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The idea for this publication was born a day after the Prix ARS jury meetings in May 2014 when we were sitting with jury member Washio Kazuhiko on a fine spring evening at Café Palmenhaus in Vienna. We’re not sure if it was the intensity of the jury deliberations of the previous days or the serenity of the surrounding imperial urban garden that inspired us, in any case, it was on that evening that we felt a strong obligation to do something with the wealth of knowledge Prix ARS had collected about digital communities in the last years...

editors: Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber & Ian Banerjee

Stranky o kyberia.sk: 103 (popis) a 104 (interview)

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    so after shorter or rather longer pawse, here I think, therefore I'm...
    dik, 23
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    What is the secret of this
    project’s longevity?

    DDH: The main se-
    cret is rather simple: Kybe-
    ria is one amongst the most
    ancients, it emerged before
    cyberspace was partitioned
    by the big corporate players.
    It attracted particular us-
    ers (Slovak and Czech hackers,
    artists, scientists) before
    Facebook, Twitter or G+ even
    existed: for many among these
    users, Kyberia was first digital
    community/social network into
    which they were ever integrat-
    ed. I suppose that such a loss
    of “virtual virginity" could,
    in minds of such users, cre-
    ate a non-negligeable trace,
    a sort of habitus which makes
    this “community kernel" to ap-
    pear and reappear, either on a
    regular basis, or after short-
    er or longer pause.
    In current era, when cyber-
    space is already partitioned
    and habits of its participants
    fixed, it is almost impossible
    to create such an intimate
    relation between the user and
    a new “start up" project: for
    today, any project is just one
    among thousands of other pro-
    jects, any domain is only a
    point-without-interest in the
    space which is practically in-

    But there are other reasons as
    well: Kyberia does not harass
    its users with advertisements,
    implicit business models, le-
    gal licences and other corpo-
    rate mess. It is not a megap-
    olis like Facebook, but rather
    a kind of a cybernetic vil-
    lage. This does not mean that
    it would be less memevirally
    insane than Facebook, it just
    means that in its “virtual
    insanity", it is nonetheless
    still more intimate, more per-
    sonal and more human. The fact
    that a new user has to pass
    through the registration pro-
    cedure makes it more difficult
    for toxic egos and propaganda
    bots to get in, whole communi-
    ty thus seems to be somewhat
    more resilient to no matter
    what perturbation can come
    from the external world. Thus,
    Kyberia for almost 10 years
    already, Kyberia is in a state
    of slowly unfolding a homeo-
    stasis which is neither pure
    progress nor pure decay but
    something in the middle: Life,

    At last but not least, the
    community seems to be able to
    reproduce: in a sort of vir-
    tual-endogamy, non-negligeable
    amounts of Kyberia members who
    have kids with other Kyberia
    members and it can be expected
    that the old IDs shall, soon-
    er or later, transfer their
    IDs to their progenies. Given
    that Kyberia exists already
    almost 15 years, we need 10
    more years to go to attain
    the 25years considered to be
    “one human generation". Only
    if we succeed to surpass this
    threshold could we, I believe,
    start speaking about “secret
    of longevity".

    You say it is a “social body
    with a collective identity” –
    what are the implications of
    such an approach for the com-
    munity / members?

    DDH: It is about
    bi-directional flow of infor-
    mation between the whole (i.e.
    community) and its parts (i.e.
    members). The more feedback
    loops You have in the System,
    more complexity will emerge
    out of it
    : I have somehow in-
    tuitively implemented this
    principle into the very archi-
    tecture of the system long be-
    fore I knew anything about the
    theory of graphs, complexity
    or A.I. Later, there has been
    a tendency to make this intu-
    ition operational in scripts
    implementing the Parallel De-
    mocracy Model (PDM): ideal-
    ly, PDM could make it possible
    for the users of the communi-
    ty to directly influence many
    parameters of Kyberia's global
    functioning (related to imi-
    gration rate, amount of new
    Ks generated and distributed,
    ostracization thresholds etc.)
    with simple act of vote-giv-
    ing aggregated in a quite in-
    novative way. The goal is to
    make system able to adapt more
    swiftly to any possible chal-
    lenge which may emerge in the
    future, but to do so princip-
    ially in a bottom-top fashion:
    netizens should decide, not
    the caste of administrators.
    Unfortunately not many mem-
    bers are in fact willing and
    ready to constructively par-
    ticipate on the construction
    of a common cathedral: it is
    much easier to criticize those
    “up there" than to accept that
    those “up there" are in fact
    “we here" and subsequent-
    ly execute responsible deci-
    sions and perform courageous

    Which are your visions for the

    DDH: 0) To protect
    its existence and to protect
    the raison d'etre of its ex-
    istence which is “protect the
    diversity in the cyberspace".

    1) To endow it with our own,
    state-of-the-art natural lan-
    guage processing semantic
    search engine.

    2) To get more distributed and
    more decentralized and to rep-
    licate into czech, german and
    potentially other regions of
    European cyberspace.

    3) To use Kyberia's database,
    or its specific subset, to
    train the collective artificial
    intelligence representing the
    mind of Slovak intelligentsia
    during the first decades of the
    third millenium.
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    Kyberia is an independent and innovative archipelago of digital commu-
    nities that emerged in 2001 on the Slovak domain kyberia.sk. Initially
    a website informing the Slovak public about topics that were ignored
    on the Slovak web at the time (e.g. trans- and post-humanist philos-
    ophies, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, entheogens). Kyberia
    swiftly evolved first into a threaded forum and subsequently into a
    fully-fledged digital community where hackers, artists and scientists
    were able to interact in a densely hyperlinked graph.

    The current version released in 2006 focused more on internal K-econ-
    omy and the politics of the community. More concretely, a Senate was
    created and first trials to allow the system to auto-configure by using
    the parallel democracy model were run. In 2007 Kyberia won the prize of
    distinction as a “best Slovak virtual community” in the biggest public
    competition ever organized on the Slovak web. In 2010 code of Kybe­
    ria’s engine was released on GitHub under AGPL and the community
    was expanded into Czech cyberspace, where a parallel community was
    launched on the kyberia.cz domain.

    In over ten years of existence, Kyberia has transformed itself from a
    science and hackers’ community into a more mainstream communi-
    ty of thousands of active users discussing myriads diverse topics in
    more than seven million parallel forums, blogs and/or data nodes. One
    of the most characteristic features that, we believe, transformed Ky­
    beria into a social body with a collective identity is that Kyberia has a
    semipermeable membrane (which means that any registration appli-
    cation of a new user has to be approved by at least five members of
    the kyberia.sk Senate), a upvoting system implemented years before
    Facebook’s “Like” button. Other features worth mentioning include a
    flexible (node-specific) system of access right attribution, an internal
    bookmarking and mailing system and API templates. These were inno-
    vative in the period when they were released, although today they are
    common in other social networks as well.