I often describe hacker politics as Weapons of the Geek, in contrast to Weapons of the Weak—the term anthropologist James Scott uses to capture the unique, clandestine nature of peasant politics. While Weapons of the Weak is a modality of politics among disenfranchised, economically marginalized populations who engage in small-scale illicit acts —such as foot dragging and minor acts of sabotage—that don’t appear on their surface to be political, Weapons of the Geek is a modality of politics exercised by a class of privileged actors who often lie at the center of economic life. Among geeks and hackers, political activities are rooted in concrete experiences of their craft—administering a server or editing videos—and portion of these hackers channel these skills toward political life. To put another way hackers don’t necessarily have class-consciousness, though some certainly do, but they all tend to have craft consciousness. But they have already shown they are willing to engage in prolific and distinct types of political acts from policy making to party politics, from writing free software to engaging in some of the most pronounced and personally risky acts of civil disobedience of the last decade as we saw with Snowden. Just because they are hackers does not mean they are only acting out their politics through technology even if their technological experiences usually inform their politics.
Omar Hammami was a bright Alabama kid who turned into a self-described terrorist in Somalia. In the months preceding Hammami's sudden death, journalist J.M. Berger struck up a conversation with him on Twitter.
The Occupy movement is said to represent a new generation of post-Seattle protests, driven by social networking, and breaking from organizing practices in previous eras. This study analyzes the Occupy Wellington protest to shed light on the role of protests in an era of digital media ubiquity. Based on the participant observation as well as 76 brief interviews, the study explores how activists used digital media, and examines the broader institutional logics that shaped organizing dynamics at the protest. The analysis discusses digital media saturation and the multiple institutional logics that activists drew from in their organizing, including collective action, connective action, aggregation, and networking. We argue that digital ubiquity marks the onset of a profound hybridity rather than an abrupt change in activist organizing practices.
How a meeting with a young computer expert in Hong Kong changed the life of a Guardian journalist.
What is the most significant information you received from Snowden?
“The cardinal point is that part of the goal of the NSA is to completely eliminate privacy everywhere in the world. Its goal is to make every piece of human communication that is done by electronic means vulnerable to monitoring and surveillance − to collect, store and analyze every message transmitted by people via the telephone or the Internet."
“You have to assume that everything you say or write is under surveillance, and above all you have to take action that will prevent surveillance. Emails can be encrypted, there are ways to surf anonymously, such as through the Tor browser, which allows people to surf without governments or secret services being able to monitor them. In other words, there are measures you can take to preserve your privacy.”
Bottom line: Are we living in a freer society than in the past, or not?
“The promise of the Internet was that it would liberate people and bolster democracy, but it has become a tool for suppression and control. In fact, it is one of the most powerful instruments of control ever invented. The most essential challenge we face today is related to the real effect of the Internet. Will it impart power to people and liberate them, or will it impart more strength to the centers of power and help them oversee, control and suppress the population? That is the struggle of our generation, and it has yet to be decided.”
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium; Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic
This conversation started in Prague, the Czech Republic, during a panel moderated by Irena Reifová at the symposium ‘On Empowered and Impassioned Audiences in the Age of Media Convergence’. The event was organized by the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University. The text contains a series of discussions. First, there is a conversation about the nature of the participatory democratic utopia and participatory culture and how groups take (or do not take) advantage of the affordances of new and emerging media. It also emphasizes the political nature and potential of popular culture and touches upon its connection to institutionalized politics. Three other key areas are mentioned: the role of different cultures of leadership, the significance of organizations in structuring participatory processes, and the need to enhance civic learning, providing more support for participatory cultures. This is combined with an interlocking discussion about the definition of participation and how it is tied up with power. It covers the differences between participation and interaction, engagement, interpretation, production, curation, and circulation. Finally, there is an underlying strand of discussion about the role of academia, focusing on the relationship between critical theory and cultural studies, the need to deconstruct our own frameworks and the question of which language to use to communicate academic research to the public.
An organizer of Occupy Minneapolis reflects on the 'audacious successes and frustrating shortcomings' of the movement that signaled our transformation toward democracy and a new more egalitarian, sustainable world.
[...] One need look no further than to our neighbors in South America to see illuminating examples of what an evolution in democracy could look like in practice. In Brazil, the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, or landless workers movement, has won land titles for 350,000 landless worker families by occupying vacant land across the country and using participatory democracy to run self-sustaining camps where farmers work the land to provide for their communities. There are currently 180,000 families occupying land to demand it be turned over and 1.5 million members across the country.
In Venezuela, consejos comunales or community councils bring together groups of 200-300 families in neighborhoods across the country to make decisions about their communities. If they decide to build a school, fix the roads, or start a business, the government grants the funds to complete the project as decided by the people who live there. These participatory spaces are funded to the tune of more than $1 billion per year, giving the poorest of the poor meaningful decision-making opportunities.
Democratic militant labor unions, neighborhood and community organizations and liberation theology based religious organizations have united in both countries to build an independent political force accountable to their movements that has taken power at all levels of government, including the presidency.
In doing so, Brazil and Venezuela have cut poverty in half, rewritten their constitutions to defend human rights and institutionalize participatory democracy and improved access to quality housing, education, jobs and social services.
This article explores the communicative practice of a Tanzanian NGO, Femina. Based on a tripartite model of engagement (Madianou, 2012) integrating speech, action and understanding, and drawing on fieldwork on the communication practices of Femina, I critically assess the forms of civic engagement the organization strategizes about and seeks to articulate amongst Tanzanian youth. Situated in the ‘perverse confluence’ (Dagnino, 2011) between neoliberal and radical democratic agendas in the communicative practices of civil society-driven media platforms, Femina navigates between identities as an NGO, a social movement and a media initiative. In the context of the growing literature on social networking sites and their affordances, dynamics and structures, the case of Femina illustrates how a civil society sphericule emerges within the dynamic co-evolution of new and old media platforms. The study is furthermore an example of the difficult shift in civil society practice, from service provision to an agenda of public service monitoring, social accountability and community engagement.
The recent revolution in Egypt that ended the autocratic presidency of Hosni Mubarak was a modern example of successful nonviolent resistance. Social Media technologies provided a useful tool for the young activist to orchestrate this revolution.
Politics have traditionally looked at the exercise of democracy with at least two implicit assumptions: (1) institutions are the normal channel of politics and (2) voting is the normal channel for politics to make decisions. Of course, reality is much more complex than that, but, on the one hand, all the extensions of that model beyond or around voting –issues related to access to public information, to deliberation and argumentation, to negotiation and opinion shaping, or related to accountability are based on institutions as the core axis around which politics spin. On the other hand, the existence and analysis of extra-institutional political participation –awareness raising, lobbying, citizen movements, protests and demonstrations– have also most of the times been put in relationship with affecting the final outcomes of institutional participation and decision-making, especially in affecting voting. Inspired in the concept of «feet voting» (developed by Tiebout, Friedman and others) in this paper we want to challenge this way of understanding politics as a proactive and conscious action, and propose instead a reactive and unconscious way of doing politics, based on small, casual contributions and its posterior analysis by means of big data, emergence analysis and pattern recognition. In our theoretical approach –illustrated with real examples in and out of the field of politics– we will argue that social media practices like tweeting, liking and sharing on Facebook or Google+, blogging, commenting on social networking sites, tagging, hashtagging and geotagging are not what has been pejoratively labelled as «slacktivism» (a comfortable, low commitment and feel-good way of activism) but «casual politics», that is, the same kind of politics that happen informally in the offline world. The difference being that, for the first time, policy- and decision-makers can leverage and turn into real politics. If they are able to listen. If they are able to think about politics out of institutions and in real-time.
Río de Janeiro, una de las ciudades menos politizadas de Brasil, se transforma en el epicentro de las imprevisibles protestas que siguen agitando el paísEscraches, manifestaciones, ocupaciones de plenos, asambleas...
Two years ago Occupy Wall Street took to the streets of New York to fight for what it called the 99 percent. Micah White, credited as one of the movement's creators, tells DW why Occupy fizzled and he moved to Oregon.
Two years after the Occupy Wall Street movement shifted the conversation on economic inequality, we look at its origins in New York City’s Zuccotti Park and its continued legacy in a number of different groups active today.
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