Archaeology of the Radical Internet: Reflections on the Early European Counter Network in the Age of ‘Networked Social Movements’

 

ecn1The euphoria of Occupy and the ‘Arab Spring’ seems a long way away. The mass movements on the streets and in the squares from 2010 to 2013 seemed to many to open up new forms of collective politics amidst a new global geography of public spaces – Tahrir Square (Cairo), Gezi Park (Istanbul), Zuccotti Park (New York), Puerta del Sol Square (Madrid), Syntagma square (Athens)…and many more. In his overview Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions (2012), Paul Mason wrote that ‘There is a great river of human hope flowing’.
Manuel Castells – who I heard speaking at Occupy London to an audience seated on the steps of St Pauls Cathedral – also saw new hope in the emergence of non-hierarchical, non-programmatic ‘networked social movements’, facilitated and indeed transformed by new social media technologies, with ‘mass self-communication, based on horizontal networks of interactive, multidirectional communication on the internet and, even more so, in wireless communication networks’. Indeed, Castells argued, ‘the internet provides the organisational communication platform to transform the culture of freedom into the practice of autonomy’ (‘Network of Outrage and hope: social movements in the internet age’, 2012).

But right now, towards the end of 2014, it is increasingly difficult to sustain this optimism. [Read more →]

German Data Angst

Introduction
In June 2013, whistleblower Edward Snowden in collaboration with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras published leaked NSA documents, which revealed large-scale programs (PRISM, Tempora, etc.) that monitor Internet activity worldwide by American intelligence. Since then, further documents have been published. Snowden had the documents handed over to the British Guardian newspaper. In German-speaking countries, the weekly Der Spiegel and the Spiegel Online site (SPON) have published numerous articles on the NSA documents. In addition to new information about the pervasive monitoring of internet traffic, further facts have been published about espionage activities. In October 2013, it was announced that the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German politicians were wiretapped. This intensified the worldwide debate about the role of state intelligence agencies. [Read more →]