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Video: Brief history of APC

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A brief overview of Association for Progressive Communications’ (APC) 20 years of online work for social justice.

About APC:

“APC’s strength lies in the fact that we don’t get excited about the internet for the internet’s sake. We are committed activists who want to use it to make the world a better place. We help people get access to the internet where there is none or it is unaffordable, we help grassroots groups use the technology to develop their communities and further their rights, and we work to make sure that government policies related to information and communication serve the best interests of the general population, especially people living in developing countries.

…”

more at: http://www.apc.org/en/about

Brief history of APC from APC on Vimeo.

Article: Menschen – nicht Medien – revoltieren

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von Philipp Budka in “Die Presse”, Print-Ausgabe, 30.01.2011
Online: die Presse.com

„Social Media“ wie Facebook gelten als neuer Zunder der Revolution. Interaktive und vernetzte Medien sind aber schon lang wichtige Werkzeuge sozialpolitischer Bewegungen.

Die Bedeutung von neuen Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien für die sozialpolitischen Umbrüche in Tunesien sowie die Proteste in Ägypten wurden und werden sowohl in der österreichischen als auch in der internationalen Medienlandschaft intensiv diskutiert. Kaum ein Beitrag, der „sozialen“ Medien wie Facebook oder Twitter nicht wesentlichen Anteil an der „Revolution“ in Tunesien oder den Protesten in Ägypten einräumt.

Bei allem Respekt vor Journalistinnen und Journalisten, die mittels Handy und Twitter direkt aus Krisenregionen und an staatlich kontrollierten Massenmedien vorbei berichten, vor einem Künstler, der sich musikalisch via YouTube gegen ein autokratisches System stellt, und vor einem Piloten, der sich weigert, Mitglieder des unterdrückenden Regimes außer Landes zu fliegen und dafür zu Recht auf Facebook gefeiert wird: Nicht vergessen sollten wir etwa bei der tunesischen „Revolution“, dass dieser politische Umbruch auf der Straße herbeigeführt und entschieden wurde.

Digitale, interaktive und vernetzte Alternativmedien waren schon lange vor den sogenannten „Social Media“ wichtige Werkzeuge von sozialpolitischen Bewegungen. Prominentes Beispiel ist der Aufstand der Zapatistas in Mexiko, der 1994 mittels Newsgroups, Mailing-Listen und Webseiten eine internationale Gegenöffentlichkeit erzeugte. Diese wiederum war bemüht, Druck auf die mexikanische Regierung auszuüben, um der indigenen Bevölkerung endlich Menschen- und Landrechte zuzugestehen. Rückblickend war es aber vor allem die geschlossen auftretende mexikanische Zivilbevölkerung, die durch landesweite Märsche, Demonstrationen und Petitionen maßgeblich zur Unterstützung der unterdrückten Indigenen Mexikos beitrug.

Neue soziale Online-Medien wurden dann beispielsweise 2009 im Zug der Wahlen im Iran verwendet, um auf staatliche Unterdrückung und gewalttätige Übergriffe auf Regierungskritiker international aufmerksam zu machen. Aber auch hier war es der sozialpolitische Druck der Straße, der dem iranischen Regime ernsthafte Probleme bereitete. Internettechnologien wie Twitter, YouTube oder Facebook konnten solange als alternative Kommunikations- und Informationsmittel eingesetzt werden, bis der Staat, vor allem dank europäischer Softwaresysteme, in der Lage war, auch diese Kommunikation zu kontrollieren, zu zensieren und zu unterdrücken. Ähnliches spielt sich nun auch in Ägypten ab.

Digitale Medientechnologien sind wunderbar geeignet, um Bilder, Texte und Augenzeugenberichte eines politischen Umbruchs schnell an eine online vernetzte „Weltöffentlichkeit“ zu vermitteln. Wie die aktuellen Beispiele Tunesien und Ägypten zeigen, finden vor allem mobile Kommunikationstechnologien in zunehmendem Maß für die lokale Protestorganisation Verwendung.

Dennoch – abseits des Hype, auf dem Boden der Tatsachen, sollten zwei Punkte besonders betont werden: Erstens hat nicht die gesamte Weltbevölkerung gleichermaßen Zugang zu digitalen Technologien (einerseits aus finanziell-wirtschaftlichen und infrastrukturellen Gründen, andererseits, weil politische Regimes versuchen, diesen Zugang aktiv zu kontrollieren). Und zweitens sind es auch im Zeitalter von Facebook & Co. die Menschen auf den Straßen, die die entscheidenden Handlungen setzen, um „Revolutionen“ herbeizuführen oder eben nicht.

Philipp Budka
Initiative Teilnehmende Medienbeobachtung
Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie der Universität Wien

Tim Berners-Lee on the web’s future

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In an important article Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, addresses current and future issues of the web and its services. He reminds us that we should be careful not to create walled communities or closed content silos, as done by social network sites, such as facebook, or companies such as apple. Open standards, documents and data have been driving innovation and hence the web’s development for the last 20 years. And we have to make sure that we keep the web open, independent and accessible to all.

From Scientific American:

“Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality
By Tim Berners-Lee November 22, 2010

The world wide web went live, on my physical desktop in Geneva, Switzerland, in December 1990. It consisted of one Web site and one browser, which happened to be on the same computer. The simple setup demonstrated a profound concept: that any person could share information with anyone else, anywhere. In this spirit, the Web spread quickly from the grassroots up. Today, at its 20th anniversary, the Web is thoroughly integrated into our daily lives. We take it for granted, expecting it to “be there” at any instant, like electricity.

The Web evolved into a powerful, ubiquitous tool because it was built on egalitarian principles and because thousands of individuals, universities and companies have worked, both independently and together as part of the World Wide Web Consortium, to expand its capabilities based on those principles.”

more: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=long-live-the-web

Report on the workshop “Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Society”

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Section report “Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Society: Transformations and Challenges” by Philipp Budka and Adam Fiser in TRANS Internet Journal for Cultural Studies, 2010/17, Online: http://inst.at/trans/17Nr/8-2/8-2_sektionsbericht.htm

Of the more than 300 million Indigenous People recognized by the United Nations, a growing minority is actively shaping indigenous visions of a knowledge-based society (e.g. UNHCHR 2001, 1997). These visions are not simply indigenous responses to global mainstream debates over post-industrial development or techno-scientific culture, etc. More importantly, they articulate the actual deployment of new media and information communications technologies (ICTs) by indigenous communities to forward their own policies and practices. They frame how indigenous communities are mobilizing over the internet and on the web to communicate their lived experiences and extend their local networks to global audiences, including and most importantly, a global indigenous audience.

For academics in the field, Indigenous Peoples are opening up spaces of inquiry beyond the digital divide by actively co-creating online communities and transforming their cultural experience through ICTs. Questions about resources, knowledge, power, and access continue to be important, but they have become more complicated by issues of networking and social life, virtual reproduction, and information policy.

Knowledge production within the knowledge society is not only closely related to new forms of communication and technologies, it is also the basic principle of research and academic work. Research with Indigenous Peoples has been changing dramatically over the last forty years, particularly because more and more members of indigenous communities have become actively involved in shaping research policy and undertaking research projects. There is also a heightened sensitivity that research with Indigenous People and communities can be a conflict-ridden endeavour, as Linda Tuhiwai Smith (2005: 2), a Māori researcher, notes when she identifies research as “… a significant site of struggle between the interests and ways of knowing of the West and the interests and ways of resisting of the Other”. The Other in her example, and in our section, represents the position that Indigenous Peoples take as marginal forces within the mainstream currents of the global knowledge society.

more at: http://inst.at/trans/17Nr/8-2/8-2_sektionsbericht.htm

Section papers: http://inst.at/trans/17Nr/8-2/8-2_inhalt17.htm

First Nations students need Internet technology, advocates say

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from the straight.com

Denise Williams believes strongly that broadband Internet access can help First Nations in British Columbia broaden the opportunities available on their often rural or remote reserves. The 27-year-old member of the Cowichan Tribes likens high-speed pipes to the roads that connect a community to the rest of the world.

“It’s the infrastructure that’s going to strengthen the entire social fabric of the community,” Williams told the Georgia Straight at a café in Kitsilano. “So, it’s education, it’s health, it’s justice, it’s economy—it’s all of that.”

Williams is the youth initiative officer for the First Nations Education Steering Committee, a West Vancouver–based organization established in 1992 to support First Nations education activities in the province. While 80 of the 203 First Nations in B.C. are still waiting for broadband—a plan to connect them could be announced by the end of the year—the committee is looking at using Internet technology to facilitate the teaching of classes in band-run and independent schools on reserves.

High-speed connectivity allows on-line teleconferencing and video conferencing, as well as interactive applications that incorporate slide shows and instant messaging, to be employed in the delivery of distance education, Williams noted. Using such synchronous technologies, a teacher can remotely instruct a class comprising students in several locations.

full story at:
http://www.straight.com/article-254208/first-nations-kids-need-net

“An anthropology of the internet” by Keith Hart

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Is an anthropology of the internet possible? If so, what would it look like? I will attempt a provisional answer here, building on my book about the consequences of the digital revolution for the forms of money and exchange. People, machines and money matter in this world, in that order. Most intellectuals know very little about any of them, being preoccupied with their own production of cultural ideas. Anthropologists have made some progress towards understanding people, but they are often in denial when it comes to the other two; and their methods for studying people have been trapped for too long in the 20th-century paradigm of fieldwork-based ethnography. I do not advocate a wholesale rejection of the ethnographic tradition, but rather would extend its premises towards a more inclusive anthropological project, better suited to studying world society, of which the internet is perhaps the most striking expression. For sure, we need to find out what real people do and think by joining them where they live. But we also need a global perspective on humanity as a whole if we wish to understand our moment in history. This will expose the limitations of the modern experiment in the social sciences — their addiction to impersonal abstractions and repression of individual subjectivity.

Article: MyKnet.org: How Northern Ontario’s First Nation communities made themselves at home on the World Wide Web

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Budka, P., Bell, B., & Fiser, A. 2009. MyKnet.org: How Northern Ontario’s First Nation communities made themselves at home on the World Wide Web. The Journal of Community Informatics, 5(2), Online: http://ci-journal.net/index.php/ciej/article/view/568/450

Abstract

In this article we explore the development of MyKnet.org, a loosely structured system of personal homepages that was established by indigenous communities in the region of Northern Ontario, Canada in 2000. Individuals from over 50 remote First Nations across Northern Ontario have made this free of charge, free of advertisements, locally-driven online social environment their virtual home. MyKnet.org currently comprises over 25,000 active homepages and strongly reflects the demographic and geographic profile of Northern Ontario. It is thus youth-based and built around the communities’ need to maintain social ties across great distances. We draw upon encounters with a range of MyKnet.org’s developers and long time users to explore how this community-developed and community-controlled form of communication reflects life in the remote First Nations. Our focus is on the importance of locality: MyKnet.org’s development was contingent on K-Net, a regional indigenous computerization movement to bring broadband communications to remote First Nations. MyKnet.org is explicitly community-driven and not-for-profit, thus playing an important role in inter- and intra-community interaction in a region that has lacked basic telecommunications infrastructure well into the millennium.

Internet turns 40

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from the NYT:

Goofy videos weren’t on the minds of Len Kleinrock and his team at UCLA when they began tests 40 years ago on what would become the Internet. Neither was social networking, for that matter, nor were most of the other easy-to-use applications that have drawn more than a billion people online.

Instead the researchers sought to create an open network for freely exchanging information, an openness that ultimately spurred the innovation that would later spawn the likes of YouTube, Facebook and the World Wide Web.

more

some interesting sites on the web:
http://www.livinginternet.com/
http://www.archive.org/index.php
http://www.scientificcommons.org/

New forms of socialities on the web? – Paper at the Web as Culture Conference

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Budka, P., Mader, E. 2009. New forms of socialities on the web? A critical exploration of anthropological concepts to understand sociocultural online practices. Paper at “Web as Culture Conference”, Giessen, 16-18 July.

Abstract

Internet technologies and the World Wide Web promised a lot of things: from instantaneous global communication and fast information gathering to new forms of politics, economy, organizations, and socialities, including a renewed sense of community. By studying these online and “virtual” communities, internet researchers initially focused on their structure and development (e.g. Jones 1995, Smith & Kollock, 1999). Social network theory then changed decisively the way communities on the web have been conceptualized and analyzed. Scholars like Barry Wellman (et al., 2002) and Manuel Castells (2000), argue that in the internet age societies, communities, and individuals all have a network character. Thus the conceptualization of community as social network, by focusing on the interactions in these communities, has become widespread in internet studies.

Community and social network as concepts of sociality have been critically reviewed by anthropologists particularly in the context and process of ethnographic fieldwork. Vered Amit (2002), e.g., states that community is, because of its emotional significance and popularity in public discourses, a rather poor analytical concept. Internet ethnographers hence have been starting to look for alternative ways of understanding online socialities by moving beyond the community/network paradigm (Postill 2008).

In this paper we are critically discussing the potential of alternative concepts of sociality to analyze how people are interacting on the web. In so doing, we are firstly reviewing the quite popular concept of “communitas” developed by Victor Turner to differentiate between society as social structure and society as communitas constituted by concrete idiosyncratic individuals and their interactions. In the context of the sociocultural web, the liminal experience of people switching between these two stages is particularly interesting. Secondly, we are introducing the concept of “conviviality”, coined by Joanna Overing, to internet studies. Conviviality accentuates the affective side of sociality, such as joy, creativity, and the virtues of sharing and generosity, as opposed to the structure or functioning of society. These analytical concepts and tools, derived from anthropological and ethnographic research, are finally applied to an empirical case study of Bollywood fan communities on the web and their sociocultural practices.

References

Amit, Vered (ed.). 2002. Realizing community: concepts, social relationships and sentiments. London & New York: Routledge.
Castells, Manuel. 2000. The rise of the network society. Second Edition. Malden: Blackwell Publishers.
Jones, Steven G. (ed.). 1995. CyberSociety: Computer-Mediated Communication and Community. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Kollock, Peter, Smith, Marc A. (eds.). 1999. Communities in Cyberspace. London & New York: Routledge.
Postill, John. 2008. Localising the internet: beyond communities and networks. In: New Media and Society 10(3), 413-431.
Wellman, Barry, Boase, Jeffrey and Wenhong Chen. 2002. The networked nature of community: online and offline. In: IT&Society 1/1, 151-165.

The Indigenous Online Portal

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The Indigenous Portal is a direct outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society where, amongst others, the potential and utilization of information and communication technologies for the world’s indigenous peoples were discussed. It derives from an initiative of the International Indigenous ICT Task Force.

The portal blends services provided by social networking sites, such as myspace or facebook, with information and resources about indigenous peoples worldwide. After registration, users are offered a wide range of applications: from personal profiles to blogs and video uploading. In addition one can access information in form of articles, audio and video files dealing with different issues: from indigenous knowledge to health, education and politics. Using an online translation service, the English content of the portal can be translated – in rather poor quality – into other world languages, such as German, French or Chinese. But there is so far no translation service into an indigenous language.

If this portal is going to become the leading indigenous space in cyberspace remains to be seen.

More info about the portal:
http://www.indigenousportal.com
http://www.indigenousportal.com/ABOUT.html

The end of mailing lists?

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from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Change or Die: Scholarly E-Mail Lists, Once Vibrant, Fight for Relevance
By Jeffrey R. Young

Once they were hosts to lively discussions about academic style and substance, but the time of scholarly e-mail lists has passed, meaningful posts slowing to a trickle as professors migrate to blogs, wikis, Twitter, and social networks like Facebook.

That’s the argument made by T. Mills Kelly, an associate professor of history and associate director of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Naturally, he first made the argument on his blog, and he has mentioned it on the technology podcast he hosts with two colleagues.

A close look at some of the largest academic listservs, however, shows signs of enduring life and adaptation to the modern world.

Report: CRASSH Workshop “Subversion, Conversion, Development”

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Budka, P. 2008. Report on CRASSH Workshop “Subversion, Conversion, Development: Public Interests in Technologies”, Cambridge, 24-26 April.

From the workshop’s abstract:
As part of the “New forms of knowledge for the 21st Century” research agenda at Cambridge University, the workshop will explore why designers and developers of new technologies should be interested in producing objects that users can modify, redeploy or redevelop. This exploration demands an examination of presuppositions that underpin the knowledge practices associated with the various productions of information communication technologies (ICT). A central question is that of diversity: diversity of use, of purpose, and of value(s). Does diversity matter, in the production and use of ICT, and if so, why?

Text (PDF)

Links:
http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/71/
http://vectors.usc.edu/thoughtmesh/publish/12.php

Section/Workshop: Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Society

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The section “Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Society” of the KCTOS conference will take place at the 7th of December at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna.

More detailed information can be found in the workshop’s program:
fiser_budka_program.pdf