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Dmytri Kleiner, of Telekommunist Manifesto fame, and Jacob Appelbaum, one of the developers of the Tor Project and former WikiLeaks spokesperson, discuss here the implications of the capitalist mode of production and class society on surveillance and censorship on the Internet, particularly in view of current social media platforms and the increasing privatisation of the cyberspace. The discussion took place at the re:publica 2012 social media conference in Berlin on May 4, 2012.

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Anthropologist Henrietta L. Moore and political scientist Sabine Selchow offer here some interesting thoughts on how to think about political activism on the Internet. This approach seems fruitful when discussing, for example, the recent ACTA-protests, a phenomenon that started on the Internet and was even about the Internet, but that still eventually grew into something with genuine “real world” consequences. The article was originally published on openDemocracy here.

“The meteoric rise in popularity of the Pirate Party in Germany, the place of Facebook and Twitter in the recent upheavals in the Arab world, the potential for e-government, serious games for economic progress and development, citizen journalism, and, last but not least, the viral KONY2012-campaign show all too clearly that the Internet is of increasing relevance in people’s life in general, and in politics in particular.

As a result, it is a favoured topic for political analysts and commentators who offer theories as to the role of the Internet in and for contemporary politics. With each new civil society upheaval, the debate reignites asking whether the uses of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are significant enough to merit the relabelling of these upheavals as ‘Facebook-’ or ‘Twitter-revolutions’.

More generally, there is an ongoing (at times heated) debate about if and how the Internet could be a solution for a number of democracy-related problems that analysts detect within the contemporary global context. Many of the commentaries comprising this debate are of value, including James Curran’s elaboration on ‘why the Internet has changed so little’, in the sense that it has failed to meet many of our expectations for political and social change. This and other analyses of the Internet offer rich and varied discussion of the relevance of the Internet for political analysis.

And yet, despite this, contemporary political accounts of the role and significance of the Internet are somewhat ‘tame’ or even ‘tamed’. There are two reasons for this.

The first is that the majority of political analyses concerned with the Internet start with questions that are shaped by pre-determined, discipline-specific concerns – for example, issues related to the Internet’s (potential) impact on politics, and whether it can help to overcome the specific (normative or realist) problems that political analysts diagnose as shortcomings in and of contemporary democracies. Typically, these shortcomings relate to issues of participation and deliberation. On the one hand, analysts set out to investigate whether the Internet can improve the style and level of political participation: and on the other side, there is a sense – and indeed a hope – that the Internet could serve as a (Habermasian) public sphere, an open and accessible space for genuine debate and discourse on social concerns. Guiding these analyses is a dual conceptualisation of the Internet where it is understood both as a tool, a (new kind of) medium that is used by political actors to do something, and as a (new kind of) space, a sphere in which (new) things happen.

The second reason for ‘tame’ analyses of the Internet in political science is the tendency to treat it as something separate from the ‘real’ world. Many analysts employ an unexamined distinction between the offline and the online world. More often than not, this conceptual separation is implicit and naturalised; it is, for example, apparent when analysts ask for the impact of the Internet ‘on’ something. This categorical distinction between the offline and the online appears to be a v2 of the notion of the ‘great divide’, one of the key foundational notions of International Relations theory.

Acknowledging these two trends in the majority of existing approaches to the Internet by political analysts is important. The very idea or notion of ‘the Internet’ that many mainstream political analysts deploy is trimmed and ‘tamed’ through the norms and concerns ‘natural’ to their existing views of the world and the philosophical assumptions that underpin them. In other words, it is a very specific kind of Internet that is being described, investigated and debated.

[…]

In our chapter in Global Civil Society 2012, we address these problems directly and suggest an alternative understanding of the Internet to trigger a rethinking and a re-configuration of the conceptual frame that has guided political analyses hitherto. We start from different premises. Two conceptual steps are at the heart of our endeavour. First, instead of conceptualising the Internet as a virtual space and / or tool for activism, or indeed as a ‘new type of territory’, as some analysts do, we follow theorists of digital culture and suggest that the Internet must be understood as a ‘set of interactions in process’. This involves envisaging the Internet as a set of resources, engagements, relations and structures through which the world is constantly renewed – rather than as a material object or single entity.

As we explain, this alternative conception of the Internet is a consequence of its two main features, namely its digital nature (which means that it is immaterial and constantly open to change) and the ‘ethos’ of Web 2.0 (which relates to a culture of sharing, editing, re-editing, producing, re-producing, creating new forms of relation, prosuming etc).

Secondly, instead of thinking of the Internet as a thing separate from the ‘real’ world, that is, instead of working with the notion of a ‘great divide’ between the offline and the online (real/virtual, material/symbolic), we suggest that scholars take recent studies seriously and acknowledge that the Internet today is fundamentally intertwined with socio-political structures and ‘offline’ lived realities.

Our reconfiguration of the conceptual frame through which to study the Internet holds two interlinked implications for political analysts’ scholarly imagination. Once we decide that the distinction between the ‘offline’ and the ‘online’ does not readily reflect contemporary lived reality, the Internet occupies a different position in our thinking about politics. Rather than asking how or if the Internet has the potential of changing or improving the ‘real’ world, we need to consider it as a part of a (political) world brought into being through complex sets of interactions between the offline and the online.

[…]

Understanding the Internet as a set of interactions in process throws into question the value of the conceptual metaphors of ‘tool’ and ‘space’, because questions about what is happening ‘on’ the Internet, and how the internet is used, by whom, and with what impact on the ‘actual’ world no longer have sufficient analytical purchase. The internet is not a tool or a space for politics, but a set of interactions in process that constitute the political, and indeed the social and the economic. As such it is not a tool or a space to enable life, but life itself.  This is what David Gauntlett intends in Making is Connecting when he says that the internet is a set of processes in which “people are rejecting the givens and are making their world anew”. And as Henrietta Moore argues in Still Life, this requires political and social analysts to focus as much on the concepts of creativity and imagination as they do on those of structure, space and intersection. We need a politics of the internet, and indeed a politics that starts from somewhere else.”

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Interesting musings here by David A. Banks on the use of technology within the Occupy movement. The essay was originally published on the Cyborgology blog at The Society Pages.

“Most of our interactions with technology are rather mundane. We flip a light switch, buckle our seat belts, or place a phone call. We have a tacit knowledge of how these devices work. In other words, we have relatively standard, institutionalized, ways of interacting with familiar technologies. For example: if I were to drive someone else’s car, even if it is an unfamiliar model, I do not immediately consult the user manual. I look around for the familiar controls, maybe flick the blinkers on while the car is still in the drive way, and off I go. Removal of these technologies (or even significant alterations) can cause confusion. This is immediately evident if you are trying to meet a friend who does not own a cell phone. Typical conventions for finding the person in a crowded public space (“Yeah, I’m here. Near the stage? Yeah I see you waving.”) are not available to you. In years prior to widespread cell phone adoption, you might have made more detailed plans before heading out (“We’ll meet by the stage at 11PM.”) but now we work out the details on the fly. Operating cars and using cell phones are just a few mundane examples of how technologies shape social behavior beyond the actions needed to operate and maintain them. The widespread adoption of technologies, and the decisions by individual groups to utilize technologies can have a profound impact on the social order of communities. This second part of the Tactical Survey will help academics, activists, and activist academics assess the roll of information technology in a movement and make better decisions on when and how to use tools like social media, live video, and other forms of computer-mediated communication.

“The Master’s Tools” or, The Apparent Hypocrisy of Apple Computers in Zuccotti Park

Skeptical journalists and talking heads were quick to point out an apparent hypocrisy within the Occupy Wall Street movement. How can these hippies protest corporations when they are using Apple computers? The earliest of these pronouncements came from a New York Times piece that ended with:

‘One day, a trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Adam Sarzen, a decade or so older than many of the protesters, came to Zuccotti Park seemingly just to shake his head. “Look at these kids, sitting here with their Apple computers,” he said. “Apple, one of the biggest monopolies in the world. It trades at $400 a share. Do they even know that?”’

These sorts of observations are usually left unchallenged. Eric Randall, writing in The Atlantic, noticed this trend and wrote:

‘Depicting protestors sitting on their MacBooks fits in with the broader narrative the media has settled on, one that depicts a disorganized group of well-educated college grads who can’t figure out how to stay on message. The MacBook seems always to be used as a sort of tongue-in-cheek “stuff white people like” condemnation of the jobless, disenfranchised protestors who can somehow swing a $1,300 computer.’

This is nothing new. Ever since the “Battle for Seattle” Western news outlets have used this particular narrative to discredit activists and reasserts the legitimacy of status quo consumerism. Sociologist Richard J.F. Day comments on this rhetorical device in his book Gramsci is Dead: “This is an extremely common trope of exclusion by inclusion, which works by trying to show that They (anarchist activists) are no less tainted with the stain of capitalist individualism than We (good capitalist citizens) are, and therefore have no right to criticize the status quo.”

Members of OWS have responded to these sorts of accusations, but (predictably) little has changed. Randall quotes the occupywallst.org blog‘s response:

‘This is a specious argument, that if taken to its conclusion would preclude the use of any product to those angered by the injustice of its producer. If you disagree with the policy of GE’s board, you cannot own a refrigerator, if a major paper conglomerate cooks its books you may not use toilet paper. This protest is against injustice committed by the greedy, not commerce itself or the products of corporations.’

This appears to be an intractable problem. The powerful get to where they are by making lots of people need (and therefore buy) their stuff. They become an obligatory point of passage.  An alternative is to engage in “lifestyle politics” and avoid the use of technologies that are incompatible with your politics. This, however, usually means you are spending considerable time and effort building new capacities from the ground up, and not using your energy and resources to actually fight what you see as wrong in the world. To the extent that fighting for change and building alternative capacities are mutually exclusive tactics, a collective must make a decision on time horizons and overall goals. In a pluralist social movement like #OWS, there is enough capacity to do both. Some can fight with the problematic tools that are currently available (e.g. Apple computers and Twitter) while others work on new technologies that are less connected to the corporations.

Tactic 3: Pluralist movements must recognize the failures of the existing sociotechnical social order, while also developing alternative capacities. Using computers made in sweatshops and for-profit social networking sites that have dangerous privacy policies are a necessity for effective augmented activism in the short term. Sustained, long term actions should also be working towards alternatives to these technologies.

Building Alternative Capacity

Since the eviction of almost every physical occupation in the United States, occupiers (especially the geeky ones) have been hard at work finding new and inventive ways of coordinating and connecting. One of these efforts is TheGlobalSquare.org– a multilingual, open-source social networking platform that would offer a “platform for the movement.” The media has already billed the project as “Occupy Wall Street Builds Facebook Alternative” but that only tells half the story. Building an alternative to Facebook also means building an alternative set of behaviors. Services like Twitter and Facebook are built with a certain kind of user in mind. They can be used for activism, but they are built for monetizing social activity. This means identity-protecting pseudonyms are forbidden, and censorship is negotiable.

Social media technologies are built with equal parts computer code and social norms. The assumed relationship of the individual to the collective is built into the system. For Facebook that means being open to everyone. Its institutionalized through and by the default settings of your account and the corporate business model. For Twitter, it means talk and connect as much as possible, but within the bounds and abilities of state authorities to suppress free speech on the web. Global Square’s stated philosophy is (in part):

‘The Global Square recognizes the principles of personal privacy as a basic right of individuals and transparency to all users as an obligation for public systems. While User Profiles will allow for as much privacy as the individual desires (technology permitting), Squares, Events, and Task Groups must be, at minimum, completely transparent to their user groups, and Systems must be completely transparent for full auditing capability by all Users.’

Here, again, we see the delicate interplay of transparency and privacy that characterizes Occupy Wall Street. For Global Square, privacy of the individual is paramount, but that privacy is nested within two levels of transparency- transparency of collectives to its constituent individuals, and global transparency of governing sociotechnical systems to all users. Chris Kelty used the term recursive publics in his book Two Bits to describe communities of open-source coders that develop platforms that allow for and sustain the community. Global Square represents a similar social recursion: it is a platform to build capacity for new platforms of capacity building.

Tactic 4: Corporate-owned social media tools are not politically ambivalent. Technologies have embedded within them, assumed relationships and social organizations. Activists taking advantage of social media must recognize the subtle influences these technologies have on social action. If possible, new capacities for augmented activism must be built and maintained.

Coda

Granted, the recursion can only go so deep. The code for Facebook or Global Square still run on the problematic hardware part 2 opened up with. The construction of open source hardware is much more complicated and resource intensive. This begs the question: Is it possible to have widely available digital technology in a world without exploited labor? Are the rare earth metals in our smart phones counter-revolutionary? What would a socially just version of Moore’s Law look like? These are questions left to future posts and other authors. What activists can and must do now, is enroll the expertise of engineers and scientist to explore these questions. This might mean activists learning the skills of engineering and science, but it might also mean creating a revolutionary computer science. Creating a computer for the people will be no easy task, and might mean creating a totally new technical artifact. It may also mean redefining technological progress to include lateral shifts that produce similar computational power but in more socially just ways. It is not enough to use these tools for good, we have to make new tools that are good.”

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The Global Square is the name of a social networking platform in development that is targeted at the Occupy and indignant movements as well as other activist groups. The developers have notched up the level of ambition quite a bit since I last blogged about it in January when the project was dubbed “a Facebook for the 99%” by the media. Now the goal seems to be to create a kind of self-sufficient “Internet within the Internet” that satisfies not only the communication needs of occupiers but also the needs related to the development and organisation of new forms of living. Most of the work done on the platform so far has been conceptual, so there’s not much to show in terms of actual implementations yet. Therefore, the developers are currently on the lookout for coders to join in the project. Here is the call-out they released a few weeks ago:

“TheGlobalSquare aims to be the first massive decentralized social network in the history of the Internet. We are aware of the difficulties we must overcome, but we believe the Internet Community has reached a point where such an initiative is possible. It is possible because we are more united; censorship and repression have created stronger bonds between those who care about freedom and the free flow of information. How can we achieve this goal?

Structure: Organizing humanity in a single collective
The Global Square is to be an easy to use social and work platform for individuals and groups. One of the main goals is that it should have very low barriers of entry for inexperienced users, making it as easy as possible for them to contribute work, interact and use the various tools at their disposal. Another goal is that the Global Square be expandable to allow global coordinated and efficient work in every system. TheGlobalSquare recognizes the principles of personal privacy as a basic right of individuals and transparency to all users as an obligation for public systems.
The Global Square is not exclusively for activists. While it will assist activists with the correct tools and virtual meeting areas, it will also be available to the global community. Although the structure is designed for organization and coordination of personal relationships, assemblies and action, the platform is also conceived for independent work systems, movements struggling for civil causes and more. As systems are added that encompass more aspects of daily life and political topics of wide interest, experts and users from all walks of life will be able to use the Global Square to discuss, create and learn. A first example of this is the News Commons, which will be a source of verified, crowd sourced and peer reviewed news on all topics. Other early basic systems to be created on the Global Square are the Global Market for establishing new methods of exchange and the Renaissance and Evolution Forums for testing principles for governance and law. Future systems could include topics such as communications, healing, food, arts, sports, sciences, trade, housing, and energy.
This is an open community where everyone is welcome. It is peer-to-peer, horizontal and non-hierarchical. This is a space where coders, designers, itechs, artists, activists and philosophers are invited to collaborate together. We believe it is necessary to concentrate and focus our energy, so if you are already in a group planning something similar or with the same objectives please participate to enrich both projects.

P2P based
With the support of Delft University of Technology, TheGlobalSquare will mainly be developed based on the existing peer to peer technology provided by the renowned file sharing software Tribler. Tribler is a project focused on decentralized social networks with years of expertise in peer-to-peer communication. By using this particular existing P2P technology it becomes virtually impossible to break or censor our network. The content files are not centralized in any physical server, so the network belongs to its users – a basic principle of participatory democracy applied to the on-line space. It encourages input from users from countries with censorship and blocking; with an ‘unblockable’ space to share all kinds of information and work collaboratively. It has been proven that WEB, as we know it, each day is more closed and subject to arbitrary and illegal blocking. A step beyond it is more than needed.

Open system
TheGlobalSquare will include authentication mechanisms, relational schema and communication protocols. Authentication and communications are up to whoever implements this specification to build a system. That will allow a project to be “TheGlobalSquare compatible” while supporting semantic data, currently visualized as RDF. The RDF vocabularies we develop to represent meaning and relationship are the common thread that enable uniting a variety of platforms. Any network is the sum of the technology supporting it as well as the actual connections made between individuals and groups within it. To succeed, we must be able to both leverage whatever currently exists as well as develop anything needed to build bridges between systems and people. There will be a blend of network protocols, web services, data stores, P2P clients etc. Tools for people across the planet to meet, share ideas and develop proposals must enable coordinated, effective, global action. TheGlobalSquare system will provide a unified way to manage communications between people within a radically heterogeneous vocabulary system.

Approach
Build something, get a real-world community to use it, and ask how we can improve it. Instead of detailing the design out from zero, we propose to build software and incrementally improve it. This requires a designed-for-evolution type of modern software engineering approach. Our goal is to have a functional prototype by March 2012. The Global Square will be a featured project at the Berlin Biennale from April 27, 2012 until July 1, 2012. To have something working in March, we need to be modest. We will start with a simple PC app. The first feature to create is an operational skeleton for an attack resilient social network: Users can add friends and send them messages in private. You can also leave messages on the people’s public walls. This first prototype should already have robust security and use Elyptic Key Crypto to secure all communication. Each user creates a public key upon installation. All private messages are encrypted for that person only. All friendships are initiated using spoofing-free mechanisms.

Features after the March release
Using the Agile method we will focus on one feature or module for a few weeks, conduct tests, do a release and then focus on the next feature. By releasing in a 6-8 week cycle we can focus on coding and improvement. A goal is to have a smartphone app later in the year plus a standalone app with a usable GUI. We will start with the stand alone PC app, which later can be turned into an .apk for mobiles. Once the basic prototype is up and running, we can add features beyond social networking, for instance, Squares, Task Groups or Events with communication systems. Once that is up and running the focus could be on “distributed decision making and voting” and the various Systems such as News Commons.

The global square needs developers to turn ideas and dreams in reality!
For such an effort, we must count on the community of coders and developers. We are going to use a Tribler kernel based on Python. We urgently need the help of the community in order to implement all the features planned for The Global Square. If you have expertise in Python and P2P protocols you still have time and opportunity to join our project, a project which will hopefully change the dynamics of interaction among global society.

Various jobs require a combination of the following:

  • experience witH Free Software project basic operation
  • Python programming
  • network protocols, UDP message transfers
  • cryptography, pub/priv key management
  • SQLight, performance, transactions
  • epidemic gossip protocols, for global dissemination of crypted info
  • self-organising network programming
  • GUI in WxWindows
  • Android developer, mixed .py build chain (for later smart phone .apk)

To join:

  • Take a week to read the Global Square wiki and the other documents and understand the existing code.
  • Possibly work for a few weeks on prototyping
  • Feb – March 2012 availability
  • Join the mailinglist: theglobalsquare@lists.takethesquare.net
  • Introduce yourself :-)

General-contact: Pedro Noel info@theglobalsquare.org
Press Contact: Heather Marsh (spokesperson) press@theglobalsquare.org
Developers Contact: Johan Pouwelse and Ed Knutson (development coordinators) dev@theglobalsquare.org”

To elaborate on the call-out a bit, the project consists, as I understand it, of three distinct and more or less independent parts, a federated data exchange system, a p2p-network system, and an application layer that sits on the other two.

The aim of the federated data exchange system, known as the “Global Protocol”, is to define the structure of the data that is passed around in the network and the protocols that are used for accessing the data and communicating between nodes of the network. This will be done by using open standards such as XML/RDF. This will allow any existing social networking platform with an open API to plug in to the Global Square network, including Facebook and Twitter. This is really what sets The Global Square apart from other platforms, as it makes it possible to proliferate the network without forcing people to abandon their existing networks or to switch inconveniently between networks. It also makes the system more viable in the long-term as any new platforms that gain popularity in the future can be easily incorporated into the network.

The aim of the p2p-network is to distribute the data on the network across the individual nodes so that it will be extremely difficult to take down that data by a malevolent party, as it would involve essentially taking down every individual node which may be spread all across the planet. The p2p-network is based on the BitTorrent client Tribler which is being developed in the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Tribler is a fully decentralised system, meaning that it doesn’t require tracker servers to function (see a recent TorrentFreak article on Tribler here). Tribler has been in development for more than six years by a full-time team, so we’re talking about fairly mature technology here. Combined with mesh networking technology on the ground, the p2p-system makes the network highly resistant to shut down attempts by the authorities.

On top of the above systems come the actual applications that the users of the network will be interfacing with. Currently planned applications include a newswire, discussion forums and a global marketplace. Applications that facilitate decision making at the local occupations will likely be considered as well. And, this being open technology, anyone can develop the applications that they need.

Further details and developer information can be found in the Global Square wiki:
http://wiki.theglobalsquare.org

There’s also a discussion forum for developers and other interested parties:
http://forum.theglobalsquare.org

For those who want to plunge straight into the actual code, here are the repos related to the p2p-system:
Android app: https://github.com/whirm/tgs-android
PC app: https://github.com/whirm/tgs-pc
Dispersy (distributed permission system) protocol: https://github.com/whirm/dispersy

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Wael Ghonim is an Egyptian computer engineer currently working as the head of marketing in Middle East and North Africa for Google. During the Egyptian revolution he played a central role within the Egyptian Internet community as the administrator of Mohamed ElBaradei‘s semi-official Facebook page and also the highly popular Kullena Khaled Said (We Are All Khaled Said) Facebook page, named in honour of a young Egyptian beaten to death by the police in June 2010. The Time magazine named Ghonim one of the 100 most influential people of 2011. Revolution 2.0, subtitled The Power of the People Is Greater Than the People in Power (2012) is Ghonim’s first person account of the revolution as it unfolded between early 2010 and the fall of Mubarak on February 14, 2011.

The first half of the book concentrates on Ghonim’s Facebook activism, in particular the Kullena Khaled Said page which he used to instigate non-violent protests to highlight the Mubarak regime’s crimes against the Egyptian people. Ghonim was living at the time in Dubai (which he took great pains to conceal from the visitors of the pages he administered), so his actual connection with the conditions on the ground in Egypt was rather thin. Therefore, he has to resort to third-party descriptions of the actual events, quoting extensively from messages sent by readers to the Kullena Khaled Said page. Even more than this, however, he dwells on the intricacies of organising a large-scale Internet campaign and keeping in contact with various opposition leaders in Egypt whilst remaining anonymous.

The book gets more engaging when Ghonim moves on to describe the events leading up to and following the paramount Day of Anger protests on January 25, 2011. A few days before the event, Ghonim flew into Egypt to actually take part in the protests in person for the first time. However, on January 27, he gets stopped on the street by the State Security and taken to a secret detention centre where he ends up spending 11 days, blindfolded at all times. Ghonim recounts in detail the interrogations and the psychological coercion he was subjected to by the security officers. Here, the story gets much more up-close and personal than in the rest of the book.

During his detention, Ghonim’s identity as the administrator of the Kullena Khaled Said gets revealed and he becomes something of a national celebrity in Egypt. After his release, Ghonim is whisked around Cairo for TV interviews and meetings with government officials. Again, he ends up more on the sidelines as the growing pressure from the streets finally forces Mubarak to resign.

The Western media has often portrayed the Egyptian revolution as a “Facebook revolution”, grossly overplaying the role of the Internet in the uprising in an attempt to, perhaps, credit Western technology companies as something of agents of freedom in the world. Ghonim’s book may end up contributing to this tendency, even though it clearly states that the Kullena Khaled Said page even at its best only reached about one million readers, a large number for an Internet campaign no doubt, but only a small minority in a nation of 81 million people. Ghonim makes scant any reference to, for example, the wave of strikes that begun in Mahalla in late 2006 and which played a major role in mobilising people against the Mubarak regime. Thus, this book represents a rather narrow view of the Egyptian revolution, something Ghonim also asserts himself.

Having said that, though, it’s of course important that the online side of the revolution also gets documented, especially as it is documented here by someone who was at the very centre of that online campaign. The book provides one piece of the puzzle in a series of events not yet very well understood in the West. Certainly, it also presents an interesting case study for anyone involved in political activism on the Internet.

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As Wired recently reported, a group of software developers from the Occupy movement are currently working on a new social networking platform for occupiers around the world. Such a platform will be extremely important in the future as privately owned networks face more and more pressure to hand over their data to the authorities. The new platform should be based on open technologies and be distributed so that each local occupation is in control of their own data. Furthermore, privacy concerns should at the top of the agenda so that sensitive information won’t under any circumstances leak into the hands of the authorities or other malevolent parties.

The development of the new platform has so far been conducted behind closed doors which is not necessarily the best way to engender trust. Hopefully the developers will eventually open up the project to everyone. Hopefully they’re also looking at existing solutions such as the N-1 network used by the indignants in Europe. There are also various other attempts going on to stimulate communication between local groups of occupiers around the globe. Now, having many parallel networks is not something that needs to be seen as a problem. On the contrary, diversity often leads to more robustness and better fault-tolerance and tolerance against interference. What needs to be solved, however, is the question of how to facilitate the flow of information between the various networks in order to avoid the creation of disconnected pockets of information.

Here’s a list of existing networks of the Occupy and indignant movements and their meeting places, copied from the People’s Assemblies website:

1. TTS Take The Square International
– English Language Global Mailing-List: http://lists.takethesquare.net/mailman/listinfo/squares (all welcome)
– TTS Global English Language Virtual Meeting ( chat room ) EVERY FRIDAY EVENING 6pm UK time at
http://takethesquare.net/chat/

2. Occupii Round Table
– Ning Social Network and Public Face Site http://www.occupii.org
– English Language Weekly Voice Based (Mumble) Round Table Meetings Every Thursday 7pm UK time
Meeting Info: http://occupii.org/events/occupy-internet-round-table
Mumble Download Info: http://occupii.org/page/tech-mumble

3. Interoccupy
US-based
– Main Site: http://interoccupy.org
– Upcoming Calls’ Calendar: http://interoccupy.org/calendar/
– Sign up for announcements: info@interoccupy.org
Also: https://groups.google.com/group/occupyusa?hl=en
https://groups.google.com/group/occupyus?hl=en

And about weekly US-wide co-ordination webinars contact voiceoftheoccupation@gmail.com

4.  Public Assemblies-Only Posting – New Email List
A simple new list to provide noise-free info from assemblies worldwide. Anyone can subscribe and observe but only assemblies can post here. Full info in English, Spanish and French at: http://www.peoplesassemblies.org/2011/11/eng-esp-fr-important-new-assembly-email-platform/

Post at: assemblies@lists.takethesquare.net
Subscribe at https://lists.takethesquare.net/mailman/listinfo/assemblies

5. PAN People’s Assemblies Network
Subscribe at: https://groups.google.com/group/peoplesassemblies?hl=en

6. DRY International
DRY “Democracia Real Ya!” / Real Democracy Now! International Group
– Facebook Work Group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/international.15m/
– Virtual weekly meetings on an irregular basis ( Voice Based ) 6pm UK time on Mumble 15M Server (instructions and download the program here: http://mumble.noc4net.com/ )

7. General Assemblies
– Regular US based Mumble Meetings with a view to creating international platform. Contact Jay for more info at ga@wc.tc
http://generalassemblies.info/

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Mark Pesce is an author, software engineer, researcher and a lecturer at the University of Sydney. He has written extensively on the subjects of virtual reality and social media. This quote comes from his column published today by ABC News Online:

“For you see, the network isn’t the wires, the towers, or the mobiles. The network is people. And people don’t like being spied upon. People will grow increasingly frustrated with the restrictions you place upon their activities, and from those frustrations will come a search for solutions.

As someone works something out – finds a hole in the filters, or a place outside the state’s surveillance – that knowledge will be passed around, at the speed of light, through the network. People now move as one – as if coordinated, but without any coordinator – and within minutes, a hole becomes the tunnel through which everyone makes their escape.

[…]

People are no longer subject to the control of the state. People can move faster than the state, people can out-think the state, people can be everywhere the state is not. 2011 is the year that we figured this out, and even if you took every mobile in Britain and threw them into the English Channel, this would not change.

This is not a technology moment. This is a moment of sociology, of anthropology. We have learned a new way of sharing, which has given us new capabilities, and although technology helps us share, we would share even if we had nothing but our voices.

We will not unlearn this. We have learned it by watching one another. Parents learn it from their children. Children learn it from older children. Everyone learns it from the television. It’s pervasive, it’s perfectly natural, and it cannot be stopped.

So please, grab a stick, and stir the hornet’s nest. I dare you. More than anything else I want to see a ‘democratic’ government bloody itself against a process that is far more democratic than anything that it has ever had the capability to be.

Yes, it is chaotic and ugly and threatening. But it is also wonderful and smart and capable. You get both, and you can’t just do away with either one. This is who we are. It’s unclear if your government – or any government – can make its peace with that.  But I think it’s time we tried.

So please, go out there, guns blazing, and wage war. The more you try to shut things down, the smarter people will become. You are evolution’s goad, Mr Cameron. Without you, we’d probably just sit around all day, watching videos on YouTube. You give us a reason. You make us want to be better.

Unless you completely crush it, disrupting a network tends to make it more resilient. Yes, the network might go down for a while, but when it comes back, it’s stronger than before.

That’s what you have to look forward to, Mr Cameron – you, and your successors at Number 10. You’re breeding a nation which can resist any coercion.  Well done.”

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