These are some of the amazing review articles that we’ve got so far (we hope to have more, and more than everything we hope that other countries will host “Syria Off Frame” and feature the beauty and the power of contemporary Syrian art):
These are some of the amazing review articles that we’ve got so far (we hope to have more, and more than everything we hope that other countries will host “Syria Off Frame” and feature the beauty and the power of contemporary Syrian art):
Last week I entered the Acquario Romano, a historic gorgeous building in the surroundings of the main train station in Rome, eager to breath some fresh air in the lately very depressing hallways of politics.
Yannis Varoufakis was there to launch his newborn movement, DiEM25: an ambitious name that stands for “Democracy in Europe Movement” while the 25 sets in the year 2025 the deadline for the dream to come true. Young activists in their thirties had gathered there from all across Italy to meet the former Greek minister of Finance and volunteer to make the movement come to life. I heard a group of Danish young professionals telling their Italian peers how they would book a cheap airline flight and AirB&B a few nights in Rome just to be there and help out. I saw the familiar faces of long time activists and political theorists Toni Negri and Franco Berardi BIFO standing next to an energetic and casually dressed Varoufakis, ready to speak to the crowds about this Europe of us, that “will either be democratized or it will disintegrate”, as the movement motto states.
The gorgeous hall of the building was full of energy and great expectations when, to my greatest disappointment, Varoufakis – who professes to be a marxist – clarifies that DiEM25 is not a left-wing movement, but a movement that aims at reaching out to the entire political spectrum, including liberals, right-wing: literally anyone. Being a long time leftist activist I have to confess that I shivered once heard the sentence. Dear Varoufakis, you such a brilliant, cultivated man, the former hope of European left-wing movements who celebrated you when you walked out the bankers’ meeting on your motorbike: now that you can choose your own path, start your own movement, you, despite professing to be a marxist, decide that anyone should be included in it?
Feeling very uncomfortable I ask myself: does democratizing ultimately mean including everyone into something? Does the erasing of legitimate political differences and identities naturally imply to be democratic? I am horrified by this idea of one-size-fits-all democracy which, in my view, turns into a populistic version of a “DemoCrazy” instead.
Yet, being a very curious – and, generally, optimistic – person and a patient ethnographer, I decide to stay, regardless of my poor little leftist self being very frustrated by the idea of the one-size-fits-all DemoCrazy circulating around the gorgeous building. So, when the plenary assembly with Varoufakis is over and it’s time for splitting into smaller groups to discuss crucial issues for the future of Europe with fellow activists peers, I sit with the “democracy” group. The group has a 30 something people, sitting in a circle, and is moderated by a young blu-eyed guy who speaks in English, being the crowd a truly European crowd. Somebody sitting in the middle of the circle holds a huge piece of white paper and, with a red marker, writes some key words on it.
“How will democracy look like in 2025”, that’s the main question that the group needs to answer to: a creative, imaginative effort whose results will be translated into key words to be written on the poster, which will be later hung on the walls for public contemplation.
“Imagine yourself in ten years from now” is a familiar question to anyone who has sat, at least once in a lifetime, in a job interview with an American employer. After working for five years for a Silicon-Valley based organization the white piece of paper , with colored sticky notes progressively mushrooming on it as everybody at the table engaged in the imaginative effort, was also a familiar scenario. I might sound quite an old-fashioned leftist activist, but I don’t see anything particularly European or particularly democratic in the sticky notes; and not even in the one-minute imaginative effort of seeing yourself – together with democracy– projected in a ten years time. I understand that this might be an ice-breaker for a crowd who has just met; I understand that there is a time issue when five or more round table discussions have to wrap up and present their “results” in a plenary.
Yet I question the form as it hints to a very specific substance: the mere idea that democracy should be debated in a sort of “unconference” format which would give it enough coolness, openness, and horizontality not to be considered a topic heavy to digest. Is the precarious flexibility of the sticky notes; the time-sensitive creativity of key words; the coolness of geek formats à la Silicon-Valley a good answer to our thirst for democracy?
Cause there is, indeed, a craving for a more fair, democratic politics: and that’s why Varoufakis’ meeting was crowded and filled with hopes. But also with disappointment, as I heard a young man with a southern Italian accent saying in the plenary: “this seems like a business meeting rather than a gathering to start a new political movement”. Which completely resonates with my own frustration, after having heard words such as: self-empowerment, initiative, enterprise, sustainability, pitching. Can we get rid of neoliberalism at least in the words we use to imagine politics? Or is it so dramatically enmeshed into our daily jargon that we don’t even notice that discussing politics has become like talking about the stock market, or trying to impress your future boss in the most awesome job interview?
The answer to my unspoken question comes from a woman, a young volunteer who reacts to the remark made by the southern Italian man. “What do you mean? There is no such a thing as a political movement here. We gave you input: now you have to build the movement by yourself. Nothing is ready-made here”. She has been honest, at least: input was the right word, a perfect word for a neoliberal vocabulary. Input gives the right measure of time, when there is no time for discussion.
“We are here to launch the movement”, people say; which is totally coherent with the Twitter mantra: write first, verify later. Launch first, discuss later, as there is no time to discuss something that will be anyway measured later by the likes and shares of the social media universe.
Varoufakis’ performance will be also assessed not as a political performance but rather as an aesthetic one. No need to bother Rancière to grasp the political implications of those aesthetic experiences named “selfies” that I see blossoming on my Facebook wall portraying Varoufakis and Anna, Varoufakis and Emma, Varoufakis and Francesca.
The experience of arousal is aestheticized through those young female faces smiling with their object of desire. Varoufakis has been fetishized by this politics of the selfie, and he seems to have learned the lesson so well.
No collective identities are moved by the politics of the self(ie); just individual bodies in desperate need of personal experiences of temporary arousal.
If we want to counteract neoliberal politics, rising racism, xenophobia, extremism, austerity, sadness, financial and human depression, we badly need a politics of the orgy, a collective arousal of bodies and souls. And orgy has always been a much more satisfying way to reach pleasure than a lonely masturbatory selfi(e)sh act.
Siete tutti invitati, sabato 9 marzo, a partire dalle 18.30…
Raccontare quello che sta succedendo in Siria, da due anni a questa parte, è doloroso. Doloroso parlare di morti, violenza, bombardamenti, sangue versato quotidianamente, rifugiati, sfollati. Una tragedia a cui assistiamo, attraverso sottili schermi di computer e televisori ad attuttirci il senso di realtà e di dolore.
Eppure, insieme alla violenza, ogni giorno dalla Siria emerge la vita. Emerge dalle poesie, dalla musica, dai disegni, dalle immagini, dall’arte che in ogni (maledetto) giorno di morte i siriani trasformano in un’ode disperata al vivere. La societa` civile siriana non ha mai smesso di essere attiva, e creativa, nel silenzio dei media e dei politici, troppo concentrati a costruire scenari per il “giorno dopo”, mentre il presente viene messo da parte, con tutte le sue imbarazzanti domande e l’immobilita` del mondo.
Una segnalazione last minute che mi e` arrivata da Tommaso di Egypt-a dream in progress
Vi segnalo un’iniziativa importante di un gruppo di giovanissimi attivisti italoegiziani, “Giovani che amano l’Egitto”, che non si sono fatti scoraggiare dalle recenti vicissitudini politiche e hanno organizzato per Venerdì 29, a Reggio Emilia, un incontro con Asmaa Aly e Malek Adly, due attivisti di piazza Tahrir legati al movimento del 6 Aprile.
Oggi e domani al Valle Occupato, uno degli spazi di discussione artistica e politica piu interessanti dell`ultimo decennio a Roma, terro` un seminario dal titolo “Produrre informazione/Produrre azione” sull`uso dei social media a scopo informativo ma anche di attivismo. Il seminario e` aperto a tutti e libero.
Ulteriori informazioni sulla pagina del Valle.
I`d like to point you to this event happening today in Cairo, which might be inspiring for those of you that share an interest in open source culture and creative spaces for peer-production. Visit the Facebook page for more info.
Thursday, October 13 · 4:30pm – 8:00pm
هل أنت مهتم بانشاء مساحة مجتمع للإبداع، مشاريع مفتوحة المصدر، إضافات أنيقة، فن، و صداقات؟ إذن هناك مثلك مئات المصرين! إنضم لنا هذا الخميس لنتكلم عن أفضل كيفية إنشاء hackerspace مصري!
Hundreds of Egyptians have shown interest in creating a community space for creativity, open source projects, neat hacks, art and friendship.
Let’s bring together all the minds from Alexandria, Mansoura and Cairo hackerspace meetup to talk with Cairo Hackerspace members and the GEMSI crew before the GEMSI team leaves Cairo! We’ll be providing pizza, a platform to talk about your ideas and projects and lots of good energy.
Join us this Thursday 4:22PM at:
I`ve just returned after a long week of travels, the most exciting of them being the days spent in Tunis for the third Arab Bloggers meeting (#AB11).
I attended the second one in Beirut, 2009, and thought this was awesome. The atmosphere at the time was that of “something in the making”.
It was two years ago and that feeling has proved right. This crowd has been the protagonist, each of them in his/her own country, of this phenomenal 2011. Each of these people, together with the Arab youth of each country, had proven to be able to contribute, online and offline, to the shaping of a new future of the Arab region.
Two years ago I felt there was a kind of “cultural panarabism”, a feeling of unity pervading the meeting. This time it was even stronger.
When the Palestinian bloggers and activists were denied the entry visa by the Tunisian Ministry of Interior (without giving any acceptable reason), all the other Arab participants have raised in solidarity. We have made petitions,formal statements, press-releases, got all the mainstream media to talk about this (the evidence: when, few days ago, I walked into my Monaco hotel to join the jury of the Anna Lindht award, all the people there -a totally different crowd from the Arab bloggers- pointed out: it`s a real shame that the new Tunisia prevented the Palestinians to join the #AB11 meeting!). We have had a Skype call with them to let them join the sessions and put all their pictures on empty chairs in a symbolic protest for their unjustified absence.
I`ve attended so many conferences where officials make statements about Palestine and Palestians, and inter-Arab solidarity. This is the first time I`ve felt people being together, despite not being physically together.
There is something this Arab youth shares, beyond rhetoric. The Arab Springs have strengthened this feeling which has been in the making during the past years thanks to physical meet-ups but of course thanks to the Internet and the social networks.
Now there are best practices shared, together with pictures, videos, links, information.
This Arab youth is truly Pan-Arab. One`s revolution is everybody else`s revolution. One`s freedom is gonna be everybody else`s freedom.
The tools are there. Again, the #AB11 is a great mix of tech training (whether it is about learning cyber security or how to live video stream from the streets) and learning from others` experiences and direct participation. Sami Ben Gharbeia, Malek Khadhraoui and Astrubaal `s reflections on Tunisian revolution and the role played by their portal Nawaat have enlightened and inspired so many people in the #AB11 crowd. Bloggers from Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, have also contributed to the debate by bringing focusing on each of these countries and on their own direct experience in terms of citizens and activists. Pearls that you will never get on mainstream media.
But the novelty of this edition is how do we move to the next step, i.e. how do we empower people to do a better and citizen-media based cover for the upcoming elections in Tunisia and Egypt, and generally speaking how do we get people actively involved in the democratic process of rebuilding the institutions and the country itself. A very interesting panel, coordinated by Global Voices` Solana Saurus, has been held at the #AB11 on this very issue, with lots of insights coming from Tunisians, Egyptians, and Libyans,too.
For me one of the most interesting panel was the one which featured the Tunisian bloggers who are running for elections debating about their different visions of the constitutional assembly, the alliances among them or with other groups, their ideas towards mobilizing people, etc. Thanks to Jillian c.York we have great notes of the session.
The key question during the upcoming months is exactly this: how do we turn the regime change that was accomplished in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, into political and social change? and how do we turn the blogging and activism that was “in opposition” to dictatorships into a proactive force that reaches out to the ground and helps democracy to emerge?
#AB11 variety of panels and voices has given a great contribution to this debate. In two weeks Tunis will make the first move, by hosting the first democratic elections in the Region since long time. And the Tunisian bloggers and activists will play an important role in these elections which hopefully will later be a key role in the future of the country, too.
Thanks to Sami and the Nawaat team, all the wonderful Global Voices people, Doreen and Hiba from Heinrich Boll for organizing this inspiring meeting.
Stasera nell`ambito del Capalbio Film Festival curero` una serata dal titolo “Creative revolutions!” (ore 19.00, spazio Frantoio).
I`ve been looking forward to this third edition of the Arab Bloggers meeting, the coolest Internet-social media related event I`ve ever attended. The last one in Beirut, 2009, was pretty amazing.
For updates and Arabic version, please visit http://www.arabloggers.com
Day One: October 3rd, 2011
Doors open: 8:30
Start Program: 9:00
End Program: 5:45
9:00 – 9:15 Opening
9:15 – 9:45 Rebecca MacKinnon: Fighting for Our Digital Rights: Threats and Opportunities.
Internet activism played an important role in the revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt, and in uprisings around the region. Meanwhile, a global struggle for control of the Internet is raging. It is time to stop debating whether the Internet empowers individuals and societies, and address the more fundamental and urgent question of how technology should be structured and governed to support the rights and liberties of the world’s Internet users. Even though the United States and European governments talk about “Internet freedom,” the truth is that the world’s democratic nations do not have clear answers for how best to balance law enforcement, national security, child protection, and economic interests with human rights and free expression on the Internet. All concerned citizens of the Internet around the world – global “netizens” – have an important role to play.
9:45 – 10:30 Panel Discussion: The Revolution Shall be Twitterised .
Moderator: Amira Al Husseini
Panelists: Sultan Al Qassemi, Manal Hassan, Ahmed Al Omran, Hisham Al Miraat, Ghazi Gheblawi and Razan Ghazzawi.
Twitter has played an instrumental role in the Arab revolutions. Many tweeps have worked around the clock, serving as relay stations, amplifying the voices of netizens across the Arab world. We held the megaphone for each revolution starting with Tunisia and then moving to Egypt. Following Egypt, the entire region seemed to explode. How did we manage to continue to cover the news, informing a growing audience of developments on the ground, tweet by tweet, minute by minute? On this panel, where we have tweeps with an overall following of more than 110,000 followers, we will examine different types of Twitter users, the measures they follow to verify their information and the journalism standards and ethics they bring to the table.
Sultan Al Qassemi (@SultanAlQassemi), from the UAE, commands a following of more than 78,000 on Twitter, providing up to the minute commentary on developments across the region; Egyptian Manal Hassan (@Manal) spent her days and nights at Tahrir Square witnessing and tweeting Egypt’s revolution to her 16,000 followers. With 17,000 followers, Saudi Ahmed Al Omran (@ahmed) continues to be a loud voice commenting on the Arab revolutions, surfing through heart-breaking videos from Syria and curating their content for us; Moroccan Hisham Al Miraat (@__Hisham), with almost 6,000 followers, reports on protests at home and the rest of the region from France; Libyan Ghazi Gheblawi (@Gheblawi) amplified news from Libya all the way from London and Syrian Razan Ghazzawi (@RedRazan) continues to use Twitter to tell us about the atrocities being committed by the Syrian regime.
Who are those tweeps? How do they work? Where do they get their information from? How credible is their news? What do they do to ensure that their news is accurate?
10:30 – 10:45 – Coffee Break
10:45 – 11:15 Moez Chakchouk: Towards the Development of internet in Tunisia: New challenges
The Chairman and CEO of the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI), Moez Chakchouk, will highlight the importance of acting according to a clear strategy that needs to be adopted in the future for the development of Internet and broadband in Tunisia. This strategy should be implemented according to international best practices in the field and by taking into account the current situation of the country in terms of Tunisia’s achievements. We focus on constraints that have hindered more than a decade for any initiative or action from Internet stakeholders including civil society, private sector, public sector, multinational companies and foreign investors, etc. What is noteworthy is to tell the community of bloggers to participate in the dialogue on Internet governance by adopting the principles of neutrality, freedom and openness of Internet as well as considering privacy issues.
11:15 – 11:45 Zeynep Tufekci: Beyond Tahrir: Networked Activism in Post-Revolutionary Transitions
2011 is turning out to be a remarkable year in the Middle East and North Africa region–and beyond. In some countries, citizen movements have already ousted long-standing autocrats (Tunisia, Egypt) while in others we have witnessed an eruption of anti-dictatorship civil strife (Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and elsewhere). Networked activism played a role in most of these uprisings through multiple means ranging from countering state censorship of news to the supporting of an anti-dictatorship public sphere. However, there are significant differences in the structure of post-revolutionary transitions compared with the anti-dictatorship struggle. In this talk, I will discuss some of these differences and attempt to start a conversation about the role of new technologies in post-revolutionary politics in the 21st century in terms of both opportunities and limitations for networked activism.
11:45 – 12:15 Marek Tuszynski: Get the picture! Images, evidence and activism in times of transition
We all know certain images associated with revolutions, do they have any meaning beyond pure symbolism? What role and function do they play? How do visual communications change when we move away from mass political mobilisation into a context of advocacy and the creation of democratic processes? what can be the role of visualisation and data in these situations?
This talk will present recent examples from the region and ask many questions about the function, role and importance of images and the role of data in times of political and social transition.
12:15 – 12:45 Arturo Buzzolan & Jacob Appelboom: Crash course of Mobile (SS7) privacy and security
The SS7 protocol and network is what allows mobile phone operators to communicate with one another. When the SS7 network was designed and deployed well defined boundaries existed. With the liberalization of the market, these boundaries have been extended beyond a point that was not imagined. In a sense, the walls of the so called “”walled garden”” have been opened.
We will analyze SS7 in relation to GSM networks and in particular how anyone (even a “”non-telco””) is able to locate mobile phones. Some reference to real world examples will be given. People will be educated and made aware of issues related to privacy and security.
12:45 – 2:15 Lunch Break
2:15 – 3:15 Screening of Zero Silence, a documentary about the Free Wor(l)d
Presented by Alexandra Sandels
Zero Silence is a documentary about young people in the Middle East who have grown angry over the authoritarian regimes they live in. These young people are using the Web to bring about change in their societies where free speech is controlled or censored.
Among other topics, the production will explore the impact of the Internet and non-traditional media such as social media and whistle-blowing sites on the Arab world and beyond through a new generation that uses the Web to get the free word out to organize, mobilize, collaborate and fight injustice.
3:15 – 3:45 Leila Nachawati: Citizen mobilizations and citizen communications: The Spanish 15 M movement and the Arab inspiration
How the Spanish 15 M movement emerged, inspired in the mobilizations South of the Mediterranean. Although the contexts are quite different and the Spanish population does not suffer the repression characteristic of Arab regimes, the way citizens all over Spain broke the wall of apathy taking public spaces back and organizing both online and offline shows a strong influence of the Arab uprisings. Institutional reaction to the movement and the tension between official narratives and decentralized citizen communications is also paralell to this tension during the Arab Spring and a global issue that affects governments and civil societies as a whole.
3:45 – 4:30 Panel Discussion: Tunisian Bloggers & Politics:
Moderator: Malek Khadhraoui
Panelists: Amira Yahyaoui, Riadh Guerfali (Astrubal), Tarek Kahlaoui, Mokhtar Yahyaoui, Mehdi Lamloum
On October 23, 2011, Tunisians will elect a national constituent assembly which will be writing the country’s new constitution. Seven Tunisian bloggers decided to join the election race. With more than 1700 electoral lists inside and outside the country, what will be the chance of the 7 Tunisian bloggers to be elected and what do they want to achieve?
4:30 – 4:45 – Coffee Break
4:45 – 5:30 Panel Discussion: Wikileaks and the Arab Spring: What is the Impact of Information on Social Change?
Moderator: Jillian York
Panelists: Mansour Aziz & Sami Ben Gharbia
On November 28th, only two weeks before the Tunisian revolution was sparked on December 17th, and just half an hour after the whistle-blowing site Wikileaks unleashed the cables, the Tunisian collective blog Nawaat launched theTunileaks site and published 17 US embassy cables in which President Ben Ali’s extended family was “often cited as the nexus of Tunisian corruption“. Following Nawaat, the website of Beirut-based al-Akhbar newspaper published dozens of cables from several Arab countries, and the site was forced to shut down following a hack and sophisticated DDoS attack. What was the impact of the release of these diplomatic cables, as well as other subsequent document leaks, on the Arab Spring? Was Wikileaks an ignitor of protest movements regionally and elsewhere as claimed by its video “What Does it Cost to Change the World?”
With two panelists from Wikileaks partners, Tunileaks and al-Akhbar, the panel will discuss the impact of the cables on the Arab spring and shed some light on the events and momentum prior to the spark of the Arab revolution.
5:30 – 5:45 – Closing Discussion