The Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies has just published a book review that I did on Manuel Castells’ Redes de Indignación y Esperanza (Networks of Outrage and Hope in its English edition).
Unlike most reviews — not my words, but someone else’s — my review is not just a description of what is in the book, but an actual review or, better put, a critique. Not necessarily negative one, mind you, but a reading with at least a critical eye.
In my review — which, by the way, is in Spanish — I begin by telling why the book is relevant and comes at a perfect timing.
Then, I go into debating on of the most important (to me) subjects of Manuel Castells’ trilogy on the Information Society and that the author revisits in his by now latest book: the question of space (or of spaces). Unlike what he did in The Information Age, though, his approach to the concept of space is somewhat changed here, and goes more in the line of what other authors have stated, like John Perry Barlow, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Javier Echeverría or Marc Augé.
The paper can be downloaded at the following link, and the bibliography that I used can be accessed after the download section.
Alcazan, Monterde, A., Axebra, Quodlibetat, Levi, S., SuNotissima, TakeTheSquare & Toret, J. (2012). Tecnopolítica, Internet y R-Evoluciones. Sobre la Centralidad de Redes Digitales en el #15M
. Barcelona: Icaria.
Stephenson, N. (1992). Snow Crash
. New York City: Bantam Books.
My colleagues Mariluz Congosto, Pablo Aragón and I just got a paper published. It is the final, improved version of a research that had already been presented thus:
In the last months I have been reflecting — especially in my blog in Spanish, SociedadRed, but also here — on the impact of ICTs on political institutions, and how these institutions are — or, in my opinion, should — adapting to new forms of participation and citizen organization.
I have especially addressed the highly innovative environment of these social practices, and thus (re)approached innovation, open innovation and social innovation but now under the new light of political extra-representative participation, social movements, political engagement and participation that happens “under the radar” of institutions, etc.
A first result of these reflections was my paper “Casual Politics: From slacktivism to emergent movements and pattern recognition”.
What comes now is the result of merging some partial works:
The result of it all is a new book chapter, Innovació social oberta: l’organització política com a plataforma [Open social innovation: the political organization as a platform], published in the book Costa i Fernández, L. & Puntí Brun, M. (Eds.), Comunicació pel canvi social. Reflexions i experiències per una comunicació participativa, emancipadora i transparent. A preprint version is available for download below:
Imagine an organization you highly and very sincerely respect. Imagine this organization calls you and tells you about their vision and the plans to achieve this vision. Plans about opening research, about making the creation and spread of knowledge very participative and collaborative, about making impact the target and research the instrument put at the service of that impact (instead of research being the goal and impact a casual side-effect). Imagine this organization asking for your opinion and listening to you digress about e-research, personal learning environments, the personal research portal, knowledge management or new ways to use technology and participate in the Information Society.
This happened in September at Fundació Jaume Bofill, a leading non-profit in Catalonia that performs quality research in human sciences in general, and now narrowing its field of action to Education in a very broad sense, with a special focus on inequalities, innovation and social change. And the conversation ended with a
would you like to lead the project?.
Since November 1st I am the director of open innovation at Fundació Jaume Bofill, being my general goal to rethink how knowledge is produced and shared all across the organization. To be able to perform my new responsibilities, since January 1st 2014 until February 1st 2015 I will be on partial leave from my current job, full time professor at the Open University of Catalonia. I describe what I think the main background is in Open Social Innovation. On the other hand, what I believe my main guiding lines will be in the following year was presented in December to my new colleagues. What follows are the slides I used (in Catalan):
All of this has mostly been learning by doing, so I just expect my experience not to be too much wrong.
There is a positive side-effect to this already thrilling collaboration. My University and I found that the best way to channel it was through the recently created Open Evidence, a spin-off from my University working in the field of social sciences research, innovation and knowledge transfer. I will thus be working side by side as a researcher and analyst with my friends Francisco Lupiáñez- Villanueva and David Osimo, whom I highly respect. I hope being closer will make it easier to produce some good things together.
Last, but not least, it is worth acknowledging that things do not happen just because. There is plenty of people to be grateful to. First of all, my thanks go to Ismael Palacín (director of the Foundation), Mònica Nadal (director of prospective) and the board of trustees of the Fundació Jaume Bofill (Carles Capdevila among others) for their trust in me; to some friends and “usual suspects” (Jaume Albaigès, Pau Vidal, etc.) for their priceless help and speaking well of me and my work; to Paco Lupiáñez, Agustí Cerrillo, Mireia Riera, José Miguel de la Dehesa and Enric Vinaixa for their support and making things happen; and to María Salido, Amalio Rey, Julen Iturbe and Ana Rodera for their “notes” on how to leave the nest. And, of course, to Mercè, Muriel and (soon) Jofre for their patience.
At this moment I’m both excited and terrified at the perspective of the new year. The project is huge, both a tremendous opportunity of making great things or falling into deep failures. The team I will be working with is gorgeous and an incredible source of learning. The gods be good to us! Come, masters, let’s home. I ever said we were i’ the wrong if we never tried.
My research on slacktivism has finally been published as a paper both in Spanish and Catalan at two “brother” journals: Educación Social. Revista de Intervención Socioeducativa and Educació Social. Revista d’Intervenció Sòcioeducativa.
This is work that I had already presented at two conferences — 9th International Conference on Internet, Law & Politics; II Jornadas españolas de ciberpolítica — and, thus, is now available in three languages: the former two plus English.
What follows — after the abstract — is a list of the references and full text downloads for the papers. The main idea of the papers is that if we look at slacktivism from the point of view of the “activist”, it is but true that it is a very low-commitment activism. But if we take the approach of the politician or the policy-maker, or if we take some distance and take a look at the whole landscape, what we find is that slacktivism is only a tiny portion of a huge cosmos of people very actively engaging in politics, extra-representational politics though, and that is why most of it flies underneath the traditional political radar.
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.
During the year 2012, the research programme on Communication and Civil Society of the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute carried on a series of research seminars on Internet, net neutrality, hacker ethics and digital culture and on Internet, institutional crisis and new institutionalism — the later, coordinated by myself.
The result of that work is the recently issued working paper La reinvención de la democracia en la sociedad-red [The reinvention of democracy in the network society], coordinated by Arnau Monterde Mateo, Adrià Rodríguez and myself, and which has been published in Spanish.
I want to very sincerely thank Arnau Monterde for the opportunity he gave to me to take part and coordinate one of the seminars, and acknowledge the huge amount of work that Arnau Rodríguez devoted in putting all the pieces together. On the other hand, the final paper would not have been possible without the contributions of the participants that attended the seminars. In no particular order, and besides Arnau, Adrià and I, those were Pablo Aragón, Cristina Cullell, Débora Lanzeni, Carlos Sánchez Almeida, Javier Toret, Gala Pin, Carlos Tomás Moro, Joan Coscubiela, Gemma Galdón, Tomás Herreros, Rommy Morales, Pedro Miguel Da Palma Santos, Joan Subirats and Alicia Domínguez. A warm thank you to all of them.
From the Arab Spring, through movement occupywallstreet or 15M it has been opened a new cycle of political network movements which propose many new elements regarding the political use of new technologies and the Internet to collective action. These new movements see the network not only as a tool or battlefield, but also as an organizational form, establishing a relationship that commonly has been linked to ethics and ways to do of hacker communities.
Moreover, the financial crisis in Europe is deepening blocking political institutions that have been building since the beginning of modernity. This crisis is expressed not only in the inability of these institutions to tackle the current economic, social and political, but also in its complicity with the mechanisms of financial dispossession. Such institutional crisis determines the need to exercise both a critical and process of invention and construction work that starts from the new technological possibilities and lessons of network movements, hacker culture and free software, which enable reinventing institutional and constitutional forms, and therefore also of democracy itself.