Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University


Press Release - 1 September 2004

InfoTechWarPeace to present “The Power and Pathology of Networks“ symposium and the “I love you [rev.eng]” exhibition at Watson Institute

The Information Technology, War, and Peace Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies is delighted to announce its newest research project, “The Power and Pathology of Networks”, which will be funded by the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation, Cisco Systems, and the Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Research in Culture and Media Studies. In September 2004, the project will be inaugurated by a symposium, “The Power and Pathology of Networks” (September 10 and 11, 2004), and an exhibition, “I love you [rev.eng]” (September 10 - October 4) that promise to be groundbreaking events. It will continue 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.

Opening this year-long investigation, a symposium gathers network theorists, social critics, and media experts to explore the special powers and problems 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 “I love you [rev.eng]”, an exhibition dedicated to 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 - presents the history of the computer virus. It includes the role of computer viruses as destructive force and economic threat as well as creative digital art and democratizing tool, to reveal the diverse influences of new media upon contemporary politics and cultural production. The exhibition challenges 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 [rev.eng]” focuses on the controversial positions and 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? “I love you [rev.eng]” will be a space for exploring programming code as a language. Today’s hackers, digirati, and net artists investigate the creative potential of source code in the functional and aesthetic manner of an earlier vanguard of experimental poets and surrealist artists.

Franziska Nori, who directs “” Kulturbüro is the curator of the “I love you” exhibition, which has been shown in earlier versions at the Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt, Germany (2002) and the transmediale.03 in Berlin, Germany (2003). Facing the challenge of visualizing a virtual phenomenon in a museum context, the original exhibition was conceived by the Frankfurt digitalcraft team. The expanded and revamped “I love you [rev.eng]” exhibition will be shown in a unique multi-media setting at the Watson Institute from September 10- October 4, 2004, and will travel on to the Museum for Communication in Copenhagen, Denmark (October 7 - November 14, 2004).

Understanding the nature of networked technologies requires approaches that cut across the divisions of intellectual labor and discrete areas of study that often separate practitioners and theorists as well as 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 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. The project builds on past accomplishments to produce new ways of understanding and managing the next challenges of the information age.

A press kit providing an overview of InfoTechWarPeace activities is available at

For current information about the work of InfoTechWarPeace visit or contact Annick Wibben at or by phone at 401.863.3473.