Freedom Technologists: Digital Activism and Political Change in the 21st Century (working title), Chapter 2, Freedom Technologists
ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY, PART 2
This is the twenty-ninth post in the freedom technologists series. See also:
Freedom technologists bibliography, A-L
Directory of freedom technologists
Short reading list (30 references)
Earlier Doc version (ca. 73 pages)
This is the second part (M-Z) of a working bibliography in which I bring together a large set of 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, Chris Csikszentmihályi, Victor Lasa and Vesna Manojlovic for their recommendations. Further suggestions are always welcome via email, Academia.edu or the comments section.
MacKinnon, R. (2005, January). Blogging, journalism, and credibility: Battleground and common ground. In Report from a conference held January (pp. 21-22).
[A] conference held in late January  at Harvard, at which a group of 50 journalists, bloggers, news executives, media scholars, and librarians sat down to try and make sense of the new emerging media environment. Since the conference, the resignation of CNN’s Eason Jordan and the Jeff Gannon White House incident have shown how powerful weblogs can be as a new form of citizens’ media. We are entering a new era in which professionals have lost control over information . not just the reporting of it, but also the framing of what’s important for the public to know. To what extent have blogs chipped away at the credibility of mainstream media? Is credibility a zero-sum game . in which credibility gained by blogs is lost by mainstream media and vice versa?
MacKinnon, R. (2011). China’s” networked authoritarianism”. Journal of Democracy, 22(2), 32-46.
While social networking platforms can be powerful tools in the hands of activists seeking to bring down authoritarian governments, it is unwise to assume that access to the Internet and social networking platforms alone is sufficient for democratization of repressive regimes. The case of China demonstrates how authoritarian regimes can adapt to the Internet, even using networked technologies to bolster legitimacy. The emergence of Chinese “networked authoritarianism” highlights difficult issues of policy and corporate responsibility that must be resolved in order to ensure that the Internet and mobile technologies can fulfill their potential to support liberation and empowerment.
MacKinnon, R. 2012. Consent of the Networked: The Struggle for Internet Freedom, Basic Books: New York, 2012.
In the early days of the web, some hoped that these two worlds [online and offline] would simply stay apart. In 1996, civil libertarian John Perry Barlow wrote ‘A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace’, which demanded that the governments of the physical world not impinge on the freedom of the digital one. Yet governments and corporations did impinge, with laws, law suits, and censorship. Books by Lawrence Lessig, Shanthi Kalathil and Taylor Boas, Ronald Deibert, and Jonathan Zittrain described how the Internet was regulated, legislated, divided, and monitored. Soon the freedom of the Internet was no longer a fact, but a fragile quality.
Almost 15 years later, in 2010, Secretary of State Clinton gave a speech, which proposed that the US government should promote a free Internet because it had the power to democratize societies by freeing their citizens to publicly dissent and organize. In 2011, journalist Evgeny Morozov made a big splash with his book The Net Delusion , which directly challenged this argument. Morozov counter-argued that the Internet does not particularly empower citizens, and perhaps even empowers repressive governments more through surveillance, propaganda, and censorship.
A year later Rebecca MacKinnon has again shifted the discourse: yes, the Internet does have the capacity to empower citizens and thus increase and improve democracy, but that civic power is under existential threat. MacKinnon also breaks new ground by highlighting the tremendous importance of private firms in determining the political nature of the Internet. Google, Facebook, and their peers have been kind enough to have ‘created a new, globally networked public sphere’, she notes, but that supposedly public sphere is ‘largely shaped, built, owned, and operated by the private sector’ (p. 9). This fact poses a political threat as ‘Internet and telecommunication companies have gained far too much power over citizens’ lives, in ways that are insufficiently transparent or accountable to public interest’ (p. 10).
One of her most interesting ideas is that of ‘networked authoritarianism’, the observation that a society’s citizens can be connected to one another and yet remain unfree. China, on which she is an expert, is surely the most skilled practitioner of this new form of governance. ‘Herein lies the paradox of the Chinese Internet’, she writes. ‘Public debate and even some forms of activism are expanding’ while ‘state controls and manipulation tactics have prevented democracy movements from gaining meaningful traction’ (p. 42).
MacKinnon, R. (2012). The netizen. Development, 55(2), 201-204.
Rebecca MacKinnon argues that it is no longer sufficient for people to assert their rights and responsibilities as citizens of nation-states. If the goals of global social justice and accountable governance are to be served, people now also need to assert their rights and responsibilities as netizens: citizens of a globally connected Internet. Keywords: Internet; digital civil society; citizen commons; cyberspace; accountable governance
MacKinnon, R. (2012). Rights online. Index on Censorship, 41(1), 114-115.
A manifesto by a leading digital rights campaigner and journalist.
McCarthy, M. T. (2015, June). Toward a Free Information Movement. In Sociological Forum (Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 439-458).
The past decade witnessed the emergence of numerous Internet-based social justice groups, some of which have readily apparent social roles and follow traditional organizational paths, while others occupy more ambiguous spaces, and blur any clearly demarcated lines of classification. Groups such as Anonymous and WikiLeaks present researchers with difficulty in strict categorization and as such are often labeled in ways that obscure their classification and understanding. Situating these two groups within network society and social movement literatures, this study offers a sociological explanation for the rise of these groups and attempts to knit their disparately understood practices of “hacktivism” and “journalism” together in a coherent framework. Frame analysis is employed to examine how each group attends to core framing tasks, finding that both groups do so in substantially similar ways, employing complementary frames concerning the asymmetrical distribution of information. Moreover, their embeddedness in digital information networks, and their particular opposition to information asymmetry, acts as a unifying thread that enables these apparently disparate actors to be studied within a single analytical framework as part of an emerging digital, peer-produced movement concerned with the asymmetrical distribution of information.
McCarthy, S. 2012. “Mosquitoes with cannons,” SmáriMcCarthy.com (22 January), at http://www.smarimccarthy.is/2012/01/mosquitoes-with-canons/
I’m not much of a cyberlibertarian, but I have a soft spot for them. They had a few things right, even if suffering from frontier blindness: the overarching belief of those at the frontier of human development is always that they are untouchable. History creeps up on them in their sleep. John Perry Barlow was unequivocal in his righteous demand for sovereignty and independence for Cyberspace, he foresaw that nation states were inherently incapable of existing in a post-territorial communications space. And yet somehow, due to a splendid mix of cronyism, corruption, greed and stealth, we’ve found ourselves in the situation that national interests have strong armed the debate on a field of physical infrastructure and border-theoretical governance.
The Internet is no longer free from incursion from nation states, so anything that can be understood through the delineation of national borders, encapsulated in national interests, or affected through national political processes can affect the Internet directly. Being on the defensive is not going to be a winning strategy. Money just got tight: there’s only so much blackouting we can survive.
So let’s go on the offensive. Instead of having traditional politics interfere with the Internet, it’s time for the Internet to interfere with traditional politics. The various Pirate Parties have moved us part of the way towards establishing a theory of networked information politics, but it’s nowhere near complete. There are a lot of deep fundamental questions that still need to be asked, and a lot of it’s going to require some deep philosophical navel gazing. But I think we can do it.
Not really because I have a problem with the copyright mafia, even though I do. Much more because I’ve been watching meatspace politicians and their bankrupt ideologies take humanity out for too many rodeos. They’ve long since outstayed their welcome, and they must be ousted. Networked politics, information politics, is the way to fix things. Who else is in favor of aiming our cannons at bigger targets, and quitting with the grapeshot?
Maclay, C. M. (2010). Protecting Privacy and Expression Online Can the Global Network Initiative Embrace the Character of the Net?. Access controlled: The shaping of power, rights, and rule in cyberspace, 87-108.
… a nascent multistakeholder effort called the Global Network Initiative (GNI), of which Yahoo! is a founding member. Participants evaluate human rights risks and seek opportunities to mitigate them when considering whether and how to enter a new market, [e.g. Vietnam in the case of Yahoo!]. Yahoo!’s motivations were likely diverse, but the actions were aligned with their mission, corporate health and profitability, and the preferences of at least some shareholders.
Global Network Initiative participants include ICT companies, nongovernmental organizations, investors, and academics. The founding group of companies comprises Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!. Academic participants in the GNI are Annenberg School for Communication (University of Southern California); Deirdre Mulligan, Berkeley School of Information (University of California); Berkman Center for Internet and Society (Harvard University); Rebecca MacKinnon, Journalism and Media Studies Centre (University of Hong Kong); and Research Center for Information Law (University of St. Gallen). Investors participating in the GNI are Boston Common Asset Management, Calvert Group, Domini Social Investments LLC, F&C Asset Management, KLD Research & Analytics, Inc., and Trillium Asset Management. Nongovernmental organizations participating in the GNI are Center for Democracy and Technology, Committee to Protect Journalists, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights First, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Watch, International Business Leaders Forum, Internews, and World Press Freedom Committee. The United Nations Special Representative to the Secretary General on business and human rights enjoys observer status. The drafting group also included Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, France Telecom, Teliasonera, and Vodafone, none of whom continued to participate in the GNI after launch.
McAfee, N. (2005). Insights for the Future of Public Media: A Report on the Global Voices Summit. Center for Social Media. http://www.cmsimpact.org/sites/default/files/documents/pages/mcafeegv05report.pdf
[Global Voices is] a community with a history less than a year old, a community without any physical borders (though it is grappling with linguistic ones). This is a community spread across the globe of people who communicate virtually. It is the world of Global Voices http://www.globalvoicesonline.org, an online website that “rounds up” what’s happening in the blogospheres of various parts of the mostly developing world. It is a blog that takes visitors outward to other blogs, transports people to the conversation going on in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, Eurasia, Asia, and the Pacific.
Global Voices was conceived at a meeting in December 2004 at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. (Rebecca MacKinnon’s report from that meeting can be found at http://www.personaldemocracy.com/node/208). That meeting brought together bloggers and scholars from around the world who began thinking about how to take a nascent, decentralized movement and harness it into a forum for creating a truly global conversation. The conversation was going on already, in bits and pieces; the website of Global Voices made it possible to connect the conversations. [See also Global Voices 2015 summit report below].
McCauliff, K. L. (2011). Blogging in Baghdad: The practice of collective citizenship on the blog Baghdad Burning. Communication Studies, 62(1), 58-73.
This essay examines the blog Baghdad Burning written by Iraqi woman Riverbend. In the essay, I attune to two themes found on the blog. First, I argue that Riverbend cultivates a collective democracy through a privileging of “truth” as espoused by Iraqi bloggers, and, second, I find that she challenges politically constrictive definitions of citizenship through a performance of the everyday and an advocacy of a maternal peace. After attending to the themes, I argue that Riverbend’s message of dissent becomes a way to assimilate and Americanize her, which contributes to the larger, wartime narrative that the United States has liberated Iraqi women.
McDonald, K. (2015). From Indymedia to Anonymous: rethinking action and identity in digital cultures. Information, Communication & Society, (ahead-of-print), 1-15.
The period following the social mobilizations of 2011 has seen a renewed focus on the place of communication in collective action, linked to the increasing importance of digital communications. Framed in terms of personalized ‘connective action’ or the social morphology of networks, these analyses have criticized previously dominant models of ‘collective identity’, arguing that collective action needs to be understood as ‘digital networking’. These influential approaches have been significantly constructed as a response to models of communication and action evident in the rise of Independent Media Centres in the period following 1999. After considering the rise of the ‘digital networking’ paradigm linked to analyses of Indymedia, this article considers the emergence of the internet-based collaboration known as Anonymous, focusing on its origins on the 4chan manga site and its 2008 campaign against Scientology, and also considers the ‘I am the 99%’ microblog that emerged as part of the Occupy movement. The emergence of Anonymous highlights dimensions of digital culture such as the ephemeral, the importance of memes, an ethic of lulz, the mask and the grotesque. These forms of communication are discussed in the light of dominant attempts to shape digital space in terms of radical transparency, the knowable and the calculable. It is argued that these contrasting approaches may amount to opposing social models of an emerging information society, and that the analysis of contemporary conflicts and mobilizations needs to be alert to novel forms of communicative practice at work in digital cultures today.
Meier, P. (2010) Is Ushahidi a Liberation Technology? iRevolutions, http://irevolution.net/2010/08/08/ushahidi-liberation-tech/
…What is Liberation Technology? Larry [Diamond] defines this technology as, “… any form of information and communication technology (ICT) that can expand political, social, and economic freedom. In the contemporary era, it means essentially the modern, interrelated forms of digital ICT—the computer, the Internet, the mobile phone, and countless innovative applications for them, including “new social media” such as Facebook and Twitter.”
As is perfectly well known, however, technology can also be used to repress. This should notbe breaking news. Liberation Technology vs Digital Repression. My dissertation describes this competition as an arms-race, a cyber game of cat-and-mouse. But the technology variable is not the most critical piece, as I argue in this recent Newsweek article:
“The technology variable doesn’t matter the most,” says Patrick Meier […] “It is the organizational structure that will matter the most. Rigid structures are unable to adapt as quickly to a rapidly changing environment as a decentralized system. Ultimately, it is a battle of organizational theory.”
Larry rightly notes that,
“In the end, technology is merely a tool, open to both noble and nefarious purposes. Just as radio and TV could be vehicles of information pluralism and rational debate, so they could also be commandeered by totalitarian regimes for fanatical mobilization and total state control. Authoritarian states could commandeer digital ICT to a similar effect. Yet to the extent that innovative citizens can improve and better use these tools, they can bring authoritarianism down—as in several cases they have.”
A bold statement for sure. But as Larry recognizes, it is particularly challenging to disentangle political, social and technology factors. This is why more empirical research is needed in this space which is largely limited to qualitative case-studies. We need to bring mixed-methods research to the study of digital activism in repressive environments. This is why I’m part of the Meta-Activism Project (MAP) and why I’m particularly excited to be collaborating on the development of a Global Digital Activism Dataset (GDADS).
Larry writes that Liberation Technology is also “Accountability Technology” in that “it provides efficient and powerful tools for transparency and monitoring.” This is where he describes the FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi platforms. In some respects, these tools have already served as liberation technologies. The question is, will innovative citizens improve these tools and use them more effectively to be able to bring down dictators? I’d love to know your thoughts.
Meier, P. (2011) Do “Liberation Technologies” Change the Balance of Power Between Repressive States and Civil Society? Ph.D. thesis, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. https://irevolution.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/meier-dissertation-final.pdf
Do new information and communication technologies (ICTs) empower repressive regimes at the expense of civil society, or vice versa? For example, does access to the Internet and mobile phones alter the balance of power between repressive regimes and civil society? These questions are especially pertinent today given the role that ICTs played during this year’s uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and beyond. Indeed, as one Egyptian activist stated, “We use Facebook to schedule our protests, Twitter to coordinate and YouTube to tell the world.” But do these new ICTs—so called “liberation technologies”—really threaten repressive rule? The purpose of this dissertation is to use mixed-methods research to answer these questions.
The first half of my doctoral study comprised a large-N econometric analysis to test whether “liberation technologies” are a statistically significant predictor of anti-government protests in countries with repressive regimes. If using the Internet and mobile phones facilitates organization, mobilization and coordina-tion, then one should expect a discernible link between an increase in access to ICTs and the frequency of protests—particularly in repressive states. The results of the quantitative analysis were combined with other selection criteria to identify two country case studies for further qualitative comparative analysis: Egypt and the Sudan.
The second half of the dissertation assesses the impact of “liberation technologies” during the Egyptian Parliamentary Elections and Sudanese Presidential Elections of 2010. The analysis focused specifically on the use of Ushahidi—a platform often referred to as a “liberation technology.” Descriptive analysis, process tracing and semi-structured interviews were carried out for each case study. The results of the quantitative and qualitative analyses were mixed. An increase in mobile phone access was associated with a decrease in protests for four of the five regression models. Only in one model was an increase in Internet access associated with an increase in anti-government protests. As for Ushahidi, the Egyptian and Sudanese dictatorships were indeed threatened by the technology because it challenged the status quo. Evidence suggests that this challenge tipped the balance of power marginally in favor of civil society in Egypt, but not in the Sudan, and overall not significantly.
Meier, P. (2012). Ushahidi as a liberation technology. In Liberation technology: Social media and the struggle for democracy, 95-109.
… Focusing on the Ushahidi platform also facilitates the study of concrete uses of social media, such as election monitoring. Elsewhere in this volume, Larry Diamond has referred to the Ushahidi platform as an example of a liberation and accountability technology.What is missing, however, is research to support these claims. …U-Shahid helped to reverse or at least fight back against this government-constructed panopticon, and this may have helped to pave the way for the 2011 revolution that toppled Mubarak. The Egyptian case demonstrates the value of geomapping as an important liberation technology.
Mejias, U. A. (2012). FCJ-147 Liberation Technology and the Arab Spring: From Utopia to Atopia and Beyond. The Fibreculture Journal, (20 2012: Networked Utopias and Speculative Futures).
While the tendency in the West to refer to the Arab Spring movements as ‘Twitter Revolutions’ has passed, a liberal discourse of ‘liberation technology’ (information and communication technologies that empower grassroots movements) continues to influence our ideas about networked participation. Unfortunately, this utopian discourse tends to circumvent any discussion of the capitalist market structure in which these tools operate. In this paper, I suggest that liberation technologies may in fact increase opportunities for political participation, but that they simultaneously create certain kinds of inequalities. I end by proposing a theoretical framework for locating alternative practices of participation and liberation.
Milberry, K. (2009). Geeks and global justice: another (cyber) world is possible (Doctoral dissertation, Simon Fraser University).
Using the framework of critical constructivism, I analyze how tech activists consciously design technology that embodies values of equality, freedom and justice. Their creation and appropriation of free software indicates a more general argument for open knowledge production as the basis for a new mode of work, and indeed, a new set of social relations. In reconstructing the internet along a democratic model and through a democratic process, I argue, tech activists are creating a model of social organization that is radically transformative, refusing the reductive limits of the neoliberal world order, and enacting the possibility of a better world now.
Milberry, K. (2014). # OccupyTech. In Activist Science and Technology Education (pp. 255-268). Springer Netherlands.
Occupy Wall Street grew rapidly from an internet meme and tent city in the heart of America’s financial sector to a global revolt against neoliberal capitalism. Focusing on economic inequality and corruption in the banking industry, Occupy drew attention to the plight of the majority of people suffering under neoliberal globalization. Its slogan, “We are the 99 %,” references the growing concentration of income and wealth among the top one percent of income earners in the United States. Within weeks, the protest had self-replicated, with occupations cropping up in 900 cities around the world. Evidently, it spoke a common language of hope, rage and refusal that had been unleashed by the Arab Spring almost a year earlier. The internet was crucial to the birth and proliferation of the Occupy Movement, enabling protestors to overcome the initial media embargo against Occupy Wall Street and began airing their concerns via social media. The #Occupy hashtags were powerful signifiers that enabled the ideas, sentiments and spirit of the protest to diffuse, evolving from a movement tactic into a global phenomenon. This chapter traces Occupy’s roots in the recent history of internetworked social movements and examining its dual nature as a simultaneously virtual-physical phenomenon. It considers the essential role of tech activists in building the technical infrastructure of Occupy, using free and open source technology (FOSS) as well as corporate social media to bridge the online/offline divide. Finally, this chapter discusses Occupy as a distributed platform upon which a global super-movement is currently being built. Keywords: Internet • Social movements • Tech activism • Occupy • Philosophy of technology • Social media • Free software
Milan, S. (2013a). Social movements and their technologies: Wiring social change. Palgrave Macmillan.
Social Movements and their Technologies explores the interplay between social movements and their ‘liberated technologies’. It analyzes the rise of low-power radio stations and radical internet projects (’emancipatory communication practices’) as a political subject, focusing on the sociological and cultural processes at play. It provides an overview of the relationship between social movements and technology, and investigates what is behind the communication infrastructure that made possible the main protest events of the past fifteen years. In doing so, Stefania Milan illustrates how contemporary social movements organize in order to create autonomous alternatives to communication systems and networks, and how they contribute to change the way people communicate in daily life, as well as try to change communication policy from the grassroots. She situates these efforts in a historical context in order to show the origins of contemporary communication activism, and its linkages to media reform campaigns and policy advocacy.
Milan, S. (2013b). WikiLeaks, anonymous, and the exercise of individuality: Protesting in the cloud. Beyond Wikileaks: Implications for the future of communications, journalism and society, 191-209.
Milan, S., & Hintz, A. (2013). Networked Collective Action and the Institutionalized Policy Debate: Bringing Cyberactivism to the Policy Arena?. Policy & Internet, 5(1), 7-26.
New forms of networked action and informal collaboration are challenging traditional notions of civil society. Based on the proliferation of new technologies, and spurred by the spread of trans-border delocalized communities and the increasing disillusionment with traditional forms of political organization, civic action is becoming increasingly flexible, temporary, and elusive. This type of nontraditionally organized collective action often stays below the radar of public discourse, unless it is propelled to the spotlight because of international political developments such as the WikiLeaks case (and the related actions by the cyberactivist network Anonymous) and the mass protests in Northern Africa and the Middle East (and the role of social networking tools in these uprisings). In this article, we investigate the interactions and (in)compatibilities of Internet-based networked collective action with institutionalized spaces of policy debate. We begin by characterizing online networked action as an emerging form of organized civil society, focusing on the realm of cyberactivists who are building and using cyber-infrastructure (“grassroots tech groups”). In particular, we examine their values, identity features, and organizational forms. Based on this analysis, we explore two dimensions in which cyberactivism challenges established forms of institutionalized policy debate: the structural dimension and the realm of action repertoires. We ask whether these new forms of civil society are structurally compatible with current multistakeholder governance, and we discuss their repertoires of action with regard to policy advocacy and policy interventions, and thus the level and type of their engagement with governance processes and institutions. Keywords: networked collective action; policy; cyberactivism; multistakeholder governance; civil society participation; Internet governance.
Monterde, A., M. Aguilera, X. Barandiaran, A. Calleja-Lopez, J. Postill 2015. Multitudinous identities: a qualitative and network analysis of the 15M collective identity, Information, Communication and Society. Vol. 18, Iss. 8.
The emergence of network-movements since 2011 has opened the debate around the way in which social media and networked practices make possible innovative forms of collective identity. We briefly review the literature on social movements and ‘collective identity’, and show the tension between different positions stressing either organization or culture, the personal or the collective, aggregative or networking logics. We argue that the 15M (indignados) network-movement in Spain demands conceptual and methodological innovations. Its rapid emergence, endurance, diversity, multifaceted development and adaptive capacity, posit numerous theoretical and methodological challenges. We show how the use of structural and dynamic analysis of interaction networks (in combination with qualitative data) is a valuable tool to track the shape and change of what we term the ‘systemic dimension’ of collective identities in network-movements. In particular, we introduce a novel method for synchrony detection in Facebook activity to identify the distributed, yet integrated, coordinated activity behind collective identities. Applying this analytical strategy to the 15M movement, we show how it displays a specific form of systemic collective identity we call ‘multitudinous identity’, characterized by social transversality and internal heterogeneity, as well as a transient and distributed leadership driven by action initiatives. Our approach attends to the role of distributed interaction and transient leadership at a mesoscale level of organizational dynamics, which may contribute to contemporary discussions of collective identity in network-movements.
Morin, J. F. (2014). Paradigm shift in the global IP regime: The agency of academics. Review of international political economy, 21(2), 275-309.
The global intellectual property (IP) regime is in the midst of a paradigm shift in favour of greater access to protected work. Current explanations of this paradigm shift emphasize the agency of transnational advocacy networks, but ignore the role of academics. Scholars interested in global IP politics have failed to engage in reflexive thinking. Building on the results from a survey of 1679 IP experts, this article argues that a community of academics successfully broke the policy monopoly of practitioners over IP expertise. They instilled some scepticism concerning the social and economic impacts of IP among their students as well as in the broader community of IP experts. They also provided expert knowledge that was widely amplified by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and some intergovernmental organizations, acting as echo chambers to reach national decision makers. By making these claims, this article illustrates how epistemic communities actively collaborate with other transnational networks, rather than competing with them, and how they can promote a paradigm change by generating, rather than reducing, uncertainty.
Morozov, E. (2011). WikiLeaks and the perils of extreme glasnost. New Perspectives Quarterly, 28(1), 7-11.
Is Internet freedom an absolute, universal value like freedom of speech? If there are limits, how and by whom can they be established? Is crying fire or scaling firewalls anymore acceptable in cyberspace than in physical space? What is the impact on the discourse between nations, cultures and individuals? In this section, we gather a collage of comments from various key players from Google to Wikileaks to the US State Department along with comments by one of the most cogent analysts of the Net and the president of Turkey.
Morozov, E. (2012). The net delusion: The dark side of Internet freedom. PublicAffairs.
Two delusions in particular concern Morozov: “cyber-utopianism”, the belief that the culture of the internet is inherently emancipatory; and “internet-centrism”, the belief that every important question about modern society and politics can be framed in terms of the internet. Put so starkly, such extreme beliefs may sound laughable, yet he sees them in action everywhere: from the misguided belief that Twitter could foment revolution in Iran in 2009 (on the eve of the elections, the country had fewer than 20,000 Twitter users) to the naive hope that instant international exposure via new media will necessarily result in a diminishing of violence in Africa and the Middle East. Moreover, Morozov argues, the west’s reckless promotion of technological tools as pro-democratic agents has provoked authoritarian regimes to crack down on online activity in some style: not just closing down or blocking websites, but using social networks to infiltrate protest groups and track down protesters, seeding their own propaganda online, and generally out-resourcing and out-smarting their beleaguered citizenry. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/jan/09/net-delusion-morozov-review
Morozov, E. (2014). To save everything, click here: The folly of technological solutionism. PublicAffairs.
Newsflash: the internet doesn’t exist. If you think there is just one thing called “the Internet” with a single logic and set of values – rather than a variety of different networked technologies, each with its own character and challenges – and that the rest of the world must be reshaped around it, then you are an “Internet-centrist”. If you think the messiness and inefficiency of political and cultural life are problems that should be fixed using technology, then you are a “solutionist”… But Morozov’s attacks go deeper than a righteous ridicule – he also interrogates the intellectual foundations of the cybertheorists, and finds that, often, they have cherry-picked ideas from the scholarly literature that are at best highly controversial in their own fields. His readings in this vein of Clay Shirky, Steven Johnson, David Weinberger and numerous other cyberintellectuals are suavely devastating. http://www.theguardian.com/global/2013/mar/20/save-everything-evgeny-morozov-review
Mikhaylova, G. (2014). The “Anonymous” movement: hacktivism as an emerging form of political participation (Doctoral dissertation, Texas State University).
This thesis focuses on the phenomenon of hacktivism, and specifically the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous. Hacktivists can be defined as politically motivated hackers. Hacktivists are different from other types of hackers because their motivations are driven by the pursuit of social change, as opposed to seeking profit or intellectual pursuit. Hacktivism is a new controversial form of civic participation, which will most likely continue to have an impact on the Internet and the world. A lack of detailed sociological research on hacktivists serves as the rationale for this study. This study specifically focused on the experiences of the hacktivist community in the United States, known under the name of Anonymous. This thesis focused on, but is not limited to: a) examining how members of Anonymous define themselves, as well as how security professionals (a.k.a. ethical hackers) define or view hacktivists; b) how hacktivists operate and/or organize; and c) examining hacktivist culture and ethical stances (including whether hacktivism can be considered permissible or ethical). My research employed two primary strategies: content analysis of the Anonymous message boards and in-depth interviews with security professionals. The two approaches were meant to be complimentary: while the content analysis draws a picture of how members of Anonymous see themselves and their goals; the interviews were meant to draw the picture of how others view or understand hacktivists.
Norris Martin, K. (2014). Review of Rewire: digital cosmopolitans in the age of connection Reissued in 2014 as: Digital cosmopolitans: why we think the Internet connects us, why it doesn’t, and how to rewire it. Consumption Markets & Culture, (ahead-of-print), 1-4.
Rewire is a thoughtful exploration, based on decades of real-world experience, of what the Internet changes and what it does not. Perhaps Zuckerman avoided a heavy-handed framework in this text because of his own experiences as the director of the MIT Center for Civic Media and founder of Geekcorps, PenPlusBytes and Global Voices Online. Zuckerman explains that although he is more proud of Global Voices than any of the other projects he has built, there was a “real sense” that he and co-founder Rebecca MacKinnon failed in their objectives. He had hoped Global Voices would influence agenda setting but instead, as he puts it, it offers “reporters a way to get quotes from countries experiencing sudden turmoil, rather than using us [Global Voices] to find important unreported stories before they break” (128). In many ways, Global Voices serves as a case study for a multitude of Zuckerman’s points. As Zuckerman suggests, in an effort to use the Internet to encounter a wider understanding of the world, Global Voices presents a lesson in the power and weakness of personal connections. With this kind of realization, through an honest evaluation of a project with which he felt such a personal connection, Zuckerman establishes a trusted ethos, a nuanced view of Internet connections without the arrogance that we perceive by many technological writers as if they can predict the future.
Oates, S. (2015). Towards an Online Bill of Rights. In The Onlife Manifesto (pp. 229-243). Springer International Publishing.
Online citizens need a digital ‘Bill of Rights’ that will protect their interests from being overwhelmed by commercial and state forces. Moving on from an outdated notion of cyber-utopia, citizens need to assert six key rights: the right to privacy, the right to own your own data, the right to a personal life, the right to avoid being forced offline for safety, the ability to switch off when needed as well as public spaces for civic debate online. Although different manifestoes and declarations about digital rights have asserted many of these principles, the internet still lacks effective governance or even norms to protect individuals. As a result, the social potential and positive affordances of the internet may be lost without government intervention to assert fundamental rights for online citizens. The key to unlocking the potential of self-aware, online governance lays in greater effort by state Leviathans such as the European Commission. It is time to stop talking about cyber-utopias and start creating cyber-preserves before the potential benefit of the internet to a democratic society is lost. Keywords: Digital rights Online manifesto Internet privacy Digital freedom Internet state policy Internet governance.
Olson, P. (2012). We are anonymous: Inside the hacker world of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the global cyber insurgency. Little, Brown.
[The] first full account of how a loosely assembled group of hackers scattered across the globe formed a new kind of insurgency, seized headlines, and tortured the feds-and the ultimate betrayal that would eventually bring them down. Parmy Olson goes behind the headlines and into the world of Anonymous and LulzSec with unprecedented access, drawing upon hundreds of conversations with the hackers themselves, including exclusive interviews with all six core members of LulzSec.
Owen, T. (2015). Disruptive Power: The Crisis of the State in the Digital Age. Oxford University Press, USA.
Anonymous. WikiLeaks. The Syrian Electronic Army. Edward Snowden. Bitcoin. The Arab Spring. Digital communication technologies have thrust the calculus of global political power into a period of unprecedented complexity. In every aspect of international affairs, digitally enabled actors are changing the way the world works and disrupting the institutions that once held a monopoly on power. No area is immune: humanitarianism, war, diplomacy, finance, activism, or journalism. In each, the government departments, international organizations and corporations who for a century were in charge, are being challenged by a new breed of international actor. Online, networked and decentralized, these new actors are innovating, for both good and ill, in the austere world of foreign policy. They are representative of a wide range of 21st century global actors and a new form of 21st century power: disruptive power.
Park, D. W. (2009). Blogging with authority: Strategic positioning in political blogs. International Journal of Communication, 3, 24.
Blogs have quickly become prominent parts of the Internet landscape. Attention has largely been focused on a small subset of blogs — the politically-oriented filter blog. This paper examines four of the most-noticed blogs: Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish, Mickey Kaus’s Kausfiles, Glenn Reynolds’ InstaPundit, and Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo. Using a grounded, qualitative technique, I analyze the methods these bloggers use to cast themselves as authoritative commentators in the world of politics. We find that their authority is largely staked out through their assertions of differences from journalism and of commonality with the audience. Concluding remarks explore the tension between bloggers and journalists and suggest that the success of these bloggers has much to do with how they have managed to position themselves rhetorically.
Pieterse, J. N. (2012). Leaking Superpower: WikiLeaks and the contradictions of democracy. Third World Quarterly, 33(10), 1909-1924.
While US government agencies endorse and support the democratic potential of the internet and social media overseas, the criticisms of the WikiLeaks disclosures of US diplomatic cables reveal the bias in relation to transparency and democracy. This poses a wider problem of connectivity combined with hegemony. This paper discusses what the criticisms of the WikiLeaks disclosures reveal. After discussing the enthusiasm about ‘hyperconnectivity’, the paper turns to the WikiLeaks disclosures, and next spells out global ramifications of the leaked cables, the problems of transparency and hegemony, frictions between democracy and democratisation, and the role of banks blocking donations to WikiLeaks.
Poitras, L. (2014). Citizenfour. Praxis Films. https://citizenfourfilm.com
In January 2013, Laura Poitras started receiving anonymous encrypted e-mails from “CITIZENFOUR,” who claimed to have evidence of illegal covert surveillance programs run by the NSA in collaboration with other intelligence agencies worldwide. Five months later, she and reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The resulting film is history unfolding before our eyes. Written by Anonymous
Politico Magazine (2015) Marvin Ammori, Susan Crawford, Tim Wu. Legal scholars, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia universities: The open-Internet brigade. http://www.politico.com/magazine/politico50/2015/marvin-ammori-susan-crawford-tim-wu#ixzz3lXMsRjY4
This year, the obscure tech-politics debate over whether and how we pay to use the Internet leaped into the mainstream, attracting the voices of Silicon Valley’s top brass, a late-night comedian, millions of disgruntled broadband service consumers and the president. But net neutrality’s big moment was a long time coming, with a varied group of cyber law scholars each making a push for an open Internet.
It was in 2003—pre-Facebook, Twitter and the rest—that Tim Wu first coined the term “net neutrality,” referring to the idea that Internet service providers shouldn’t be able to charge different amounts for different kinds of websites and applications. Seven years later, he, Marvin Ammori and Susan Crawford together wrote an eight-page letter to the Federal Communications Commission arguing for regulations that would prevent Internet service providers from slowing down or blocking some websites’ content while speeding up others’. The rules the FCC eventually imposed, though far from ideal in the eyes of cyber law activists, were struck down in 2014, and the FCC’s new chairman, Tom Wheeler, then proposed yet another set of rules that many saw as worse, essentially allowing for the two-tiered online system that Internet service providers were pining for.
Postigo, H. (2008). Capturing fair use for the YouTube generation: The digital rights movement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the user-centered framing of fair use. Information, communication & society, 11(7), 1008-1027.
This article undertakes an analysis of strategic framing strategies in the Digital Rights Movement by the movement’s central Social Movement Organization (SMO), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Through analysis of a series of interviews with key members of the EFF and analysis of the EFF’s ‘Endangered Gizmos’ campaign in response to the MGM vs Grokster case, this article shows how the organization strategically frames consumers as users’ and fair use in user-centered fashion. In so doing the EFF develops a legitimizing rationale for expanding consumer privileges in copyrighted works. The analysis shows that the user-centered notion of fair use articulates with broader historical and emerging trends in media consumption/use and thus finds accepting audiences both within the movement and outside of it.
Postigo, H. (2012a). The digital rights movement: the role of technology in subverting digital copyright. MIT Press. See review: http://bit.ly/1hWXKap
The movement against restrictive digital copyright protection arose largely in response to the excesses of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. In this book, Hector Postigo shows that what began as an assertion of consumer rights to digital content has become something broader: a movement concerned not just with consumers and gadgets but with cultural ownership. Increasingly stringent laws and technological measures are more than inconveniences; they lock up access to our “cultural commons.” Carlos A. Arrébola finds this book gives a very detailed and objective history of the on-going debate around digital copyright.
Postigo, H. (2012b). Cultural production and the digital rights movement. Information, Communication and Society, 15(8), 1165-1185.
The Digital Rights Movement is an effort by activists and advocacy organizations to expand consumer rights in media content use. A central argument for legitimating those rights pivots on a view of culture as a participatory endeavour. This article focuses on the Movement’s use of the discourse of culture and digital technology describing (1) how the Movement positions culture as necessarily participatory; (2) the role of mediating technologies in achieving a culture that is participatory; and (3) the connection of those visions to a discourse of free speech in the form of what is termed here, remix speech. The article suggests that adopting this view of culture and media consumption can result in a politics of participatory culture, where the political economic arrangements of the cultural industries and consumers are realigned.
Postill, J. 2011, Localizing the Internet: An Anthropological Account, Berghahn. Oxford and New York.
Internet activism is playing a crucial role in the democratic reform happening across many parts of Southeast Asia. Focusing on Subang Jaya, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, this study offers an in-depth examination of the workings of the Internet at the local level. In fact, Subang Jaya is regarded as Malaysia’s electronic governance laboratory. The author explores its field of residential affairs, a digitally mediated social field in which residents, civil servants, politicians, online journalists and other social agents struggle over how the locality is to be governed at the dawn of the ‘Information Era’. Drawing on the field theories of both Pierre Bourdieu and the Manchester School of political anthropology, this study challenges the unquestioned predominance of ‘network’ and ‘community’ as the two key sociation concepts in contemporary Internet studies. The analysis extends field theory in four new directions, namely the complex articulations between personal networking and social fields, the uneven diffusion and circulation of new field technologies and contents, intra- and inter-field political crises, and the emergence of new forms of residential sociality.
Postill, J. 2012, ‘Digital politics and political engagement‘, in H. Horst and D. Miller (eds) Digital Anthropology. Oxford, Berg.
The growing use of digital media by political actors of all kinds (including politicians, journalists, activists, and religious leaders) has given rise to a thriving literature, albeit one that is divided along disciplinary and technological lines. It is only very recently that the term ‘digital politics’ has begun to acquire currency. This appears to signal the birth of an interdisciplinary field that studies both the digitisation of traditional politics as well as the rise of new forms of political life originating in the digital world, such as Wikileaks or the Anonymous movement. Whilst there is as yet no digital politics textbook, three useful entry points into the subfield of Internet politics are Chadwick and Howard’s (2008) Routledge Handbook of Internet Politics, Oates, Owen and Gibson’s (2006) The Internet and Politics, and Chadwick’s (2006) Internet Politics. In this chapter I start with four review sections that cover similar ground to the material discussed in these works, although I broaden the inquiry to include mobile media. For example, I title the next section ‘digital government’ rather than ‘e-government’ – the latter a term usually associated with the internet but not with mobile technologies. The subsequent sections exemplify the application of an anthropological approach to the study of digital politics. Drawing from my own fieldwork in Malaysia and Spain, I argue that anthropology brings to this nascent field a rich political lexicon, processual analyses, ground-up comparisons and participatory research. I conclude with a brief discussion of the potential for future anthropological studies in this area.
Postill, J. (2014) Freedom technologists and the new protest movements: a theory of protest formulas, Convergence 20 (3), pp. 402-418.
In this article, I draw from anthropological fieldwork in Spain and secondary research on Tunisia and Iceland to explore the connection between Internet freedom activism and post-2008 protest movements. I introduce two new concepts: ‘freedom technologists’ and ‘protest formulas’. I use the term freedom technologists to refer to those social agents who combine technological and political skills to pursue greater Internet and democratic freedoms, which they regard as being inextricably entwined. Far from being techno-utopians or deluded ‘slacktivists’ (Morozov, 2013, Skoric, 2012), I argue that 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. I also differentiate among freedom technologists, singling out three main specialists for their strong contribution to the new movements, namely hackers/geeks, tech lawyers and online journalists. The second new coinage I develop is protest formulas. This term refers to the unique compound of societal forces and outcomes that characterizes each protest movement – as well as each phase or initiative within a movement. In this article, I track the influence of freedom technologists on emerging protest movements as they interact with other agents within these political compounds.
Postill, J. (2014). A Critical History of Internet Activism and Social Protest in Malaysia, 1998-2011. Asiascape: Digital Asia, 1(1-2), 78-103.
This article asks two related questions. First, to what extent has internet activism shaped social protest in Malaysia from the late 1990s to the present? Second, what can the history of internet activism and social protest in Malaysia tell us, if anything, about the 2011 global wave of protests? To address these questions I distinguish three key moments in Malaysia’s eventful history of internet activism and social protest, namely the 1998-1999 reformasi movement, the electoral ‘tsunami’ of 2008 (in which the ruling coalition lost its two-thirds majority), and the Bersih 2.0 rallies of 2011. I argue that Bersih 2.0 is best explained as both the latest episode in a series of uniquely Malaysian techno-political events and as a local variant of the global wave of protests of 2011 – a wave in which hackers, online journalists, and technology lawyers, as well as ordinary citizens using digital media, played an important part. The article ends with a summary and with suggestions for further research.
Postill, J. 2016. Freedom technologists and the future of global justice, State of Power 2016. TNI.
In the wake of early 2010s upheavals such as the Arab Spring, Spain’s indignados, or the global Occupy movement, many commentators were quick to either invoke the presumed tech-savvy of ‘digital natives’ or the purported ‘cyber-utopianism’ of net freedom advocates who supported the protests. But what role have internet freedom activists – or ‘freedom technologists’ – played in ongoing struggles for progressive political change around the world and how can the pursuit of liberty be combined with the struggle for social justice?
Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology. Vintage.
Postman defines “Technopoly” as a society which believes “the primary, if not the only, goal of human labor and thought is efficiency, that technical calculation is in all respects superior to human judgment … and that the affairs of citizens are best guided and conducted by experts.”  Postman argues that the United States is the only country to have developed into a technopoly. He claims that the U.S has been inundated with technophiles who do not see the downside of technology. This is dangerous because technophiles want more technology and thus more information. However, according to Postman, it is impossible for a technological innovation to have only a one-sided effect. With the ever-increasing amount of information available Postman argues that: “Information has become a form of garbage, not only incapable of answering the most fundamental human questions but barely useful in providing coherent direction to the solution of even mundane problems.”
Powell, A. (2012). Assessing the influence of online activism on Internet policy-making: The case of SOPA/PIPA and ACTA (March 30, 2012).
This paper analyzes the influence of online activism, especially technical activist actions like web blackouts, on the policy-making process. It compares the actions associated with anti-SOPA campaigns in the United States with campaigns against ACTA in Europe. In order to investigate the various linked aspects of internet activism’s impact on policy change, this paper examines how online activism shifted the ways that these bills were covered by the popular press and how press coverage modeled new frames. In the United States, salient actions included suspended access to web sites including Wikipedia, symbolic actions such as ‘black outs’ of some website content, and mobilization efforts including invitations to contact elected representatives. For European advocates organizing against ACTA, this meant that some new frames for action were available in the early months of 2012. This analysis contributes to contemporary readings of ‘mediated opportunity structures’ by focusing on two new aspects: the mediatized nature of contemporary activism (especially ‘recursive’ activism that uses disruption of internet communications to draw attention to digital rights) and the significance for policy making of claims that the internet is ‘exceptional.’
Powers, S. M., & Jablonski, M. (2015). The Real Cyber War: The Political Economy of Internet Freedom. University of Illinois Press.
“As governments, companies, civil society, and other stakeholders struggle towards a new global information and communication order in the post-Snowden world, this equally provocative and important book cuts through the Western rhetoric of ‘Internet freedom’ and draws a sobering picture of how policy-making in this space is ultimately a fight for control over information, which is largely driven by economic and geopolitical interests rather than democratic ideals and human rights.”–Urs Gasser, Executive Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University
“More comprehensive than most work on global internet politics because it incorporates perspectives from a wider range of interests around the world. The treatment of China is strong, as are the examples from emerging nations.”–Vincent Mosco, author of To the Cloud: Big Data in a Turbulent World
Raymond, E. (1999). The cathedral and the bazaar. Knowledge, Technology & Policy, 12(3), 23-49.
I anatomize a successful open-source project, fetchmail, that was run as a deliberate test of some theories about software engineering suggested by the history of Linux. I discuss these theories in terms of two fundamentally different development styles, the “cathedral” model, representing most of the commercial world, versus the “bazaar” model of the Linux world. I show that these models derive from opposing assumptions about the nature of the software-debugging task. I then make a sustained argument from the Linux experience for the proposition that “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow,” suggest productive analogies with other self-correcting systems of selfish agents, and conclude with some exploration of the implications of this insight for the future of software.<