment of one's
own role in the long history of permanently temporary spaces and
strategic redevelopment of property in the center of Berlin.

Friday, November 16, 3 pm - late
Saturday, November 17, 1 pm - late
Shivers of Sharing. Offsite Backup for the Rest of Us
A two-day workshop with Jamie King ( and
James Stevens (

"Shivers of Sharing" is an event based on the principle of
person-to-person exchange of materials from the public domain.
For two days, a local ad-hoc network will be created among
participants. One of the key concepts of the workshop is the
idea of the "offsite backup" -- the fact that personal data and
private archives are much less susceptible to corruption, loss,
theft, human error or technical failure once they are mirrored,
in parts or in entirety, across multiple physical locations.
Please bring laptops, hard drives, CDs, DVDs, USB sticks, music
players, cables and power plugs.

Sunday, November 18, 7 pm
Copyfarleft & Copyjustright
Lecture and discussion with Dmytri Kleiner (

Challenges to traditional copyright resulting from peer-to-peer
applications, free software, file-sharing and appropriation art
have caused a wide ranging debate on the future of copyright.
Dmytri Kleiner brings existing critiques of material property
from the left to bear upon the realm of copyleft artistic
production and asks how, within the existing copyright regime,
can artists earn a living?

October 15, 2007

Drugs, Terror, Piracy. An Introduction to the Oil 21 Conference
with Jamie King, Sebastian Lütgert and Alan Toner
Thursday, October 18, 2007, 8 pm - 10 pm
Oil 21 c/o Bootlab, Tucholskystr. 6, 2nd fl., 10117 Berlin-Mitte
S Oranienburger Str., U Oranienburger Tor

Dear all,

from October 26 to October 28, the "Oil of the 21st Century"
conference ( will take place in Berlin.
Today, we would like to invite you to an introductory session
on Thursday, October 18.

This event is intended to serve two main purposes. On the one
hand, we can give you a brief outline of the conference - its
program, topics, formats etc. But on the other hand, we would
like to take the occasion to take a step back, to one of the
actual entry points to the "Oil of the 21st Century" project,
and reassess the role that "Intellectual Property" - not only
as a technical or legal issue, but as a concept - occupies in
today's political perception and self-perception.

As a title, "Drugs, Terror, Piracy" is an obvious choice. It
marks a series of new, strange, contradictory - and not just
ideological or metaphorical - wars that introduce a profound
change of politics, a gradual conversion from one society to
another. The new paradigm of control emerges on all fronts:
as a network of continuous surveillance, a system of granular
access regulations, or a set of technologies for automatized
"Rights Management". And if there is a "Crisis of Copyright"
today, it can only be understood in this context: as a shift
in the social order, both an erosion and a reinforcement of
property relations, an ongoing battle that not only aims at
the "Oil of the 21st Century", but as well at our hearts and
minds - and for which some of us may already have developed
some promising analytical and practical instruments.

Finally, the introductory event is also an occasion to buy a
conference ticket. There is only a limited amount of these -
due to limited space - and even though we're not expecting to
sell out instantly, it may be wise to make a reservation. In
case you cannot be with us on Thursday, you can as well mail

Looking forward to seeing you,

Jan Gerber and Sebastian Luetgert

August 21, 2007

Dear all,

just about a week ago, we announced, presented and launched
a movie database that we have recently developed. Today, we
would like to extend the invitation to a larger audience.

The URL is: To enable all of its features,
you will need a registration code. You can either apply for
one on the site, or go to:

Alternatively, you can also access the database locally, at
our space in Tucholskystrasse 6, in Berlin, Tuesday through
Thursday, from 3 to 6 pm, or by appointment.

We have already found a <1> couple <2> of <3> articles that
will give you an idea what this database is all about. Feel
free to contact us if you need more information.

All the best,

Jan Gerber and Sebastian Luetgert


August 9, 2007

Dear friends,

in the last couple of months, we have been coding quite a lot.

The result is a rather unique kind of movie database, built on
top of file-sharing networks. Even though it's just a database
-- not a film archive, or a download site --, it has made most
of the people who have already taken a look at it very happy.

By now, we are beginning to be happy with it ourselves, and so
we would like to show it to you -- this Sunday, at 6:30 pm, at
Tucholskystrasse 6, 2nd floor --, have you play around with it
for a while, and then discuss some of the obvious, but in this
case rather interesting "Intellectual Property" questions that
may arise from it.

Looking forward to seeing you,

Jan Gerber and Sebastian Luetgert