An Exchange with Micz Flor

tactical media revisited Micz Flor in conversation with Geert Lovink

[text als realaudiofile] geert lovink Media are no longer just used for propaganda. I think media in general is an environment. And it does no longer makes sense to think about media in terms of instrumental use. The media have all kinds of biases they have aesthetical premises, they have very strange ways to deform and to disturb your 'good intentions' and I think alternative movements are more and more aware of all these mechanisms. They develop their own media, they manipulate the existing media and they sometimes even chose not to work with media. So these are all options and these are all experiences gathered in the last ten or twenty years. micz flor

Independent radio stations claim the independence of their broadcasting as very central. Most recently a lot of independent and pirate radio stations start exploring and working in the internet, using the software packet 'real audio'. By doing so they can in some ways extent their boundries. What do you believe are the advantages, disadvantages and possibilities of such a strategy? geert lovink
In certain circumstances radio is very free and independent, mainly if you have the possibility to just broadcast, like we have in Amsterdam - very different from the situation in countries like Germany, where the state is still very afraid of it is citizens, because it is afraid that if you give the radio to the people they will immediately become fascist or communist - they are very afraid of the media. In the end they will find out that radio is a meaningless medium and that it is very good as an ambient environment, not so much as a medium to broadcast information or counterinformation, but that it gives you another perspective, that it works in a indirect way, a more unconsciousness way, it is more about pleasure and not so much about precise ways of arguing and transmitting, receiving information. The computer is much more precise and this is where radio meets computer. Radio is completely blurry. its a fuzzy medium, completely unimportant, minimised somewhere in the corner. And the computer is on the rise, it is a hype. The computer in itself as a medium of course is very unimportant, too because it has so few users compared to newspapers and television. Of course the computer is very, very small - we should not forget that and the use of internet: it is so tiny compared to other media. Maybe that is what internet and radio have in common. But of course there is much more money around. Radio can use that, can go on the internet as a kind of parasite. And that is how to use real audio: to parasite on that very commercial development. And that is where the whole story starts of course. How is radio going to use real audio? Not to reach new audience, I do not think so. Real audio is being used in a very different way. The potential it has is that for the first time it can transmit audio data. We never had that opportunity and we were really waiting for that software for such a long time and it is so nice that it is finally there. And then you can store it in a very high quality. That is also very nice: we use internet not so much as a medium, but more as a infrastructure to transport. This is how the internet has been used for a long time in the early phases not so much as a broadcasting media. We should not believe so much in those hypes that are going around about broadcasting. Alternative media, free radio can use it as a medium for transportation and as such it is the ideal medium. micz flor
By changing the context using the internet, by creating a shift of the audience being reached with such radio programmes, do you think that might have an impact on the information being broadcasted? geert lovink
Because the audience of real audio is still so small I do not think that people radio are so aware of this. And I don't believe they don't have to notify it. Because it is really not that important. But in the case of B92 you see that there is a very strategic use because the medium is so local and through real audio you can establish other connections, you can suddenly go global with this radio which is a very, very strange thing. Even for people in Belgrade themselves to realise what it actually means. It means a complete shift in the way they work, because now they suddenly have to produce a daily news bulletin in English - if you do it in a good way, it has tremendous impact, but really only in a crisis situation. If you are very motivated, if you know what you do, and you see immediate results. Perhaps they will have a small audience also, but maybe a very important audience. So in the case of B92 in Belgrade they realised they had quite an important audience: within the emigrants, the more influential people. They found out that for example they would broadcast through the real audio a telephone number that you could call in Belgrade, that they suddenly got people to call in from Saudi Arabia, from California, and from Brasilia. Serbian people who were there, listening to real audio, hearing the telephone number and suddenly calling them. And they were thinking: 'That can not be true. what are they doing there? How can they receive us?' But in circumstances where people really need this information, where it is vital information for survival, what we call 'tactical media', in a crisis situation using it in a very clever, innovative way - not in the 'usual' way of making counter-propaganda, but just hitting the power. Hitting it where it does not expect to be hit. Then you can see very strange results and of course that is very nice. micz flor
Is there the danger to become more vulnerable by relying on other networks and companies to supply you with networks? geert lovink
Well, those radio stations will get known and they will get a lot of support. They should do it now and cause scandals and see how authorities react, see if the police comes, if they consider this being a national radio frequency or not. Or the company that will get all the copyright, see if they can find you and if they are going to sue you or not. These are very, very interesting cases and I know world wide that there are a lot of people being interested in your case and see how it evolves. Because in many countries there are no laws and we can offer a lot of people to broadcast for example from Amsterdam on xs4all, so if they do not want to broadcast from Germany or another country they can broadcast from Holland. The old way: what people used to do in the 60s as well, when they were going off shore on boats. Of course, we can do that, just see what happens. But of course this is not an aim in itself. We should know what we broadcast and why. micz flor
Currently you are commuting between Amsterdam and Eastern Europe a lot. What is it is going on over there ? geert lovink
Since 1989 I've been trying - I do not know if I succeeded - to build up a lot of those independent media or to support them - with money, equipment, ideas, models, rumours, whatever - to build up an infrastructure so that people could relate to each other and so that there will be some basic support. And as you know those independent media are not generating any money, so people do not get an income out of it so it is really difficult. One must be very motivated to do it and you must be in a very dirty, difficult political situation - like people in Serbia or generally in a war situation where they know why they want to have independent media. Then it becomes suddenly very clear why this is necessary, because there is propaganda all around and the whole media situation is completely fucked up. So you do not have to explain anybody, not even the population the necessity - it is completely obvious. It really goes up and down in my case, but, I do not give up so easily, you know. We just had a very interesting work-shop with real audio, with all those different radio stations from former Yugoslavia. And they are so far ahead of us - which might sound strange, but because they know why they use it and they also know why they use new technology. They can use it very effectively - and that is good to see.