Postill, J. forthcoming. The uneven convergence of digital freedom activism and popular protest: a global theory of the new protest movements. Submitted to the journal Convergence in September 2013, Special issue on “New Media, Global Activism and Politics” Vol. 20, no. 3 (August 2014).
The existing literature on the recent global wave of social protest ranges from theories that regard new media as ‘game-changers’, to those that stress the centrality of global communication networks or of online/offline articulations in the occupied squares, to those that seek explanations not in new media but in the protracted crisis of financial capitalism. This article proposes an alternative theory of the new protest movements centred on the growing convergence of the global movement for digital freedom with local forms of social unrest. Eschewing vague references to undifferentiated ‘digital natives’ or young indignants as the driving force behind the protests, the proposed theory highlights the importance of a global techno-libertarian vanguard led by three types of digital freedom specialist, namely hackers, lawyers and journalists. In some national contexts but not others, these politicised technology ‘nerds’ succeeded in joining forces with a heterogeneous front made up of both tech and non-tech specialists (artists, designers, social activists, intellectuals, teachers, students, etc.), blending their techno-libertarianism with popular demands for freedom and social justice. The proposed term for this novel formula is 3MP (3 techno-libertarian types + an activist miscellany + the general population). The empirical evidence for this theory is drawn from my anthropological research among Spain’s indignados as well as from the secondary comparative literature both from countries where the powerful 3MP convergence took place (e.g. Iceland, Tunisia, the US, Mexico) and from those where it failed to do so (e.g. the Netherlands).
John Postill's insight:
Tim Berners-Lee @timberners_lee 37s
"Journalism is the act of informing the public and every one of us is under an obligation to do it" -- Yochai Benkler #FifthEstate
Number of security experts have pulled out of RSA conference after firm was accused of accepting $10m from NSA to create backdoor
Digital rights group Fight For The Future has now set up an online petition asking Colbert to withdraw from the conference. “Last month, we learned that RSA accepted $10m from the NSA to stick a backdoor in one of their encryption products, and intentionally weaken the safety of the entire internet.
Cuando el uno de enero de 1994 el autodenominado Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) inició su insurrección en varios municipios del estado mexicano de Chiapas, todo el mundo pensó en una revuelta campesina pero en realidad también comenzaba uno de los primeros “conflictos en red” en la historia del activismo.
what academics call the ‘crisis of citizenship’, and there is a plethora of studies on various aspects of this situation. It is in this context that Anupama Roy’s new book is an important contribution to the ongoing debates on citizenship. In the course of four well-argued chapters with meticulous documentation, Roy, an associate professor of political studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, argues that the notion of citizenship the world over has moved from being a liberatory one to being an instrument by which the state can control the population living within its boundaries.
Both human-rights activists and feminists have not really paid attention to the dynamics of Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible
So is this the freedom that cyberlibertarians have long fantasized about? If we are merely talking about freedom from governmental control, then the answer is yes, eventually. While governments presently exert control over Bitcoin by targeting exchanges and physical infrastructures that power Bitcoin, these leverages diminish over time as the economy becomes more self-contained. If people outgrow the constant need to convert BTC into USD and anonymization of Bitcoin transactions become routine, then it seems inevitable that monitoring financial transactions will become increasingly impractical for governments. Forget fiscal policies and taxation — the government needs to first prove that your wealth exists. That may well be the libertarian idea of paradise.
NSA and FinFisher and drones, oh my! Was 2013 the "worst year for Internet freedom" to date? Jillian and Eva discuss.
What trends do you expect to see continue into 2014?
JY: Heh – well, one unfortunate one that merits a mention is journalists being charged under terrorism statutes. I counted four just this year. On a more positive note, I think the growth of the digital rights “scene” is amazing. We're not alone in this fight — there are so many allies in every corner of the globe…but that also means we have to be strident in standing up for ALL of our rights, and not compromise.
EG: I have been really impressed by the sheer number of new organizations springing up all over the world. I hope this means we'll see a continuing trend towards a more comprehensive, less US-centric Internet freedom movement.
JY: Yes, I hope for the same. Well, Eva – have a happy new year, and I'll see you on the other side.
A longtime observer of the tech industry's impact on San Francisco discusses the Google bus, a rise in evictions, and more
[...] Google and Facebook, in particular, are now so ubiquitous as to be essentially global commons, the way that the airwaves for radio and television broadcasting are supposed to be FCC-regulated commons, governed for the good of the people. We broke up the big trusts, notably Standard Oil, a century ago, and I think that some of these megacorporations with so much power and so little accountability should either be broken up or become public trusts governed by—I don’t know exactly who or what by, off the top of my head, but not governed by a handful of hubristic young libertarian billionaires with overt amorality.
Paul Mason: In the networked age, country-specific predictions of political unrest like poverty or inequality are pointless
[...] If you read the Economist Intelligence Unit's latest attempt to guess where it will kick off next, it becomes clear how hard this is to do with conventional thinking. For the unit it is places with high inequality, heavy corruption, economic crisis and a collapse in trust. So Nigeria (the biggest economy in Africa), Egypt and Argentina all figure high on the red list of countries where there is a "very high risk" of conflict threatening the political order, with Brazil, South Africa and China merely "high risk". Though an advance on the straight-line thinking that linked revolts simply to the post-2008 economic crisis, I still think this misses something. When people ask me where it is going to kick off next, I say: "In people's heads."
Cammaerts, Bart (2013) Networked resistance: the case of WikiLeaks. Journal of computer-mediated communication, 18 (4). pp. 420-436. ISSN 1083-6101
In this article, WikiLeaks is embedded within broader debates relevant to both social movement and mediation theory. First, the nature of the ties between a variety of relevant actors are assessed. Second, the networked opportunities and constraints at a discursive and material level of analysis are highlighted and finally the resistance strategies they employ towards mainstream culture are addressed. It is concluded that at the heart of information and communication resistance a dynamic dialectic can be observed between mediated opportunities for disruptions and attempts of the powers that be to close down these opportunities. Furthermore, it has to be acknowledged that reliance on mainstream actors and structures for exposure, funding or hosting contentious content comes with risks for radical activists.
Based on 17 in-depth interviews with people involved in the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, we present a typology of how Twitter is used in the service of protest that draws attention to its utilization in conjunction with face-to-face actions. The OWS case study demonstrates how the rapid digital circulation of texts allows protestors to quickly build a geographically dispersed, networked counterpublic that can articulate a critique of power outside of the parameters of mainstream media. Furthermore, we find that the relay of pre-existing material was perceived to be just as meaningful a form of participation as drafting original compositions. By including these forwarding activities in their online efforts, these Twitter users worked to expand the circulation of information building and sustaining an OWS counterpublic. However, dependence on this external platform leaves protestors vulnerable to restrictions on their ability to communicate, as well as to unwanted surveillance from potentially hostile authorities.
Theories and concepts for understanding the political logic of social movements' everyday activities, particularly those which relate directly to political goals, have been increasingly important since the late 1970s. The notion of ‘prefigurative politics’ is becoming established in this debate and refers to scenarios where protesters express the political ‘ends’ of their actions through their ‘means’, or where they create experimental or ‘alternative’ social arrangements or institutions. Both meanings share the idea that prefiguration anticipates or partially actualises goals sought by movements. This article uses narratives and observations gathered in social movement ‘free spaces’, autonomous social centres in Barcelona, to evaluate, critique and rearticulate the concept. Participants' attention to the ‘means’ through which protest is carried out and emphasis on projects such as experimentation with alternative social and organisational forms suggest they engage in prefigurative politics. However, the article uses these examples to dispute the key ways through which prefiguration has been defined, arguing that it can better be deployed in referring to the relations, and tensions, between a set of political priorities. Understood as such, prefigurative politics combines five processes: collective experimentation, the imagining, production and circulation of political meanings, the creating of new and future-oriented social norms or ‘conduct’, their consolidation in movement infrastructure, and the diffusion and contamination of ideas, messages and goals to wider networks and constituencies.(2014). Rethinking Prefiguration: Alternatives, Micropolitics and Goals in Social Movements. Social Movement Studies. ???aop.label???. doi: 10.1080/14742837.2013.870883
Las revueltas que vienen sucediendo desde la Revolución de los Jazmines de Túnez sobrepasan el formato manifestación y desbordan la definición de movimiento social La Global Revolution Research Network (GRRN) acaba de nacer en la Universitat Oberta...
Los abusos policiales de las protestas de Brasil hacen que nazca la red Avogados Ativistas, similar en protocolo a Legal Sol o Toma Parte del 15M. Tras la explosión de #YoSoy132, surge la plataforma Artistas Aliados para criticar a los intermediarios de la industria. Después de Occupy Wall Street, llegó el Occupy Musicians. Y más y más semejanzas. El TomaLaTele del 15M se replicó en un sinnúmero de países. OccupyNews, como el OccupyGeziNews, es un común. Los mexicanos de #YoSoy132 rodearon la redacción del canal televisivo Televisa. Y los brasileños crearon #OcupeAMídia y cercaron la todopoderosa RedeGlobo. Y más y más.
John Postill's insight:
See sarcastic comment by a reader of this article denouncing its fashionable nonsense:
#1 IgnacioParedero | 11/12/2013 - 07:52h
Bravo. Este artículo es un tour de force de la antropología lingüística de las élites académicas avant garde. Sokal o Derrida, por motivos diferentes, estarían orgullosos de ver y de leer esta maravilla.
Our currency is Information is the first episode of the documentary film series Exposing the Invisible by Tactical Tech. In this episode you will learn about methods for investigating corruption and organised crime.
This article draws on phenomenological perspectives to present a case against resisting the objectification of cultures of protest and dissent. The generative, self-organizing properties of protest cultures, especially as mobilized through social media, are frequently argued to elude both authoritarian political structures and academic discourse, leading to new political subjectivities or ‘imaginaries’. Stemming from a normative commitment not to over-determine such nascent subjectivities, this view has taken on a heightened resonance in relation to the recent popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. The article argues that this view is based on an invalid assumption that authentic political subjectivities and cultures naturally emerge from an absence of constraint, whether political, journalistic or academic. The valorization of amorphousness in protest cultures and social media enables affective and political projection, but overlooks politics in its institutional, professional and procedural forms.
There is a vast total-information-awareness surveillance network made up of global corporations and subservient (captured) governments engaging in the systematic infiltration and suppression of social justice activist groups. Their main method of control is the implementation of divide-and-conquer strategies. When it comes to activists, their approach is to apply these strategies to what they have defined as four distinct groups: Radicals, who see the system as corrupt are marginalized and discredited with character assassination techniques. Realists, who can be convinced that real change is not possible. Idealists, who can be convinced (through propaganda) that they have the facts wrong. And Opportunists, who are in it for themselves and therefore can be easily co-opted. These suppression strategies, revealed on Stratfor documents from the WikiLeaks “Global Intelligence Files" ("as a result of Jeremy Hammond’s December 2011 hack"), were reported in a MintPress News article written by Steve Horn: "How To Win The Media War Against Grassroots Activists: Stratfor’s Strategies"
Bryan Goldberg, the CEO of Bustle and intellectual equivalent of a large wet sponge, just published his latest treatise about people who are not him. He calls it "satire." The rest of the internet calls it defiantly dumb, insulting garbage.
John Postill's insight:
jpaulus Today 5:58pm
Fucking "tech" posers are beyond obnoxious - how many of these arrogant tech bloggers actually hold a degree in computer science/IT/information science/ electrical engineering..etc... ? Young techies? Sarah - people like yourself, the hipster "journalist" who thinks that since they hang around technical people and interview tech CEOS that they themselves are somehow qualified to pontificate on technical aspects of the field.
Why do I read Sam Biddle's posts? Because he's not an arrogant blogging asshole and he doesn't pretend to be a "techie".
The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU and Yale University's Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, and seeks information about the "vast quantities" of data that the NSA has been found to be collecting.
It was "inevitable" that data sent by Americans would be gathered as part of this surveillance system that targets overseas communication, said ACLU staff attorney Alex Abdo in a blog post.
The ACLU wants the courts to make the US government provide details of the executive order that established the overseas spying programme. It said that there being little or no oversight of the programme was cause for concern.
Net neutrality is a dead man walking. The execution date isn’t set, but it could be days, or months (at best). And since net neutrality is the principle forbidding huge telecommunications companies from treating users, websites, or apps differently — say, by letting some work better than others over their pipes — the dead man walking isn’t some abstract or far-removed principle just for wonks: It affects the internet as we all know it.
Once upon a time, companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and others declared a war on the internet’s foundational principle: that its networks should be “neutral” and users don’t need anyone’s permission to invent, create, communicate, broadcast, or share online. The neutral and level playing field provided by permissionless innovation has empowered all of us with the freedom to express ourselves and innovate online without having to seek the permission of a remote telecom executive.
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