Tuesday, November 22
20.00 – 22.00 > > Speakers’ dinner
Wednesday, November 23
09.30 – 10.30 > > Launch speeches
Geert Lovink (Institute of Network cultures)
Korinna Patelis (Cyprus University of Technology)
10.30 – 12.30 > SESSION 1
>Social Media in the Middle East and Beyond
The justified response to downplay the role of Facebook in early 2011 events in Tunisia and Egypt by putting social media in a larger perspective has not taken off the table the question of how to organize social mobilizations. Which specific software do the ‘movements of squares’ need? What happens to social movements when the internet and ICT networks are shut down? How does the interruption of internet services shift the nature of activism? How have repressive and democratic governments responded to the use of ‘liberation technologies’? How do these technologies change the relationship between the state and its citizens? How are governments using the same social media tools for surveillance and propaganda or highjacking Facebook identities, such as happened in Syria? What is Facebook’s own policy when deleting or censoring accounts of its users? How can technical infrastructures be supported which are not shutdown upon request? How much does our agency depend on communication technology nowadays? And whom do we exclude with every click? How can we envision ‘organized networks’ that are based on ‘strong ties’ yet open enough to grow quickly if the time is right? Which software platforms are best suited for the ‘tactical camping’ movements that occupy squares all over the world?
Moderator: Christopher Kyriakides [ETHCOM]
Sara Hamdy El Khalili [EG ]- “Social Media as a government propaganda tool in post-revolution Egypt”
Egypt’s netizens succeeded in mobilizing for the Jan.25th revolution using social media. The revolution which started as an event on the social networking site Facebook.com took the world by storm when Egyptians succeeded in overthrowing a dictator who ruled the country for almost three decades. For the past few years in Egypt, social media became a powerful tool used by citizens to uncover corruption, mobilize for protests, and act as real watchdog over the mainstream media and the government. Although social media have mostly been used by citizens as a platform for public opinion expression and mobilization, they have become important propaganda tools used by governments. In the case of Egypt, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) realized the need to speak the same language of the Egyptian youth and to build bridges of communication with them as well as to issue counter propaganda. This presentation will mainly focus SCAF’s Facebook propaganda and analyze how citizens react to actions or messages propagated by SCAF on social media. The presentation will also shed light on how other government entities such as MOI and the Cabinet use social media as a propaganda tool in post-revolution Egypt.
Rasha Allam [ EG ]– “Impact of social media networks on traditional media and regulatory issues”
The social media has played a vital role in the mobilization of the Egyptians during and after the 25th of January Egyptian Revolution. And since, it has been considered one of the main tools of news. The user generated content has made the citizen journalist to become a fact that no one can deny, and it has affected the relationship between citizens and the state. However, questions about credibility exist. This presentation will focus on the impact of social networks on the traditional media and will outline the importance of internet regulations.
Bassyouni Hamada [ EG ]– “Social networks and egyptian revolution: dimensions of media power, people power and political democratization”
This presentation studies the linkages between social networks – particularly Facebook, YouTube and Twitter – and the Egyptian revolution of January 2011. In Egypt, though many scholars refer to the revolution as a Facebook or e-revolution there is no systematic research on the impact of social networks on the revolution; nor is it possible to say for sure that the revolution would not have happened without the use of social networks. Despite the surge in scholarly attention to social networks, little has been paid to their political utility or to the link between social media use and the power of the media in the transformation from dictator regimes to democratic systems. Several scholarly works prove that social networks freedom is closely related to the empowerment of people, independence of media, lack of censorship and forming opposition political tr
12.30 – 14.00 < Lunch – Iroon Square >
14.00 – 15.00 > SESSION 2
Moderator: Geert Lovink [ NL ]
Oliver Leistert [ HU ]– “Generation Facebook“
Facebook – as it seems – is here to stay; at least for some time. Further and further it digs into the social fabric. Misusing people’s desire for belonging to commodify everyday life and the immaterial. With “Generation Facebook”, Theo Röhle and Oliver Leistert have published a collected volume that discusses the Facebook machine roughly from the perspectives of: i. political economy, business model, users involved ii. neoliberal subjectivation, pastoral power iii. issues of “privacy” and data protection iv. protest and campaigns v. methodological issues how to research Facebook. This presentation will share the findings of the book and sketch some thoughts about why Facebook is so sucessful.
Marc Stumpel [ NL ] – “FB Resistance”
FB Resistance is a research initiative accepting the status quo of Facebook being the dominant social identity management system, researching on the ways to change its rules and functionality from inside the system. Facebook sets the rules of how-to behave, so we’re asking: Are we happy with the interface, features and rules or do we want to change them? This creative intervention is all about challenging and bending the rules to make the best of the book many of us cannot put down. What happens when fed-up users choose to stay on Facebook and modify it through their browsers? How can we best explore the freedom acquired through ‘augmented browsing’?
15.00 – 17.00 > SESSION 3
Social Media Activism and the Critique of Liberation Technology
Moderator: Dionisis Panos [ CY ]
Achilles Peklaris [GR ] -”Send tweets, not troops”
On February 2010 the U.S. State Department organized a trip for thirty internet oriented journalists from all over the world, called “The Social Media Tour”. They took us to all big Washington DC institutions, like the White House, the Capitol and the State Department, to explain to us Obama’s obsession on diplomacy via social networks and spotlight his famous speech in Cairo and Hillary’s tweets to the Arab world. Then, they took us straight to the West Coast and the Silicon Valley headquarters of Facebook, Google/YouTube and Twitter to confirm their very important role in the US foreign policy. It all sounded quite good – “Send tweets. Not troops” – and that’s a major shift in America’s diplomacy.
Exactly a year after that, on February 2011, the “Arab Spring” bursts out in Egypt and Tunisia – and guess what: it’s all organized through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. A few months later, I find myself in Athens’ Syntagma Square, where this time nearly a million Greeks gather in anger to protest against the austerity measures of Papandreou government – and again, Facebook is what got them together and youTube is the place where all the police brutality is being revealed. Today, I just arrived in Shanghai, China and just realized that all american-based social networks aren’t functioning here – the access is denied to everyone who’s standing on chinese territory. So, do chinese communists know best? Maybe. But then, if Gaddafi, Ben Ali and Mumbarak were chinese, would they still be around?
Pavlos Chatzopoulos [ GR ] – “Becoming cockraches @Syntagma square”
Demonstrations create the conditions for the production of new subjectivities. The storming of the winter palace in St. Petersburg or the evasion of the red lines of the Seattle police was a constituent moment for the proletarian masses and the multitude, respectively. The presentation explores the possibilities opened up by the tactics of becoming cockroach for the indignados movement with reference to the continuing protests in Athens’s Syntagma square. How do the tactics of becoming cockroach (a mixture of stasis, perseverance and endurance,) potentially subvert the existing power relations within urban / digital networks?
D. E. Wittkower [ U.S.A. ] – “Terrorism, Technology, and Direct Action” SKYPE SESSION
Terrorism is a technique of asymmetric warfare in which the weaker side does not attempt to destroy the offensive capability of the stronger (as in sabotage), does not attempt to create or subvert strategic advantage (as in espionage), and does not attempt to remove command capabilities (as in assassination), but instead attempts to raise an issue in the public mind. The goal of terrorism is not death and destruction, but a change in awareness and values, and the fundamental concerns of terrorism have to do with combat against apathy, nihilism, and the tyranny of bureaucracy that Arendt called “rule by Nobody.” This structural analysis is borne out by the words of terrorists and those associated with terrorism, and evidence will be presented from the writings of Usama bin Laden, Sayyid Qutb, Theodore Kaczynski, Paul Hill, and Joseph Stack.
The implicit and explicit purpose of terrorist action, while details may vary, is generically oriented toward a revolutionary insurgency against a society which has desires and market forces at its center rather than human values and identity. The process of this insurgency, based as it is on an asymmetrical struggle, should be based on the appropriation and repurposing of the technologies of nihilism. The proper response to terrorism, I argue, is to find non-terrorist means of taking direct action in technologically-enabled insurgency.
17.00 – 18.00 < Coffee Break >
18.00 – 20.30 > SESSION 4
>Political Economy: Social Media Monopolies
Social media culture is belied in American corporate capitalism, dominated by the logic of start-ups and venture capital, management buyouts, IPOs etc. Three to four companies literally own the Western social media landscape and capitalize on the content produced by millions of people around the world. One thing is evident about the market structure of social media: one-to-many is not giving way to many-to-many without first going through many-to-one. What power do these companies actually have? Is there any evidence that such ownership influences user-generated content? How does this ownership express itself structurally and in technical terms? What conflicts arise when a platform like Facebook is appropriated for public or political purposes, while access to the medium can easily be denied by the company? Facebook is worth billions, does that really mean something for the average user?
Moderator: Korinna Patelis [ CY ]
Robert W. Gehl [ U.S.A ]– “Real (software) abstractions: On the rise of Facebook and the fall of MySpace”
How did Facebook become the social media monopoly it is? Although there are many factors determining Facebook’s dominance of social networking, one answer to this question lies in the ways in which Facebook overcame its former rival MySpace. This paper argues that the failure of MySpace and the rise of Facebook in the social networking site market is due in part to the degrees in which either site associates users, technology, and marketers into a successful “real software abstraction.” Real software abstraction is a synthesis of the software engineering concept of abstraction and the Marxian political economic concept of the real abstraction. This concept is used to examine MySpace and Facebook at the levels of aesthetics, code, culture, and appeal to marketers. I argue that instead of creating an architecture of abstraction in which users’ affect and content were easily reduced to marketer-friendly data sets, MySpace allowed users to create a cacophony of “pimped” profiles that undermined efforts to monetize user-generated content. In contrast, Facebook has proven to be extremely efficient at reducing users to commodifiable data sets within a muted, bland interface that does not detract from marketing efforts. In sum, Facebook’s architecture and culture is one that (from the perspective of new media capitalism) properly disciplines the user-laborers who contribute content, even while it allows users just enough autonomy to keep coming back.
Martha Michailidou [ GR ] – “New media work and the production of culture”
The presentation discusses the issue of new media work, concentrating on the forms of labour arising in the new media industries in Greece. Continuities and discontinuities with the forms of labor of traditional media industries will be discussed as well as the valorisation of new media labour within the creative industries. The presentation will argue for the usefulness of a ‘production of culture’ perspective for the analysis of the formation of new media labour in Greece.
Vasilis Kostakis [ EST ] – “The Political Economy of Information Production in the Social Web: Chances for Reflection on our Institutional Design”
This presentation is based on the assumption that information production on the Web is mainly taking place within either proprietary-based or Commons-based platforms. The productive processes of those two distinct “workplaces” of information production not only share certain characteristics, but also have several crucial differences. These two modes of production are discussed investigating how production is organized in each case. In addition, the presentation concludes by articulating the lessons taught by the investigation of the structural relationships of information production for enhancing modern societies’ institutional design. Keywords: peer production, Commons, governance, co-operation, social media