Chronology of SWARM

September 10, 1998

Linz, Austria

“We want all who walk the roads of truth to unite hearts.” 
--The Zapatistas 

To our Indigenous sisters and brothers of other organizations: 
To the Mexican people: 
To the people and governments of the world: 

Dear sisters and brothers here is a long tale for your enjoyment: 

April 10 

The Electronic Disturbance Theater initiates its first act of Electronic Civil Disobedience to Stop the War in Mexico and in support of the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico, which are followed by actions, using its FloodNet software, on May 10, June 10, June 28, July 3, July 19, and August 7. See for details. 

End of April 

Ricardo Dominguez of The Electronic Disturbance Theater writes a SWARM proposal for the Ars Electronica Festival on InfoWar and communicates this with festival organizers while they are visiting New York. 

July 12 

Stefan Wray of the Electronic Disturbance Theater arrived in Amsterdam and began to inform cyber activists and artists about the ECD project and SWARM. 

August 25, Tuesday 

The Electronic Disturbance Theater issues first bulletin about the upcoming SWARM action on September 9 and calls for a fall campaign of hybrid actions on the street and on the Net 
    In solidarity with the Zapatistas, indigenous peoples in Chiapas, others resisting the Mexican government, the global pro-Zapatista movement, and people everywhere struggling against neoliberalism and the global economy, the Electronic Disturbance Theater urges SWARM actions, multiple acts of Electronic Civil Disobedience, on Wednesday, September 9, 1998. ( 

    To demonstrate our capacity for simultaneous global electronic actions and to emphasize the multiple nature of our opponents, FloodNet will target three web sites in Mexico, the United States, and Europe representing three important sectors: government, military, and financial. 

    In Mexico, FloodNet will target President Zedillo's web site, ( an obvious choice and one we have made before. In the United States, FloodNet will target the Pentagon, ( also an obvious choice given the level of U.S. military and intelligence involvement in Mexico. And in Germany, FloodNet will target the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, ( a less obvious choice, but one that makes sense as it is a key European financial site with high symbolic value and as Germany is a major player in the global neoliberal economy.

September 4, Friday 

Stefan Wray of the Electronic Disturbance Theater arrives in Linz, Austria in the late afternoon and joins the HEART encampment (Hackers Electronic Art) outside the OpenX exhibit where from where SWARM was activated. 

September 5, Saturday 

Announcements about the SWARM action on September 9 are crafted and begin to be sent out over the Net late that night. 
    In solidarity with the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico, and with people everywhere struggling against the global neoliberal economy, the Electronic Disturbance Theater calls for multiple acts of Electronic Civil Disobedience (SWARM), on Wednesday, September 9, 1998. 

    The Electronic Disturbance Theater issues this call in connection with its participation in the Ars Electronica Festival on Infowar, held in Linz, Austria, from September 7 to 12. (

    Actions will begin on Sept. 9 at 11:00 a.m. (Linz time) for a 24 hour period. Other start times are: Berlin 11:00 a.m.; London 10:00 a.m.; New York 5:00 a.m.; Mexico City 4:00 a.m.; and San Francisco 2:00 a.m. 

    Our FloodNet software will target three web sites in Mexico, the United States, and Europe representing three important sectors: government, military, and financial. 

         1) President Zedillo (
         2) The Pentagon (
         3) The Frankfurt Stock Exchange (

September 6, Sunday 

Ricardo Dominguez of the Electronic Disturbance Theater arrives in Linz, Austria at 3:30 a.m. after a 5 day train trip from Revolting in Manchester, England ( where he presented a workshop and a panel on Electronic Civil Disobedience and spread news of the upcoming SWARM action against Mexico President Zedillo, the Pentagon, and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. 

Spanish versions of SWARM announcements are distributed via email 

Electronic Disturbance Theater announced to the micro-power radio movement in the United States that it is prepared to release versions of FloodNet that can be applied during the upcoming “Showdown” with the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, DC on October 4 and 5. 

September 7, Monday 

SWARM installation is completed. Disturbance Theater meets with Ars Electronica press office to attempt to obtain email addresses of journalists. 

Critiques of FloodNet from within hacker community begin to be raised. One element of this critique is that FloodNet will not only impact targeted web sites but also begin to clog up the pipelines between participants computers and targeted sites 

September 8, Tuesday 

Ricardo Dominguez and Stefan Wray meet with members of the HEART and other hackers to discuss the efficacy of the FloodNet software from a technical perspective. It is agreed that the hackers and critics will write a statement outlining their concerns 

After meeting with HEART hackers and others, Dominguez and Wray test FloodNet by activating it on 16 machines in the OpenX. There appears to be no problem with using this number of machines. 

RTMARK distributes announcement about the SWARM action to a massive list of email contacts. 

    In solidarity with the Zapatistas in Mexico, the Electronic Disturbance Theater will launch its FloodNet software against the web sites of Mexican President Zedillo, the Pentagon, and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on Wed., September 9, from its base at the Ars Electronica InfoWar Festival. These actions are part of the Electronic Disturbance Theater´s SWARM presentation at the festival now happening in Linz, Austria. 

    Since April the Electronic Disturbance Theater has used its FloodNet software to engage in virtual sit-ins on the web sites of the Mexican government and the Clinton White House. Such electronic actions are designed to demonstrate collective and world-wide support for the Zapatistas in Chiapas and their opposition to the Zedillo government with its global neoliberal economic agenda. 

    The SWARM actions on September 9, targeting government, military, and financial web sites in three countries, will commence at 11:00 a.m. (Linz ) for a 24-hour period. Participants around the world will set their Internet browsers to the FloodNet page.

EDT receives messages of solidarity: “Keep up the good work! I placed your link on my page:” 

September 9, Wednesday 

At 7:32 a.m., Ricardo Dominguez received a threatening phone call, from someone presumed to be of the Mexican government, in his hotel room in Linz, Austria. Ars Electronica organizers and the Linz police have been informed and we await an official statement from the AEC organization regarding this incident. 

Dominguez said: “I picked up and in very clear Spanish, Mexican Spanish, they said “We know who you are. We know where you are at. We know where your family is. We are watching you. Do not go downstairs. Do not make your presentation. Because you know what the situation is. This is not a game." And they hung up.” 

At  11:00 a.m. the SWARM action commenced. FloodNet was directed toward Mexican President Zedillo, the Pentagon, and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. 

At 11:00 Danish television interviews us. Later they post SWARM action on their web site and will use footage for television and audio for radio programs. 

We receive requests to utilize FloodNet in Australia. “Having received info about the floodnet Zapitista action, I am wondering (in a purely speculative manner) about the viability of a similar action directed at the developers of the Jabiluka Uranium mine in Kakadu National Park (a world heritage listed area) in Australia's Northern Territory.” 

Between the action commencing and a presentation in the ClosedX we noticed that countermeasures had been initiated against FloodNet. Wray began to send email to technicians in the United States to ascertain the source of the problem and to try to stop the attack. 

At 1:05 p.m. Dominguez and Wray presented the history the Electronic Disturbance Theater  at the ClosedX section of Ars Electronica. The presentation was followed by a useful discussion, continuing the critique and dialogue that had been initiated with a meeting hackers from the HEART and others. 

Part of the critique of FloodNet was harsh: “FloodNet is both ineffective due to the upstream cache and pure evil, since it represents an abuse of the network. Even if the load was to take down a server (ignoring the free speech implications for a moment, free speech you want for yourself but deny to those with whom you disagree), you would not only impact communications with the target site, but also to those around it. FloodNet is *unacceptable* network abuse. As bad as spam, if not worse.” 

At 3:00 p.m. Dominguez is on the radio with 

The Disturbance Theater begins to receive messages such as “Countermeasured effectively kept me from participating this morning; I'm wondering if you could give me an update on how things went.” Another person wrote: “what's up ? seems we still get the java attack. any news?” 

Within a half hour before the InfoWeapon contest award, Wray, a doctoral student at New York University receives an email message from Stephen Tihor, Senior System Manager, System & Network Security Group, Academic Computing Facility, at NYU stating that New York University had been contacted by the Department of Defense regarding the Electronic Civil Disobedience web site that is based on an NYU server 

    Mr. Wray, 

     We have received a recent complaint from someone within the DISA of the 
    DOD regarding the ECD web site you are maintaining on your page.   As you know 
    freedom of speech is a vital part of the academic process and is one to which 
    we are dedicated just as we are to insure that NYU is a good network citizen.

At 7:05 p.m. the Electronic Disturbance Theater made an opening announcement at the InfoWeapon Contest award ceremony to inform Ars Electronica participants that 1) Ricardo Dominguez had received a threatening phone call, 2) a hostile Java applet had been launched against FloodNet, and the 3) Stefan Wray had received an email message from New York University that system administrators there had been contacted by the DISA of DOD about the ECD page. 

In the evening we receive an email message from Niall McKay of Wired News stating: “I presume that your attack was unsuccessful since the sites seem to be up and running?” We later learn that McKay contacts the DOD to ask about the countermeasure. 

Later in the evening the SWARM base in Linz received email from Brett Stalbaum of the Electronic Disturbance Theater, of  CADRE in San Jose, California, that he had stopped the Hostile Java attack on FloodNet: 

 “The counter-attack is paused for now. Someone has authored an applet called "Hostile Applet", which unlike the Java Script counter-measure, we can not turn off. It's a real applet just like the FloodNet. I changed the html to avoid the pages where they put the applet, so we should be ok for a while. 

We receive another message that someone´s hard drive crashed from the hostile Java attack. We later receive information that this crash is not cause of FloodNet, but a function of the hostile Java attack on FloodNet. 

September 10, Thursday 

The Electronic Disturbance Theater received information from a Wired News reporter that the DOD (Pentagon) admitted to having had initiated the countermeasure, the Hostile Java applet against FloodNet. 

This morning when we tried to access the page it would not come up on the browser 

STATS for the first 6hours of the action flow in: 

Total hits: 14281.  Countries that joined the Zapatista action: 

 US Commercial, US Educational, Austria, Italy, United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Non-Profit Organization, Belgium, Mexico, Denmark, Netherlands, France, United States, Spain, Greece, US Military, Japan, Finland, Romania, Argentina, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Iceland, US Government, Taiwan, Sweden, Chile, Russian Federation, Uruguay, Croatia (Hrvatska), Latvia, Malaysia, Lithuania, Slovak Republic, India,Brazil, New Zealand (Aotearoa), Singapore, Hungary, Slovenia, Colombia and Turkey. 

P.S.  A long story we know, but so it goes. Time for Cerveza. 

P.P.S.  The War Machine says no, The HEART says good idea Bad Code! 
We say to War Machine we live and we say Ya Basta! To the HEART we 
Listen, we can learn—but you must give us the gift of CARE. We need 
More from the HEART than a NO. We now need the Wisdom of a Yes. A 
YES that can make all worlds possible. 

P.P.P.S We have a choice: we can have a cynical attitude in the face of the media, 
To say that nothing can be done about the dollar power that creates 
Itself in images, words, digital communication, and computer systems that 
Invades not just with an invasion of power, but with a way of seeing that 
World, of how they think the world should look. We could say, well, “that’s 
The way it is” and do nothing. Or we can simply assume incredulity: we 
Can say that any communication by the media monopolies is a total lie. 
We can ignore it and go about our lives. 

But there is a third option is neither conformity, nor skepticism, nor 
Distrust—to construct a different way—to show the world what is 
Really happening—to have a critical worldview and to become 
Interested in the truth of what happens to the people of this 
World who wish to a voice in a world where only those with 
Power can be heard. 


They are kicking us out of here. Tomorrow the Ministers of European Culture will be in this space. 
They will turn off all the machines in two hours. Good bye for a few days.