RENEW 2013

The 5th International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology

Riga / October 8 – 11, 2013

"Archaelogy" Participants


The “Hot Line Riots” as Media Archaeological Artefact

Session:Media Archeology

Panel:Presentation Session (5min-short presentations)


Venue:Stockholm School of Economics

This paper investigates the “Hot Line” telephone hacking phenomena of the early 1980’s in Sweden and its present problematic status as media archaeological object. The hot line was a simple telephone hack allowing free group calls with unlimited number of participants that became a huge trend among youth in Stockholm in the early 80’s culminating in a physical meet-up that led to clashes with the police in Stockholm, September 1982. Technically, the hot line came about when the state telecom company installed new switches with automatic answering machines that had the unintended consequence of allowing free calls with unlimited participants if everyone called the same unlisted number at the same time. After the riots, and the following moral panic in Swedish society, the feature/bug was installed as an official service but limited to 5 participants at the time talking for 5 minutes. As a media archaeological object, the Hot Line consists of certain physical object with specific features but the Hot Line phenomena came about not only when these objects were operational in the telephone network but equally important when they were the subject of a certain practice that was not part of official use and that required the participation of a mass of people with their personal telephone connections and devices. It is therefor especially difficult to capture the Hot Line phenomena by media archaeological methods even though all equipment used is still available.

Magnus Eriksson is a Phd candidate in sociology of law at Lund University and University of Macerata writing on the relation between networked media and urban space. He also holds a position as design researcher at the Interactive Institute in Gothenburg. Outside of academia he is active in the hackerspace movement and the art collective FATLAB as well as having been a co-founder of netpolitical groups such as Piratbyrån (2003-2009), Telecomix (2009-????) and The Julia Group (2009-). Currently he resides in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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