PRESS RELEASE August 8, 2004

InfoTechWarPeace to launch “The Power and Pathology of Networks” project with symposium and exhibition at Watson Institute

The Information Technology, War, and Peace Project [] at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies announces a research project investigating “The Power and Pathology of Networks.” The project will be inaugurated by a two-day symposium (September 10-11) and a three-week exhibition on the history, politics, and art of computer viruses (September 10–October 4); both promise to be groundbreaking events. The “Power and Pathology of Networks” project will continue throughout the year with a series of seminars, keynote lectures, and web interventions that will further investigate the global risks of interconnectivity and seek out new forms of global governance to identify, manage, and reduce those risks.

The “Power and Pathology of Networks” symposium will gather together network theorists, media experts, political scientists, and representatives from industry and art, among others, to explore specific issues of networked technologies. How do we assess the dangers of interconnectivity (networked terrorism, computer viruses, pandemics) against the vaunted benefits (global interdependence, increased transparency, higher productivity)? Is the complexity of networks producing immune responses, cascading effects, and unintended consequences that defy human control? What new forms of global security and governance are needed to manage the power, allocate the resources, and reduce the risks of networks?

The symposium will be complemented by an exhibition on the phenomenon of computer viruses and processes normally hidden within the black box of a computer. In a networked society, dealing with computer viruses, worms, or so-called “blended threats,” has become part of everyday digital life. Going beyond facile contemporary debates about hacking, the exhibition, titled “I love you” in reference to a well-known network attack, will consider the role of computer viruses as destructive forces and economic threats as well as forms of creative digital art and democratizing tools. In doing so, the exhibition will demonstrate the connections between new media, contemporary politics, and cultural production. The exhibition will challenge visitors to reflect on the ubiquitous presence and transformative potential of information technologies in their everyday lives.

Divided into historical, technical, and political areas of investigation, “I love you” presents controversial positions and raises difficult questions posed by net artists, programmers, IT-experts, and code poets. What actually is a computer virus? Who creates them, and why? What sort of world is hiding behind these everyday phenomena? The interactive exhibition also will present opportunities to use programming code and to explore the creative potential of source code in the manner of an earlier vanguard of experimental artists.

The curator of the “I love you” exhibition is Franziska Nori, who directs Kulturbüro [] in Frankfurt, Germany. The exhibition, which is being substantially revised for the Watson Institute, was shown at the Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt in 2002 and the transmediale.03 in Berlin, Germany, in 2003. The expanded “I love you” exhibition will be shown in the distinctive setting of the Watson Institute building on the Brown University campus from September 10-October 4, 2004, and will travel to the Museum for Communication in Copenhagen, Denmark (October 7- November 14, 2004).

Understanding the nature of networked technologies requires approaches that bridge divisions of intellectual labor and discrete areas of study that often separate practitioners and theorists, scientists and humanists. The InfoTechWarPeace Project makes a conscientious effort to bring together a diverse range of experts from governmental and non-governmental organizations, the media and military, as well as industry and the academy. More information about all events will be available at

The overall goal of InfoTechWarPeace is to produce, sustain, and extend global networks of knowledge and authority that will help raise public awareness and inform new policies on information technology in international relations. Funded in part by the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Research in Culture and Media Studies, and Cisco Systems, the project builds on past accomplishments to produce new ways of understanding and managing the next challenges of the information age. For more information about the work of InfoTechWarPeace visit or contact Annick Wibben at or by phone at 401.863.3473.






copyright © 2004