This should be October 21st, but it’s November 29th. Meaning: I’m more than a whole month behind celebrating ICTlogy’s 11th anniversary. I’ve like a zillion excuses to explain that oversight: pick any of them, and sure it applies to me.
But I digress. Let us first see some figures.
- 1,198 blog posts at the ICT4D Blog, (), 1,356 comments () and 179 pages.
- 288 blog posts at the SociedadRed Blog, (), 1,316 comments () and 3 pages [I’m realizing now that some of the stats from the 10th anniversary where wrong, as they included spam and other stuff].
- A bibliography with 2,731 works and 2,203 authors ().
- 626 wiki entries (, ).
- 24 learning materials.
- 573 articles from 113 events from my liveblogging sessions.
- All the usual stuff: Twitter, delicious, Google Calendar, Slideshare, Prezi, YouTube, Lifestream/aggregator and FriendFeed.
This year there are few comments to be made.
While the activity throughout the year has been absolutely hectic, its disperse nature has caused that it has been less reflected in the website. Among other things, my appointment as Director of Open Innovation at Fundació Jaume Bofill made that I spent less time “thinking” and spend more time “doing” things instead. And when reporting the stuff you do happens elsewhere, it is just natural that the rest of the activity, the one related to reflecting, just takes less room than usual.
Fatherhood itself and opening up a collective blog on fatherhood — Vadepares — also took away a good amount of time I used to spend on writing. The two and a half hours I used to commute to work this year turned into an hour and a half of biking, thus implying less reading too. And, hence, even less writing. Fatherhood and a little bit of exercised turned to be something better than spending so much time typing… but I somewhat regret too the trade-offs that come with the limited asset of time.
And, of course, Twitter still is transforming my/our communication and organization practices. And doing it at a level which I would have never suspected back in September 3, 2007, when I joined the social networking site.
All that said, what is more remarkable from this past year is what I call the academic paradox. This year more than ever I became aware of a tremendous mismatch between what academia does and what academia is required to do. Take that last sentence as you want: any interpretation will suit what I meant. This year more than ever I became aware that most of the things I asked to do outside of the academia where due to the fact that I was, indeed, a faculty member. But. Most of the things that society at large asked me to do because I was a faculty member where totally, absolutely and definitely worthless in an academic world.
If I keep on accepting the demands that society does to me (speak at a conference, participate in a workshop, provide advice to some institutions), I will be kicked out of academia for not performing.
If I instead turn my efforts into achieving the goals that academia sets for a scholar to be called so, I will be forced to turn my back to most demands coming from outside of the academic world. A world which, shockingly enough, pays my rent.
A very simplified scheme goes like this:
- Part of the government pays me to teach. Most of my income comes from this agreement between my university and the government.
- Another part of the government, and academia at large, will evaluate my performance strictly looking at my publications, output of my research. And not all my publications, but only some indexed in some specific indices.
- Society at large will perceive me as “useful” if I answer positively to their demands, most of them falling under the category of “knowledge transmission”.
That is, I get paid for doing one thing, I am evaluated for doing another most different thing, and people will think I am of any use if I do none of the former, but yet a third kind of activity.
This is so, so broken.
Doing research on the impact of Information and Communication Technologies in Development is right, but taking part in the Global Forum on Telecentres to explain what is the state of telecentres and what could be its horizon in 2023 is a waste of time if I care for my academic career.
My government will ask me to, for instance, teach what are the technological foundations of e-government and will, on the contrary, not pay me to teach that outside of a university classroom. The government will actually think that I am wasting my time doing otherwise… even though the Parliament will ask to me speak there about e-participation. Or the Senate.
Surprisingly, my peers will recognize my value as a researcher if I publish a paper on Spanish politics… in a US journal on Spanish Culture. This very same paper — with minor differences — is absolutely worthless if presented at one of the most important gatherings on Internet and Politics in Spain. So, if my fellow citizens want to read about the research they are paying with their taxes, they will (a) have to do it in English and (b) pay (again) for it. Either that or, indirectly, they will say (though academic evaluation boards) I am a bad scholar for not publishing where I should and not where they would like to. This is schizophrenia at its purest essence.
I’ve personally dozens of examples like the preceding ones.
If you want to do the things that you think you should do as a scholar — and which most people outside of academia ask you to do —, you have to circumvent the academia and, sooner or later, most likely be kicked out of it. If you want to stay in the academia, you have to most of the times forget about doing things not-for-scholars and concentrate in what the ivory tower is demanding.
This situation is tiring and discouraging.
And sad, very sad.
The solution to the puzzle, maybe in the 12th anniversary of ICTlogy. See you then.
#OccupyHongKong: Network Movements arrive in Asia
The global financial crisis of 1997 can arguably be seen as one of the main precedents of Occupy Hong Kong. This added to the several attempts of China to regain hegemony in Hong Kong — like the 2003 Education Law — explain a good bunch of how citizens begin to organize themselves, most especially when they begin to mirror the Sunflower movement in Taiwan, with which they share many philosophical principles.
OccupyCentral with peace and love is a movement that aims at achieving universal suffrage for the citizens in Hong Kong and against what they criticise as Chinese imperialism.
The civil referendum of OccupyCentral with peace and love will be participated by 787,767 citizens, roughly the 20% of the population in Hong Kong. Certainly a milestone, but still a minority in Hongkongese terms. The response from the Chinese government is applying even more restrictions, thus heating the public agenda.
Scholarism, to fight back, proposes a one week strike against the new law and the occupation, during September 26 and 27 of a square and government building. This is an offensive that caught by surprise both the Government and OccupyCentral, which aimed at occupying the financial district much later — the students, instead, argue that action should not wait. On September 28th, the students take the central streets with their umbrellas as a political sign. On September 28th the resistance on the streets is already massive.
The protesters organize themselves as a network, with different actors, with public figures as visible faces but with many anonymous citizens working hard on the “back office”. This network experienced or continued with prior technopolitical actions, and in other cases induced innovation in this kind of practices. In general, there was a major appropriation of the commercial technologies at hand: Facebook, Telegram, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Nevertheless, Twitter is not used a lot, especially in comparison to other movements such as the Spanish 15M. Instead, Facebook and online forums are much more mainstream. And, as in other movements, there is a blending of physical and virtual spaces, and of local and international spheres.
Knowing this, China redoubled its attacks on the cybersphere, putting down websites, forbidding online services, etc.
One of the main novelties is the usage of Firechat, an applications that enables local networks based on Bluetooth connectivity to create a mesh network. This made possible communications among protesters even when there was no Internet connectivity available. Notwithstanding, and despite a huge amount of downloads, its lack of privacy and protection against malware caused that is was not used by everyone or all the time.
Code4HK acted as a general aggregator, centralizing news, information, resources, lists of people or groups or tools/technology, etc, etc, etc. A huge repository that helped people to replicate DIY citizen actions.
Stand By You was a tool to connect the local with the remote, the physical and the virtual, by enabling sending messages of support and project them upon the façades of buildings.
As in other movements, there is a clear overlapping of “layers”: the physical one, the technical one, the emotional one, etc.
It seems that the OccupyHongKong movement is doing similar things as other movements (Indignados, Occupy Wall Street, etc.) but the movement does not see itself as connected to those other movements. In fact, this is partly a wanted decision, so to avoid criticism from China or even Honk Kong of the movement being fostered by the US or other foreign powers.
It’s a pro-democracy movement and universal suffrage is its main and specific demand.
Now OccupyCentral with Peace and Love has been participated by (traditional) political parties and university faculty, which has contributed to coordinate different actors, to establish bridges between institutions.
The active and pervasive presence of the digital media/press has undoubtedly contributed in better monitoring and describing the movement, much more than in other similar movements, and also to contribute that mainstream traditional media better understand what is going on the streets. The fact that there are public, recognizable spokesman of the movement has also contributed to a collective explaining and understanding of the movement.
The protests have a clear generational cut: most of the protesters teenagers and youngsters in general (college and higher education students). There’s faculty too, and some other actors, but it is mainly a student movement.
Thesis defence by Xavier Mas
entitled The integration of the uses of digital technology in adult persons in their training activities at the university
, in Barcelona at the Universitat de Barcelona
. November 24, 2014.
Xavier Mas: The integration of the uses of digital technology in adult persons in their training activities at the university
Having the word, in the digital age is having the technology. Technology is part of literacy.
- Improve the knowledge on the relationship between the use of technology and everyday life, especially learning.
- Patterns in the use of digital technologies for learning.
- New questions in the field.
The theoretical framework comes both from the “pre-Net” learning theories to renew education (Freire, Freinet, Vygotsky, Illich) and “Net-aware” theories based on constructivism and connectivism, the flipped classroom, augmented learning, the PLE, etc.
Digital competence goes way beyond a simple matter of literacy, but it does embed other skills that belong to superior stages.
Methodology: two independent research paths, qualitative and quantitative. Guided open interviews with experts + survey to students (2010).
Experts from the interview:
- Preponderance of the professional sphere in their digital universe.
- Relevance of the social dimension in managing knowledge (connectivism)
- Strong relationship between digital universe and digital competence.
- Awareness of being building a PLE.
- Awareness of a sense of being on a PLN.
- Quest for ubiquity.
Results from survey
- Two different clusters among the respondants.
- Universal: basic uses such as search for information, accessing digital content, use of social networking sites, etc.
- Minority use: complex uses such as publish on a blog, online gaming, mobile devices, etc.
Complex uses are normally accompanied with more participation online and a more creative participation.
Utility of uses of digital technology for learning:
- Access to information: browsable, multimedia and shareable.
- Social and collaborative component: communication, sharing, collaboration.
- Ubiquity: mobility, in the cloud. And not ubiquity as being connected anywhere, but a transformation of the dimensions of time and space.
Socio-demografic factors are not determinants on the differences found in the surveys. I.e. just some slight biases related to age, but very very small. The only slightly more relevant difference is when students come from IT engineering.
- What defienes advanced digital competence and the main learning metatrends are present in the personal behaviour of the participants, but not in a generalized way and, especially, not guaranteed.
- The perception of the value of technology for learning is acknowledged, especially in the spheres of the social component and ubiquity.
- Need to identify the profiles in the use of technology and the factors that determine it.
- Need to deepen the penetration of the learning metatrends of informalization that empower the student, and of dis-location in the situations and contexts of informal learning.
There are many contributions made by some pre-Net authors (Freinet, Freire, Illich) that resonate a lot with what is happening today with education and ICTs, especially social networking sites. Some theoretical proposals by these authors can today be put into practice thanks to ICTs in education.
It is interesting to stress the fact that many practices that happen inside traditional online LMS are not exactly the same practices that students will perform outside of the LMS, in their daily lives. Thus, we have to be cautious in saying that practices happening within the LMS can be compared with what happens outside. Most likely, they will not be comparable. Most LMS digital practices are so much driven, happen so much inside a walled garden that they are all but “natural”, not spontaneous at all.
The concept of life-width learning — in addition to life-long learning — was introduced to stress the notion that what happens in the Net, all the digital practices affect not only a specific activity — i.e. learning — but the whole of one’s life. And this is a crucial statement, especially when we consider the increasing shift from formal education to informal learning.
We are witnessing an epistemological change where knowledge will never more be a static thing, but a dynamic one. Thus why connectivism — with its critiques — is a most valuable metaphor and/or theory. The pattern of lineal learning applies no more: now knowledge and learning is not linear, but liquid.
Many of the approaches based on “generations” (generation X, Y or whatever) may not be really accurate. Maybe it is not a matter of being a generation or another one, but being on a given stage of the life-cycle, which pushes people to certain users depending on their needs — and not as much as depending on their birth date.
PS: congratulations, doctor Mas!
Miguel Arana (Laboratorio Democrático y grupo de participación de Podemos)
From Acampada Sol to Podemos. Experiments of digital democracy in Podemos.
Labodemo adapted Loomio, a collaborative decision-making tool. It enables people that do not like to speak out, to participate in assemblies and other collaborative spaces, while it allows to know what is happening in a group, during a discussion, etc.
Another tool that was put up during the 15M: Propongo. But it did not work as it was expected. To solve the lack or participation, they put up a channel on Reddit, a little more chaotic, but more flexible and, thus, more successful. With these tools, the concept that verticality is more effective than horizontality has been quite challenged. One of the problem, though, is that novelties catch more the attention than older threads. To have a less chaotic environment, when a thread is tagged as ‘proposal’, it is taken onto another platform so that they can be discussed more calmly and thoroughly.
It is crucial that no space dominates over other spaces. That is why participation is called to transpose what is spoken at a given platform (including face-to-face assemblies) onto other platforms or spaces.
So far, openness and flexibility has worked well and there is no trolling or abuse of power. It is unknown whether in the future managing the platforms will become more complex, but so far participation has been smooth and respectful.
To try and gather up what was being discussed in the several threads and in order to prepare for the Podemos General Assembly, a “wikisynthesis” was put up (by using a wiki tool). But people participated much much less, maybe due to the different and more complex environment.
During the General Assembly, Appgree was used to support a more traditional event based on presentations and questions to the presenters. Appgree helped in sorting the questions and assessing their popularity or relevance.
Next challenge: that the proposals that people put up on the web (through Agora Voting, another tool) are selected in a binding voting, so that decisions made afterwards take into account these open processes.
Francesca Bria (D-CENT)
urban and digital infrastructures for a constituent phase. A look upon Europe
What kind of infrastructure do we need for a constituent phase?
The identity and democratic infrastructures of today’s digital society must be managed as a common good.
The Internet of Things, the industrialization of the Internet,s is the convergence of the communication Internet, the energy Internet, the logistic Internet, transport networks, data-intensive welfare (health, education, housing, work) and the money and payment system.
Surveillance is the new business model:
- A huge market of data and new information intermediaries as powerful monopolists.
- Algorithmic governance.
- Austerity on steroids.
Is there still room for democracy? Will there be an app for that?
The smart city is the city as a black-box, the logic of financialisation, the ruling of cities as banks. Instead, we need the democratic city, the right to the city and to public spaces. The city should not be a mega-market, a bunch of assets. The city today is what factories used to be for the industrial times.
We are giving away all the critical infrastructures of our common spaces, of our cities.
- Build a federated, open, privacy-aware modular infrastructure for democracy.
- Politics of data (data ownership, data portability, crypto tools) is key.
- From the Smart City to the Democratic City.
- Citizen ownership of data and identity.
- Security and privacy by design.
- Federation, open source, open standards.
- Inclusiveness, accessibility, collective governance.
- Exploit the network effct through mass user adoption.
And most of these are not technological issues, but political ones.
Network democracy and technopolitics (2014)
Javier Toret (UOC/IN3)
Limits and potentials of technopolitical practices from the 15M to #OccupyCentral. New technopolitical experiments in the constituent phase 2013-2015.
From September 26th to 29th there’s the outrage of #OccupyHongKong in some similar ways as the Spanish 15M. More than 2,000 tents camp in big avenues. ‘Stand by you‘ enables people from all over the world to participate in the physical space. FireChat is an OpenGarden’s application that creates chat channels supported by a mesh network by using bluetooth, a sort of wifip2p network. Also drones were used to map the demonstration.
In the Indignados movement, social networking sites were appropriated by individuals, which can be understood as a multilayer model where each layer is a communication space. And how citizens, media and the power tries to control each layer, which is interconnected with the others. When energy accumulates in many layers, the energy is thrown to the streets and the mainstream layer has to report what is happening and include the topic in the mainstream agenda. This multilayer model has to be understood, too, at the international level.
Podemos also can be modelled with a multilayer approach, being their singularity that they especially did well in the mainstream media layer. And beyond the self-organized movement of the 15M, Podemos succeeds in putting up a political mobilization that ends up with a self-organized social mobilization, which feeds back the former, closing a virtuous circle. With Podemos, there is a tension between the distributed leaderships and the strong central leadership of Pablo Iglesias from Podemos.
Millions of people have used the Internet worldwide to go out to the streets to demonstrate.
Limits of technopolitics: making-decisions, synthesise. Podemos articulates, through Reddit and Appgree, spaces and platforms where to copse the feelings, ideas, etc. of the different participants, a space not only for information but for deliberation. Same with DemocracyOS in the case of Guanyem.
- Movements pre and post 15M.
- Networks of metropolitan counterpowers.
- Territory and communication devices of Podemos.
Antonio Ruíz (AppGree)
Posibilidades y potencialidades de Appgree para un uso social y político
AppGree is an application to communicate and deliberate online.
The problem with the broadcasting model is that is does very poorly managing (or understanding) feedback.
DemoRank is the PageRank for the backchannel of the Internet: it tries to make sense of what is being said and by whom. It ranks the number and kind of proposals, the size of the group, etc. This ranking is iterated until an agreement or a solution is found. After a proposal is selected, it is made available to the whole group so that the whole group can evaluate it. After all, the result is that sampling the proposals and presenting them to the potential voters, one can achieve highest levels of precision without implying massive voting (massive as in many people and massive as in voting many many times). Thus, it really simplifies the steps to form one’s opinion and, over all, to make simple choices among complex issues.
Sergio Salgado (Partido X)
Experience in networked practices in the 15MpaRato and Partido X.
The network is a kind of organization that uses the Internet and other ICT tools to leverage its power, but also that learns a lot from the Internet and other similar practices. The core is how to put up democratic production practices while being effective and efficient.
The 15M is a factory that builds prototypes, devices to democratize politics.
What tools? Is there a fetishism on certain tools? Certainly: there is no tool to solve all organizational problems. There is a toolbox whose tools can be applied here and there, most of the times combined and put to the service of many other efforts. Usually, first comes the community, then the needs and, last, the community: rarely the other way round. And this community is always open: only openness provides the necessary requisites for a community to articulate, for contributions to be enabled. Networked democratic production (vs. industrial democracy) is based on netiquette, on certain protocols that people agree upon and use to articulate their interactions and exchanges.
It is important to always have in mind scalability: work for the short term, but thinking ahead. Setting up the protocols, processes, devices that will be used for a specific goal but with the aim to reuse them, to transform the status quo, to break the actual balances and thus disclose new spaces upon which to advance.
If information flows naturally, most decision-making processes become unnecessary.
Many times, voting is failure: there is someone that will be defeated. Thus, instead of voting it is better to fork the project, to allow for other projects to grow organically.
Sergio Salgado: what is the role of #OccupyCentral? Javier Toret: after October 15th, the camp that last longer was #OccupyCentral’s, but it quickly fade. Later, the name was recovered but its nature was actually very different.
Sergio Salgado: do people that participate in Appgree then do not participate in other platforms? Antonio Ruiz: as a backchannel, it does not compete with other communication channels, but as a complement: it is a channel that does not broadcast information, but collects the feedback and serves it to the users.
Q: did Partido X tried to control all breaches while Podemos went more like a beta-test way? Javier Toret: there is a tension between two kinds of hegemonies, one more decentralized, another one more centralized, but the productivity will come when this tension becomes a productive tension, a new way of doing things that takes the best of both worlds.
Pablo Aragón: what about opening up the code and the algorithm in Appgree? Antonio Ruiz: there is a commitment to do it if the collaboration with Podemos goes on.
Network democracy and technopolitics (2014)
Ismael Peña-López (UOC/IN3)
15M-25M: Openness of the institutions or taking the power?
Víctor Sampedro (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos).
Technopolitical users and the 15M as an indignado consensus.
On 13th March 2004 (the Atocha terrorist attacks in Madrid) the political elite lies and loses all legitimacy for representing the citizen. And the citizens take up the organization of the protests and become new crucial actors in politics.
Technopolitics and the traditional public sphere:
- A new political-informational system.
- A new development model (V de vivienda
- The answer to the economic crisis that merges the regime of 1978 and that of May 2011.
- A change in consensus or a consensual dissent of the 15M.
- A change in institutions?
- Intense mobilization.
- Polarization of the public sphere.
- A dire crisis and conditions of living.
- Lack of answer of the political representatives.
- Urgent need to re-stablish debate and deliberation.
Political elites not only “do not understand” new politics, but try to corrupt any emergence of new ways of political participation and engagement. The worst kind of slacktivism is promoted among the partisans of traditional parties to play havoc in any kind of cyberactivism.
Despite the power of television, a new digital sphere emerges where people get information and get involved in politics, in opposition to the traditional way of being informed about politics through mainstream media.
Q: is the voter of the Partido X the same as Podemos’s? Ismael Peña-López: probably not, they play in different but overlapping spheres. Podemos emerges from the communist party while the Partido X (or the Pirate Party) has a very different nature. Notwithstanding, the political geeks of the Partido X power Podemos, collaborate with them and are even part of their circles.
Network democracy and technopolitics (2014)