“Facebook” is a town bulletin board, and “YouTube” is just chairs arranged around a TV.

If you want an answer to a random question—say, the global range of the sewer rat—you could Google it. Or, if you happened to be in Civitacampomarano, Italy, you could try your luck at a weird cafe that’s masquerading as the physical incarnation of Google.

The way it works is you walk in, sit at a table labeled with the Google logo, and start throwing your questions at people. That’s it. The town has other ultra-low-tech versions of popular web services, too. An old metal mailbox functions as Gmail; a community bulletin board as Facebook; a bunch of chairs arranged around a TV as YouTube; and a public bench for smooching as Tinder, to name just a few.

The surreal environment is the work of Biancoshock, a Milan-based artist known for his head-spinning urban interventions. He initiated this project, titled “Web 0.0,” for the CVTa Street Fest as a commentary on how people can get along just fine without the Internet. Biancoshock writes:

Civitacampomarano is a small village in the province of Campobasso with just 400 souls, mainly elderly.

In this village, rich in folk traditions, Internet is a partially unknown world: mobile phones have difficulty working and the data connection is practically nonexistent.

The provocative idea is to show that these virtual functions, considered by the vast majority of the population as necessary and essential to everyday life, also exist in the country, where the connection is hard to reach: this is a sort of Internet “in real life” able to demonstrate that in traditions and popular culture these instruments, in other ways, have always existed and have allowed people and families to have cultural exchanges, meeting at the bar and living the town’s streets.

Here’s a sampling of the dozen new “services” around town, none of which are currently selling stock:

Biancoshock

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    Why New York City Stopped Building Subways

    Nearly 80 years ago, a construction standstill derailed the subway’s progress, leading to its present crisis. This is the story, decade by decade.

  2. Naked cyclists ride down Lombard Street in San Francisco.
    Environment

    The Weirdest Ways That U.S. Cities Are Celebrating Earth Day

    From group oyster-shell bagging to a naked bike ride, some Earth Day events are more colorful than the standard festivals and tree plantings.

  3. A large apartment building cleanly divided by a gaping hole in the middle.
    Design

    Dead Brutalist Buildings

    A new show uses photographs of concrete buildings in their final days to argue for their preservation.

  4. Life

    Why Are Newspaper Websites So Horrible?

    The pop-up ads! The autoplaying videos!

  5. Villa 31, an informal settlement in Buenos Aires
    Equity

    The Global Housing Crisis

    Scarce, unaffordable housing is not a local problem in a few places, but is baked into the 21st-century global city. It’s time for cities, nations, and global leaders to start acting like it.