Freedom Technologists: Digital Activism and Political Change in the 21st Century (working title), Chapter 2, Freedom Technologists
last updated 9 Sep 2015
(see also Doc and PDF versions, 67 pp.)
This is the twenty-third post in the freedom technologists series.
See also Directory of freedom technologists
In this working bibliography I bring together a large set of (mostly academic) references on a specific category of political actor that I am calling ‘freedom technologists’, namely those tech-minded individuals, groups and organisations with a keen interest in the democratic and emancipatory potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Freedom technologists combine technological and political notions and skills to pursue greater Internet and democratic freedoms, which they regard as being inextricably entwined (Postill 2014). Far from being techno-utopians or deluded ‘slacktivists’ (Morozov, 2013, Skoric, 2012), in my experience most freedom technologists are in fact techno-pragmatists, that is, people who take a very practical view of the limits and possibilities of new technologies for political change. This working bibliography is part of current research towards Chapter 2 of my forthcoming book Freedom Technologists: Digital Activism and Political Change in the 21st Century (working title).
Many thanks to Sky Croeser and Chris Csikszentmihályi for their recommendations. Further suggestions are always welcome via email, Academia.edu or the comments section.
Keywords: technology, politics, techno-politics, hackers, hacktivism, digital activism, internet activism, digital liberation movement, political change, social protest, techno-libertarians
Aday, S., Farrell, H., Lynch, M., Sides, J., Kelly, J., & Zuckerman, E. (2010). Blogs and bullets: New media in contentious politics.
In this report from the United States Institute of Peace’s Centers of Innovation for Science, Technology, and Peacebuilding, and Media, Conflict, and Peacebuilding, a team of scholars from The George Washington University, in cooperation with scholars from Harvard University and Morningside Analytics, critically assesses both the “cyberutopian” and “cyberskeptic” perspectives on the impact of new media on political movements.
Akser, M. (2015). The Revolution Will Be Hacktivated. Digital Transformations in Turkey: Current Perspectives in Communication Studies, 275.
The democratic rights claimed to be enshrined but curtailed under the AKP government’s repressive regime was counterbalanced by Redhack, a Turkish hacktivist group online. Through their diverse tactics such as resistance, revelation and countering Redhack’s activity led to a digital transformation in Turkish politics. Redhack’s opposition is towards AKP’s neo-liberal patronage policies. The resistance took many forms: (1) defacing government websites that misuse public resources. (2) revelation to counter censorship against traditional media by the AKP government. By revealing documents related to AKP government’s corruption, Redhack led the way for traditional media to bring the issue to public scrutiny. The third tactic of taking direct action in the form of counter-attack came as a result of the Gezi Park Occupy Istanbul movement. Redhack actively used television to voice their agenda and called people to action. A networked discourse analysis that looks at mediation of playful tactics by hacktivists is a new transformative phase in how cyber security shifts from terrorism into information resistance, revelation and countering.
Alcazan et al (2012) Tecnopolítica. Internet y R-Evoluciones. Icaria.
#Error 404. Democracy Not Found. El 15 de mayo de 2011 salimos a la calle después de meses de trabajo en la red. El 15-M es inimaginable sin internet y el uso político que las multitudes conectadas han hecho de él. El 15-M es impensable sin la red de redes, somos una red distribuida de cambio social. Con este libro queremos hacer una contribución a una lectura del 15-M abierta y en construcción, que valore su dimensión tecnopolítica. Entender la relación del 15-M con internet, con sus precedentes, con sus dispositivos de comunicación y organización, es esencial para comprender las posibilidades abiertas para la acción colectiva en la sociedad red. La r-evolución está en marcha y se multiplica de manera global. Se extiende la indignación, el deseo de cambio y emerge el potencial de transformación de las redes abiertas y distribuidas.
Al Hussaini, A. (2011). Tunisia: Anonymous vs. Ammar–who wins the battle of censorship?. Global Voices, 3 January 2011, https://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/01/03/tunisia-anonymous-vs-ammar-who-wins-the-battle-of-censorship/
The Tunisian censor, commonly known as Ammar, continues to wreak havoc on activists’ accounts, in a country that has been witnessing a wave of protests since the middle of December. Just today, activists claimed that the government has hacked into their email accounts, accessing their blogs and social networking sites, and disabling them. The move seems to have come in retaliation to an attack by Anonymous, which has targeted vital Tunisian government sites and gateways.
Andrejevic, M. (2014). WikiLeaks, Surveillance, and Transparency. International Journal of Communication, 8, 2619-2630.
The place for WikiLeaks was, in a sense, carved out in advance by the dramatic failure of conventional channels for challenging power or holding it accountable. It is a fact that deserves more attention than it gets that, in the United States, the two political newspapers of record (The New York Times and The Washington Post) issued extended public apologies for failures in their coverage during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. In no uncertain terms, these influential newspapers conceded that they did not provide adequate information to the populace about one of the most important decisions facing the nation—a decision that would claim the lives of tens of thousands of people and redefine international relations on a global scale. The Times noted that, on reviewing its coverage of the lead-up to the war, “we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been” (The Editors, 2001, para. 3)—a failure that it identified as structural.
Appelgren, E., & Nygren, G. (2014). Data Journalism in Sweden: Introducing new methods and genres of journalism into “old” organizations. Digital Journalism, 2(3), 394-405.
Data journalism is an evolving form of investigative journalism. In previous research and handbooks published on this topic, this form of journalism has been called computer-assisted reporting and data-driven journalism, as well as precision, computational or database journalism. In Sweden, data journalism is still fairly uncommon. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the development of data journalism at seven Swedish traditional media companies, using action research methods. The content of this paper is based on an online survey of journalists and in-depth interviews with editors at these participating companies. The results indicate that, based on how this field is currently perceived by journalists in the interviews, there is a common definition of data journalism. Furthermore, the survey shows that the attitudes towards data journalism during the process of introducing new methods and genres of journalism into “old” organizations are correlated with the level of perceived experience in data journalism working methods. The main challenges facing the working methods of data journalism today are a shortage of time and the need for training and developing data journalism skills.
Armitage, J. (ed.) (1999) ‘Special Issue on Machinic Modulations: New Cultural Theory and Technopolitics’, Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 4(2) (September).
Assange, J., Appelbaum, J., Muller-Maguhn, A., & Zimmermann, J. (2012). Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet. Singapore Books.
“Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet is an important wake-up call about a possible dystopian future, which is a technological reality now… While messengers of dangerous outcomes are always met at first with hostility and even mockery, history shows that we disregard such warnings as these at our peril.” —Naomi Wolf
Baack, S. (2015). Datafication and empowerment: How the open data movement re-articulates notions of democracy, participation, and journalism. Big Data & Society, 2(2), 2053951715594634.
This article shows how activists in the open data movement re-articulate notions of democracy, participation, and journalism by applying practices and values from open source culture to the creation and use of data. Focusing on the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany and drawing from a combination of interviews and content analysis, it argues that this process leads activists to develop new rationalities around datafication that can support the agency of datafied publics. Three modulations of open source are identified: First, by regarding data as a prerequisite for generating knowledge, activists transform the sharing of source code to include the sharing of raw data. Sharing raw data should break the interpretative monopoly of governments and would allow people to make their own interpretation of data about public issues. Second, activists connect this idea to an open and flexible form of representative democracy by applying the open source model of participation to political participation. Third, activists acknowledge that intermediaries are necessary to make raw data accessible to the public. This leads them to an interest in transforming journalism to become an intermediary in this sense. At the same time, they try to act as intermediaries themselves and develop civic technologies to put their ideas into practice. The article concludes with suggesting that the practices and ideas of open data activists are relevant because they illustrate the connection between datafication and open source culture and help to understand how datafication might support the agency of publics and actors outside big government and big business.
Bailey Jr, C. W. (2013). Strong copyright+ DRM+ weak net neutrality= digital dystopia?. Information Technology and Libraries, 25(3), 116-127.
Three critical issues—a dramatic expansion of the scope, duration, and punitive nature of copyright laws; the ability of Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems to lock-down digital content in an unprecedented fashion; and the erosion of Net neutrality, which ensures that all Internet traffic is treated equally—are examined in detail and their potential impact on libraries is assessed. How legislatures, the courts, and the commercial marketplace treat these issues will strongly influence the future of digital information for good or ill.
Barron, B. (2007). The Importance of Network Neutrality to the Internet’s Role in the Public Sphere. Canadian Journal of Media Studies, 3(1), 90-105.
Network Neutrality, the principle by which Internet Service Providers transmit data equally without consideration to its source, type, content or destination, is important to the creation and preservation of effective democratic communication on the Internet. While there are many faults which can be found with discussion and debate on the Internet, the Internet still represents an improvement over traditional media and media distribution networks and should be carefully protected.
Bastos, M. T., & Mercea, D. (2015). Serial activists: Political Twitter beyond influentials and the twittertariat. New Media & Society, 1461444815584764.
This article introduces a group of politically charged Twitter users that deviates from elite and ordinary users. After mining 20 M tweets related to nearly 200 instances of political protest from 2009 to 2013, we identified a network of individuals tweeting across geographically distant protest hashtags and revisited the term “serial activists.” We contacted 191 individuals and conducted 21 in-depth, semi-structured interviews thematically coded to provide a typology of serial activists and their struggles with institutionalized power. We found that these users have an ordinary following, but bridge disparate language communities and facilitate collective action by virtue of their dedication to multiple causes. Serial activists differ from influentials or traditional grassroots activists and their activity challenges Twitter scholarship foregrounding the two-step flow model of communication. The results add a much needed depth to the prevalent data-driven treatment of political Twitter by describing a class of extraordinarily prolific users beyond influentials and the twittertariat.
Beckett, C. and J. Ball (2012). Wikileaks: News in the networked era. Polity.
WikiLeaks is the most challenging journalistic phenomenon to have emerged in the digital era. It has provoked anger and enthusiasm in equal measure, from across the political and journalistic spectrum. WikiLeaks poses a series of questions to the status quo in politics, journalism and to the ways we understand political communication. It has compromised the foreign policy operations of the most powerful state in the world, broken stories comparable to great historic scoops like the Pentagon Papers, and caused the mighty international news organizations to collaborate with this tiny editorial outfit. Yet it may also be on the verge of extinction. This is the first book to examine WikiLeaks fully and critically and its place in the contemporary news environment. The authors combine inside knowledge with the latest media research and analysis to argue that the significance of Wikileaks is that it is part of the shift in the nature of news to a network system that is contestable and unstable. Welcome to Wiki World and a new age of uncertainty. Charlie Beckett July 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm: For a shorter but more approving review of this book try this:
“a cool-headed, astute analysis of the social, political and technological context in which the now infamous website was formed. From the wider issues of government and corporate transparency to the potential impact of the leaks on the future possibility of an open Internet, the two co-authors pack a great deal into the book’s 164 pages. Throughout it remains eminently readable, thought-provoking and insightful.”
Benkler, Y. (2006). The wealth of networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom. Yale University Press.
With the radical changes in information production that the Internet has introduced, we stand at an important moment of transition, says Yochai Benkler in this thought-provoking book. The phenomenon he describes as social production is reshaping markets, while at the same time offering new opportunities to enhance individual freedom, cultural diversity, political discourse, and justice. But these results are by no means inevitable: a systematic campaign to protect the entrenched industrial information economy of the last century threatens the promise of today’s emerging networked information environment. In this comprehensive social theory of the Internet and the networked information economy, Benkler describes how patterns of information, knowledge, and cultural production are changing—and shows that the way information and knowledge are made available can either limit or enlarge the ways people can create and express themselves. He describes the range of legal and policy choices that confront us and maintains that there is much to be gained—or lost—by the decisions we make today.
Benkler, Y. (2011). Free Irresponsible Press: Wikileaks and the Battle over the Soul of the Networked Fourth Estate, A. Harv. CR-CLL Rev., 46, 311.
A study of the events surrounding the Wikileaks document releases in 2010 provides a rich set of insights about the weaknesses and sources of resilience of the emerging networked fourth estate. It marks the emergence of a new model of watchdog function, one that is neither purely networked nor purely traditional, but is rather a mutualistic interaction between the two. It identifies the peculiar risks to, and sources of resilience of, the networked fourth estate in a multidimensional system of expression and restraint, and suggests the need to resolve a major potential vulnerability—the ability of private infrastructure companies to restrict speech without being bound by the constraints of legality, and the possibility that government actors will take advantage of this affordance in an extralegal public-private partnership for censorship. Finally, it offers a richly detailed event study of the complexity of the emerging networked fourth estate, and the interaction, both constructive and destructive, between the surviving elements of the traditional model and the emerging elements of the new. It teaches us that the traditional, managerial-professional sources of responsibility in a free press function imperfectly under present market conditions, while the distributed models of mutual criticism and universal skeptical reading, so typical of the Net, are far from powerless to deliver effective criticism and self-correction where necessary. The future likely is, as the Guardian put it, “a new model of co-operation” between surviving elements of the traditional, mass-mediated fourth estate, and its emerging networked models.418 The transition to this new model will likely be anything but smooth.
Bennett, W. L., & Segerberg, A. (2012). The logic of connective action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 739-768.
From the Arab Spring and los indignados in Spain, to Occupy Wall Street (and beyond), large-scale, sustained protests are using digital media in ways that go beyond sending and receiving messages. Some of these action formations contain relatively small roles for formal brick and mortar organizations. Others involve well-established advocacy organizations, in hybrid relations with other organizations, using technologies that enable personalized public engagement. Both stand in contrast to the more familiar organizationally managed and brokered action conventionally associated with social movement and issue advocacy. This article examines the organizational dynamics that emerge when communication becomes a prominent part of organizational structure. It argues that understanding such variations in large-scale action networks requires distinguishing between at least two logics that may be in play: The familiar logic of collective action associated with high levels of organizational resources and the formation of collective identities, and the less familiar logic of connective action based on personalized content sharing across media networks. In the former, introducing digital media do not change the core dynamics of the action. In the case of the latter, they do. Building on these distinctions, the article presents three ideal types of large-scale action networks that are becoming prominent in the contentious politics of the contemporary era.
Beyer, J. L. (2014a). Expect us: online communities and political mobilization. Oxford University Press.
Expect Us focuses on four online communities—Anonymous (4chan.org), The Pirate Bay, World of Warcraft, and the IGN.com posting boards. In all of these online communities, members engaged deeply with political issues in a range of ways. However, only two of the communities mobilized politically. If political behavior occurred on all four communities, why did only two of these sites foster political mobilization among their participants, while the other two did not? Using ethnographic methods, Expect Us argues that key structural features about the birthplaces of the four communities shaped the type of political behavior that emerged from each. The book argues that the likelihood of political mobilization rises when a site provides high levels of anonymity, low levels of formal regulation, and minimal access to small-group interaction. Once these factors are present, the nature of the communities themselves—their values and emergent norms of behavior—then appears to influence whether there is a conflict between the dominant community norms and offline legal and behavioral norms. Although this normative conflict is by no means a perfect “recipe” for predicting political mobilization, it certainly appeared to set the stage for cohesive political action by an online community. Keywords: online community, anonymity, regulation, digital rights, information politics, WikiLeaks, Anonymous, The Pirate Bay, World of Warcraft, IGN.com
Beyer, J. L. (2014b). The emergence of a freedom of information movement: Anonymous, WikiLeaks, the Pirate party, and Iceland. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 19(2), 141-154.
Online rhetoric about the Internet’s potential to change society, the need to reform intellectual property laws, and the evils of censorship is becoming increasingly similar across sites. The push for “freedom of information” is not restricted to online spaces, but it appears to be born from such spaces, with the concept itself shaped by the presence of the Internet and its effect on networked societies. Focusing on WikiLeaks, the Pirate Party, Anonymous, and Iceland, I describe the emerging coalescence of “freedom of information” advocates pushing for a simultaneous liberalization and homogenization of freedom of information regulations across democracies.
Beyer, J. L., & McKelvey, F. (2015). Piracy & Social Change: You Are Not Welcome Among Us: Pirates and the State. International Journal of Communication, 9, 19.
In a historical review focused on digital piracy, we explore the relationship between hacker politics and the state. We distinguish between two core aspects of piracy—the challenge to property rights and the challenge to state power—and argue that digital piracy should be considered more broadly as a challenge to the authority of the state. We trace generations of peer-to-peer networking, showing that digital piracy is a key component in the development of a political platform that advocates for a set of ideals grounded in collaborative culture, nonhierarchical organization, and a reliance on the network. We assert that this politics expresses itself in a philosophy that was formed together with the development of the state-evading forms of communication that perpetuate unmanageable networks. Keywords: pirates, information politics, intellectual property, state networks.
Boler, M., Macdonald, A., Nitsou, C., & Harris, A. (2014) Connective labor and social media: Women’s roles in the ‘leaderless’ Occupy movement. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 20(4), pp. 438-460.
This article draws upon the insights of 75 Occupy activists from Toronto and across the United States interviewed as part of the 3-year study ‘Social Media in the Hands of Young Citizens’. This article highlights three major roles adopted by women in the so-called leaderless, horizontally structured Occupy movement – both within the offline, face-to-face General Assembly meetings held during the Occupy encampments and within the online spaces of Facebook pages, Web sites, affinity groups, and working committees. As key participants in the movement, women used social technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, and livestreaming as modes of activist engagement, developing unique roles such as that of the ‘Admin’ (Social Media Administrator), the ‘Documentarian’, and the ‘Connector’. The women’s adoption of these roles illustrates, we argue, the emerging notion of ‘connective labor’ an extended enactment of Bennett and Segerberg’s (2012) notion of ‘the logic of connective action’, augmenting its logic to reveal the often hidden labor of women in sustaining the networked and affective dimension of social movements. This article highlights the gendered, hybrid, embodied, and material nature of women’s connective labor that has supported, and in many ways sustained, the contemporary Occupy movement.
Breindl, Y., & Briatte, F. (2013). Digital protest skills and online activism against copyright reform in France and the European Union. Policy & Internet, 5(1), 27-55.
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. Keywords: digital copyright; intellectual property; online mobilization; collective action.
Brevini, B., Hintz, A., & McCurdy, P. (Eds.). (2013). Beyond WikiLeaks: implications for the future of communications, journalism and society. Palgrave Macmillan.
Revelations published by the whistleblower platform WikiLeaks, including the releases of U.S. diplomatic cables in what became referred to as ‘Cablegate’, put WikiLeaks into the international spotlight and sparked intense about the role and impact of leaks in a digital era. Beyond WikiLeaks opens a space to reflect on the broader implications across political and media fields, and on the transformations that result from new forms of leak journalism and transparency activism. A select group of renowned scholars, international experts, and WikiLeaks ‘insiders’ discuss the consequences of the WikiLeaks saga for traditional media, international journalism, freedom of expression, policymaking, civil society, social change, and international politics. From short insider reports to elaborate and theoretically informed academic texts, the different chapters provide critical assessments of the current historical juncture of our mediatized society and offer outlooks of the future. Authors include, amongst others, Harvard University’s Yochai Benkler, Graham Murdoch of Loughborough University, net activism scholar, Gabriella Coleman, the Director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Jillian York, and Guardian editor, Chris Elliott. The book also includes a conversation between philosopher, Slavoj Zizek, and WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, and its prologue is written by Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Icelandic MP and editor of the WikiLeaks video, `Collateral Murder`.
Briatte, F., & Gueydier, P. Artistes, lobbyistes et pirates: l’opposition de plaidoyers professionnels et activistes autour du droit d’auteur sur Internet en France, 2005-2010. In Congrès de l’Association Française de Science Politique.
L’analyse présentée dans ce texte a d’abord consisté à rappeler le rôle d’antécédents critiques dans la situation actuelle, marquée à la fois par la tradition nationale française de protection du droit d’auteur et par les mutations de sa régulation transnationale, en réaction à l’expansion des télécommunications Internet et du développement des technologies numériques de partage de fichiers. Cette séquence, initialement dominée par un argumentaire professionnel, montre que l’irruption de plaidoyers contestataires s’y est effectuée en partie par homothétie avec les règles de fonctionnement usuelles du champ d’action stratégique constitué autour du droit d’auteur. Ce parallélisme entre les activités de plaidoyers professionnel et activiste autour de la régulation du droit d’auteur n’est pas fortuit : nos terrains de recherche respectifs montrent au contraire que ce jeu de contrastes a fait partie intégrante de la stratégie employée par les groupes d’activistes ayant le plus professionnalisé leur activité de mobilisation.
Brooke, H. (2011), The Revolution Will Be Digitised: Dispatches from the Information War, London: William Heinemann.
There is more information in the world than ever before – but who’s in control? At the centre sits the Establishment: governments, corporations and powerful individuals who have more knowledge about us, and more power, than ever before. Circling them is a new generation of hackers, pro-democracy campaigners and internet activists who no longer accept that the Establishment should run the show. Award-winning journalist and campaigner Heather Brooke takes us inside the Information War and explores the most urgent questions of the digital age: where is the balance between freedom and security? In an online world, does privacy still exist? And will the internet empower individuals, or usher in a new age of censorship, surveillance and oppression?
Brooke, H. 2011. “Inside the secret world of hackers,” Guardian (24 August), at http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/aug/24/inside-secret-world-of-hackers,
If Anonymous and Lulzsec are the id of hacking, then physical hackerspaces are the heart of the higher-minded hacking ideals: freedom of information, meritocracy of ideas, a joy of learning and anti-authoritarianism. The CCC is Europe’s largest hacker organisation and also one of the oldest worldwide, having been set up in 1981 by Wau Holland and others who predicted the rising importance digital technology would have in people’s lives. CCC’s hackers are often older and run their own businesses. They hold conferences and even consult with the German government. The CCC is famous for exposing the security flaws of major technologies, from chip and PIN to smartphones. Want to know how to listen in on GSM mobile phone traffic? Here’s the place to learn (within legal constraints, of course). Among some of their more noteworthy “hacks” is pulling the fingerprints of the German interior minister from a water glass and putting them on a transparent film that could be used to fool fingerprint readers. The Club also worked with activists for voting transparency to expose flaws in computerised voting machines. These were later ruled unconstitutional in Germany and abolished in Holland.
The CCC isn’t just about technical hacking, it is a hub of political activism based around a few common goals: transparency of governments, privacy for private people and the removal of excessive restrictions on sharing information. Many of these hacks are demonstrated at the annual conference at the Berlin Congress Centre, and it was here that Julian Assange presented WikiLeaks to an enthusiastic crowd in 2008.
Hackerspaces aren’t just about hacking with computers. The ideals can be applied to every aspect of life including politics – which is considered just another “system” by which humans live together. Like any other system, it can therefore be hacked and these spaces offer a real-time experiment in political hacking.
Bruce, M., Peltu, M., & Dutton, W. H. (1999). Society on the line: Information politics in the digital age. Oxford University Press.
Society on the Line presents a new way of thinking about the social and economic implications of the revolution in information and communication technologies (ICTs). It offers a clear overview of information in the digital age, and explains how social and technical choices about ICTs influence access to information, people, services, and technologies themselves.
Cammaerts, B. (2013). Networked Resistance: the case of WikiLeaks. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 18(4), 420-436.
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. Keywords: Opportunity Structure; Mediation; Hacktivism; Networks; WikiLeaks.
Cammaerts, B. (2015). Pirates on the Liquid Shores of Liberal Democracy: Movement Frames of European Pirate Parties. Javnost-The Public, 22(1), 19-36.
In this article, the movement frames of European Pirate Parties are analysed through a thematic analysis of texts relating to the Pirate Parties and transcripts of semi-structured interviews with representatives of Pirate Parties across three European countries—Germany, the United Kingdom and Belgium. At the level of the diagnostic and prognostic frames the Pirate Parties address contentious issues and discourses about civic liberties, privacy and access to knowledge in a digital era, but they also critique liberal representative democracy as such, which they argue needs to incorporate delegative models of democracy. In addition to this, a pro-social frame is presented emphasising free education and a basic income. In order to achieve these aims the Pirate Parties develop a distinct collective identity and foster political agency through activism and by participating in electoral politics. Lack of electoral appeal and low levels of membership is some countries, inability to deal with conflicts and an unwillingness to clarify the ideological position and the precise relationship between a libertarian freedom-related agenda and a social justice agenda represent challenges for the Pirate Parties.
Carty, V., & Onyett, J. (2006). Protest, cyberactivism and new social movements: The reemergence of the peace movement post 9/11. Social Movement Studies, 5(3), 229-249.
This paper examines ways in which the Internet and alternative forms of media have enhanced the global, yet grassroots, political mobilization in the anti-war effort in the post 9/11 environment. An examination of the role of cyberactivism in the peace movement enhances our understanding of social movements and contentious politics by analyzing how contemporary social movements are using advanced forms of technology and mass communication as a mobilizing tool and a conduit to alternative forms of media. These serve as both a means and target of protest action and have played a critical role in the organization and success of internal political mobilizing. Cyberactivism, globalization, social movements, war on terrorism, contentious politics, political opportunity structures
Castells, M. (2013) Networks of outrage and hope: Social movements in the internet age (London: John Wiley & Sons).
This book is an exploration of the new forms of social movements and protests that are erupting in the world today, from the Arab uprisings to the indignadas movement in Spain, and the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US. While these and similar social movements differ in many important ways, there is one thing they share in common: they are all interwoven inextricably with the creation of autonomous communication networks supported by the Internet and wireless communication. In this timely and important book, Manuel Castells – the leading scholar of our contemporary networked society – examines the social, cultural and political roots of these new social movements, studies their innovative forms of self-organization, assesses the precise role of technology in the dynamics of the movements, suggests the reasons for the support they have found in large segments of society, and probes their capacity to induce political change by influencing people’s minds.
Chadwick, A. (2006). Internet politics: States, citizens, and new communication technologies. Oxford University Press, USA.
In the developed world, there is no longer an issue of whether the Internet affects politics-but rather how, why, and with what consequences. With the Internet now spreading at a breathtaking rate in the developing world, the new medium is fraught with tensions, paradoxes, and contradictions. How do we make sense of these? In this major new work, Andrew Chadwick addresses such concerns, providing the first comprehensive overview of Internet politics.
Internet Politics examines the impact of new communication technologies on political parties and elections, pressure groups, social movements, local democracy, public bureaucracies, and global governance. It also analyzes persistent and controversial policy problems, including the digital divide; the governance of the Internet itself; the tensions between surveillance, privacy, and security; and the political economy of the Internet media sector. The approach is explicitly comparative, providing numerous examples from the U.S., Britain, and many other countries. Written in a clear and accessible style, this theoretically sophisticated and up-to-date text reveals the key difference the Internet makes in how we “do” politics and how we “think about” political life.
Chadwick, A. (2013) The Hybrid Media system: Politics and Power (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
The diffusion and rapid evolution of new communication technologies has reshaped media and politics. But who are the new power players? Written by a leading scholar in the field, The Hybrid Media System is a sweeping and compelling new theory of how political communication now works.
Politics is increasingly defined by organizations, groups, and individuals who are best able to blend older and newer media logics, in what Andrew Chadwick terms a hybrid system. Power is wielded by those who create, tap, and steer information flows to suit their goals and in ways that modify, enable, and disable the power of others, across and between a range of older and newer media. Chadwick examines news making in all of its contemporary “professional” and “amateur” forms, parties and election campaigns, activist movements, and government communication. He presents compelling illustrations of the hybrid media system in flow, from American presidential campaigns to WikiLeaks, from live prime ministerial debates to hotly-contested political scandals, from the daily practices of journalists, campaign workers, and bloggers to the struggles of new activist organizations. This wide-ranging book maps the emerging balance of power between older and newer media technologies, genres, norms, behaviors, and organizational forms. Political communication has entered a new era. This book reveals how the clash of older and newer media logics causes chaos and disintegration but also surprising new patterns of order and integration.
Chadwick, A. and Collister, S. (2014). Boundary-Drawing Power and the Renewal of Professional News Organizations: The Case of The Guardian and the Edward Snowden NSA Leak. International Journal of Communication, 8, 22.
The Edward Snowden National Security Agency leak of 2013 was an important punctuating phase in the evolution of political journalism and political communication as media systems continue to adapt to the incursion of digital media logics. The leak’s mediation reveals professional news organizations’ evolving power in an increasingly congested, complex, and polycentric hybrid media system where the number of news actors has radically increased. We identify the practices through which The Guardian reconfigured and renewed its power and which enabled it to lay bare highly significant aspects of state power and surveillance. This involved exercising a form of strategic, if still contingent, control over the information and communication environments within which the Snowden story developed. This was based upon a range of practices encapsulated by a concept we introduce: boundary-drawing power.
Christensen, C. (2014). WikiLeaks: From Popular Culture to Political Economy~ Introduction. International Journal of Communication, 8, 5.
Despite their early work, it was the leaked material that came from Chelsea Manning that threw WikiLeaks into the international spotlight, and, thus, made the organization a topic of scholarly interest. To date, the most in-depth single work on WikiLeaks has come from Brevini, Hintz, and McCurdy (2013), but a number of other scholars have investigated the relationship between the organization and, for example, journalism (e.g., Coddington, 2012; Handley & Rutigliano, 2012; Lynch, 2010, 2013; McNair, 2012; Tambini, 2013), law (e.g., Benkler, 2012; Cannon 2013; Davidson 2011; Fenster 2012; Peters 2011; Rothe & Steinmetz 2013; Wells 2012), and resistance and activism (e.g., Cammaerts, 2013; Lindgren & Lundström, 2011; Zajácz, 2013). The idea behind this collection of essays about WikiLeaks was influenced by the fact that WikiLeaks, their activities, and the sociopolitical incrustations around the organization resonate in so many areas within media studies and related disciplines—more, I would argue, than have been addressed to date. Thus, when I began to approach authors regarding potential contributions to this collection, I was interested in asking influential and innovative scholars from a wide variety of research backgrounds.
Christensen, C., & Jónsdóttir, B. (2014). WikiLeaks, Transparency and Privacy: A Discussion with Birgitta Jónsdóttir. International Journal of Communication, 8, 9.
Birgitta Jónsdóttir is currently a member of the Icelandic Parliament, where she represents the Pirate Party. Jónsdóttir was an early WikiLeaks volunteer and was one of the key members of the team in Iceland that put together the famous Collateral Murder video. In this wide-ranging discussion with Christian Christensen, Jónsdóttir talks about her work with WikiLeaks, politics, and her ideas about technology, transparency, and privacy. She also discusses how she has been placed under surveillance because of her work with WikiLeaks and other organizations.
Clinton, H. R. (2012). Internet Freedom and Human Rights. Issues in Science and Technology, 28(3), 45.
Maintaining the practice of open communication and continuing the system of multi-stakeholder management of the Internet can help advance the principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Coleman, G. 2004. “The political agnosticism of free and open source software and the inadvertent politics of contrast,” Anthropology Quarterly, volume 77, number 3, pp. 507–519.http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/anq.2004.0035
Free and open source software (FOSS), which is by now entrenched in the technology sector, has recently traveled far beyond this sphere in the form of artifacts, licenses, and as a broader icon for openness and collaboration. FOSS has attained a robust socio-political life as a touchstone for like-minded projects in art, law, journalism, and science—some examples being MIT’s OpenCourseWare project, School Forge, and the BBC’s decision to release all their archives under a Creative Commons license. One might suspect FOSS of having a deliberate political agenda, but when asked, FOSS developers invariably offer a firm and unambiguous “no”—usually followed by a precise lexicon for discussing the proper relationship between FOSS and politics. For example, while it is perfectly acceptable and encouraged to have a panel on free software at an anti-globalization conference, FOSS developers would suggest that it is unacceptable to claim that FOSS has as one of its goals anti-globalization, or for that matter any political program—a subtle but vital difference, which captures the uncanny, visceral, and minute semiotic acts by which developers divorce FOSS from a guided political direction. FOSS, of course, beholds a complex political life despite the lack of political intention; nonetheless, I argue that the political agnosticism of FOSS shapes the expressive life and force of its informal politics.
Coleman, E.G. (2011). Hacker politics and publics. Public Culture, 23(3 65), 511-516.
This article examines some of the attributes that mark geek and hacker politics as distinct from other domains of digitally based activism and offers an introductory framework to assess their political significance.
Coleman, E.G. (2013) Code Is Speech: Hackers attempt to write themselves into the Constitution. Reason.com, April 2013, http://reason.com/archives/2013/03/21/code-is-speech
…For open source developers, then, freedom means expression, learning, and modification, not the mere absence of a price tag. Hackers first started talking about software as speech in response to what they saw as excessive copyrighting and patenting of computer software in the 1970s and ’80s. The first widely circulated paper associating source code with free speech was “Freedom of Speech in Software,” written by programmer Peter Salin in 1991. Salin characterized computer programs as “writings,” arguing that software was unfit for patents (intended for inventions) but appropriate for copyrights and thus free speech protections (which apply to expressive content).
Coleman, E.G. and Ralph, M. 2011. Is it a Crime? The Transgressive Politics of Hacking in Anonymous, Social Text, 28 September 2011, http://www.socialtextjournal.org/blog/2011/09/is-it-a-crime-the-transgressive-politics-of-hacking-in-anonymous.php
Instead of merely depicting hackers as virtual pamphleteers for free speech or as digital outlaws, we need to start asking more specific questions about why and when hackers embrace particular attitudes toward different kinds of laws, explore in greater detail what they are hoping to achieve, and take greater care in examining the consequences.
Coleman, E. G. (2013). Coding freedom: The ethics and aesthetics of hacking. Princeton University Press.
Who are computer hackers? What is free software? And what does the emergence of a community dedicated to the production of free and open source software–and to hacking as a technical, aesthetic, and moral project–reveal about the values of contemporary liberalism? Exploring the rise and political significance of the free and open source software (F/OSS) movement in the United States and Europe, Coding Freedom details the ethics behind hackers’ devotion to F/OSS, the social codes that guide its production, and the political struggles through which hackers question the scope and direction of copyright and patent law. In telling the story of the F/OSS movement, the book unfolds a broader narrative involving computing, the politics of access, and intellectual property.
Gabriella Coleman tracks the ways in which hackers collaborate and examines passionate manifestos, hacker humor, free software project governance, and festive hacker conferences. Looking at the ways that hackers sustain their productive freedom, Coleman shows that these activists, driven by a commitment to their work, reformulate key ideals including free speech, transparency, and meritocracy, and refuse restrictive intellectual protections. Coleman demonstrates how hacking, so often marginalized or misunderstood, sheds light on the continuing relevance of liberalism in online collaboration.
Coleman, E.G. (2014). Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous. Verso Books.
John Postill review: The past five years have seen a global flourishing of political initiatives in which tech-minded actors of different kinds (geeks, hackers, bloggers, online journalists, citizen politicians, etc.) have played prominent roles. From whistleblowing to online protests, from occupied squares to anti-establishment parties, these ‘freedom technologists’ can no longer be dismissed, particularly after Edward Snowden’s revelations about the surveillance abuses of America’s NSA and allied agencies. Based on long-term anthropological fieldwork, Gabriella Coleman’s Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy, is a riveting account of one these new collective actors: Anonymous. https://rmit.academia.edu/JohnPostill/Book-Reviews
Croeser, K. 2012. “Issue Crawler map of the digital liberties movement,” at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/9td0goc7xul7vw9/SbGgyDE0dM.
Croeser, S. (2012). Contested technologies: The emergence of the digital liberties movement. First Monday, 17(8).
The digital liberties movement is an emerging social movement that draws together activism around online censorship and surveillance, free/libre and open source software, and intellectual property. This paper uses the social movement literature’s framework to build an understanding of the movement, expanding the dominant framework by including a focus on the networks which sustain the movement. While other communities and movements have addressed these issues in the past, activists within the digital liberties movement are beginning to build a sense of a collective identity and a master frame that ties together these issues. They are doing this in online spaces, including blogs, and through campaigns around landmark issues, which also help to build the network which the movement relies upon. The 2012 campaign against the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act has highlighted the movement’s strength, but will also, perhaps, raise challenges for digital liberties activists as they confront the tension between attempts to disavow politics and a profoundly political project.
In the case of the DLM, there are a number of terms that have been used by media, scholars, and participants themselves to identify movement participants, including “infoanarchists” (Schwartz and Cha, 2000), “online civil libertarians” (Borland, 2001), “pirates”, “(anti–)intellectual property activists” (Brown, 2005), “copyfighters” (Farivar, 2008), technology activists (Doctorow, 2011a), and free culture advocates (Bayley, 2011). The emergence of ‘Anonymous’ as an identity which is increasingly available for political action is also important in this respect: as Gabriella Coleman (2012) notes, since 2008 ‘Anonymous’ has come to be associated with “an irreverent, insurgent brand of activist politics” rather than the trolling which characterised previous actions. Participants who are figuratively and/or literally wearing the ‘Anonymous’ mask have played a significant role within the DLM, including in the recent campaigns against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). Together, these emerging collective identities demonstrate the growth of the movement.
While participants in the DLM have on occasion been described as communists and/or socialists (Himanen, 2001; Kelly, 2009; Stallman, 2008), many within the movement have been quick to distance themselves from these labels. Lawrence Lessig, one of the leading proponents of creative commons licences and a key figure within the DLM, responded immediately to Kevin Kelly’s (2009) claims that digital culture was experiencing a “New Socialism”. Lessig (2009) writes that “none of the things that Kelly (and I) celebrate about the Internet are ‘socialist’” because they are based on freedom, rather than coercion.… These sentiments are representative of the mood within most of the movement, which eschews an open affiliation with left–wing and anti–capitalist ideologies.
Croeser, S. (2014). Global Justice and the Politics of Information: The Struggle Over Knowledge. Routledge.
The global social justice movement attempts to build a more equitable, democratic, and environmentally sustainable world. However, this book argues that actors involved need to recognise knowledge – including scientific and technological systems – to a greater extent than they presently do. The rise of the Occupy movement, the Arab Spring and the Wikileaks controversy has demonstrated that the internet can play an important role in helping people to organise against unjust systems. While governments may be able to control individual activists, they can no longer control the flow of information. However, the existence of new information and communications technologies does not in itself guarantee that peoples’ movements will win out against authoritarian governments or the power of economic elites. Drawing on extensive interviews and fieldwork, this book illustrates the importance of contributions from local movements around the world to the struggle for global justice. Including detailed case studies on opposition to genetically-modified crops in the south of India, and the digital liberties movement, this book is vital reading for anyone trying to understand the changing relationship between science, technology, and progressive movements around the world.
Csikszentmihályi, C. (2012). Engineering Collectives: Technology From the Coop. Limn, 1(2).
Engineers make the world, but not just as they please. Chris Csikszentmihályi recounts how engineers come to be part of one collective or another.
Csíkszentmihályi, Chris; Mukundane, Jude (2015), RootIO: Platform Design for Civic Media. figshare. http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1328001
RootIO is a civic media platform and research project in the context of rural farming communities in Uganda. The RootIO project draws from prior work in Civic Media, the design of public goods and information services for communities rather than individuals. This project presents the additional challenge of designing a participatory community information platform in a relatively low literacy, low income area with little access to ICTs. Unlike many “development” projects, it focuses on local peer production rather than top-down “behavior change” messaging. RootIO is in active development and prototype FM stations will go on air in 2015: what follows is a prospective exploration and report of current and future work. RootIO is being developed with an open-ended and iterative method, where use and failure can be tracked and analyzed in real-time.
Dahlberg-Grundberg, M. (2015). Technology as movement On hybrid organizational types and the mutual constitution of movement identity and technological infrastructure in digital activism. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 1354856515577921.
New communication technologies bring about new ways for political groups and movements to mobilize and organize. A consequence of this might be that established interpretations of and attitudes towards social movements may have to be revisited, for example, when it comes to their internal constitution and their modes of working. This interview case study looks at the digital activist cluster Telecomix and its interventions during the Arab Spring. The study addresses how the network used technological and communicational infrastructures and platforms and how it was organizationally affected by these. By using concepts such as ‘one media bias’, ‘media ecology’, ‘hybridity’ and ‘cognitive praxis’, the article aims to conceptualize how the identity of a movement and its technological infrastructure mutually constitute each other.
Dafermos, G. and Söderberg, J. 2009. ‘The hacker movement as the continuation of the labour struggle’, Capital & Class. 33 (1), 53-73.
Examining the way in which capital exploits the volunteer labour of free software developers, this article argues that there is a historical continuity between hackers and labour struggle. The common denominator is their rejection of alienated work practices, which suggests that corporate involvement in the computer underground, far from inhibiting further struggles by hackers, may function as a catalyst for them.
Deibert, R. (2008). Access denied: The practice and policy of global internet filtering. Mit Press.
Access Denied examines the political, legal, social, and cultural contexts of Internet filtering in these states from a variety of perspectives. Chapters discuss the mechanisms and politics of Internet filtering, the strengths and limitations of the technology that powers it, the relevance of international law, ethical considerations for corporations that supply states with the tools for blocking and filtering, and the implications of Internet filtering for activist communities that increasingly rely on Internet technologies for communicating their missions. Reports on Internet content regulation in forty different countries follow, with each two-page country profile outlining the types of content blocked by category and documenting key findings.
Deibert, R., Palfrey, J., Rohozinski, R., Zittrain, J., & Haraszti, M. (2010). Access controlled: The shaping of power, rights, and rule in cyberspace. Mit Press.
Internet filtering, censorship of Web content, and online surveillance are increasing in scale, scope, and sophistication around the world, in democratic countries as well as in authoritarian states. The first generation of Internet controls consisted largely of building firewalls at key Internet gateways; China’s famous “Great Firewall of China” is one of the first national Internet filtering systems. Today the new tools for Internet controls that are emerging go beyond mere denial of information. These new techniques, which aim to normalize (or even legalize) Internet control, include targeted viruses and the strategically timed deployment of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, surveillance at key points of the Internet’s infrastructure, take-down notices, stringent terms of usage policies, and national information shaping strategies. Access Controlled reports on this new normative terrain. The book, a project from the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), a collaboration of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre for International Studies, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and the