One of the biggest surprises in the recent European elections has been the sudden rise of the Spanish party Podemos (“We Can”), which obtained 8% of the vote in Spain. Podemos is a 4-month old, leftist formation rooted in the indignados (15M) movement and led by the charismatic political scientist Pablo Iglesias, 35. The following passage (my rough translation) is from a thoughtful analysis of the elections published today by another 15M-based party, Partido X, which is currently critically reviewing its own campaign. It contains an intriguing reference to Podemos’ successful ‘transmedia’ approach worthy of further research and reflection.
“[...] Podemos have done a masterful, strategic job and have doubtless carried out the most intelligent and effective electoral campaign amongst all of us [new] contenders.
They have managed to anticipate and lay the groundwork thanks to the efforts of Pablo Iglesias and his colleagues with whom he created La Tuerka [a successful TV programme shown via YouTube] with great self-reliance and skill.
With this independent, original programme – a labour of love – they first carved out a sizeable niche audience, and then a space sustained by more resource- and infrastructure-rich media organisations such as HispanTV or [the online newspaper] Público. It was the latter media outlet that eventually became their headquarters, an outlet whose information flow they were able to directly shape, practically turning it into their campaign’s main communication media. Pablo Iglesias then participated as a skilful counterpoint in the political debates broadcast by the [conservative TV channel] Intereconomía, from which he made the leap into the [mainstream channels] Cuatro and la Sexta as a twice-weekly current affairs panelist, thereby creating a highly recognisable persona in his claims and demands.
It was only after all this groundwork was laid that Podemos attacked the electoral front, achieving a highly effective combination of TV work and a “transmedia” use of social media in order to feed back and replicate its message.”
Original Spanish passage
“Concretamente en el caso de Podemos, queremos señalar que han hecho un trabajo estratégico magistral y sin duda han sido los más inteligentes y eficaces en politica electoral de todos los que estamos en juego.
Han sabido anticipar y preparar su terreno y esto es debido a un esfuerzo propio de Pablo Iglesias y de los compañeros con los que ha creado la Tuerka, sin la ayuda de nadie y con mucha habilidad.
Con este programa independiente y de estilo propio se han labrado a pulso, y trabajando mucho, primero un nicho de audiencia muy considerable; luego un espacio amparado por otros medios de mayores recursos e infraestructuras como son HispanTV y Público. En este último han acabado estableciendo su sede y así han pasado a influir directamente en la información que llegaba a este medio, consiguiendo que fuera prácticamente el medio de comunicación de su campaña; luego participando muy hábilmente como contrapunto en los debates en Intereconomía, Pablo Iglesias consiguió saltar así a Cuatro y a la Sexta como tertuliano fijo dos veces por semana, creando así un personaje claro y reconocible en sus reivindicaciones y demandas.
Solo después de todo este trabajo previo, se han lanzado a atacar el frente electoral, consiguiendo una combinación muy efectiva de trabajo en televisión y de uso “transmedia” de las redes sociales para retroalimentar y replicar su mensaje.”
Photo credit: Equinox Magazine
The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom. A book by Rebecca MacKinnon.
In late January 2012, thousands of people across Poland took to the streets to protest the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The treaty had already been signed in late 2011 by European Union trade negotiators and twenty-two EU member states without much media attention, but by early February anti-ACTA protests had spread to over two hundred cities across Europe. Politicians got the message. On July 4, 2012, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly against ratification. Several dozen parliamentarians held up bright yellow signs: HELLO DEMOCRACY, GOODBYE ACTA.
Europe’s rejection of ACTA was just one victory of a global movement for digital liberty that came into its own in 2012. As Chapter 7 described it, ACTA was conceived by the United States and negotiated over the course of several years—initially in secret—with thirty-four other nations. For years, debates over ACTA—and related debates over how to balance intellectual property rights and online free-speech rights—had been confined to relatively obscure and specialized communities of activists, lawyers, and academics. That has changed, as the global netizen-rights movement to counter abuses of digital power has grown from infancy to adolescence.
I ended Consent of the Networked with a call for action, and in 2012 netizens around the world proved they are willing to act, as demonstrated by the movement’s recent successes. But while we have gained momentum, we face continuing challenges in the pursuit of digital liberty that will not easily be overcome.