From the Arab Spring to the Global Spring. How to think on the global relationships of the new movements in the digital age

Notes from the Digital culture, networks and distributed politics in the age of the Internet. From the Global Spring to the Net Democracy, organized by the Communication and Civil Society programme of the IN3 in Barcelona, Spain, in October 24-25, 2012. More notes on this event: comsc.

Presentation of the 2n day of the Conference: Joan Coscubiela

Most social structures of the industrial society seem inadequate for today’s problems.

On the other hand, in times of change not only aren’t there many solutions, but existing solutions are far from being global or valid for all problems and contexts.

Another big problem is that people that have lived in previous social models usually do not have the keys for transformation.

Can we go forward with a de-constituent process that is followed by a constituent one? How will be build the required consensus? What is exactly the social conflict of the XXIst century? Is it capital? Is it the control of information? Of networks? Is it the control of the economic powers that are beyond the political power? How do we combine short-term solutions to daily problems with long-term, systemic ones?

Round table: From the Arab Spring to the Global Spring. How to think on the global relationships of the new movements in the digital age
Chairs: Arnau Monterde (Programme in Communication and Civil Society, UOC/IN3)

#yosoy132 #15m #ows #tahrir have implied more thatn 10 millino tweets in the last year. What is the impact of the whole set? What are the relationships between these movements? What is going to be next in these movements and in the very nature of these movements?

Nizaiá Cassián (UOC); Israel Solorio (Member of YoSoy132 Mexico)

Israel Solorio

The nature of YoSoy132 was quite different form the 15M Indignados, at least in its origins.

The nature of YoSoy132 was quite different from the 15M indignados, at least in its origins. The movement originated in universities to fight poor democracy, but quickly grew outside of the educational environment and thus YoSoy132 International is like the assembly of the circa 70 assemblies that generated after the initial spark of the movement.

Nizaiá Cassián

YoSoy132 is a Mexican students protest that initiates when the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto is haunted during a conference at a university because of denyal of human rights violation. After mainstream media minimize the impact on the image of the candidate labelling the students as a “few violent misfits”. The response of the students is a major, decentralized campaign, led by 131 students, stating that they are neither “a few” nor “violent misfits”. The result is that thousands of students support the initiative of the 131 by stating that they agree with them and that they are the 132 student.

This movement has determined the development of the electoral campaign, the way students have been more engaged in politics, etc. It is important to stress the point that the movement did not only address the political parties and politicians, but most especially mainstream media and their lack of neutrality and ethics. The criticism against Mexican media powers was very strong and as part of a demand for more and better democracy.

Israel Solorio

There is a deeper digital divide in Mexico than in Spain. In Mexico the usual way to diffuse (alternative) political messages is the bridageo, consisting in delivering leaflets in the underground or the streets. But YoSoy132 somewhat brought into the spotlight the power of social networking sites, and how they could bridge the Net and the street.

Indeed, having an influence on the communication agenda was always one of the main goals of the movement.

The movement YoSoy132 acknowledges the great wealth that the 15M movement generated by documenting procedures, sharing tools and opening their source code, analysing how people communicate and got engaged, etc. The 15M still is a good reference to be able to know the pace of things.

And the other way round: all movements feedback one each other, as “Rodea Televisa” was an inspiration to “Rodea el Congreso”.

If power goes global, let’s globalize the resistance.

Pablo Rey Mazón (OccupyResearch)

Pablo Rey analyzed the coverage that newspapers did of the 15M which can be seen in the following links:

A similar analysis with Occupy Wall Street and the pepper spray incident also shows that what people talk about and what media show is closely related, but unlike what used to happen in the past, it is interesting to see that social networking sites are beginning to condition what ends up in the front page of newspapers.

The relationship and mutual feedback between social media and traditional media is increasing, many times creating “transmedia” pieces of news that are originated in one platform and then is transposed to the other one, creating a dialogue across platforms and actors.

[click here to enlarge]

The Occupy movement generated around it a group of researchers and communicators that focused on gathering and curating content about the movement, in order to record what happened, diffused it, and, above all, analyse it, like #OccupyData NYC or Occupy Research.

Main things learnt: activists have learn new ways to mobilize and, more important, to communicate. Many citizens have seen new movements (and Occupy specifically) as new and fresh ways of engagement and of changing the typical political discourse. The movement has also acted as a bridge between collectives (immigrants, unions, etc.) that usually did not work together and that now are part of a same network, [added after numeroteca’s comment] though this bridging was not broadly achieved.

Lali Sandiumenge (Author of: Guerrilleros del Teclado)

The Arab Spring really is a regional phenomenon, not a collection of isolated/national unrests. There really is a collective conscience that transcends the boundaries of countries. The increase in the number of blogs since 2004 in the Arab World is exponential: from just some dozens to literally hundreds of thousands, many of them speaking one to each other about human rights and civil liberties. Of course, every country has its own revolution (or transition in some of thems), but the collective sense prevails.

In the case of Egypt, even if now in a political transition, the revolution is still going on: there still are protests, there still are victims, there still are struggles to speak and be heard. There is a symbiosis between the fights in the streets and the fights that happen online: the street and the online world are not separate worlds. Indeed, one of the acknowledged flaws of the revolution in Morocco is that it has not succeeded in taking the streets.

On the other hand, despite the fact that all the Arab revolutions are part of a bigger network and share a lot of knowledge (tactics, tools, etc.) there still is the feeling that a closer relationship and collaboration could take place. Added to that, the different regimes are also fighting back the movements on the Net too. And, still, one of the problems to be informed of what a network does is being part of the network.

Kazeeboon’s channel on YouTube shares footage taken on the streets on protests and human rights violations. But these footage is taken “outside” of the Internet and shown in the streets, on walls, on the ground or even on people so that everybody (with or without Internet access) can see what has been taped.


Digital culture, networks and distributed politics in the age of the Internet (2012)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2012) “From the Arab Spring to the Global Spring. How to think on the global relationships of the new movements in the digital age” In ICTlogy, #109, October 2012. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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2 Comments to “From the Arab Spring to the Global Spring. How to think on the global relationships of the new movements in the digital age” »

  1. “The movement has also acted as a bridge between collectives (immigrants, unions, etc.) that usually did not work together and that now are part of a same network.” I meant the contrary: although part of the movement was aware that bridges towards other community base organization (neighborhood communities, immigrants movements, other networks…) was a fundamental piece to extend the social mobilization, and things like Occupy the Hood + POC People of Color were created, it was difficult and not broadly achieved. One of the main critics to the movement is its white male composition, and difficlties to engage with people or color or more women.

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