Why 2K?

A programme about the millenium bug.

Why 2K?

Why 2K?: Instituut voor Betaalbare Waanzin

Nov 1998
19:30 to 21:30

A programme about the Y2K bug, and how to survive it, hosted by Tim Druckrey (media theorist and historian of technology, USA) The field of electronic media has been cast as sphere of managed interactions and programmable subjectivities. Expectations of flawless computational performances are met by acknowledgement of imperfection, failure and error. This interpretation of the digital media is not about technophobia but about extending the ideology of functional technology into destabilised, ruptured and absurd systems more laughable than logical. Discussing the millenium problem (Y2K bug), this panel will be about interference and absurdity, wit and creativity. It will look at failure and accident as signifiers of folly, indiscretion and possibility.

Two digits ignored by programmers and hardware designers have posed more than a dilemma to a culture subservient to computers and their infallible memory for numbers. Rather than include 19 before the year in the 20th century, computational dates were indicated only by the last 2 digits. And now, 14 months before the millennial clock ticks to a new century, the "time bomb" looms ahead as what Paul Virilio calls "the integral accident." "Y2K, probably the most ominous logo, the most threatening symbol to human life, since E=MC2." (Alistair Cooke)

Why 2K? - an evening about the millenium bug, and how to survive it. Computer experts, accident pilots, political advisors and creative technologists present, discuss and question the phenomenon that is testing the controllability of digital technologies, fuelling apocalyptic fears, conspiracy theories, survivalism and the hope for creativity in the face of failure.


Daniel Ockeloen (NL), IT-expert at the Dutch VPRO broadcasting service, explained some technical aspects of the problem and questioned the way it was being discussed.

Michel Knops (NL) had struggled with the bug in practice. His company, Berenschot Informatica, did several pilot projects for the Dutch Millennium Platform.

Hans Nijman (NL) was the Head of Information Policy and Y2K project manager for the City Government of Rotterdam. He was particularly concerned about the dangers lurking in the Rotterdam harbour and the industry surrounding the city.

Simon Davies (UK), technology critic and privacy advocate, Visiting Fellow in the Computer Security Research Centre of the London School of Economics, was writing a book about political strategies of tackling and denying the Y2K problem.

Perry Hoberman (US), media artist who builds interactive installations that make use of the unpredictabilities of human behaviour and technology.

The evening was hosted by Timothy Druckrey (US), curator and media-theorist. With creative interventions and disruptions from the Institute of Affordable Lunacy - IBW (NL).

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