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18 May 2005

Burning Down the Telcos

Could I get the rackmound option on this?
burned out telco box

This is a burned down telco installation box, outside some university in Athens. I don't know who burned it down (it wasn't me, honestly). And I don't know why it's always me "finding" this sort of objects, seems like other people just walk by and look away. Anyway, this thing triggers some thoughts in me. First of all, what exactly is it? Why was it burned down? And is there any security to protect against such incidents? ...

Look away!

If you don't see it, it may not really have happened. As I walk in the streets of this city, I see not only the nice new building, streets and public transport. I also see the fucked up old buildings, abandoned and reeking of piss and garbage. Looking away does not make it go away. Some people are obviously upset, even upset enough to burn something down on occasion. Most likely young people, anarchists, communists, whatever. These are just guesses. I am not judging if they have a reason to be upset, they might as well be bored rich peoples children on some lame revolt. But a burned down telco box does not fit in with the european councels plan for the development of the mediterranean member states I guess.

closeup burned out telco box

Why burn it?

Athens became much more nice, clean and polished. At least in some parts. Don't look at the other, dark side of town. Some people drive Mercedes now, some people have to live on 160 Euro retirement money. We have immigrants now from Bangladesh, China, Africa, wherever. Developments like complete neighbourhoods populated by foreigners (not tourists) are new and alien to greeks, who had lived in some isolation since they always were an immigrant exporter, not an immigration destination. The move to a new european society leaves the country with some conflicts. Rising prices and internationalization also lead to the famous "new" poverty. Conflicts lead to aggression.

If I personally had burned it, I would state a much different reason. Something much more basic: Hey, give me decent communication without costing an arm and a leg. First of all, give me ADSL without having to go through burning hoops. Tear down telco monopolies, burn down telco installations, or so. Not that I think it would change anything. I'm not a luddite, by a long way. I think the main result of that burned down box was some poor guys left without telephone and a small rise in the utility costs of OTE (the greek state telco).

What is it?

I don't really know what it exactly is. Or rather was before it was burned down. It looks like a telco installation. It had a UPS (upright in the left compartment). There are some other rackmount form factor boxes in the right compartment. And lots of small cables below, which leads to me guessing for telco. Cables are too thin to be utility electricity. Burning down happened a while ago, so there is some garbage in there too.


How could one avoid such an event? Of course it would be possible to build a stronger box. Put a better lock on it, thicker steel around it. But then someone lighting that stronger box up with a couple of molotov cocktails would make that moot. You can't really place these installations under guard, given that they have to be all over town (they are). Better lighting on the street would probably not help, same as surveillance cameras. Why? Because very likely the box was not burned down on a quiet night, but in a demonstration or riot situation.

closeup burned out telco box

So what gives? These installatins are really just protected by an old mechanism. The one that also protects people walking on the streets and mail lying on the doorstop of an appartment building. It's just our human relience on the general good behaviour of other humans. Normally people don't go around burning each others equipment. We don't steal each others mail, break windows on random cars parked outside our houses. The more stable and just a society is, the better this mechanism works. You might get more immediate security for the box in a police state, but I doubt it. Oppressive systems usually end up producing lots of conflicts. There might be more quiet while oppression works, but in the end it just pops up all together.

Posted by betabug at 10:43 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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Re: Burning Down the Telcos

Can you please tell us where was that telco box?

Was is near Polytechnio? Cause if it was, I can tell you why it was burned down.

Posted by: dimlev at May 21,2005 13:27
Re: Burning Down the Telcos

It is near Polytechnio, but actually closer to the ASOEE, on Patission street. Near the corner of Heyden street and Patission, on the side of the street where the ASOEE is.

I would love to hear the story behind the box.

Posted by: betabug at May 21,2005 16:38
Re: Burning Down the Telcos

Ok this is the story: Anarchists burnt it down because they think/know that signal from the security camera (up the lamp post nearby) is transmitted through this telco box to the police centrals. Stupid reason...

Posted by: Nikos Patelis at May 26,2005 03:54
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