Notes from the workshop on Doctoral education and e-Supervision, organized by the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP), the International Association of Universities (IAU), the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) and the Kenyatta University (KU) within the project Personal Learning Environment (PLE)-PhD project financed through the IAU LEADHER programme, and held in Barcelona, Spain, in October 31, 2013. More notes on this event: plephd.
Hilligje van’t Land, Director, Membership and Programme Development, IAU
There is a dire need for real phds, in Africa or elsewhere, virtual or not.
There also is a need to collaborate, to innovate in the field of how to foster brand new research and how to support the new research done by PhD students.
Added to that, there is a need for research networks: it is important to note that supervision is also part of being a network.
A very important challenge is how to provide technical support, how to bring into research ethical dimensions, or how to lead the administrative changes that have to accompany the changes in research and in supervision.
But most important of all, beyond theories, we have to see how to put e-supervision into practice, to make it happen.
Marta Aymerich, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)
One of the keys of research and PhD is supervision. It is not a trivial matter and thus needs being addressed properly.
ICTs have provided very powerful in knowledge related tasks. We thus need to leverage the power of ICTs in research in general and in supervision in particular.
We need to discuss the structures in place for doctoral education.
Olive Mugenda, Vice-Chancellor, Kenyatta University (KU), Kenya
There is a dire need for research and for PhDs.
We especially need to train the trainers, people that will earn their own PhDs so that they can supervise/train others.
The whole process needs to be accountable, in general terms of performance, but especially in terms of ensuring quality.
We can’t keep the old model of supervision, we have to open up supervision.
We have to change paradigm, get out of old way of thinking and foster e-supervision.
Jaume Casals, Vice-Chancellor, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in representation of the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP)
PhDs are the jewel of the crown, thus we have to harvest them with care.
Doctoral education and e-Supervision (2013)
Rodrigo Nunes (PUC-Rio. Riots in Brazil)
The increase of corruption and the fall in the quality of public services converge in generating a general unrest in the citizenry. It is acknowledged that the general status of the majority of the population has improved, but people disapprove the way this has happened, many times based on commoditization of services, access to financial credit, and regardless of the social and environmental costs of increased access to consumption. “Changing the country” (the motto of the Workers’ Party) is not about higher consumption levels, but about another thing. The agenda of the movement thus globalizes, and focuses on a constituent/destituent power.
When social movements perceive that the opposition in the Parliament is using the destituent approach to undermine the power of the government, they step back and shift away from the destituent approach.
Now we are witnessing a full reshaping of the movement, following a re-specification of the identities, and going back to the local arena somewhat setting aside the national-wide issues. The shift is also back towards the left, back to emergency issues.
Indeed, we have to take into account that media usually rebrand the message(s) of the movements, thus causing even more confusion.
Marcelo D’Elia Branco (Free-software activist. Current project: Conexoes Globais)
#VemPraRua was organized in a decentralized way, and using the images from police violence to fuel the protests.
We have witnessed a shift in Brazil politics from following the politics from the “West” to having its own politics and leading its own development. This has increased the self-steem of Brazilians and, at the same time, the awareness that the future of Brazil is in the Brazilians’ hands. Thus the unrests and demonstrations: Brazilians feel the main actors of their own development and thus they step forward. Unrests and demonstrations in Brazil are about showing out empowerment, commitment, and not mere criticism.
But since June 17, the protests begin to be populated with all kinds of people, especially people from the right that aim at weakening the government by appropriating the movement.
Now the trademark of the protests in Brazil are the Black Blocs, which is bad, because the forms are more violent (despite whether they are legitimate or not) and are kicking citizens out of the streets.
Ali Ergin (Sendika.org. Occupy Gezi)
(his intervention, taped on video, will be uploaded to the Net soon)
Q: What are the main challenges? Nunes: Black Blocs have been useful to keep the movement alive and to avoid that the movement was captured by extreme-right parties or organizations. But it is true that their behaviour has also caused some harm in the image of the movement. What is needed now is diversifying the ways to exert activism, as Black Blocs have a very specific type of activism and of activist. There is an urgent need for a tactic diversification of the movement at the same time that there is a global interconnection of the world movements.
D’Elia Branco: we cannot analyse the current social movements, so very much brand new, in the typical classifications of the industrial society. Most of these movements scape the definitions of many post-modernist thinkers and philosophers.
Global Revolution. Three years of interconnected riots (2013)
Arnau Monterde (Communication and Civil Society Programme at UOC and DatAnalysis15M research group)
Evolution of the 15M network movement and its mutations (201-2013)
How is it that the movement can mutate and update so quickly? What is the role of “forks” within the network movement? It is quite clear, though, that (1) the Spanish Indignados Movement (#15M) is a “movement in movement” and that (2) emotions are a substantial part of the network movement, affective mobilization is crucial. There is a need for new forms of organization as a network that are capable of making decisions and fixing errors in real time.
It is also important the policentric and/or distributed character of the network, as a live or mutating organism. Codes are open and are replicable. Networks are open and contagion becomes global.
The #15O movement (global demonstrations on October 15, 2011) is a good example of both fork and evolution of the movement, of replicating it at a global scale. How are these replicas created? These movements that aim for the global movement hold powerful links and relationships between the collective identities of the different nodes or movements or sub-networks; they share codes, they share memes and hashtags; they also have in common bridging the physical and the virtual layer.
These new movements, and in an increasing way, begin to have a major impact on mainstream media.
The movements also have the capability to hack and transform forks or parallel movement, “embed some code in them” and transform their very nature to turn it towards the movement’s goals, thus mutating the original fork into part of the core movement.
Some mutations become single-issue movements, such as:
- The Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH), on mortgages (truly speaking it existed before the 15M movement, but the nature is the same one).
- The 15MpaRato project, to try presumably corrupt bankers.
- The “tides”, movements to defend specific public services (public health, public education, etc.)
One of the latest mutations is the Citizen Network Party X, a political party born within the 15M movement, with the formal frame of any other political party, but with an inner organization very much like a network movement.
It’s not only the words that are being said, it is also about the things people are doing while saying these words or just because they said these words.
Net Work: the use of one’s free time in a specific project by using one’s own resources. Most of the people that participate in Net Work are already knowledge workers whose job is to move around (create, mix, disseminate) knowledge.
No one is in charge of infrastructure, as infrastructure is decentralized and is used indistinctly and flexibly by net workers.
Occupy uses multiple channels for collecting, sorting, collating, and broadcasting information for the purpose of coordinating action: the public space, websites, etc. Rhizomatic communication: multiple channels for collecting sorting, collating, and broadcasting infromation for the purpose of collective action.
From #SandyVolunteer to #OccupySandy
After hurricane Sandy, many turned to the Net to help the victims of the hurricane — and #SandyVolunteer was born. But quickly the demands for information outpaced the supply of it. Then InterOccupy, an already established group, reorganized and turned towards the goal of helping #SandyVolunteer, and then came #OccupySandy.
Many matters of infrastructure usually come after ideas are put into practice: first act, then build. The website, the channel to accept donations, the mailing list and e-mail account, voice conferences to massively broadcast information and answer questions… a whole constellation of tools and people were put into work to support the network of volunteers contributing to alleviate the impact of Sandy.
A principle: Occupy Sandy is mutual aid, not charity.
Networks can be reconfigured, reoriented. It just takes a clear and legitimate goal, and finding out the right people with the right skills to leverage the power of the network.
Alberto Escorcia (Coordinador de YoSoyRed.com. México)
From #InternetNecesario to #1Dmx
The history of YoSoy132 can be traced back to 2009, when the government provides no satisfactory answers to the influenza pandemic during that year. It is the same people that would protest against the government for such poor information that will reorganize themselves around the policy to tax the Internet and create the #InternetNecesario movement.
After that, mass media begin to acknowledge that what happens in social networking sites can no more remain ignored. This is especially relevant when protests shift again, this time to ask for a null vote in the 2009 elections.
With time, we can see that social movements begin to create patterns of behaviour that can somewhat predict the evolution of the movement, its degree of participation, etc. So, social movements are certainly impredictable but some likelihoods of specific events and evolutions can be established after data analysis.
See the analysis on Google Trends by several terms causing citizen unrests developed by Alberto Escorcia.
Q: How do we measure impact? Is it the PAH the only one making an impact? Arnau Monterde: Indeed, most networks are if not integrated they are connected, even if many people do not realize that. For instance, much of the muscle behind and besides the PAH comes from the 15M network movement. The PAH is a school of activism just because it shares not only the values but the resources and the people of the 15M movement. So, the impact is actually not the PAH’s, but the impact of the whole network, despite the fact that one of the nodes may be more visible than others.
Global Revolution. Three years of interconnected riots (2013)
Luis Moreno-Caballud (University of Pennsylvania. Occupy Wall Street)
Occupy Wall Street is built upon a general resentment against Wall Street, as films as Capitalism: a love story or Inside job clearly show. A new imaginary is created not against capitalism itself, but against obscene wealth of the so-called 1% (the 1% of richest people). There also is a major disappointment after Barack Obama’s election, as many citizens deny the “hope” that the new President was supposed to bring.
There also is another precedent in the march on Wall Street on May 12th, 2011, as others on May 21st 2011, or June 16th, 2011, these latter two against Mayor Bloomberg.
At last, Adbusters creats the meme and calls on September 17th 2011 to “Occupy Wall Street”, a call clearly based on Tahrir Square and the Spanish Indignados’ camps. It is interesting to note that Adbusters made the call, but would not organize any formal movement, infrastructure, camp or whatever.
The New York City General Assembly is the one that takes the commitment to turn Adbusters’ call into something real.
Most of the people around NYC General Assembly and the camp at Zuccotti Park had similar profile: white, educated and politically committed youngsters. This provided a homogeneous culture which made agreements be reached quite easily, but also represented a closed cluster that had serious challenges to get to other citizens outside of this specific group. They notwithstanding succeeded in reaching out to other local processes, like groups fighting racism, groups fighting for labour rights, etc. At this moment, the movement boosts and virally expands into “traditional” activism and many other areas of society, including mainstream media.
It is worth noting two very interesting characteristics of the movement. The first one, the power of self-organization, including self-propagation, P2P help to newcomers, etc. The second one, the ability to replicate a “city” in the camp of Zuccotti Park, setting up the services and infrastructures that are needed to guarantee the habitability and sustainability of the occupation.
Baybars Külebi (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Occupy Gezy Barcelona)
The “Guided” Autonomy of #direngezi
In Turkey there is no apparent crisis. But, there are three pillars of economic growth in Turkey that are harming many people and that can provide an interesting framework for the movements in Taksim.
- Urban transformation projects. There is an important bias towards policies based on construction and big infrastructures.
- Enclosure of commons. Including environmental injustices related to (among other) water supplies and hydroelectric power.
- Neoliberal transformations. Benefiting the “big family” of rich capitalists that act as “dispossession networks”, networks made by the government, media and firms.
Besides this framework, there is a timeline of events that can also help to understand Taksim: the Bloody 1st of May (May 1, 1977), the Military Coup (September 12, 1980), the first celebration in Taksim (May 1, 2010), closing of the square (September 16, 2011), the beginning of construction within the park (May 27, 2013), etc.
On the other hand, there is a strong culture of the Internet in Turkey, deeply rooted in 4chan and its ethos. The ekşi sözlük group thus served, in many senses, as a sort of school of cyberactivism.
After the initial phase in May 27th, 2013, where just 50-60 people camped in Taksim, then the movement quickly gained momentum, especially when other organizations came and joined the general movement. The fact that the demands were very concrete was also helpful in gathering people around clear, straightforward ideas. Though there was some criticism for these demands not being very ambitious. But, again, simplicity played an important role in making the message very clear and easy to endorse.
It is important to note that the movement came in time: just two years before, broadband penetration in Turkey was very low, just improving very quickly after 2011. The role of technological tools has been important, but instrumental.
Bernardo Gutiérrez (Journalist. Riots in Brasil)
There are some minor — but relevant — unrests in November 6, 2012, but it is in June 13, 2013, where the protests end up in violence by the police. This sparks the movement: some activist groups call for demonstrations (among them Movimento Passe Livre, Anonymous, Movimento contra a Corrupção. Many movements answer the call for June 17th, 2013, thus gathering different sensibilities, approaches, demands, etc. and making the movement a very powerful one. It is worth noting that the movement identifies itself not as a major protest in Brazil, but as part of a global worldwide protest. Indeed, this made the local nodes of global networks like Anonymous to increase their relevance and their legitimacy both inside Brazil as outside of the country. On the other hand, #ProtestoRJ is seen as the network of the “poor nodes”, that is, no powerful local nodes monopolized the debate but, on the contrary, the conversation was really plural and distributed.
Political parties did not understand the movement — especially, or not even, left-wing parties — and they tried to enter the conversation with very self-referential and top-down approaches.
The movement succeeded in creating a collective identity and imaginary which has created a whole process of artivism and hacktivism that has permeated all spheres of life.
Ismael Peña-López (to Bernardo Gutiérrez): is it possible to be both a journalist and an activist? where are the red lines? Gutiérrez: it’s difficult. The good thing is knowing the issues in deepest detail, as an insider, and also being able to talk to all parts and actors and see their points of view. The not that good thing is how to keep a distance when it is needed, or how to keep criticism on one’s own side even when one is a convinced partisan of the movement. The final balance is, though, very positive: being both things — journalist and activist — as produced more rigorous and informed pieces in comparison with other media that have covered the citizen movements worldwide.
Global Revolution. Three years of interconnected riots (2013)
The topic of slacktivism has been dealt in quite a relative extent but, in my opinion, in a shallow depth. In brief, slacktivism is used to refer to civic activities that require little commitment and/or exposure. As such, they do not deserve much credit and are labelled as frivolous, comfortable and often impactless civic action. This is not untrue: liking the website of a nonprofit organization or signing an online petition is closer to buying a sticker and placing it in your bumper than to volunteering the whole weekend on a charity or fighting the police of a totalitarian government when demonstrating before the presidential palace.
But that is only part of the story.
Let us take a more neutral example than humanitarian action or citizen politics to make our point. Let us imagine a university student playing truant once every month or once every two months.
From the individual point of view, this action will mostly have very little impact. The student will spend that morning in the bar with some other colleagues, they will be handled the notes of the class they missed and end of story.
But there are, at least, two more approaches.
From a collective point of view, this missing a class is but a small piece in a bigger picture: the strategies (conscious or unconscious) of socialization that youngsters carry on since their early adolescence until they enter adulthood. Thus, missing this class is only one more activity that has to be aligned with hanging out during weekends with friends, going to theatres, having their first couples and their first hangovers. Missing a class is, even if smallest, yet another way to shape one’s identity and place within the tribe. Missing a class is not something that happens in an isolated way.
We can also approach the teacher’s point of view. If classes are missed at random, the impact is surely almost null. But what if every time that any student misses a class they are actually missing the same teacher’s class? The aggregation of these scattered missed classes concentrated in the very same teacher can end up in empty class lectures. And this arguably is telling something about that specific lecturer. From the teacher’s point of view, it is not the same that one or two students do not show every now and then, that when they do it is always in their classroom and at the same time: uninteresting topic, bad lecturing, bad performance, etc.
Let us substitute missing a class by a tiny online action, the students by the citizens, and the teacher by the government.
If slacktivism is individually taken irrelevant, it does makes a lot of sense if taken collectively or from the government’s point of view.
Collectively, slacktivism rarely is an isolated activity, but the tip of the iceberg of major civic movements that run across different platforms and media. Slacktivism is usually fostered in the framework of exposed projects run by committed citizens.
From the government’s point of view, successful and popular slacktivism in its aggregate form can be easily compared with massive demonstrations which decision-makers usually take into account. Maybe not as legitimate interlocutors but surely as valid probes of the state of the public opinion.
This is what the communication Casual Politics: From slacktivism to emergent movements and pattern recognition tries to explain by performing a thorough review at what we know so far about online politics and social media enabled social movements. The communication was presented in English at the 9th International Conference on Internet, Law & Politics and in Spanish at the II Jornadas españolas de ciberpolítica. Below can be accessed the slides and full papers in these languages.
Politics have traditionally looked at the exercise of democracy with at least two implicit assumptions: (1) institutions are the normal channel of politics and (2) voting is the normal channel for politics to make decisions. Of course, reality is much more complex than that, but, on the one hand, all the extensions of that model beyond or around voting –issues related to access to public information, to deliberation and argumentation, to negotiation and opinion shaping, or related to accountability are based on institutions as the core axis around which politics spin. On the other hand, the existence and analysis of extra-institutional political participation –awareness raising, lobbying, citizen movements, protests and demonstrations– have also most of the times been put in relationship with affecting the final outcomes of institutional participation and decision-making, especially in affecting voting.
Inspired in the concept of «feet voting» (developed by Tiebout, Friedman and others) in this paper we want to challenge this way of understanding politics as a proactive and conscious action, and propose instead a reactive and unconscious way of doing politics, based on small, casual contributions and its posterior analysis by means of big data, emergence analysis and pattern recognition.
In our theoretical approach –illustrated with real examples in and out of the field of politics– we will argue that social media practices like tweeting, liking and sharing on Facebook or Google+, blogging, commenting on social networking sites, tagging, hashtagging and geotagging are not what has been pejoratively labelled as «slacktivism» (a comfortable, low commitment and feel-good way of activism) but «casual politics», that is, the same kind of politics that happen informally in the offline world. The difference being that, for the first time, policy- and decision-makers can leverage and turn into real politics. If they are able to listen. If they are able to think about politics out of institutions and in real-time.
Communication in Spanish:
Moderator: Emily Taylor, Consultant, Non-executive Director Oxford Information Labs Ltd, Member of Multistakeholder Advisory Group at UN Internet Governance Forum.
Panelists: Gunilla Carlsson, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation; Yoani Sanchez, Journalist, Generation Y; Sang-yirl Nam, Research Fellow at the Korea Information Society Development Institute (KISDI); Andrew Wyckoff, Director, Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry at the OECD; Carlos Affonso Souza, Vice-Coordinator, Center for Technology and Society (CTS/FGV); Sylvie Coudray, Chief of Section of Freedom of Expression, UNESCO.
Internet freedom means physical access to infrastructures, but also access to content without any political bias or censorship and, at last, the freedom to publish content or opinions without any fear of harassment or personal harm.
The “Internet without the Internet” is about using USB keys to find and share all that it is not legal to be found and read and shared. Just like people are used in Cuba to look for illegal food in the black market, so do people look for illegal information on the Internet.
But what are the limits of freedom on the Internet?
Freedom is also having the skills to be able to operate the Internet.
Freedom is not being above the law, being free from the law. So, you are free not against the law, but because of the law.
ICTs give freedom to people through empowerment, providing tools to manage their own lives, to innovate, to leapfrog the stage of development they are in.
Freedom of the Net should be approached from a Human Rights point of view, which are “above” specific laws, sometimes disrespectful to Human Rights.
Multi-stakeholder initiatives are great for creating debate and a state of opinion, but at the end, it is elected representatives the ones that have the responsibility to make a decision and to make this decision happen in the real world. On the other hand, citizens can engage now much more through ICTs, so we should include them, not only as organized civil society, but as individuals, in decision-making processes.
When we speak about “responsible” citizens, what it sometimes happen is that totalitarian governments want “responsible” citizens that will only read and say what is “responsible”. And what happens is that once people reach the content that is on the Internet, they become critical and will read and say whatever they want, despite it is considered “responsible” by their totalitarian governments.
Stockholm Internet Forum on Internet Freedom for Global Development (2013)