WOS 3 / Programm / Specials / Exhibition / Project Gnutenberg, »textz.com« (since 2001) & & »walser.php« (since 2002)

Project Gnutenberg, »textz.com« (since 2001) & & »walser.php« (since 2002)

[http://www.textz.com/textz/] & [http://www.textz.com/trash/]

Since 2001 Sebastian Lütgert/ROLUX has been running the project textz.com which comes onto your home computer along with the snappy slogan »we are the & in copy & paste«. textz.com is a warez database for texts.

One can find text with and without copyright, fictional and theoretical texts, manifestoes, articles and song texts. Texts by Theodor W. Adorno appear side by side with texts by the autonome a.f.r.i.k.a.-Gruppe, Douglas Adams appears next to Klaus Theweleit and Kathy Acker. The texts are coming from various sources.

They are either submitted by the authors themselves, they are supplied to the textz.com database by various online collaborators as freely circulating texts on the Net, or they are scanned in from printed media page by page, processed via a text recognition program, and transformed into ASCII files.

In March 2001 Sebastian Lütgert has written an introduction to textz.com entitled »napster was only the beginning« which represents a furious rejection of any kind of proprietary closure of common goods (»organized corporate piracy«) (cf. Rohrpost, March 15, 2001). For the recent and ongoing Adorno case, please check out the readme file.

»walser.php« (2002) by textz.com/Project Gnutenberg (i.e. Sebastian Lütgert) has been called »political« or »literary« software. We might call it an anticopyright-activist software which has been written in response to one of the biggest literary scandals in Germany after the Second World War.

The file name »walser.php« is not only an ironic allusion to the file »walser.pdf«, a digital pre-printed version of Martin Walser’s controversial novel which was distributed by the Suhrkamp publishing house as an e-mail attachment – and later on, due to the unfavorable circumstances, called back by the publisher (nice try: calling back a digital document from the Internet).

Rather, »walser.php« (or rather »walser.pl«) by textz.com was/is a Perl script which via an appropriate Perl interpreter can generate a human-readable ASCII text version of Walser’s novel Death of a Critic from the 10.000 lines of source code (The project »pngreader« functions similarly, the only difference is that here texts are encoded into PNG image files and thus can be distributed freely).

While the source code written in Perl contains the novel itself in an »invisible«, machine-readable form and thus can be distributed and modified as free software under the GNU General Public License, it may be executed only with the written permission of the Suhrkamp publishing house. »walser.php« offers a practical solution for circumventing commercial restrictions which increasingly try to restrict informatio freedom on the Internet by using Digital Rights Management Systems. »walser.php« takes – according to Florian Cramer –»counter measures in the form of software«.

The most recent project in this series, entitled »The Conceptual Crisis of Private Property as a Crisis in Practice« (2004) by Robert Luxemburg is a screenshot (crisis.png) that shows, among various other things, the source code of a piece of software (crisis.php) and its documentation (crisis.txt). The code, once typed up and executed, will transform the screenshot into the full text of Neal Stephenson's novel Cryptonomicon.

Further reading: Florian Cramer, »walser.php«, in: Olga Goriunova, Alexei Shulgin (Hg.), Read_Me 2.3. Reader, Helsinki 2003, pp. 76–78. textz.com, »Suhrkamp calls back walser.pdf, textz.com releases walser. php«, o. J.

Michael Thomas, »Tod einer Kritik. Walsers umstrittenes Buch als Perl- Script im Internet«, in: Telepolis, 27.6.2002

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