Happy birthday, Ubu.com!

Dear fellow custodian,

Ubu.com turns 20 this year. For about the same time the Internet has been a mass medium on a global scale and we, personally, have been using it on a daily basis. This is a perfect occasion for a gift - to Ubu, to the Internet and to ourselves: two mirrors, one at ubu.memoryoftheworld.org and one at ubu-mirror.ch.

For all accounts and purposes, something like Ubu should not exist. A single person, Kenneth Goldsmith, using no money whatsoever, has created the single-most important archive of avant-garde and outsider art. Works that have played an important role in cultural history, or could play in the future, have been collected, organized and made available to anyone, with no restrictions, just the friendly reminder to respect the works.

In a world of money-crazed start-ups and surveillance capitalism, copyright madness and abuse, Ubu represents an island of culture. It shows what a single person, with dedication and focus, can achieve.

There are lessons to be drawn from this:

  1. Keep it simple and avoid constant technology updates. Ubu is plain HTML, written in a text-editor.
  2. Even a website should function offline. One should be able to take the hard disk and run. Avoid the cloud - computers of people you don't know and who don't care about you.
  3. Don't ask for permission. You would have to wait forever, turning yourself into an accountant and a lawyer.
  4. Don't promise anything. Do it the way you like it.
  5. You don't need search engines. Rely on word-of-mouth and direct linking to slowly build your public. You don't need complicated protocols, digital currencies or other proxies. You need people who care.
  6. Everything is temporary, even after 20 years. Servers crash, disks die, life changes and shit happens. Care and redundancy is the only path to longevity.

Care and redundancy is the reason why we decided to run mirrors. We care and we want this resource to exist. The first four points are the reason why we could do it fairly easily.

Ubu is now located in the US, Mexico, Iceland and Switzerland. The Iceland mirror is part of a cultural activist community, the Swiss mirror is run by a major art school. None of this matters, as long as ubu.com runs fine. But should shit happen, this multiplicity of locations and institutions might come in handy. We will see.

Find your Ubu. It's time to mirror each other in solidarity.

30 November 2016