• So How Do I Get On The Internet?

last modified December 17, 2012 by strypey

There are various ways to access the net, all of which require a reasonably powerful computer. You can use existing terminals at libraries or cafes or if your own a computer and modem you con arrange a connection at your home. The cost of new computer hardware and regular service fees con be prohibitive for individuals, so the best way to establish your own anarchic presence on the web is to DIY and create a group.

In Hamilton we formed the Mostly Computer Syndicate for just such a purpose. The structure was simple: one person with skills in sourcing, fixing and assembling computers provided the hardware and acted as the voluntary system administrator, while five others had shared access to the terminal within office hours (9am-ópm). The five each mode an automatic payment of only $10 per week, the price of one hour's net use at most commercial cafes. Each person also made voluntary supplemental contributions to the smooth running of the group, such as overseeing finances, booking sheets or sharing computer peripherals (eg printers) they own.

The rent of $120 a month for our small office in Hamilton's Garden Place was paid out of the weekly membership fee, along with $40 a month for a dedicated phone line and $35 a month to our ISP. Having dissolved the division between manager, worker and consumer (each member is all three) we were able to provide ourselves with a resource rather than relying on business or charity. The 'Control Room' cost very little to set up ($100 in total) and unlike some non-profit groups that rely on a constant inflow of new members and more donations, Mostly was under no pressure to grow as it had secure funding from its stable membership.

The syndicate operated successfully for a few months, even adding a second surfing terminal using networking software downloaded off the net at no extra cost and only a minor decrease in surfing speed. We hoped to keep adding terminals and members but the fact that students have free net access reduced the potential membership and in such an informal situation it is difficult to bring in members from the public.

The syndicate has retreated into a private home but we have plans to establish a co-operative venture in an existing public space or possibly even rent our own shop in the near future.

Originally published in Thrall magazine Issue #11 (Oct/ Nov 1999)