Since its inception THE THING has provided a flexible and supportive venue for developing, presenting and distributing innovative forms of on-line activism, media art and cultural criticism concerned with exploring the possibilities of electronic networks.
THE THING was founded in 1991 by artist Wolfgang Staehle and became a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation in September 1998. Prior to that date it was supported entirely by the dedication and enthusiasm of a community of volunteer activists and artists. Even with these limited resources THE THING quickly gained a reputation as a center for new media practice and theory, social forums and on-line art projects.
Initially, in 1991, THE THING took the form of a dial-up bulletin board system (BBS) that facilitated discussion and experimentation, primarily within the New York City arts communities. In 1995 THE THING launched its website http://bbs.thing.net, expanding and intensifying its efforts through initiating individual and collaborative efforts with an extraordinary variety of emerging and established artists. This website currently undergoes restoration and will be back as an online archive by the end of 2009.
Over the last two decades, THE THING has played a seminal role not just in fostering a generation of network-oriented activist, artists, critics, and curators, but also - and equally important - searching out ways to interconnect their diverse interests and activities. It is no exaggeration to say that the list of people and projects THE THING has supported comprises a who's who of contemporary electronic culture.