[Posted] December 21, 1999
the Hasbro® open letter/opinion you are looking for is here
thanks to jeffery zeldman for finding it so quick.[he must know folks]
ETOY: THE NAME IS NOT FOR SALE
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF AT ETOY PRESS CONFERENCE
NYC, Museum of Modern Art, December 20, 1999
BACK IN 1994, the Internet was limited to
non-commercial purposes. Users had to agree not to
conduct commerce online in order to get an account.
When a pair of immigration lawyers sent out the first
"spam" email offering their services, they were booted
off the Internet, altogether.
How times have changed. When commercial interests
moved online, many of us were concerned they would
change the essential character of this space that a
communications infrastructure would be turned into an
electronic strip mall.
But Wired, cyber-libertarians, and e-commerce
enthusiasts reminded us all of the simple fact that the
Internet has infinite real estate. There's room for
everyone. Not so.
A group of International artists understood the threat
that consumerism, marketing, and stock market
speculation posed to Internet society and culture at
large. In 1994, they created ETOY -- an art project
designed to take place in the public sphere. It was
meant both as a satire of the corporate value system,
and a barometer of the information space. By selling
symbolic "stock certificates," for example, ETOY was
able to expose the ludicrous speculations and valuations
of the pyramid scheme otherwise known as the NASDAQ
exchange, where billions of dollars are made by people
with the best story or dot-com brand name. The ETOY
brand was created so that art might compete with
Etoys, the e-commerce company, arrived online two
years after ETOY. But because they do "real" business
meaning they serve as a story through which
investment dollars may be accumulated the court and
Internic have decided to support their interests. In
1999, commerce takes precedence, and an artist can be
booted offline, illegitimately, illogically, and illegally.
But in an era when Time magazine's "Man of the Year"
is an E-commerce merchant who made zero from his
business but billions off his brand name's market cap,
this should not surprise us. As the European collective
we are here fighting for predicted, capitalism
accelerated by computers allows fiction to overtake
I've often been asked why ETOY did not accept the five
hundred thousand they were offered to change their
name. First, ETOY *is* its name. Would anyone have
asked Warhol to sell the right to use his own name on
his work? ETOY is a real project, and the value of its
name is intrinsic to the value of the whole piece. Over a
dozen artists have worked five years towards its
creation. You do the math. Second, for ETOY to accept
money to surrender art space to commercial space goes
against what these artists have dedicated their lives to.
If Etoys, the e-commerce company, wants to control
ETOY, the Internet agitprop experiment, they can buy
Etoy.shares like anyone else. ETOY will not, and should
not, submit to corporate blackmail.
ETOY's resistance demonstrates that the Bottom Line in
our civilization must not be the bottom line. ETOY will
not abandon its existing shareholders by taking the
money and running away. Unlike almost everyone else
in the Internet space, they have no "exit strategy"
because they are here to stay. And, unlike ETOYS, ETOY
is more than just a URL. The name is not for sale.
Steal these Graphics!!
Shop somewhere else this Season!
Doing your Christmas shopping at Etoys is a great way to show your support for censorship.
- Hasbro Customer Support Email
- etoy email
- Village Voice December 1,1999
- Salon Magazine- Toy Story
- No eToys for Christmas - Slashdot.org
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