A book about information and power
For everyone and for no one

By Linus Walleij

Translation from Swedish to English by Daniel Arnrup/Voodoo Systems


This book is about currents of thought in literature, technology, music, film, law and ideology. It was written after I realized that if I didn't write it, somebody else would. It was also written because I wanted all of the nice hackers in Sweden to be aware of, and educated about, their historical and ideological heritage. Finally, the work has been written with an air of popular science, to make it somewhat easier to understand (although the last statement can probably be debated; some chapters are considerably more difficult and technical than others).

Some questions to which you should know the answers before you start reading this book:

Q: Why should I read this stuff?
A: To understand new concepts within information society, emerging youth culture, and public debate, and also to give yourself the opportunity to form your own opinions through confronting those of myself and others. The book is focused on cultural phenomena in particular, since they are the strongest indicators of the direction of a society. Our society, at the brink of the information society, is called the post-industrial society. I will not hide the fact that I will also attempt to make you question that society.

Q: What is a computer?
A: A computer is an object that obeys the laws of nature, just like a human being. Like a person, it is neither evil, boring, kind, troublesome, or particularly intelligent. It becomes what it is made to become, just like an individual in society. The difference between a human being and a computer is that the computer has the opportunity to know with certainty who has created it, and it can look like virtually anything. In 1995, most people think that a computer looks like a square box. The computing field distinguishes between microcomputers , minicomputers , mainframes , and supercomputers , each being more powerful and cool than the previous. Today, the lines that separate one from the other are so blurry that these labels are a bit antiquated. A microcomputer, for example, is a PC, Mac, or similar home computer. The average person has hardly seen any of the other types.

Q: What is a computer network?
A: A computer network consists of two or more independent computers that have been connected by a cable. It is customary to distinguish between LANs ( Local Area Networks ), where computers inside the same building or at most the same block are connected, MANs ( Metropolitan Area Networks ), which connect computers throughout an entire city, and WANs ( Wide Area Networks ), which connect computers across great distances. The greatest network of them all is the Internet, which links all kinds of computers - and networks - across the entire world. A computer network allows for the transfer of information between different computers, may it be text, images, sounds, or anything that can be entered into a computer. It is similar to telephones or postal transport, but better and faster. Actually, the entire phone network is a computer network, except it connects people instead of computers. Many WANs such as the Internet employ the phone networks instead of laying their own cables. Computers that hold together a computer network are almost exclusively minicomputers or mainframes, i.e. large, refrigerator-looking boxes.

Q: What is a BBS?
A: BBS stands for Bulletin Board System , which really means an electronic bulletin or poster board. Similar to a regular bulletin board, it is necessary to visit it frequently to see its contents. You can also put up your own "notices" and receive replies to your submissions through other written messages on the board. There are BBSs that are partially connected to the Internet, and some that are stand-alone. Today, you connect to a BBS through the use of a modem, a computer, and a telephone line. In the future, BBSs will probably be replaced by conferencing systems (a type of giant BBS) on the vastly more efficient Internet. Newsgroups are an example of such conferencing systems. Users can also send private electronic mail to each other or mass-distribute computer software through a BBS.

Q: What is Cyberspace?
A: Cyberspace is where the money you keep in the bank resides. It is where a telephone conversation takes place and the space through which television programs travel on their way to your receiver. It is an electronic reality consisting of information, and it actually only exists because people have agreed that it works. Physically speaking, it consists of cables, radio waves, pulses of light and large computers with gigantic memory capacities. It is a physical occurrence in the "real" world that we may, with an ounce of faith, consider a universe of its own. It is a reality in which man is God and has created all. It is something of a religion. Most people "believe" in cyberspace, or they wouldn't use an ATM to withdraw currency. The entire economic system of the West exists inside it. Cyberspace was born on March 10, 1876, when Alexander Greham Bell "invented" it. Without electricity, there is no cyberspace. Our civilization is already dependent on cyberspace; if it disappeared, the economy would collapse and the West would perish.


Design and formatting by Daniel Arnrup/Voodoo Systems