Der Freitag: Vor und Nach Facebook

Die Erfahrung der ersten Web-Generation, dass man auch Infrastrukturen selber schaffen kann und muss, wird neu formuliert. Das zentrale Stichwort lautet Mesh-Netzwerke

Das Versprechen der Partizipation ist problematisch geworden. Mit unserer Teilnahme füttern wir heute die neue Maschine. Mit dem Gefällt-mir-Button teilen wir Facebook mit, was wir mögen, damit es uns noch rigider in seine Profitmaschine eingliedern kann. Was nun? Partizipation grundsätzlich abzulehen ist keine Alternative. Wir sollten versuchen, sie neu zu denken. Dabei hilft ein Blick zurück auf die Anfange der Netzkultur.

... weiterlesen 28.03.2012 14:53

Demokratie jenseits der Repräsentation

Der Erfolg der Piratenpartei beruht auf dem Wandel der Arbeits- und Lebenserfahrungen. Sie steht für dafür, Partizipation neu zu denken.

Die Feststellung, dass die Piratenpartei eine Protestpartei sei, führt nicht weit. Jede neue Kraft beginnt als Opposition, und der politische „Normalbetrieb“ steckt zu offensichtlich in einer tiefen Krise. Die Entfremdung zwischen BürgerInnen und PolitkerInnen nimmt seit langer Zeit zu. Die alten Transmissionsmechanismen zwischen (Zivil-)Gesellschaft und Politik – die Gewerkschaften, Vereine, Kirchen, Kammern etc. – funktionieren nicht mehr richtig. Entsprechend wird die Politik als abgehoben, von Partikularinteressen manipuliert und in ihren rituellen Appellen zu Wahlkampfzeiten als unglaubwürdig erlebt. Eine wachsende Zahl der BürgerInnen identifiziert sich nicht einmal mehr mit den Parteien, für die sie gerade die Stimme abgeben. Die Zahl der WechselwählerInnen steigt stetig; die Wahlbeteiligung sinkt.

Interessanter ist die Frage, warum der Protest die Form der Piratenpartei angenommen hat.

Ethics of Sharing

The current issue of the International Review of Information Ethics on the ethics of sharing, guest-edited by myself and Wolfgang Sützl, is available online now. With contributions by Clemens Apprich, Michel Bauwens, Vito Campanelli, Alessandro Delfanti, Marie-Luisa Frick/Andreas Oberprantacher, Mayo Fuster Morell, and Andras Wittel.

… This issue brings together contributions towards an ethics of sharing that embed the new technological potentialities linking them to their actual social impact. In our understanding, information ethics “deals with ethical questions in the field of digital production and reproduction of phenomena and processes such as the exchange, combination and use of information.” So, the task of developing an ethics of sharing is both descriptive – helping us to understand the contemporary complexities of the ethics of exchanging information as it emerges from using digital technologies across a global range of social and cultural contexts – as well as normative – helping us to address blind-spots and clarifying possible ethical frameworks to address unresolved issues regarding these practices. And what do we and should we finally do with the truly impressive contributions gathered here to provide answers to the above named questions and guidelines for the outlined task? We share them with you leaving them to your appropriate use – whatever you may make out of it. (From the editorial by Rafael Capurro and Felix Weil)

complete IRIE issue 15/2011 in pdf format

Autonomy beyond Privacy? A Rejoinder to Colin Bennett

The journal Surveillance & Society just published a debate on the value of concept of privacy in surveillance studies and beyond. The debate was initiated by Colin Bennett's essay "In Defence of Privacy", my piece "Autonomy beyond Privacy?" was one of the responses to it. The others were by Pris Regan, John Gilliom and danah boyd.

Here's how my contribution concluded which summarizes the main point I wanted to make:

We should start from the understanding of what privacy is conventionally thought to achieve: individual and social self-determination. We need then to review the contemporary conditions under which this goal can be advanced and assess the role of privacy in advancing it. Today, it requires both the ability to make oneself visible to others in relatively open ettings, as well as means of mitigating the resulting power-differentials between the users who provide personal and those institutions which collect, aggregate and act upon this information. The notion of privacy is of limited use in the context of the first dimension, but remains vital in relation to the second.

Autonomía y control en la era de la post-privacidad

Una forma de definir la modernidad occidental, el periodo que estamos justo dejando, es por su particular estructura de control y autonomía. Ésta emergió como resultado de dos desarrollos históricos –uno que llevó a que burocracias grandes y jerarquizadas se establecieran como forma dominante de organización, otro que llevó a que el ciudadano (burgués, masculino) se convirtiera en el principal sujeto político. La privacidad jugó un papel clave en el mantenimiento del equilibrio entre ambos. Hoy en día, este acuerdo se está diluyendo. En el proceso, la privacidad pierde (algo de) sus funciones sociales. La post-privacidad, entonces, apunta a la transformación de cómo la gente crea su autonomía y de cómo el control impregna sus vidas.

This is the Spanish translation, by Christel Penella de Silva, of "Autonomy and Control in the Era of Post-Privacy". Read the whole translation at Christel's blog

Autonomy and Control in the Era of Post-Privacy

Open: Post Privavy Cover Researcher Felix Stalder analyses the loss of the key role of the concept of privacy. Privacy long secured the balance between the control of institutions and the autonomy of the citizen. Today, with institutions aiming more and more to provide customized services and the autonomy of both citizens and institutions changing, this role is disappearing, making the danger of an increase in control and power a realistic one. To turn the tide, Stalder argues for a greater transparency of the back-end protocols, algorithms and procedures of the new, flexible bureaucracies.

Source: Open. Cahier on Art and the Public Domain. # 19: Beyond Privacy. New Notions of the Private and Public Domains

One way to characterize Western modernity, the period we are just leaving, is by its particular structure of control and autonomy. It emerged as the result of two historic developments – one leading to large, hierarchic bureaucracies as the dominant form of organization, the other to the (bourgeois, male) citizen as the main political subject. Privacy played a key role in maintaining a balance between the two. Today, this arrangement is unravelling. In the process, privacy loses (some of) its social functions. Post-privacy, then, points to a transformation in how people create autonomy and how control permeates their lives.

Americans Reject Tailored Advertising and Three Activities that Enable It

A new study shows that, when asked, people do not like tailored ads, because of privacy concerns.
From the abstract:

Contrary to what many marketers claim, most adult Americans (66%) do not want marketers to tailor advertisements to their interests. Moreover, when Americans are informed of three common ways that marketers gather data about people in order to tailor ads, even higher percentages - between 73% and 86% - say they would not want such advertising. Even among young adults, whom advertisers often portray as caring little about information privacy, more than half (55%) of 18-24 years-old do not want tailored advertising. And contrary to consistent assertions of marketers, young adults have as strong an aversion to being followed across websites and offline (for example, in stores) as do older adults.

I'm not sure what such studies are worth. For decades now, people say, when asked, that they are worried about privacy, but do nothing to protect it. On the contrary. It's called the "privacy paradox" and indicates that the question is, perhaps, wrong.

UNU-Merit Survey of Wikipedia Readers and Contributors

Rishab Aiyer Ghosh 's Groups, UNU-MERIT, has done a large survery of wikipedia readers and contributors (130'000 completed surveys). Among the key (preliminary) results with regard to gender are:

  • Readers and contributors are on average in their mid-twenties, and predominantly male (75%)
  • Women, with a share of 25% in all respondents, are more strongly
    represented among readers (32%) and less strongly represented among
    contributors (13%).

Source: Wikimedia Blog, April 16, 2009
A short discussion of these results at

The Big Sort

Another book for my reading list. Bill Bishop: The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart. 2008.

The Wall Street Journal: 'Like-Minded, Living Nearby' (April 22, 2008)

The more diverse America becomes, the more homogeneous it becomes.

No, that's not a misprint; it is the thesis of "The Big Sort," Bill Bishop's rich and challenging book about the ways in which the citizens of this country have, in the past generation, rearranged themselves into discrete enclaves that have little to say to one another and little incentive to bother trying. "As Americans have moved over the past three decades," Mr. Bishop proclaims, "they have clustered in communities of sameness, among people with similar ways of life, beliefs and in the end, politics."

It is an idea that has all but obsessed Mr. Bishop since he began thinking about it years ago in his hometown of Austin, Texas. In his Austin neighborhood, he observed, there were virtually no Republicans. In another community of similar size nearby there were very few Democrats. Thirty years earlier, he was willing to bet, nothing like that uniformity would have been possible. Values, ideology and partisanship would have mingled more variously in even the most compact neighborhood, ward or district.

Google search logs as real time monitoring tool

Google claims that it can detect the outbreak of the common flu two weeks earlier than the US Center for Desease Control, based on sudden spikes in relevant search terms -- e.g. flu systems, muscale ache -- that people are using. The set up a site to track this called "Flu Trends." They write

We have found a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Of course, not every person who searches for "flu" is actually sick, but a pattern emerges when all the flu-related search queries from each state and region are added together. We compared our query counts with data from a surveillance system managed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and discovered that some search queries tend to be popular exactly when flu season is happening. By counting how often we see these search queries, we can estimate how much flu is circulating in various regions of the United States.

It's pretty clear that while we are learning about the world through Google, google is learning about us. And it does so in real time. While we have to wait for someone to put material out there, Google as access to enormous amounts of raw data as it is being produced and can process it any way it wants, most profitably, one can imagine, for marketing. I guess the pharmaceutical industry is quite interesting in such data. One can imagine that publishing (or witholding) such real time monitoring data is having a real effect in the developing of the underlying phenomena itself.

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