My new book, Digital Solidarity, is out now.

Update Sept.2014: Dieses Essay liegt nun auch in deutscher Übersetzung vor. Dank an die Rosa Luxenburg Stiftung.

Update Oct.2014: This Essay is now also available as an epub. Thanks a lot to PJ :)

This extended essay, Digital Solidarity, responds to the wave of new forms of networked organisation emerging from and colliding with the global economic crisis of 2008. Across the globe, voluntary association, participatory decision-making and the sharing of resources, all widely adopted online, are being translated into new forms of social space.

This movement operates in the breach between accelerating technical innovation, on the one hand, and the crises of institutions which organise, or increasingly restrain society on the other. Through an inventory of social forms – commons, assemblies, swarms and weak networks – the essay outlines how far we have already left McLuhan’s ‘Gutenberg Galaxy’ behind. In his cautiously optimistic account, Stalder reminds us that the struggles over where we will arrive are only just beginning.

Open! Art, Culture & the Public Domain. Key Texts 2004 - 2012

This anthology brings together key texts on the field of art, culture and the public domain published in Open by NAi Publishers and SKOR | Foundation for Art and Public Domain from 2004 until 2012. Together, these essays written by international theoreticians provide powerful insights into the most important areas of theory and practice in today's public space. They also reflect the effort invested and the themes covered by Open in the eight years it has existed. Subjects covered include safety, informal media, makeability, precarity, war, privacy, populism, transparency, mobility and autonomy.

With contributions by
Gijs van Oenen, Wolfgang Ernst, Jorinde Seijdel, Jonathan Sterne, Roemer van Toorn, Saskia Sassen, Stephen Wright, Geert Lovink, Chantal Mouffe, Marc Schuilenburg, Pascal Gielen, Matteo Pasquinelli, Willem Schinkel, Felix Stalder, Yves Citton, Brian Holmes, Boris Groys, Sven Lütticken, Noortje Marres

Jorinde Seijdel and Liesbeth Melis

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