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OBN - FAQ___Frequently Asked Questions

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To avoid burdening the net with unnecessary repetitive traffic, we have condensed the essential information regarding the Old Boys Network and the Old Boys list into a FAQ ("Frequently Asked Questions"). As the name implies, this document is written in a question-and-answer format. This is a conventional way of presenting relevant information about a given subject, and thereby saving users the difficult task of searching for scattered references, which in many cases are partial, poorly framed, or even incorrect. It should be noted that this FAQ, like any other, results from the hard work of volunteers who compile and maintain the information by keeping it up-to-date and relevant to changing circumstances. These volunteers are not unique; they are people like you who take time to "give back to the net."

Each and every day, more and more women are penetrating the worldwide networks we loosely describe as "the Internet". Needless to say, their presence and involvement is provoking many new questions. In some cases, these questions reproduce questions and structures that have been addressed earlier, in other areas and circumstances; in other cases, they seem in fact to be new.

In order to familiarize yourself with these issues, we recommend that you read the relevant FAQ. If it does not address any specific questions you have, then please feel free to contact the FAQ maintainer, or list owner

1. What is OBN?

OBN stands for Old Boys Network. OBN is regarded as the first international Cyberfeminist alliance and was founded in 1997 in Berlin. Since the early days the network keeps changing due to changing members. OBN is a real and a virtual coalition of Cyberfeminists. Under the umbrella of the term ’Cyberfeminism’, OBN contributes to the critical discourse on new media, especially focussing on its gender-specific aspects.

2. What is an Old Boys Network?

Normally, the term ‚Old Boys Network‘ is used as an idiom, a metaphor to describe an informal interrelation of men [here to be understood as synonyme for human beings of male sex]. In this case, the Old Boys of one Network all went to the same elite school/college/university.

The concern of an Old Boys Network is to support and obtain support for individual careers. Older boys in a powerful position help younger ones and stabilize their own position that way. They exchange information, and every single Old Boy profits from the success of another Old Boy.

It should be noted that dictionaries, particularly those which went into print before 1997, might not contain some important new meanings regarding the term. Nowadays, ‚Old Boys Network‘ may also be in use for: a cyberfeminist network, a brand for cyberfeminist activities, a dangerous cyberfeminist virus... [to be continued].

3. Who is OBN?

The founders are Cornelia Sollfrank, Ellen Nonnenmacher, Vali Djordjevic, Julianne Pierce. Since OBN has come into being in 1997, the contributing Old Boys as well as OBN‘s organisational structure have been in constant flow. At the moment there are several project groups with distinct sets of people (i.e. for the book ‚next protocols‘, for the conference ‚very cyberfeminist international‘, for the relaunch of the website). If you take a look at the PEOPLE section you get an idea of who the network is.

4. What does OBN do?

OBN is dedicated to Cyberfeminism. OBN’s concern is to build spaces in which Cyberfeminists can research, experiment, communicate and act. These spaces are for example: a Cyberfeminist Server, the mailing list and real-life meetings (the so-called Cyberfeminist Internationals).

All these activities have the purpose to give a contextualized presence to different artistic, theoretical and political formulations/expressions under the umbrella of Cyberfeminism. At times mysterious, at times very visible, OBN is setting an agenda for communication, intervention and production.

5. What is Cyberfeminism?

The First Cyberfeminist International agreed on not to define the term. The strategy of keeping the term as open as possible was consensual. As a substitute for a definition The First Cyberfeminist International formulated the "100 Anti-Theses":

6. What is the regulating structure of OBN?

The Mode is the Message — the Code is the Collective!

6.1. Every member of the OLD BOYS NETWORK is required to call herself a woman (without consideration of the biological base of this intelligent life-form).

6.2. The functions of organisation, execution and responsibility of and for the work are shared - there is no chief.

6.3. Project groups with distinct sets of people can be set by the initiative of at least three OBN members. The projects have to be introduced and discussed on the mailing list. The groups have to report back to the list.

6.4. Every member has agreed to find a personal position in response to the question: What is ’Cyberfeminism’, based on her scientific or artistic work. Each will have agreed to share and support the efforts which will contribute to the potential of this term on an international level.

With regard to its contents - the elaborations of ’cyberfeminisms’ - our aim is the principle of disagreement!

7. How can I become a member?

Cyberfeminism is not about membership, but about activity. As soon as you have developed your personal approach to Cyberfeminism, you are a Cyberfeminist. And as soon as you actively contribute to the OBN context, you become an Old Boy.

8. Who can subscribe to the mailing list?

Everybody who is seriously interested in the Cyberfeminist discourse, and calls herself ‚woman‘.


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