Enter Forum (III). Round table on the Internet, Privacy and Education

Notes from the Enter Forum, 1st International Internet Privacy Forum, organized by the CCCB – Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, and held in Barcelona, June 16-18, 2014.

Round table on the Internet, Privacy and Education
Chairs: Genís Roca

Q: How can we approximate people that shaped their lives “the traditional way” (with books, with intimacy) in this new age? What happens with the digital divide? Sibilia: yes, there is a generational bias, but the market is approaching them (for profit purposes, of course) to get them in the new way of life. And, on the other hand, the connected self, the networked subjectivity is trendy, and valued by society, which also helps in bringing in outsiders. Camps: leapfrogging is possible in certain areas and this is also contributing to bridge some divides.

Q: What happens with the Internet creating new opportunities and spaces of freedom, but also causing a “panopticon effect” where everybody can be watched at, especially by governments, loss of intimacy, etc. Sibilia: not sure that this is the creation of the Internet, but more a strengthening of previous practices. What we are now living is more the consequence of some social fights and achievements of the past, especially those related with the libertarian ethos of 1968. But something went wrong or did not end totally well. A parallelism can be found in Latin America and their different revolutions and counter-revolutions: they also are the aim for a change, for achieving new roles, but with very different outcomes. But they all come from the same root. We are now having serious problems imagining an alternative to capitalism: the market also got networked, and got into some spaces whose entry was forbidden to it: the body, the school, etc.

Q: we have to vindicate a change of paradigm from learning to learning how to learn, how to manage knowledge, how to build one’s own network of people and resources. And this is the role that libraries have always performed and are nowadays focussing more in. Camps: we have to teach how to look for alternative sources of information.

Natàlia Cantó: what lies in between the walls vs. networks dichotomy? Is there a room in between for the urban landscape, for the city? Sibilia: yes, the Benjaminian approach of the flanneur is a very interesting one and it is part of the escape from the walled spaces. But maybe open spaces are the opposite to walled spaces, but what is the opposite, or the complement to the network? How do we scape (or disconnect) the network? Or can’t we? We sure have to thing about that. For instance, the different use of the Network is being done in different protests and demonstrations, which is not exactly the pattern of self-promotion, showing-up or lack of intimacy/privacy which seemed to be the (new) norm.

Enter Forum (2014)

Enter Forum (I). Paula Sibilia: How social networks transform our intimacy?

Notes from the Enter Forum, 1st International Internet Privacy Forum, organized by the CCCB – Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, and held in Barcelona, June 16-18, 2014.

Paula Sibilia, author of La intimidad como espectáculo
How social networks transform our intimacy?

We are living an age where our many technological devices — e.g. mobile phones — are pervasive and we “cannot live without them”, but this is happening because something had already happened, a change had already taken place decades ago. How is that we became “compatible” with our devices? Our ways of life accommodate to the devices, we made our lives compatible with our devices. And it’s both cause and consequence: we became compatible with our devices, but we built our devices because we aimed for a change.

During the modern era, and especially since the XIXth and XXth centuries, reading (especially fiction and novels) became a mainstream routine, and it was something that happened in silence and in isolation. Same happened when writing: both writing and reading was an intimate activity, something you did on your own. These activities required concentration, dedication. And even a specific place, a walled one — including schools.

This exercise of introspection was necessary to build one’s own subjectivity, one’s own identity, one’s own self. One’s own self compatible with the world that was being created since the Industrial revolution and all along the industrial era.

What changed in recent times?

We’re witnessing a shift from the intimate individual to the networked one. Which is changing the way to define our subjectivities, to deal with the world, to deal with others. We’re leaving behind the need of “a room of one’s own” (à la Virginia Woolf) for being and we’re moving towards a new paradigm of building one’s ego, one’s person, one’s subjectivity.

And this is of course radically changing education, we’re tearing down the walls we built for preserving our intimacy, much needed for building our selfs (¿Redes o paredes? La escuela en tiempos de dispersión).

Now, being visible, being online, being networked is the essence of time. And it shapes the essence of our own beings, our own self, our own identity and our own identity.

Our subjectivities are not alter-directed, instead of intro-directed or self-directed. We needed silence and intimacy, now we need crowds and openness. We were confined inside walls, we got rid of them, we became free… only to fall inside the network. Is that freedom? Is it not? It’s just different, much different indeed.

If we look at the school as a technology, the technology of a given age, the technology that we made compatible with a given age… it may now be the case that this technology, the school, if the age changed, it may well now be that the school became an incompatible technology for the new age.

So, it looks we got free, we unconfined ourselves. But. Can it be that the private sector could be capturing these free ones for their own profit? Could it be that the disclosure of the school is now being captured by the market? Is it possible that, in the quest for freedom we disclosed education for it to fall in the arms of private ownership?

We may agree that tearing down the walls of the school, disclosing education, is a much better scenario for knowledge to be created and transferred. But, instead, we may now need to create spaces for dialogue, for debate, for thoughtful exchange. We disclosed the spaces of knowledge, which is good, but we destroyed along the spaces for dialogue and debate, which is not.

Enter Forum (2014)