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Net.flag is a flag for the Internet. Every nation on earth has a flag that identifies the territory of that nation, and the flag is a symbol of conquest of new territory. One of the most memorable images of the 20th century is a scene of the United States flag planted in the rocky terrain of the moon, the emblem of an earthbound territory apparently identifying the entire planet, or laying claim to the moon itself.

In the new millenium we see nations trying to lay claim to a new kind of territory, the Internet. This virtual territory is no longer a geographic location, a new land with resources to be claimed. It is a space created by man-made infrastructure that carries the potential of information, group identity, economic and political advantage. Nations and terrorists alike use the Internet to carry out their agendas. Those who control the structures, both hard and soft, that make this new space, control the nature of the space itself, providing or limiting access to the resources of the network.

In the midst of this new space are the users of the Internet, the early pioneers and later visitors that explore the potential of this worldwide public space. These early adopters have had an unprecendented freedom to explore new concepts of national and personal identity in the distributed geography of the net. The familiar "dot com" of the Internet domain replaces the nation-state in a world where most nations do not yet have official representation. Yet our experience tells us that political power structures will move to control this space. What relationship is possible between the existing national identities and the more fluid, distributed domain branding that flourishes on the net?

Net.flag explores the flag as an emblem of territorial identity by appropriating the visual language of international flags. An online software interface makes this language of shapes and colors available to anyone with web access. The visitor to net.flag not only views the flag but can change it in a moment to reflect their own nationalist, political, apolitical or territorial agenda. The resulting flag is both an emblem and a micro territory in it's own right; a place for confrontation, assertion, communication and play.

Mark Napier     napier@potatoland.org