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  • Plaintext Protocol Partyline
    2022-09-16 11:00:00
    Published at 21 July 2022

    In May 2021 we organised the first Plaintext Partyline, a two day event mostly focussed on the humble space that the rigid x-y axes provides, to explore plaintext as a design tool, medium, culture, and methodological constraint.

    On Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th of September 2022, we are organising a follow up, the Plaintext Protocol Partyline, in which we want to look at (what feels for us as) a next logical step, moving from designing and exploring together to communicating with each other. During this partyline we will explore and experience plaintext protocols as a communication medium.

    What are plaintext protocols? Formulating an answer to that question is not easy. In practice, all protocols of the TCP/IP stack work with plaintext. XMPP, HTTP all do protocol level communication in plaintext, but the end user gets a rich text experience. So we are looking at protocols that use plaintext as their interfacing medium, and are looking forward to discuss together why (or if) such protocols feel urgent to explore.

    The shortlist of plaintext protocols we are currently exploring in preparation of this partyline include:

    • Gopher (you browse in lynx or vf-1 or another gopherclient, all the text is plain, there isn't even any color)
    • Telnet (an application protocol used on the Internet or local area network to provide a bidirectional interactive text-oriented communication facility using a virtual terminal connection.)
    • SSH (you have tons of options to do things with files through SSH, but the actual environment is in plaintext)
    • Gemini (new protocol, technically not 100% plaintext, since some clients can render smalller and larger font sizes)

    There are a lot of other options especially in the space of older computer systems. If you're working on a specific plaintext protocol we can add it to the list!

    Some things that emerged already in relation to these protocols:

    We invite participants to join us in this two-day semi-structured collective learning environment. Concretely, we will bring a range of things to the table that can be explored and discussed in a collective manner. Technical experience with plaintext is not required, but a curiosity to explore them is. To register interest in participating in this Partyline, please send an email to info@varia.zone with [plaintext protocols] in the subject by the 1st of September, 2022. We are looking for people who enjoy exploring protocols, also in a non-technical sense, and with a specific enthusiasm for plaintext or other forms of low tech communication. To get the best out of the Plaintext Protocol Partyline*, attendance on both days is important & appreciated. The Plaintext Protocol Partyline is organised by Danny Thirthdas-van der Kleij, Manetta Berends and Luke Murphy.

    Follow our log to get a glimpse on the preperations and previous edition of this partyline: https://vvvvvvaria.org/logs/x-y/

    Date: Friday 10th + Saturday 11th of June, 2022
    Time: 11:00-13:00 + 14:00-16:00 on both days
    Location: Varia (Gouwstraat 3, Rotterdam)

    *Partylines are two day-long semi-structured collective learning situations. The name is inspired by local loop telephone circuits between neighbours, which made it possible to tune into a collective call. These so called "partylines" quickly became a source of entertainment, a place where gossip is shared, but also where emergencies would be communicated. The convivial and communal function of the historical partylines is what inspired us to organise 5 thematic partylines in the 2022 Varia programme.


    This project is supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL.