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What's new at the crossroads of culture, technology and science
Curated by Artur Alves
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Why Did the ‘Twitter Revolutions’ Fail?

Why Did the ‘Twitter Revolutions’ Fail? | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Social media can upend a society, but it can’t build a new one.
Artur Alves's insight:

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Finally, we were seduced by the “Silicon Valley effect,” the fact that our ideas and strategies for social change were shaped less by historical experience and more by the utopian possibilities of the world of technology. Trapped in that belief, we failed to recognize the frailties of the new protest movements and misjudged their impact on society. You can tweet a revolution, but you cannot tweet a government, and many of the new protest movements are paying a high price for their anti-institutional ethos.

These protests fell victim to similar fashionable notions: that organizations are a thing of the past (and networks representative of the future), that states no longer matter, and that spontaneity is the real source for legitimacy.

Disruption, we know well, is highly valued in the technology community and plays a critical role in upending companies. But societies are not made of innovators alone, and very often the demand for constant change and the hosannas for creative destruction eventually bring demand for stability. Mr. Putin, Mr. Erdogan and their ilk understood this point even if the protesters and pontificators didn’t, and they sat patiently until the right moment to reassert their power.

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The Pirate Party's 'Poetician' Plans to Make Iceland a Data Haven

The Pirate Party's 'Poetician' Plans to Make Iceland a Data Haven | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Birgitta Jónsdóttir wants to make Iceland the 'Switzerland of bits.'
Artur Alves's insight:

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Legislating transparency and security takes time. The work remains slow, while the stakes have grown. Jónsdóttir discovered that  she has been the subject of US Department of Justice ordered surveillance since November 1, 2009. The Snowden revelations have proved that the extent of surveillance is far greater than thought, causing greater concern for the IMMI resolution to protect sources.

Under the Espionage Act of 1917, the founding legislation under which the Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers during his terms than all former US presidents combined, all the while surveilling allies like Angela Merkel. Now more than ever, it would seem the world needs doubled-down legal protection for journalists, and safe haven for information uncovered, to which the public has a right to know.

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The Battle for Power on the Internet

The Battle for Power on the Internet | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Distributed citizen groups and nimble hackers once had the edge. Now governments and corporations are catching up. Who will dominate in the decades ahead?
Artur Alves's insight:

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We’re in the middle of an epic battle for power in cyberspace. On one side are the traditional, organized, institutional powers such as governments and large multinational corporations. On the other are the distributed and nimble: grassroots movements, dissident groups, hackers, and criminals. Initially, the Internet empowered the second side. It gave them a place to coordinate and communicate efficiently, and made them seem unbeatable. But now, the more traditional institutional powers are winning, and winning big. How these two side fare in the long term, and the fate of the rest of us who don’t fall into either group, is an open question—and one vitally important to the future of the Internet.

In the Internet’s early days, there was a lot of talk about its “natural laws”—how it would upend traditional power blocks, empower the masses, and spread freedom throughout the world. The international nature of the Internet circumvented national laws. Anonymity was easy. Censorship was impossible. Police were clueless about cybercrime. And bigger changes seemed inevitable. Digital cash would undermine national sovereignty. Citizen journalism would topple traditional media, corporate PR, and political parties. Easy digital copying would destroy the traditional movie and music industries. Web marketing would allow even the smallest companies to compete against corporate giants. It really would be a new world order.

This was a utopian vision, but some of it did come to pass. Internet marketing has transformed commerce. The entertainment industries have been transformed by things like MySpace and YouTube, and are now more open to outsiders. Mass media has changed dramatically, and some of the most influential people in the media have come from the blogging world. There are new ways to organize politically and run elections. Crowdfunding has made tens of thousands of projects possible to finance, and crowdsourcing made more types of projects possible. Facebook and Twitter really did help topple governments.

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Politics Transformed: The High Tech Battle for Your Vote

Politics Transformed: The High Tech Battle for Your Vote | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

"Technology and digital media have changed how we do virtually everything, including how we choose our leaders. In 2008, then Senator Barack Obama's innovative use of the Internet for organizing gave us a glimpse at how social media could revolutionize modern campaigning. A lot has changed in the past four years, and social media is now front and center -- an irresistible force in our everyday lives.
Politics Transformed: The High Tech Battle for Your Vote is an in-depth look at how digital media is affecting elections. From online ad targeting to Internet voting, from political crowdfunding to massive data mining, Mashable pulls back the curtain to reveal the trends changing politics in 2012 and beyond."

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Cyberwar Is Already Upon Us

Cyberwar Is Already Upon Us | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

Although most information on cyberwar's repercussions -- most notably the 1997 Eligible Receiver exercise -- remains classified, suffice it to say that their effect on U.S. forces would be crippling.

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Artificial intelligences and political organization: An exploration based on the science fiction work of Iain M. Banks 10.1016/j.techsoc.2011.12.005 : Technology in Society | ScienceDirect.com

"This paper, using science fiction as a heuristic support for exploring technical potentialities, is based on part of the works of Iain M. Banks, the novels of the “Culture series”, in order to examine the role of artificial intelligences and the effects they could have on the life of a community from a political point of view."

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The Real Politics of a Virtual Society

The Real Politics of a Virtual Society | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The massive multiplayer online game EVE has its own elected officials, and they’ve created a political structure that is influential offline, too.
Artur Alves's insight:

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Although I had been interested in EVE and its stalwart community prior to reading about what has come to be known as “gaming’s most destructive battle ever,” it wasn’t until I saw game-maker CCP erect a physical monument in Reykjavik for those lost in battle that I got hooked. That was the first time I had seen any physical commemoration of an in-game event by any game company. This type of recognition of the EVE community is not rare for CCP, though, and emphasizing the devotion of their player base is important to the lifeblood of their product. The monument is not the only physical manifestation of the gaming universe that reflects the passion of the EVE community. There is also the Council of Stellar Management, or the CSM. Formally established in 2008, the CSM claims to be is the only example of a game-based deliberate democratic organization meant to represent a virtual society.

Formed by EVE players elected by their peers, the CSM is primarily a platform for individuals to provide direct feedback to CCP developers working on bettering the game. But it’s more parts representative democracy than it is a focus group. Currently the ninth council is comprised of 14 members and frequently conducts conference calls in order to discuss a myriad of topics involving product releases, changes in gameplay, and other matters of like player protest regarding unsatisfactory updates to New Eden (the sandbox-style game world where EVE takes place).

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Visions of a Techno-Leviathan: The Politics of the Bitcoin Blockchain - ISN

Visions of a Techno-Leviathan: The Politics of the Bitcoin Blockchain - ISN | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

Will Bitcoin lead to a digital cryptocurrency economy that is free from the influence of banks and, most importantly, aggressive governments? Brett Scott doesn’t think so. Yes, it may offer some protection from state power, but it hardly guarantees added ‘empowerment’ or even ‘escape’.


Via jean lievens
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Why Big Data Falls Short of Its Political Promise

Why Big Data Falls Short of Its Political Promise | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

"It in its simplest form, Big Data describes the confluence of two forces — one technological, one social. The new technological reality is the amount of processing power and analytics now available, either free or at no cost. Google has helped pioneer that; as Wired puts it, one of its tools, called Dremel, makes “big data small.”

This level of mega-crunchability is what’s required to process the amount of data now available online, especially via social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Every time we Like something, it’s recorded on some cosmic abacus in the sky.

Then there’s our browsing history, captured and made available to advertisers through behavioral targeting. Add to that available public records on millions of voters — political consultants and media strategists have the ability drill down as god-like dentists"

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Avatar’s ‘development’ predicament | openDemocracy

"The globally-acclaimed film looks back to the past from a futuristic standpoint to simulate an archetypal moral tale of developmental inequality. Is that a good thing?

The transition from fabulism to politics is a hazardous business: the generation of a series of videos for the dissemination of Avatar-led activism against the construction of Belo Monte Dam (threatening to destroy indigenous ecosystems and human ecologies alike) appears to draw upon Avatar’s narrative, whereby human progress and development builds upon destruction."

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Scared of Anonymous? NSA chief says you should be

Scared of Anonymous? NSA chief says you should be | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The director of the National Security Agency says the hacktivist group is growing more powerful and could eventually attack our power grid. So beware. Read this blog post by Don Reisinger on The Digital Home.

"Anonymous has made no indication that it plans to attack the power grid. And its hacks, while decried by government officials, are celebrated by others who say the group is acting on the average citizen's behalf."

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