For the first time in thirty years of ever stronger intellectual property policies, a transnational coalition of Internet users was able to kill two US anti-piracy bills that were backed by some of the most politically connected and economically powerful interests in US politics. Combining insights from the literatures on social movements, networks, and Internet activism, I analyze the structure for social mobilization, the form of the coalition, the role of framing, and the use of technology contributing to its success. The literature on social movements and contentious politics addresses situations of threats or grievances that lead actors to mobilize for collective action. In this case, Goliath's latest gambit to ratchet up intellectual property standards threatened David's use of the Internet. This time David beat Goliath.
According to O’Reilly, one of the key attributes of Web 2.0 sites is that they are based on an “architecture of participation”; it’s this architecture that allows “collective intelligence” to be harnessed. Ranking your purchases on Amazon or reporting spammy emails to Google are good examples of clever architectures of participation. Once Amazon and Google start learning from millions of users, they become “smarter” and more attractive to the original users.
This is a very limited vision of participation. It amounts to no more than a simple feedback session with whoever is running the system. You are not participating in the design of that system, nor are you asked to comment on its future. There is nothing “collective” about such distributed intelligence; it’s just a bunch of individual users acting on their own and never experiencing any sense of solidarity or group belonging. Such “participation” has no political dimension; no power changes hands.
The Egyptian Institute for Freedom of Thought and Expression issued its first statement on digital freedom, a simplified research paper to propose definitions for digital rights and related principles which the paper summarised as: universal...
Social practice artists blur the lines among object making, performance and activism, creating participatory work that often flourishes beyond galleries and museums.
...The site’s recent pieces include a video by an Egyptian-Lebanese artist about Tahrir Square, the locus of the Egyptian uprising two years ago, and a short film about family debt in America made by a self-described “debt resistance” art collective with roots in the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“We’re not trying to do what journalism does,” Ms. Raicovich said. “But we think artists can supplement and complement it through a different lens. And what they’re doing is art.”
Over the past year, international and national media have been full of stories about protest movements and tumultuous social upheaval from Tunisia to California. But scholars have not yet fully addressed the connection between these movements and the media and communication channels through which their messages spread. Correcting that imbalance, Mediation and Protest Movements explores the nature of the relationship between protest movements, media representation, and communication strategies and tactics.
"This paper argues that the 15M demonstration (kick off of the indignados movement in Spain and seed of the occupy mobilizations) presents some outstanding characteristics that defy central principles of the collective action paradigm.
In the past decade, parliaments in industrialized countries have been pressured to adopt more restrictive legislation to prevent unauthorized file-sharing and enforce higher standards of digital copyright enforcement over entertainment media and computer software. A complex process of supranational and national lawmaking has resulted in several legislatures adopting such measures, with wide variations in content and implementation. These policy developments offer an interesting research puzzle, given their high political salience and the amount of controversy they have generated. Specifically, the introduction of harsher intellectual property regulations has resulted in intense “online” and “offline” collective action by skilled activists who have significantly altered the digital copyright policy field over the years. In France, grassroots movements have turned the passing of digital copyright infringement laws through Parliament into highly controversial episodes. Similarly, at the European level, the Telecoms Package Reform has given rise to an intense protest effort, carried by an ad hoc coalition of European activists. In both cases, online mobilization was an essential element of political contention against these legislative initiatives. In both cases, our analysis shows that online mobilization and contention can substantially affect policymaking by disrupting the course of parliamentary lawmaking at both the national and European levels. We provide an analytical framework to study these processes, as well as an analysis of the frames and digital network repertoires involved in the two cases under scrutiny, with reference to the nascent research agenda formed by the politics of intellectual property.
BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner finds Saudi Arabia safer than it was when he shot there nine years ago, and very slightly more tolerant of internal criticism.
In a country without cinemas, Saudis are voracious consumers of films on YouTube, however trivial. Some of his shows get over 50 million hits online, and some of the hits even come from ruling princes.
This is, in a way, the Saudi version of the Arab Spring. Apart from occasional and violently suppressed protests by the Shia minority in Eastern Province, this country has been spared the deadly violence that has wracked much of the Middle East.
Instead, it is experiencing a healthy explosion of free discussion, criticism and satire on the internet. So far, the state is tolerating it as long as nobody insults Islam or the king, and as long as cyber-protest does not cross over into the street.
By analyzing the Citizenship Involvement Democracy survey conducted on American citizens, this paper investigates categorical and demographic disparities between online and offline political participants and examines the two-sided effects (reinforcing and mobilizing) of the internet on political participation. The analysis presents three main findings. First, those who participate in online political activity do not differ categorically from those who conduct their political activity offline. Second, cross-group differences in how actively individuals participate in political activity make little distinction between offline and online modes. There is a trade-off between the generational gap in online political activity and the racial gap in offline political activity, but the gap in political participation between the socioeconomically advantaged and their counterparts appears in both online and offline political activities. Finally, the internet plays a dual role in mobilizing political participation by people not normally politically involved, as well as reinforcing existing offline participation.
Time to fix the map: Analog theories do not fully explain digital activism. (image: Flickr/Alex E. Proimos) Theory is like a map to a place one has never been. With the right theory, the new location is illuminated.
John Postill's insight:
I'm not persuaded about 'digital era' argument in Analog Theory Meets Digital #Activism http://sco.lt/... via @ksaputro
In 2011 and 2012, several high profile campaigns spread with unexpected speed and potency. These "viral engagements” include the mobilization that scuttled the Stop Online Piracy Act, popular protest against the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood, 100 million views of KONY 2012 video on YouTube and its subsequent criticism and defense, and on-line activism around the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. This paper examines three aspects of these viral campaigns as form of political engagement. First, is there a common structure of mobilization and spread? Some have argued that these viral campaigns synthesize conventional social and political networks but amplify the messages that spread through those networks through the speed of digital communication. Second, what are the potential contributions of this fast, cheap, and thin mode of engagement to democracy? We examine the implications of viral engagement for four critical democratic values: inclusion, public deliberation, political equality, and civic education.
This paper, in order to deepen our understanding of the role of opinion leadership on Twitter, the world’s largest microblogging service, has investigated the interrelationships between opinion leadership, Twitter use motivations, and political engagement. It finds that Twitter opinion leaders have higher motivations of information seeking, mobilization, and public expression than nonleaders. It has also been found that mobilization and public-expression motivations mediate the association between perceived opinion leadership and Twitter use frequency. Most importantly, this study finds that Twitter opinion leadership makes a significant contribution to individuals’ involvement in political processes, while Twitter use itself or media use motivation does not necessarily help individuals’ political engagement.
In the last year we have seen digital civil liberties groups protesting against CETA (the Canada-EU trade agreement) and SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and even now are taking on the might of international tech giants in TAFTA (the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Area).
Digital rights groups have been growing in power ever since the massive success of the anti-ACTA campaign last year.
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