tilman_baumgaertel on Wed, 12 May 1999 18:40:18 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> W. Staehle on The thing Sale


The Old homepage of The Thing was for sale at hte internet auction house

Nobody was prepared to pay the "reserve price", but some people from
prestigious museums were among those bidding. 

A German version of this interview with Thing-host Wolfgang Staehle was
published at "Telepolis": 


PS: Rumors that the reserve price was 45.000 Dollars are totally


"I will not run this server for eternity" 

Interview with artist Wolfgang Staehle on the proposed sale of the Website
of The Thing

?: Why did you try to sell the "old thing site"? And why did you decide to
auction it rather then selling it for a fixed price? 

Wolfgang Staehle: It hasn't sold yet. If you look carefully at the eBay
site it will tell you that the reserve has not been met. 

I wanted to know if the art world was ready for etrade, after all,
shouldn't we try out new transaction modi since we supposedly live in a
post-industrial time now? But of course, the art world still prefers to do
business the tradional way. So now we are talking over dinner and drinks. 

?: What exactly did you sell? Are the art projects included? Did you get
in touch with the artists before you sold the site? 

Staehle: The buyer aquires the old Thing interface and domain exclusively. 
The art projects are non-exclusive.  I feel it is important that the whole
project will be preserved in its original context and accessible to future
scholars, historians etc. What you buy is - in a sense - a bit of history. 

Since the art works can be reproduced ad infinitum, it's difficult to put
a price tag on them.  So there is some insecurity and this insecurity cuts
both ways, because we also need to make sure the art work stays on our
server.  We had cases in which we helped to develop projects and spent
many hours only to see the same project featured on a competing server. 

I figured that 50% of the money the sale would generate would go to the
artists, editors and writers in the form of new commissions and fees paid. 
So far none of the artists objected. The alternative would quite simply be
obsolescence, since I will not run and maintain the server for eternity. 

?: On Mailing lists there is the concept that you "own you own words".
What gives you the right to sell the Postings from the discussion lists
and The Thing reviews? 

Staehle: Correction, check the rhizome subscriber agreement for example.
Or what about the nettime READ ME book? Did you get a compensation for
being included?  Do you mind?  I mean, we are not Bertelsmann or
TimeWarner. The fact is that nobody at The Thing ever saw any money for
their work and that has to change or the project is no longer feasible. 
So of course we are always looking for cash, whether grants or private
donations, anything.  To be more effective in this respect we have
recently incorporated a non-profit company, THE THING Inc., whose purpose
is to run and develop The Thing and associated projects. 

?: About the price: is it appropiate? How do you determin the "value"of a
homepage like this? 

Staehle: There are no precedents so it is a bit difficult to determine
value. Now, I am mostly interested in placing it in "good hands."  And if
a sale turns out to be legally iffy, then I am prepared to accept a
donation or grant or whatever you want to call it. 

?: Would you have actually sold it, if the highest bid at eBay would have
been 100 Dollars? 

Staehle: No way, Jose! 

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