Use of Pre-web Computer Networks to Give Information about the Attacks on Dubrovnik and Vukovar

Mato Brautović, Julijana Antić Brautović, Romana John


 Although, 30-years ago, there was a limited number of computer networks and computers in the former Yugoslavia, as well as worldwide, they were used by academia and the elites, who had enough knowledge and access to computers and to modems. Their views on the political situation, which have been preserved in the digital world, may give valuable insight into events, and, notably, about how these elites perceived/participated in the collapse of the State, and how the public in different Yugoslavian republics articulated their views. The main problem relating to this kind of approach was the limited resources that were available, as the majority of the digital documents have been lost forever, so studying this topic through the use of pre-web digital documents looked more like digital archeology, and less like historical/textual analysis. This paper was written based on two case studies: the bulletin board systems (BBS) Sezam BBS, and the e-mail distribution list Pisma Bralcev, and how they were used to report on the Yugoslav People's Army’s attacks on Dubrovnik and Vukovar in Fall, 1991. In the first case, the study examines ‘Sezam BBS’, which was based in Belgrade and was used by Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian academics, politicians and journalists, and was, at the time, the most popular forum open to the public, and was under no government control. The second case was the email distribution list, Pisma Bralcev, which was run by Slovenian academics and was used for the distribution of news abroad. The data for analysis was collected through archival research on original discussions, e-mails, reports, etc. The main findings show that the bul­letin board systems, discussion groups and e-mail enabled the first forums for the exchange of opposing ideas, and they became places in which the Yugoslavian elite could be informed beyond the information that was given by the mass media and politically controlled sources.



communication, pre-web computer networks, BBS, e-mail, Homeland war 1991-1995, Croatia

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