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29. Freedom technologists bibliography, M-Z

February 20, 2016

Freedom Technologists: Digital Activism and Political Change in the 21st Century (working title), Chapter 2, Freedom Technologists

Last updated 29 Feb and 6-8 March 2016 (Samuel 2004, Turner 2006, Zuboff 2016)

This is the twenty-ninth post in the freedom technologists series. See also:

This is the second part (M-Z) of a working bibliography in which I bring together a large set of references on a specific category of political actor that I am calling ‘freedom technologists’, namely those tech-minded individuals, groups and organisations with a keen interest in the democratic and emancipatory potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Freedom technologists combine technological and political notions and skills to pursue greater Internet and democratic freedoms, which they regard as being inextricably entwined (Postill 2014). Far from being techno-utopians or deluded ‘slacktivists’ (Morozov, 2013, Skoric, 2012), in my experience most freedom technologists are in fact techno-pragmatists, that is, people who take a very practical view of the limits and possibilities of new technologies for political change. This working bibliography is part of current research towards Chapter 2 of my forthcoming book Freedom Technologists: Digital Activism and Political Change in the 21st Century (working title).

Many thanks to Sky Croeser, Chris Csikszentmihályi, Victor Lasa and Vesna Manojlovic for their recommendations. Further suggestions are always welcome via email, or the comments section.

MacKinnon, R. (2005, January). Blogging, journalism, and credibility: Battleground and common ground. In Report from a conference held January (pp. 21-22).

[A] conference held in late January [2005] at Harvard, at which a group of 50 journalists, bloggers, news executives, media scholars, and librarians sat down to try and make sense of the new emerging media environment. Since the conference, the resignation of CNN’s Eason Jordan and the Jeff Gannon White House incident have shown how powerful weblogs can be as a new form of citizens’ media. We are entering a new era in which professionals have lost control over information . not just the reporting of it, but also the framing of what’s important for the public to know. To what extent have blogs chipped away at the credibility of mainstream media? Is credibility a zero-sum game . in which credibility gained by blogs is lost by mainstream media and vice versa?

MacKinnon, R. (2011). China’s” networked authoritarianism”. Journal of Democracy, 22(2), 32-46.

While social networking platforms can be powerful tools in the hands of activists seeking to bring down authoritarian governments, it is unwise to assume that access to the Internet and social networking platforms alone is sufficient for democratization of repressive regimes. The case of China demonstrates how authoritarian regimes can adapt to the Internet, even using networked technologies to bolster legitimacy. The emergence of Chinese “networked authoritarianism” highlights difficult issues of policy and corporate responsibility that must be resolved in order to ensure that the Internet and mobile technologies can fulfill their potential to support liberation and empowerment.

MacKinnon, R. 2012. Consent of the Networked: The Struggle for Internet Freedom, Basic Books: New York, 2012.

In the early days of the web, some hoped that these two worlds [online and offline] would simply stay apart. In 1996, civil libertarian John Perry Barlow wrote ‘A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace’, which demanded that the governments of the physical world not impinge on the freedom of the digital one. Yet governments and corporations did impinge, with laws, law suits, and censorship. Books by Lawrence Lessig, Shanthi Kalathil and Taylor Boas, Ronald Deibert, and Jonathan Zittrain described how the Internet was regulated, legislated, divided, and monitored. Soon the freedom of the Internet was no longer a fact, but a fragile quality.

Almost 15 years later, in 2010, Secretary of State Clinton gave a speech, which proposed that the US government should promote a free Internet because it had the power to democratize societies by freeing their citizens to publicly dissent and organize. In 2011, journalist Evgeny Morozov made a big splash with his book The Net Delusion , which directly challenged this argument. Morozov counter-argued that the Internet does not particularly empower citizens, and perhaps even empowers repressive governments more through surveillance, propaganda, and censorship.

A year later Rebecca MacKinnon has again shifted the discourse: yes, the Internet does have the capacity to empower citizens and thus increase and improve democracy, but that civic power is under existential threat. MacKinnon also breaks new ground by highlighting the tremendous importance of private firms in determining the political nature of the Internet. Google, Facebook, and their peers have been kind enough to have ‘created a new, globally networked public sphere’, she notes, but that supposedly public sphere is ‘largely shaped, built, owned, and operated by the private sector’ (p. 9). This fact poses a political threat as ‘Internet and telecommunication companies have gained far too much power over citizens’ lives, in ways that are insufficiently transparent or accountable to public interest’ (p. 10).

One of her most interesting ideas is that of ‘networked authoritarianism’, the observation that a society’s citizens can be connected to one another and yet remain unfree. China, on which she is an expert, is surely the most skilled practitioner of this new form of governance. ‘Herein lies the paradox of the Chinese Internet’, she writes. ‘Public debate and even some forms of activism are expanding’ while ‘state controls and manipulation tactics have prevented democracy movements from gaining meaningful traction’ (p. 42).

MacKinnon, R. (2012). The netizen. Development, 55(2), 201-204.

Rebecca MacKinnon argues that it is no longer sufficient for people to assert their rights and responsibilities as citizens of nation-states. If the goals of global social justice and accountable governance are to be served, people now also need to assert their rights and responsibilities as netizens: citizens of a globally connected Internet. Keywords: Internet; digital civil society; citizen commons; cyberspace; accountable governance.

MacKinnon, R. (2012). Rights online. Index on Censorship, 41(1), 114-115.

A manifesto by a leading digital rights campaigner and journalist.

McCarthy, M. T. (2015, June). Toward a Free Information Movement. In Sociological Forum (Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 439-458).

The past decade witnessed the emergence of numerous Internet-based social justice groups, some of which have readily apparent social roles and follow traditional organizational paths, while others occupy more ambiguous spaces, and blur any clearly demarcated lines of classification. Groups such as Anonymous and WikiLeaks present researchers with difficulty in strict categorization and as such are often labeled in ways that obscure their classification and understanding. Situating these two groups within network society and social movement literatures, this study offers a sociological explanation for the rise of these groups and attempts to knit their disparately understood practices of “hacktivism” and “journalism” together in a coherent framework. Frame analysis is employed to examine how each group attends to core framing tasks, finding that both groups do so in substantially similar ways, employing complementary frames concerning the asymmetrical distribution of information. Moreover, their embeddedness in digital information networks, and their particular opposition to information asymmetry, acts as a unifying thread that enables these apparently disparate actors to be studied within a single analytical framework as part of an emerging digital, peer-produced movement concerned with the asymmetrical distribution of information.

McCarthy, S. 2012. “Mosquitoes with cannons,” Smá (22 January), at

I’m not much of a cyberlibertarian, but I have a soft spot for them. They had a few things right, even if suffering from frontier blindness: the overarching belief of those at the frontier of human development is always that they are untouchable. History creeps up on them in their sleep. John Perry Barlow was unequivocal in his righteous demand for sovereignty and independence for Cyberspace, he foresaw that nation states were inherently incapable of existing in a post-territorial communications space. And yet somehow, due to a splendid mix of cronyism, corruption, greed and stealth, we’ve found ourselves in the situation that national interests have strong armed the debate on a field of physical infrastructure and border-theoretical governance.

The Internet is no longer free from incursion from nation states, so anything that can be understood through the delineation of national borders, encapsulated in national interests, or affected through national political processes can affect the Internet directly. Being on the defensive is not going to be a winning strategy. Money just got tight: there’s only so much blackouting we can survive.

So let’s go on the offensive. Instead of having traditional politics interfere with the Internet, it’s time for the Internet to interfere with traditional politics. The various Pirate Parties have moved us part of the way towards establishing a theory of networked information politics, but it’s nowhere near complete. There are a lot of deep fundamental questions that still need to be asked, and a lot of it’s going to require some deep philosophical navel gazing. But I think we can do it.

Not really because I have a problem with the copyright mafia, even though I do. Much more because I’ve been watching meatspace politicians and their bankrupt ideologies take humanity out for too many rodeos. They’ve long since outstayed their welcome, and they must be ousted. Networked politics, information politics, is the way to fix things. Who else is in favor of aiming our cannons at bigger targets, and quitting with the grapeshot?

Maclay, C. M. (2010). Protecting Privacy and Expression Online Can the Global Network Initiative Embrace the Character of the Net?. Access controlled: The shaping of power, rights, and rule in cyberspace, 87-108.

… a nascent multistakeholder effort called the Global Network Initiative (GNI), of which Yahoo! is a founding member. Participants evaluate human rights risks and seek opportunities to mitigate them when considering whether and how to enter a new market, [e.g. Vietnam in the case of Yahoo!]. Yahoo!’s motivations were likely diverse, but the actions were aligned with their mission, corporate health and profitability, and the preferences of at least some shareholders.

Global Network Initiative participants include ICT companies, nongovernmental organizations, investors, and academics. The founding group of companies comprises Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!. Academic participants in the GNI are Annenberg School for Communication (University of Southern California); Deirdre Mulligan, Berkeley School of Information (University of California); Berkman Center for Internet and Society (Harvard University); Rebecca MacKinnon, Journalism and Media Studies Centre (University of Hong Kong); and Research Center for Information Law (University of St. Gallen). Investors participating in the GNI are Boston Common Asset Management, Calvert Group, Domini Social Investments LLC, F&C Asset Management, KLD Research & Analytics, Inc., and Trillium Asset Management. Nongovernmental organizations participating in the GNI are Center for Democracy and Technology, Committee to Protect Journalists, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights First, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Watch, International Business Leaders Forum, Internews, and World Press Freedom Committee. The United Nations Special Representative to the Secretary General on business and human rights enjoys observer status. The drafting group also included Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, France Telecom, Teliasonera, and Vodafone, none of whom continued to participate in the GNI after launch.

McAfee, N. (2005). Insights for the Future of Public Media: A Report on the Global Voices Summit. Center for Social Media.

[Global Voices is] a community with a history less than a year old, a community without any physical borders (though it is grappling with linguistic ones). This is a community spread across the globe of people who communicate virtually. It is the world of Global Voices, an online website that “rounds up” what’s happening in the blogospheres of various parts of the mostly developing world. It is a blog that takes visitors outward to other blogs, transports people to the conversation going on in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, Eurasia, Asia, and the Pacific.

Global Voices was conceived at a meeting in December 2004 at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. (Rebecca MacKinnon’s report from that meeting can be found at That meeting brought together bloggers and scholars from around the world who began thinking about how to take a nascent, decentralized movement and harness it into a forum for creating a truly global conversation. The conversation was going on already, in bits and pieces; the website of Global Voices made it possible to connect the conversations. [See also Global Voices 2015 summit report below].

McCauliff, K. L. (2011). Blogging in Baghdad: The practice of collective citizenship on the blog Baghdad Burning. Communication Studies, 62(1), 58-73.

This essay examines the blog Baghdad Burning written by Iraqi woman Riverbend. In the essay, I attune to two themes found on the blog. First, I argue that Riverbend cultivates a collective democracy through a privileging of “truth” as espoused by Iraqi bloggers, and, second, I find that she challenges politically constrictive definitions of citizenship through a performance of the everyday and an advocacy of a maternal peace. After attending to the themes, I argue that Riverbend’s message of dissent becomes a way to assimilate and Americanize her, which contributes to the larger, wartime narrative that the United States has liberated Iraqi women.

McDonald, K. (2015). From Indymedia to Anonymous: rethinking action and identity in digital cultures. Information, Communication & Society, (ahead-of-print), 1-15.

The period following the social mobilizations of 2011 has seen a renewed focus on the place of communication in collective action, linked to the increasing importance of digital communications. Framed in terms of personalized ‘connective action’ or the social morphology of networks, these analyses have criticized previously dominant models of ‘collective identity’, arguing that collective action needs to be understood as ‘digital networking’. These influential approaches have been significantly constructed as a response to models of communication and action evident in the rise of Independent Media Centres in the period following 1999. After considering the rise of the ‘digital networking’ paradigm linked to analyses of Indymedia, this article considers the emergence of the internet-based collaboration known as Anonymous, focusing on its origins on the 4chan manga site and its 2008 campaign against Scientology, and also considers the ‘I am the 99%’ microblog that emerged as part of the Occupy movement. The emergence of Anonymous highlights dimensions of digital culture such as the ephemeral, the importance of memes, an ethic of lulz, the mask and the grotesque. These forms of communication are discussed in the light of dominant attempts to shape digital space in terms of radical transparency, the knowable and the calculable. It is argued that these contrasting approaches may amount to opposing social models of an emerging information society, and that the analysis of contemporary conflicts and mobilizations needs to be alert to novel forms of communicative practice at work in digital cultures today.

Meier, P. (2010) Is Ushahidi a Liberation Technology? iRevolutions,

…What is Liberation Technology? Larry [Diamond] defines this technology as, “… any form of information and communication technology (ICT) that can expand political, social, and economic freedom. In the contemporary era, it means essentially the modern, interrelated forms of digital ICT—the computer, the Internet, the mobile phone, and countless innovative applications for them, including “new social media” such as Facebook and Twitter.”

As is perfectly well known, however, technology can also be used to repress. This should notbe breaking news. Liberation Technology vs Digital Repression. My dissertation describes this competition as an arms-race, a cyber game of cat-and-mouse. But the technology variable is not the most critical piece, as I argue in this recent Newsweek article:

“The technology variable doesn’t matter the most,” says Patrick Meier […] “It is the organizational structure that will matter the most. Rigid structures are unable to adapt as quickly to a rapidly changing environment as a decentralized system. Ultimately, it is a battle of organizational theory.”

Larry rightly notes that,

“In the end, technology is merely a tool, open to both noble and nefarious purposes. Just as radio and TV could be vehicles of information pluralism and rational debate, so they could also be commandeered by totalitarian regimes for fanatical mobilization and total state control. Authoritarian states could commandeer digital ICT to a similar effect. Yet to the extent that innovative citizens can improve and better use these tools, they can bring authoritarianism down—as in several cases they have.”

A bold statement for sure. But as Larry recognizes, it is particularly challenging to disentangle political, social and technology factors. This is why more empirical research is needed in this space which is largely limited to qualitative case-studies. We need to bring mixed-methods research to the study of digital activism in repressive environments. This is why I’m part of the Meta-Activism Project (MAP) and why I’m particularly excited to be collaborating on the development of a Global Digital Activism Dataset (GDADS).

Larry writes that Liberation Technology is also “Accountability Technology” in that “it provides efficient and powerful tools for transparency and monitoring.” This is where he describes the FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi platforms. In some respects, these tools have already served as liberation technologies. The question is, will innovative citizens improve these tools and use them more effectively to be able to bring down dictators? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Meier, P. (2011) DoLiberation TechnologiesChange the Balance of Power Between Repressive States and Civil Society? Ph.D. thesis, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Do new information and communication technologies (ICTs) empower repressive regimes at the expense of civil society, or vice versa? For example, does access to the Internet and mobile phones alter the balance of power between repressive regimes and civil society? These questions are especially pertinent today given the role that ICTs played during this year’s uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and beyond. Indeed, as one Egyptian activist stated, “We use Facebook to schedule our protests, Twitter to coordinate and YouTube to tell the world.” But do these new ICTs—so called “liberation technologies”—really threaten repressive rule? The purpose of this dissertation is to use mixed-methods research to answer these questions.

The first half of my doctoral study comprised a large-N econometric analysis to test whether “liberation technologies” are a statistically significant predictor of anti-government protests in countries with repressive regimes. If using the Internet and mobile phones facilitates organization, mobilization and coordina-tion, then one should expect a discernible link between an increase in access to ICTs and the frequency of protests—particularly in repressive states. The results of the quantitative analysis were combined with other selection criteria to identify two country case studies for further qualitative comparative analysis: Egypt and the Sudan.

The second half of the dissertation assesses the impact of “liberation technologies” during the Egyptian Parliamentary Elections and Sudanese Presidential Elections of 2010. The analysis focused specifically on the use of Ushahidi—a platform often referred to as a “liberation technology.” Descriptive analysis, process tracing and semi-structured interviews were carried out for each case study. The results of the quantitative and qualitative analyses were mixed. An increase in mobile phone access was associated with a decrease in protests for four of the five regression models. Only in one model was an increase in Internet access associated with an increase in anti-government protests. As for Ushahidi, the Egyptian and Sudanese dictatorships were indeed threatened by the technology because it challenged the status quo. Evidence suggests that this challenge tipped the balance of power marginally in favor of civil society in Egypt, but not in the Sudan, and overall not significantly.

Meier, P. (2012). Ushahidi as a liberation technology. In Liberation technology: Social media and the struggle for democracy, 95-109.

… Focusing on the Ushahidi platform also facilitates the study of concrete uses of social media, such as election monitoring. Elsewhere in this volume, Larry Diamond has referred to the Ushahidi platform as an example of a liberation and accountability technology.What is missing, however, is research to support these claims. …U-Shahid helped to reverse or at least fight back against this government-constructed panopticon, and this may have helped to pave the way for the 2011 revolution that toppled Mubarak. The Egyptian case demonstrates the value of geomapping as an important liberation technology.

Mejias, U. A. (2012). FCJ-147 Liberation Technology and the Arab Spring: From Utopia to Atopia and Beyond. The Fibreculture Journal, (20 2012: Networked Utopias and Speculative Futures).

While the tendency in the West to refer to the Arab Spring movements as ‘Twitter Revolutions’ has passed, a liberal discourse of ‘liberation technology’ (information and communication technologies that empower grassroots movements) continues to influence our ideas about networked participation. Unfortunately, this utopian discourse tends to circumvent any discussion of the capitalist market structure in which these tools operate. In this paper, I suggest that liberation technologies may in fact increase opportunities for political participation, but that they simultaneously create certain kinds of inequalities. I end by proposing a theoretical framework for locating alternative practices of participation and liberation.

Milan, S. (2013a). Social movements and their technologies: Wiring social change. Palgrave Macmillan.

Social Movements and their Technologies explores the interplay between social movements and their ‘liberated technologies’. It analyzes the rise of low-power radio stations and radical internet projects (’emancipatory communication practices’) as a political subject, focusing on the sociological and cultural processes at play. It provides an overview of the relationship between social movements and technology, and investigates what is behind the communication infrastructure that made possible the main protest events of the past fifteen years. In doing so, Stefania Milan illustrates how contemporary social movements organize in order to create autonomous alternatives to communication systems and networks, and how they contribute to change the way people communicate in daily life, as well as try to change communication policy from the grassroots. She situates these efforts in a historical context in order to show the origins of contemporary communication activism, and its linkages to media reform campaigns and policy advocacy.

Milan, S. (2013b). WikiLeaks, anonymous, and the exercise of individuality: Protesting in the cloud. Beyond Wikileaks: Implications for the future of communications, journalism and society, 191-209.

Abstract pending.

Milan, S., & Hintz, A. (2013). Networked Collective Action and the Institutionalized Policy Debate: Bringing Cyberactivism to the Policy Arena?. Policy & Internet, 5(1), 7-26.

New forms of networked action and informal collaboration are challenging traditional notions of civil society. Based on the proliferation of new technologies, and spurred by the spread of trans-border delocalized communities and the increasing disillusionment with traditional forms of political organization, civic action is becoming increasingly flexible, temporary, and elusive. This type of nontraditionally organized collective action often stays below the radar of public discourse, unless it is propelled to the spotlight because of international political developments such as the WikiLeaks case (and the related actions by the cyberactivist network Anonymous) and the mass protests in Northern Africa and the Middle East (and the role of social networking tools in these uprisings). In this article, we investigate the interactions and (in)compatibilities of Internet-based networked collective action with institutionalized spaces of policy debate. We begin by characterizing online networked action as an emerging form of organized civil society, focusing on the realm of cyberactivists who are building and using cyber-infrastructure (“grassroots tech groups”). In particular, we examine their values, identity features, and organizational forms. Based on this analysis, we explore two dimensions in which cyberactivism challenges established forms of institutionalized policy debate: the structural dimension and the realm of action repertoires. We ask whether these new forms of civil society are structurally compatible with current multistakeholder governance, and we discuss their repertoires of action with regard to policy advocacy and policy interventions, and thus the level and type of their engagement with governance processes and institutions. Keywords: networked collective action; policy; cyberactivism; multistakeholder governance; civil society participation; Internet governance.

Milberry, K. (2009). Geeks and global justice: another (cyber) world is possible (Doctoral dissertation, Simon Fraser University).

Using the framework of critical constructivism, I analyze how tech activists consciously design technology that embodies values of equality, freedom and justice. Their creation and appropriation of free software indicates a more general argument for open knowledge production as the basis for a new mode of work, and indeed, a new set of social relations. In reconstructing the internet along a democratic model and through a democratic process, I argue, tech activists are creating a model of social organization that is radically transformative, refusing the reductive limits of the neoliberal world order, and enacting the possibility of a better world now.

Milberry, K. (2014). # OccupyTech. In Activist Science and Technology Education (pp. 255-268). Springer Netherlands.

Occupy Wall Street grew rapidly from an internet meme and tent city in the heart of America’s financial sector to a global revolt against neoliberal capitalism. Focusing on economic inequality and corruption in the banking industry, Occupy drew attention to the plight of the majority of people suffering under neoliberal globalization. Its slogan, “We are the 99 %,” references the growing concentration of income and wealth among the top one percent of income earners in the United States. Within weeks, the protest had self-replicated, with occupations cropping up in 900 cities around the world. Evidently, it spoke a common language of hope, rage and refusal that had been unleashed by the Arab Spring almost a year earlier. The internet was crucial to the birth and proliferation of the Occupy Movement, enabling protestors to overcome the initial media embargo against Occupy Wall Street and began airing their concerns via social media. The #Occupy hashtags were powerful signifiers that enabled the ideas, sentiments and spirit of the protest to diffuse, evolving from a movement tactic into a global phenomenon. This chapter traces Occupy’s roots in the recent history of internetworked social movements and examining its dual nature as a simultaneously virtual-physical phenomenon. It considers the essential role of tech activists in building the technical infrastructure of Occupy, using free and open source technology (FOSS) as well as corporate social media to bridge the online/offline divide. Finally, this chapter discusses Occupy as a distributed platform upon which a global super-movement is currently being built. Keywords: Internet • Social movements • Tech activism • Occupy • Philosophy of technology • Social media • Free software

Monterde, A., M. Aguilera, X. Barandiaran, A. Calleja-Lopez, J. Postill 2015. Multitudinous identities: a qualitative and network analysis of the 15M collective identity, Information, Communication and Society. Vol. 18, Iss. 8.

The emergence of network-movements since 2011 has opened the debate around the way in which social media and networked practices make possible innovative forms of collective identity. We briefly review the literature on social movements and ‘collective identity’, and show the tension between different positions stressing either organization or culture, the personal or the collective, aggregative or networking logics. We argue that the 15M (indignados) network-movement in Spain demands conceptual and methodological innovations. Its rapid emergence, endurance, diversity, multifaceted development and adaptive capacity, posit numerous theoretical and methodological challenges. We show how the use of structural and dynamic analysis of interaction networks (in combination with qualitative data) is a valuable tool to track the shape and change of what we term the ‘systemic dimension’ of collective identities in network-movements. In particular, we introduce a novel method for synchrony detection in Facebook activity to identify the distributed, yet integrated, coordinated activity behind collective identities. Applying this analytical strategy to the 15M movement, we show how it displays a specific form of systemic collective identity we call ‘multitudinous identity’, characterized by social transversality and internal heterogeneity, as well as a transient and distributed leadership driven by action initiatives. Our approach attends to the role of distributed interaction and transient leadership at a mesoscale level of organizational dynamics, which may contribute to contemporary discussions of collective identity in network-movements.

Morin, J. F. (2014). Paradigm shift in the global IP regime: The agency of academics. Review of international political economy, 21(2), 275-309.

The global intellectual property (IP) regime is in the midst of a paradigm shift in favour of greater access to protected work. Current explanations of this paradigm shift emphasize the agency of transnational advocacy networks, but ignore the role of academics. Scholars interested in global IP politics have failed to engage in reflexive thinking. Building on the results from a survey of 1679 IP experts, this article argues that a community of academics successfully broke the policy monopoly of practitioners over IP expertise. They instilled some scepticism concerning the social and economic impacts of IP among their students as well as in the broader community of IP experts. They also provided expert knowledge that was widely amplified by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and some intergovernmental organizations, acting as echo chambers to reach national decision makers. By making these claims, this article illustrates how epistemic communities actively collaborate with other transnational networks, rather than competing with them, and how they can promote a paradigm change by generating, rather than reducing, uncertainty.

Morozov, E. (2011). WikiLeaks and the perils of extreme glasnost. New Perspectives Quarterly, 28(1), 7-11.

Is Internet freedom an absolute, universal value like freedom of speech? If there are limits, how and by whom can they be established? Is crying fire or scaling firewalls anymore acceptable in cyberspace than in physical space? What is the impact on the discourse between nations, cultures and individuals? In this section, we gather a collage of comments from various key players from Google to Wikileaks to the US State Department along with comments by one of the most cogent analysts of the Net and the president of Turkey.

Morozov, E. (2012). The net delusion: The dark side of Internet freedom. PublicAffairs.

Two delusions in particular concern Morozov: “cyber-utopianism”, the belief that the culture of the internet is inherently emancipatory; and “internet-centrism”, the belief that every important question about modern society and politics can be framed in terms of the internet. Put so starkly, such extreme beliefs may sound laughable, yet he sees them in action everywhere: from the misguided belief that Twitter could foment revolution in Iran in 2009 (on the eve of the elections, the country had fewer than 20,000 Twitter users) to the naive hope that instant international exposure via new media will necessarily result in a diminishing of violence in Africa and the Middle East. Moreover, Morozov argues, the west’s reckless promotion of technological tools as pro-democratic agents has provoked authoritarian regimes to crack down on online activity in some style: not just closing down or blocking websites, but using social networks to infiltrate protest groups and track down protesters, seeding their own propaganda online, and generally out-resourcing and out-smarting their beleaguered citizenry.

Morozov, E. (2014). To save everything, click here: The folly of technological solutionism. PublicAffairs.

Newsflash: the internet doesn’t exist. If you think there is just one thing called “the Internet” with a single logic and set of values – rather than a variety of different networked technologies, each with its own character and challenges – and that the rest of the world must be reshaped around it, then you are an “Internet-centrist”. If you think the messiness and inefficiency of political and cultural life are problems that should be fixed using technology, then you are a “solutionist”… But Morozov’s attacks go deeper than a righteous ridicule – he also interrogates the intellectual foundations of the cybertheorists, and finds that, often, they have cherry-picked ideas from the scholarly literature that are at best highly controversial in their own fields. His readings in this vein of Clay Shirky, Steven Johnson, David Weinberger and numerous other cyberintellectuals are suavely devastating.

Mikhaylova, G. (2014). The “Anonymous” movement: hacktivism as an emerging form of political participation (Doctoral dissertation, Texas State University).

This thesis focuses on the phenomenon of hacktivism, and specifically the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous. Hacktivists can be defined as politically motivated hackers. Hacktivists are different from other types of hackers because their motivations are driven by the pursuit of social change, as opposed to seeking profit or intellectual pursuit. Hacktivism is a new controversial form of civic participation, which will most likely continue to have an impact on the Internet and the world. A lack of detailed sociological research on hacktivists serves as the rationale for this study. This study specifically focused on the experiences of the hacktivist community in the United States, known under the name of Anonymous. This thesis focused on, but is not limited to: a) examining how members of Anonymous define themselves, as well as how security professionals (a.k.a. ethical hackers) define or view hacktivists; b) how hacktivists operate and/or organize; and c) examining hacktivist culture and ethical stances (including whether hacktivism can be considered permissible or ethical). My research employed two primary strategies: content analysis of the Anonymous message boards and in-depth interviews with security professionals. The two approaches were meant to be complimentary: while the content analysis draws a picture of how members of Anonymous see themselves and their goals; the interviews were meant to draw the picture of how others view or understand hacktivists.

Norris Martin, K. (2014). Review of Rewire: digital cosmopolitans in the age of connection Reissued in 2014 as: Digital cosmopolitans: why we think the Internet connects us, why it doesn’t, and how to rewire it. Consumption Markets & Culture, (ahead-of-print), 1-4.

Rewire is a thoughtful exploration, based on decades of real-world experience, of what the Internet changes and what it does not. Perhaps Zuckerman avoided a heavy-handed framework in this text because of his own experiences as the director of the MIT Center for Civic Media and founder of Geekcorps, PenPlusBytes and Global Voices Online. Zuckerman explains that although he is more proud of Global Voices than any of the other projects he has built, there was a “real sense” that he and co-founder Rebecca MacKinnon failed in their objectives. He had hoped Global Voices would influence agenda setting but instead, as he puts it, it offers “reporters a way to get quotes from countries experiencing sudden turmoil, rather than using us [Global Voices] to find important unreported stories before they break” (128). In many ways, Global Voices serves as a case study for a multitude of Zuckerman’s points. As Zuckerman suggests, in an effort to use the Internet to encounter a wider understanding of the world, Global Voices presents a lesson in the power and weakness of personal connections. With this kind of realization, through an honest evaluation of a project with which he felt such a personal connection, Zuckerman establishes a trusted ethos, a nuanced view of Internet connections without the arrogance that we perceive by many technological writers as if they can predict the future.

Oates, S. (2015). Towards an Online Bill of Rights. In The Onlife Manifesto (pp. 229-243). Springer International Publishing.

Online citizens need a digital ‘Bill of Rights’ that will protect their interests from being overwhelmed by commercial and state forces. Moving on from an outdated notion of cyber-utopia, citizens need to assert six key rights: the right to privacy, the right to own your own data, the right to a personal life, the right to avoid being forced offline for safety, the ability to switch off when needed as well as public spaces for civic debate online. Although different manifestoes and declarations about digital rights have asserted many of these principles, the internet still lacks effective governance or even norms to protect individuals. As a result, the social potential and positive affordances of the internet may be lost without government intervention to assert fundamental rights for online citizens. The key to unlocking the potential of self-aware, online governance lays in greater effort by state Leviathans such as the European Commission. It is time to stop talking about cyber-utopias and start creating cyber-preserves before the potential benefit of the internet to a democratic society is lost. Keywords: Digital rights Online manifesto Internet privacy Digital freedom Internet state policy Internet governance.

Olson, P. (2012). We are anonymous: Inside the hacker world of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the global cyber insurgency. Little, Brown.

[The] first full account of how a loosely assembled group of hackers scattered across the globe formed a new kind of insurgency, seized headlines, and tortured the feds-and the ultimate betrayal that would eventually bring them down. Parmy Olson goes behind the headlines and into the world of Anonymous and LulzSec with unprecedented access, drawing upon hundreds of conversations with the hackers themselves, including exclusive interviews with all six core members of LulzSec.

Owen, T. (2015). Disruptive Power: The Crisis of the State in the Digital Age. Oxford University Press, USA.

Anonymous. WikiLeaks. The Syrian Electronic Army. Edward Snowden. Bitcoin. The Arab Spring. Digital communication technologies have thrust the calculus of global political power into a period of unprecedented complexity. In every aspect of international affairs, digitally enabled actors are changing the way the world works and disrupting the institutions that once held a monopoly on power. No area is immune: humanitarianism, war, diplomacy, finance, activism, or journalism. In each, the government departments, international organizations and corporations who for a century were in charge, are being challenged by a new breed of international actor. Online, networked and decentralized, these new actors are innovating, for both good and ill, in the austere world of foreign policy. They are representative of a wide range of 21st century global actors and a new form of 21st century power: disruptive power.

Park, D. W. (2009). Blogging with authority: Strategic positioning in political blogs. International Journal of Communication, 3, 24.

Blogs have quickly become prominent parts of the Internet landscape. Attention has largely been focused on a small subset of blogs — the politically-oriented filter blog. This paper examines four of the most-noticed blogs: Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish, Mickey Kaus’s Kausfiles, Glenn Reynolds’ InstaPundit, and Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo. Using a grounded, qualitative technique, I analyze the methods these bloggers use to cast themselves as authoritative commentators in the world of politics. We find that their authority is largely staked out through their assertions of differences from journalism and of commonality with the audience. Concluding remarks explore the tension between bloggers and journalists and suggest that the success of these bloggers has much to do with how they have managed to position themselves rhetorically.

Pieterse, J. N. (2012). Leaking Superpower: WikiLeaks and the contradictions of democracy. Third World Quarterly, 33(10), 1909-1924.

While US government agencies endorse and support the democratic potential of the internet and social media overseas, the criticisms of the WikiLeaks disclosures of US diplomatic cables reveal the bias in relation to transparency and democracy. This poses a wider problem of connectivity combined with hegemony. This paper discusses what the criticisms of the WikiLeaks disclosures reveal. After discussing the enthusiasm about ‘hyperconnectivity’, the paper turns to the WikiLeaks disclosures, and next spells out global ramifications of the leaked cables, the problems of transparency and hegemony, frictions between democracy and democratisation, and the role of banks blocking donations to WikiLeaks.

Poitras, L. (2014). Citizenfour. Praxis Films.

In January 2013, Laura Poitras started receiving anonymous encrypted e-mails from “CITIZENFOUR,” who claimed to have evidence of illegal covert surveillance programs run by the NSA in collaboration with other intelligence agencies worldwide. Five months later, she and reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The resulting film is history unfolding before our eyes. Written by Anonymous

Politico Magazine (2015) Marvin Ammori, Susan Crawford, Tim Wu. Legal scholars, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia universities: The open-Internet brigade.

This year, the obscure tech-politics debate over whether and how we pay to use the Internet leaped into the mainstream, attracting the voices of Silicon Valley’s top brass, a late-night comedian, millions of disgruntled broadband service consumers and the president. But net neutrality’s big moment was a long time coming, with a varied group of cyber law scholars each making a push for an open Internet.

It was in 2003—pre-Facebook, Twitter and the rest—that Tim Wu first coined the term “net neutrality,” referring to the idea that Internet service providers shouldn’t be able to charge different amounts for different kinds of websites and applications. Seven years later, he, Marvin Ammori and Susan Crawford together wrote an eight-page letter to the Federal Communications Commission arguing for regulations that would prevent Internet service providers from slowing down or blocking some websites’ content while speeding up others’. The rules the FCC eventually imposed, though far from ideal in the eyes of cyber law activists, were struck down in 2014, and the FCC’s new chairman, Tom Wheeler, then proposed yet another set of rules that many saw as worse, essentially allowing for the two-tiered online system that Internet service providers were pining for.

Postigo, H. (2008). Capturing fair use for the YouTube generation: The digital rights movement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the user-centered framing of fair use. Information, communication & society, 11(7), 1008-1027.

This article undertakes an analysis of strategic framing strategies in the Digital Rights Movement by the movement’s central Social Movement Organization (SMO), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Through analysis of a series of interviews with key members of the EFF and analysis of the EFF’s ‘Endangered Gizmos’ campaign in response to the MGM vs Grokster case, this article shows how the organization strategically frames consumers as users’ and fair use in user-centered fashion. In so doing the EFF develops a legitimizing rationale for expanding consumer privileges in copyrighted works. The analysis shows that the user-centered notion of fair use articulates with broader historical and emerging trends in media consumption/use and thus finds accepting audiences both within the movement and outside of it.

Postigo, H. (2012a). The digital rights movement: the role of technology in subverting digital copyright. MIT Press. See review:

The movement against restrictive digital copyright protection arose largely in response to the excesses of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. In this book, Hector Postigo shows that what began as an assertion of consumer rights to digital content has become something broader: a movement concerned not just with consumers and gadgets but with cultural ownership. Increasingly stringent laws and technological measures are more than inconveniences; they lock up access to our “cultural commons.” Carlos A. Arrébola finds this book gives a very detailed and objective history of the on-going debate around digital copyright.

Postigo, H. (2012b). Cultural production and the digital rights movement. Information, Communication and Society, 15(8), 1165-1185.

The Digital Rights Movement is an effort by activists and advocacy organizations to expand consumer rights in media content use. A central argument for legitimating those rights pivots on a view of culture as a participatory endeavour. This article focuses on the Movement’s use of the discourse of culture and digital technology describing (1) how the Movement positions culture as necessarily participatory; (2) the role of mediating technologies in achieving a culture that is participatory; and (3) the connection of those visions to a discourse of free speech in the form of what is termed here, remix speech. The article suggests that adopting this view of culture and media consumption can result in a politics of participatory culture, where the political economic arrangements of the cultural industries and consumers are realigned.

Postill, J. 2011, Localizing the Internet: An Anthropological Account, Berghahn. Oxford and New York.

Internet activism is playing a crucial role in the democratic reform happening across many parts of Southeast Asia. Focusing on Subang Jaya, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, this study offers an in-depth examination of the workings of the Internet at the local level. In fact, Subang Jaya is regarded as Malaysia’s electronic governance laboratory. The author explores its field of residential affairs, a digitally mediated social field in which residents, civil servants, politicians, online journalists and other social agents struggle over how the locality is to be governed at the dawn of the ‘Information Era’. Drawing on the field theories of both Pierre Bourdieu and the Manchester School of political anthropology, this study challenges the unquestioned predominance of ‘network’ and ‘community’ as the two key sociation concepts in contemporary Internet studies. The analysis extends field theory in four new directions, namely the complex articulations between personal networking and social fields, the uneven diffusion and circulation of new field technologies and contents, intra- and inter-field political crises, and the emergence of new forms of residential sociality.

Postill, J. 2012,Digital politics and political engagement, in H. Horst and D. Miller (eds) Digital Anthropology. Oxford, Berg.

The growing use of digital media by political actors of all kinds (including politicians, journalists, activists, and religious leaders) has given rise to a thriving literature, albeit one that is divided along disciplinary and technological lines. It is only very recently that the term ‘digital politics’ has begun to acquire currency. This appears to signal the birth of an interdisciplinary field that studies both the digitisation of traditional politics as well as the rise of new forms of political life originating in the digital world, such as Wikileaks or the Anonymous movement. Whilst there is as yet no digital politics textbook, three useful entry points into the subfield of Internet politics are Chadwick and Howard’s (2008) Routledge Handbook of Internet Politics, Oates, Owen and Gibson’s (2006) The Internet and Politics, and Chadwick’s (2006) Internet Politics. In this chapter I start with four review sections that cover similar ground to the material discussed in these works, although I broaden the inquiry to include mobile media. For example, I title the next section ‘digital government’ rather than ‘e-government’ – the latter a term usually associated with the internet but not with mobile technologies. The subsequent sections exemplify the application of an anthropological approach to the study of digital politics. Drawing from my own fieldwork in Malaysia and Spain, I argue that anthropology brings to this nascent field a rich political lexicon, processual analyses, ground-up comparisons and participatory research. I conclude with a brief discussion of the potential for future anthropological studies in this area.

Postill, J. (2014) Freedom technologists and the new protest movements: a theory of protest formulas, Convergence 20 (3), pp. 402-418.

In this article, I draw from anthropological fieldwork in Spain and secondary research on Tunisia and Iceland to explore the connection between Internet freedom activism and post-2008 protest movements. I introduce two new concepts: ‘freedom technologists’ and ‘protest formulas’. I use the term freedom technologists to refer to those social agents who combine technological and political skills to pursue greater Internet and democratic freedoms, which they regard as being inextricably entwined. Far from being techno-utopians or deluded ‘slacktivists’ (Morozov, 2013, Skoric, 2012), I argue that most freedom technologists are in fact techno-pragmatists, that is, people who take a very practical view of the limits and possibilities of new technologies for political change. I also differentiate among freedom technologists, singling out three main specialists for their strong contribution to the new movements, namely hackers/geeks, tech lawyers and online journalists. The second new coinage I develop is protest formulas. This term refers to the unique compound of societal forces and outcomes that characterizes each protest movement – as well as each phase or initiative within a movement. In this article, I track the influence of freedom technologists on emerging protest movements as they interact with other agents within these political compounds.

Postill, J. (2014). A Critical History of Internet Activism and Social Protest in Malaysia, 1998-2011. Asiascape: Digital Asia, 1(1-2), 78-103.

This article asks two related questions. First, to what extent has internet activism shaped social protest in Malaysia from the late 1990s to the present? Second, what can the history of internet activism and social protest in Malaysia tell us, if anything, about the 2011 global wave of protests? To address these questions I distinguish three key moments in Malaysia’s eventful history of internet activism and social protest, namely the 1998-1999 reformasi movement, the electoral ‘tsunami’ of 2008 (in which the ruling coalition lost its two-thirds majority), and the Bersih 2.0 rallies of 2011. I argue that Bersih 2.0 is best explained as both the latest episode in a series of uniquely Malaysian techno-political events and as a local variant of the global wave of protests of 2011 – a wave in which hackers, online journalists, and technology lawyers, as well as ordinary citizens using digital media, played an important part. The article ends with a summary and with suggestions for further research.

Postill, J. 2016. Freedom technologists and the future of global justice, State of Power 2016. TNI.

In the wake of early 2010s upheavals such as the Arab Spring, Spain’s indignados, or the global Occupy movement, many commentators were quick to either invoke the presumed tech-savvy of ‘digital natives’ or the purported ‘cyber-utopianism’ of net freedom advocates who supported the protests. But what role have internet freedom activists – or ‘freedom technologists’ – played in ongoing struggles for progressive political change around the world and how can the pursuit of liberty be combined with the struggle for social justice?

Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology. Vintage.

Postman defines “Technopoly” as a society which believes “the primary, if not the only, goal of human labor and thought is efficiency, that technical calculation is in all respects superior to human judgment … and that the affairs of citizens are best guided and conducted by experts.” [4] Postman argues that the United States is the only country to have developed into a technopoly. He claims that the U.S has been inundated with technophiles who do not see the downside of technology. This is dangerous because technophiles want more technology and thus more information.[5] However, according to Postman, it is impossible for a technological innovation to have only a one-sided effect. With the ever-increasing amount of information available Postman argues that: “Information has become a form of garbage, not only incapable of answering the most fundamental human questions but barely useful in providing coherent direction to the solution of even mundane problems.”[6]

Powell, A. (2012). Assessing the influence of online activism on Internet policy-making: The case of SOPA/PIPA and ACTA (March 30, 2012).

This paper analyzes the influence of online activism, especially technical activist actions like web blackouts, on the policy-making process. It compares the actions associated with anti-SOPA campaigns in the United States with campaigns against ACTA in Europe. In order to investigate the various linked aspects of internet activism’s impact on policy change, this paper examines how online activism shifted the ways that these bills were covered by the popular press and how press coverage modeled new frames. In the United States, salient actions included suspended access to web sites including Wikipedia, symbolic actions such as ‘black outs’ of some website content, and mobilization efforts including invitations to contact elected representatives. For European advocates organizing against ACTA, this meant that some new frames for action were available in the early months of 2012. This analysis contributes to contemporary readings of ‘mediated opportunity structures’ by focusing on two new aspects: the mediatized nature of contemporary activism (especially ‘recursive’ activism that uses disruption of internet communications to draw attention to digital rights) and the significance for policy making of claims that the internet is ‘exceptional.’

Powers, S. M., & Jablonski, M. (2015). The Real Cyber War: The Political Economy of Internet Freedom. University of Illinois Press.

“As governments, companies, civil society, and other stakeholders struggle towards a new global information and communication order in the post-Snowden world, this equally provocative and important book cuts through the Western rhetoric of ‘Internet freedom’ and draws a sobering picture of how policy-making in this space is ultimately a fight for control over information, which is largely driven by economic and geopolitical interests rather than democratic ideals and human rights.”–Urs Gasser, Executive Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

“More comprehensive than most work on global internet politics because it incorporates perspectives from a wider range of interests around the world. The treatment of China is strong, as are the examples from emerging nations.”–Vincent Mosco, author of To the Cloud: Big Data in a Turbulent World

Raymond, E. (1999). The cathedral and the bazaar. Knowledge, Technology & Policy, 12(3), 23-49.

I anatomize a successful open-source project, fetchmail, that was run as a deliberate test of some theories about software engineering suggested by the history of Linux. I discuss these theories in terms of two fundamentally different development styles, the “cathedral” model, representing most of the commercial world, versus the “bazaar” model of the Linux world. I show that these models derive from opposing assumptions about the nature of the software-debugging task. I then make a sustained argument from the Linux experience for the proposition that “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow,” suggest productive analogies with other self-correcting systems of selfish agents, and conclude with some exploration of the implications of this insight for the future of software.

Rheingold, H. (2007). Smart mobs: The next social revolution. Basic books.

Smart Mobs takes us on a journey around the world for a preview of the next techno-cultural shift. The coming wave, says Rheingold, is the result of super-efficient mobile communications-cellular phones, wireless-paging, and Internet-access devices-that will allow us to connect with anyone, anytime, anywhere. Rheingold offers a penetrating perspective on the new convergence of pop culture, cutting-edge technology, and social activism. He also reminds us that the real impact of mobile communications will come not from the technology itself but from how people use it, resist it, and adapt to it.

Ritchie, W. (2012). Why Immi Matters: The First Glass Fortress in the Age of Wikileaks. Suffolk Transnat’l L. Rev., 35, 451.

The anatomy of a leak has changed fundamentally since the days of manila envelopes changing hands in a dimly lit alley. 1 Today, any person with access to national security secrets can leak them in the name of transparency through a few simple clicks, immediately transmitting information to a computer server abroad and uploading them for the world to examine. 2 As leaking mechanisms have revolutionized, the laws across the globe have remained targeted largely at preventing dimly lit alley transfers of information. 3 The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI) is the world’s most dramatic entry into establishing a comprehensive legal framework to address modern leaks. 4 IMMI’s emphasis on shedding sunlight on government secrets will revolutionize the concept of transparency.

This Note examines the impact of an information safe-haven in a borderless virtual information-age. 6 Part II of this Note presents the elements of IMMI and describes the components of a modern leak, or, “WikiLeak.” 7 Part III of this Note presents the best practices of modern transparency law and discusses the evolution of modern attempts to regulate the WikiLeaks-style leak. 8 Part IV examines the limits on transparency, modern scenarios with complex issues, and the practical implications of IMMI across the globe. 9 Finally, Part V of this Note argues for the adoption of comprehensive transparency regimes to strengthen the impact of IMMI. 10

Rowan, J. (2011). Free Culture Forum and new models for a sustainable creativity. In OKCon.

During the talk I will introduce the work carried out by the FCF and engage in some of the debates that have taken place in this arena. I will focus on the idea of cultural commons and how the creative industries have tended to use this pool of common knowledge as a resource that doesnt need to be cared o_ or looked after. I will look into business and social forms of organization aimed at producing culture acknowledging social production and the creative basins that lie at the centre of cultural development. After all it is our responsibility, as civil society, to oppose practices that plunder this common heritage and to block its future development. We need to defend and expand the sphere in which human creativity and knowledge can prosper freely and sustainably.

At the first FcForum in 2009, we analysed a series of reforms that would have to be applied to existing legislation in order to ensure that the digital age is beneficial to artists, citizens and entrepreneurs. Our conclusions and proposals are published in the Charter for Innovation, Creativity and Access to Knowledge. For the 2010 edition, we shifted the focus to the economic aspects of culture and knowledge production, exploring the way in which benefits in the sense of economic pro_t, but also social and cognitive bene_ts can be generated in such a way that they lead to a sustainable culture.

Sampedro, V. (2014). El cuarto poder en red: por un periodismo (de código) libre. Icaria.

WikiLeaks propuso usar Internet para denunciar la mentira oficial. Colaboró con los medios que la sostenían. Cuestionó su modelo de trabajo y negocio. Y Snowden advirtió que la red corporativa nos controla. No son terroristas, ladrones ni espías. Denuncian la ciberguerra que, fundida con la guerra económica, desnuda a los gobernados y arropa a los poderosos. Los nativos digitales protagonizan una revolución, que se nos oculta. Hackean el periodismo para convertirlo en un flujo de contrapoder mancomunado. Libre de ser reutilizado, modificado y difundido, abierto a ser contrastado y contestado, fruto de la colaboración entre los periodistas y las comunidades a las que sirven. Es la información como bien común: autogestionado por la sociedad civil que, como en todo momento de cambio histórico, busca periodistas con coraje, crea nuevos medios… y actualiza el código de la democracia.

Samuel, A. (2004). Hacktivism and the future of political participation. (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database.

The dissertation looks at the phenomenon of hacktivism: the marriage of political activism and computer hacking. It defines hacktivism as the nonviolent use of illegal or legally ambiguous digital tools in pursuit of political ends. These tools include web site defacements, redirects, denial-of-service attacks, information theft, web site parodies, virtual sit-ins, virtual sabotage, and software development. Based on fifty-one interviews with people who are directly or indirectly involved in hacktivism, the dissertation is the first interview-based study of hacktivists and hacktivist practices. It uses the interview data in conjunction with additional primary and secondary source material to construct a taxonomy of hacktivism, and to apply the taxonomy to three core issues in political participation: the role of identity incentives in driving participation, the transnational politics of policy circumvention, and the aspirations for deliberative democracy online.

Sell, S. K. (2013). Revenge of the “Nerds”: Collective action against intellectual property maximalism in the global information age. International Studies Review, 15(1), 67-85.

For the first time in thirty years of ever stronger intellectual property policies, a transnational coalition of Internet users was able to kill two US anti-piracy bills that were backed by some of the most politically connected and economically powerful interests in US politics. Combining insights from the literatures on social movements, networks, and Internet activism, I analyze the structure for social mobilization, the form of the coalition, the role of framing, and the use of technology contributing to its success. The literature on social movements and contentious politics addresses situations of threats or grievances that lead actors to mobilize for collective action. In this case, Goliath’s latest gambit to ratchet up intellectual property standards threatened David’s use of the Internet. This time David beat Goliath.

Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations. Penguin.

In the book, Shirky recounts how social tools such as blogging software like WordPress and Twitter, file sharing platforms like Flickr, and online collaboration platforms like Wikipedia support group conversation and group action in a way that previously could only be achieved through institutions. In the same way the printing press increased individual expression, and the telephone increased communications between individuals, Shirky argues that with the advent of online social tools, groups can form without the previous restrictions of time and cost.

Sifry, M. L. (2011). WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency. OR Books.

Welcome to the Age of Transparency. But political analyst and writer Micah Sifry argues that WikiLeaks is not the whole story: it is a symptom, an indicator of an ongoing generational and philosophical struggle between older, closed systems, and the new open culture of the Internet. “What is new,” he writes, “is our ability to connect, individually and together, with greater ease than at any time in human history. As a result, information is flowing more freely into the public arena, powered by seemingly unstoppable networks of people all over the world cooperating to share vital data and prevent its suppression.” Despite Assange’s arrest, the publication of secret documents continues, and websites replicating WikiLeaks’ activities have sprung up in Indonesia, Russia, the European Union, and elsewhere. As Sifry shows, this is part of a larger movement for greater governmental and corporate transparency: “when you combine connectivity with transparency—the ability for more people to see, share and shape what is going on around them—the result is a huge increase in social energy, which is being channeled in all kinds of directions.”

Slane, A. (2007). Democracy, social space, and the internet. University of Toronto Law Journal, 57(1), 81-105.

The article is a critical book review of Diana Saco’s Cybering Democracy: Public Space and the Internet (2002). The author reviews the book as a springboard for exploring how public space has been discussed and contested in case law dealing with the Internet.

Smith, R. C. (2010). Reflections on the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative: A Template for Modern Media Law Reform?. Journal of Media Law, 2(2), 199-211.

This note explains the origins of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (‘IMMI’) and the various legal initiatives Iceland will be undertaking to give it effect. It distinguishes the IMMI from earlier programmes of media law reform, such as that carried out in Luxembourg in 2004, focusing on the IMMI’s broad reach to encompass new and user-generated as well as more mainstream media. The note concludes by considering some of the challenges that countries face when seeking to establish a ‘safe haven’ for the media in today’s networked world and what influence the IMMI is likely to have on projects of law reform in other countries. Research areas: Icelandic media reform, WikiLeaks, source protection, libel tourism.

Solo, A. M., & Bishop, J. (2011, July). The new field of network politics. In Proceedings of the 2011 World Congress in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Applied Computing (WORLDCOMP’11).

This research paper defines a new field called network politics. Network politics refers to politics and networks. These networks include the Internet, private networks, cellular networks, telephone networks, radio networks, television networks, etc. Network politics includes the applications of networks to enable one or more individuals or organizations to engage in political communication. Furthermore, network politics includes political regulation of networks. Finally, network politics includes the accompanying issues that arise when networks are used for political communication or when there is political regulation of networks. The domain of network politics includes, but is not limited to, e-politics (social networking for driving revolutions and organizing protests, online petitions, political blogs and vlogs, whistleblower Web sites, online campaigning, e-participation, virtual town halls, e-voting, Internet freedom, access to information, net neutrality, etc.) and applications of other networks in politics (robocalling, text messaging, TV broadcasting, etc.). The definition of this field should significantly increase the pace of research and development in this important field. Keywords: politics, networks, e-politics, e-voting, Internet, Web.

Stallman, R. (2002). Free software, free society: Selected essays of Richard M. Stallman. Lulu. com.

This book collects the writing of Richard Stallman in a manner that will make its subtlety and power clear. The essays span a wide range, from copyright to the history of the free software movement. They include many arguments not well known, and among these, an especially insightful account of the changed circumstances that render copyright in the digital world suspect. They will serve as a resource for those who seek to understand the thought of this most powerful man–powerful in his ideas, his passion, and his integrity, even if powerless in every other way. They will inspire other who would take these ideas, and build upon them. -from the foreword, by Lawrence Lessig

Sterner, E. (2011). WikiLeaks and cyberspace cultures in conflict. Marshall Policy Outlook.

Every few months, Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, make headlines for publicizing yet more titillating information passing through the U.S. government’s classified systems. Each round of publication does real damage to U.S. national interests, compromising relations with other countries and revealing to current and potential adversaries the internal thought processes of the U.S. government. Policymakers tend to approach these problems episodically — they view Wikileaks as a specific challenge. It may be that, but it also symbolizes a burgeoning conflict between two differing views of cyberspace and how it relates to society. One perspective generally holds that cyberspace must be managed in such a way that conforms it to society’s existing institutions, particularly in matters related to national security. Another philosophy holds that cyberspace is fundamentally reordering society and that, in doing so, it will unleash new possibilities in the story of human liberty. That conflict will run for decades, with consequences not just for U.S. national security, but for the very future of cyberspace.

Tufekci, Z. (2014). The medium and the movement: digital tools, social movement politics, and the end of the free rider problem. Policy & Internet, 6(2), 202-208.

…Thus, technology and long-term cultural trends are converging toward non-institutional politics, and this convergence has a powerful effect on movement trajectories. Similar to Zuckerman, I have found the same reluctance to engage with institutional politics in my own research from Tahrir Square (Tufekci & Wilson, 2012) to Gezi Park (Tufekci, 2013). Similarly, many “Occupy Wall Street” participants were reluctant even to form “spokescouncils” which would represent a minimal level of formalization and institutionalization as compared with the “General Assembly” that meets daily and in which there is no boundary for membership (or lack thereof) besides showing up that day. [But see Quinn Norton’s damning report about Occupy media, cf. Constanza-Chock’s].

Tufekci, Z. (2016). As the Pirates Become CEOs: The Closing of the Open Internet. Daedalus, 145(1), 65-78.

The early Internet witnessed the flourishing of a digitally networked public sphere in which many people, including dissidents who had little to no access to mass media, found a voice as well as a place to connect with one another. As the Internet matures, its initial decentralized form has been increasingly replaced by a small number of ad-financed platforms, such as Facebook and Google, which structure the online experience of billions of people. These platforms often design, control, influence, and “optimize” the user experience according to their own internal values and priorities, sometimes using emergent methods such as algorithmic filtering and computational inference of private traits from computational social science. The shift to a small number of controlling platforms stems from a variety of dynamics, including network effects and the attractions of easier-to-use, closed platforms. This article considers these developments and their consequences for the vitality of the public sphere.

Turner, F. (2006). From counterculture to cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the rise of digital utopianism. University Of Chicago Press.

Fred Turner here traces the previously untold story of a highly influential group of San Francisco Bay–area entrepreneurs: Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth network. Between 1968 and 1998, via such familiar venues as the National Book Award–winning Whole Earth Catalog, the computer conferencing system known as WELL, and, ultimately, the launch of the wildly successful Wired magazine, Brand and his colleagues brokered a long-running collaboration between San Francisco flower power and the emerging technological hub of Silicon Valley. Thanks to their vision, counterculturalists and technologists alike joined together to reimagine computers as tools for personal liberation, the building of virtual and decidedly alternative communities, and the exploration of bold new social frontiers.

Vaidhyanathan, S. 2004. “The state of copyright activism,” First Monday, volume 9, number 4, at

One of the great hopes I had while I researched and wrote Copyrights and copywrongs (New York: New York University Press, 2001), a cultural history of American copyright, during the late 1990s was that copyright debates might puncture the bubble of public consciousness and become important global policy questions. My wish has come true. Since 1998 questions about whether the United States has constructed an equitable or effective copyright system frequently appear on the pages of daily newspapers. Activist movements for both stronger and looser copyright systems have grown in volume and furor. And the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in early 2003 that the foundations of American copyright, as expressed in the Constitution, are barely relevant in an age in which both media companies and clever consumers enjoy unprecedented power over the use of works.

van de Ven, LD (2015) Meeting the Privacy Movement Dissent in the Digital Age. MA dissertation, Radboud Univerity Nijmegen, August 2015.

In the summer of 2013, whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked classified documents of the United States intelligence organization NSA to the press. The documents, of which the magnitude and scope were unprecedented, shocked many and caused an outrage among privacy activists worldwide. At the time of the first publications a small group of individuals, consisting of security researcher Jacob Appelbaum, journalist Glenn Greenwald, WikiLeaks editor Sarah Harrison, and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, stood by Snowden’s side. This group became part of a larger group of privacy activists, in which they started to take on the role of movement leaders. They are now focal points in a large web of privacy activists and organizations that as a whole forms the privacy movement, which shares Berlin as a central meeting place. The movement has three distinct ways in which it expresses dissent: whistleblowing, art, and protest. Meeting the Privacy Movement. Dissent in the Digital Age identifies four elements that are characteristic to this movement: composition, leadership, meeting places, and dissent. With the help of social movement theory and these four elements it is explained how the group that initially helped Snowden fits into a larger group of privacy activists.

von Solms, S., & van Heerden, R. (2015, February). The Consequences of Edward Snowden NSA Related Information Disclosures. In Iccws 2015-The Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security (p. 358). Academic Conferences Limited.

In June 2013, the Guardian newspaper started to disclose thousands of classified documents, which uncovered the existence of several mass surveillance programmes run by the National Security Agency (NSA) in the USA in cooperation with several European countries. These disclosures exposed a massive NSA clandestine electronic surveillance data program called PRISM as well as evidence of secret treaties amongst countries sharing surveillance data. The Guardian source was a NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, who was based in Hawaii. Edward Snowden is currently avoiding arrest after he initially fled to Hong Kong and then Russia. The leaks directly influenced US international relations in a negative manner, such as Brazil cancelling a state visit and Ecuador renouncing US trade benefits. The leaks had a financial impact on some of the massive US based IT companies; especially those who specialise in cloud based computing. Persons, companies and nations were affected by the leaks. Some secure email providers had to close down due to NSA and other government pressures to reveal their secret keys. The current estimation is that the US will lose between $25 billion to $35 billion in cloud computing based revenue due to Snowden’s leaks. The trust in US based security professionals was also degraded after it was revealed that the NSA has pushed for flawed security standards. This will impact the status and US based security professionals in the future. In this paper we present a timeline of the Snowden related leaks, and discuss the reactions to these disclosures. We also explore the direct and indirect impact of these leaks. The consequences of these disclosures include strained foreign relationships, and the knowledge that mass surveillance programmes exists.

Walsh, C., Apperley, T., Abbott, C., Albright, J., Alverman, D., Beavis, C., … & Wood, D. (2013). Towards hacker literacies: What Facebook’s privacy snafus can teach us about empowered technological practices.

This article highlights an emerging set of literate media practices that are simultaneously critical and participatory in nature. These practices, themselves natural responses to a shifting new media landscape, have echoes of existing media literacy paradigms, though are not fully encapsulated by them. Through an analysis of public reactions to Facebook privacy policy and feature changes that took place in the Spring of 2010, the article shows how what the author calls hacker literacies are currently being practised in situ. Hacker literacies, which draw their name from the practice of computer programmers that take existing code and reconfigure it according to their own values and for their own purposes, are unique in that they are not only empowered by participatory technologies, but empowered in relation to these technologies as well. Reactions to changes in Facebook during this time period illustrate the ways that the users of new media did not take for granted the design of these new modes of participation nor the intentions and interests of their creators. Their understanding of the malleability of this sociotechnical space and consequent actions resulted in its reformulation, a type of process the author argues will be crucial if there is to be a more fluid and equal distribution of media power in the digital age. Keywords: critical literacy, empowerment, Facebook, Hacker literacies, media literacy, new literacies, participatory culture, privacy, sociotechnical spaces.

Warf, B. (2011). Geographies of global Internet censorship. GeoJournal, 76(1), 1-23.

More than one-quarter of the planet’s population uses the Internet today, although access to it is highly uneven throughout the world. While it is widely celebrated for its emancipatory potential, many governments view the Internet with alarm and have attempted to limit access or to control its contents. This project seeks to provide a comprehensive, theoretically informed analysis of the geographies of Internet censorship. It begins by clarifying the reasons, types, extent of, and opposition to, government limitations of Internet access and contents. Invoking an index of censorship by Reporters Without Borders, it maps the severity of censorship worldwide and assesses the numbers of people affected, and using the Freedom House index, it correlates political liberty with penetration rates. Second, it explores Internet censorship at several levels of severity to explicate the multiple means through which censorship is implemented and resisted. The third part offers a moral critique of Internet censorship via a Habermasian interpretation of cyberspace as the closest real-world approximation of an ideal speech situation. The summary notes the paradox of growing e-government and continued fears of an expanded domain of public discourse. Keywords: Internet, Cyberspace, Censorship, Habermas

Wark, McKenzie (2004). A Hacker Manifesto. Harvard University Press.

The hacker’s main opposition to creating a world where information is free, and free of scarcity, is what Wark denotes as the “vectoralist” class. Named for their control over vectors (i.e. various pathways and networks over which information flows), the vectoralist class are the modern day dotcom corporate giants, the transnational turbo-capitalist regime, who own the means of production and thus monopolize abstractions. They maintain control by waging “an intensive struggle to dispossess hackers of their intellectual property”, enforced by a series of patent and copyright laws that are used to separate the hacker class from the fruits of their labor.

Wikileaks (2015). The Wikileaks Files. Verso.

The WikiLeaks Files presents expert analysis on the most important cables and outlines their historical importance. In a series of chapters dedicated to the various regions of the world, the book explores the machinations of the United States as it imposes its agenda on other nations: a new form of imperialism founded on varied tactics from torture to military action, to trade deals and “soft power,” in the perpetual pursuit of expanding influence. It illustrates the close relationship between government and big business in promoting US trade.

Wolfson, T. (2014). Digital rebellion: The birth of the cyber left. University of Illinois Press.

Digital Rebellion examines the impact of new media and communication technologies on the spatial, strategic, and organizational fabric of social movements. Todd Wolfson reveals how aspects of the mid-1990s Zapatistas movement–network organizational structure, participatory democratic governance, and the use of communication tools as a binding agent–became essential parts of Indymedia and other Cyber Left organizations. From there he uses oral interviews and other rich ethnographic data to chart the media-based think tanks and experiments that continued the Cyber Left’s evolution through the Independent Media Center’s birth around the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle.

Yuandra (2015). Talking about Open Data in Digital Democracy Meetup Indonesia, School of Data, January 19, 2015,

In the middle of December, the Indonesian Digital Democracy Forum organized a large meetup for Indonesian digital activists who are involved in the movement for pushing democracy in Indonesia via digital media. The meetup was a two day event that was attended by about 30-50 digital activists, from various backgrounds. The meetup was organized as a kind of mini-conference, where there were several breakout rooms, each with different sessions focusing on specific digital democracy themes, such as open data, or internet freedom. On the theme of open data, there was a very interesting discussion on how the open data movement can help in strengthening digital democracy in Indonesia. One of the examples shown is the story of KawalPemilu , a platform for voter count verification which uses crowdsourcing; it was created by just five people, and yet played a pivotal role in Indonesia’s 2014 presidential election as a checking mechanism for the voter count. The platform allows citizens of Indonesia to see and verify the voter count of the election and to check if anything is amiss. It stood as a strong example of citizen participation in the Indonesian elections.

Ziccardi, G. (2012). Resistance, liberation technology and human rights in the digital age (Vol. 7). Springer Science & Business Media.

This book explains strategies, techniques, legal issues and the relationships between digital resistance activities, information warfare actions, liberation technology and human rights. It studies the concept of authority in the digital era and focuses in particular on the actions of so-called digital dissidents. Moving from the difference between hacking and computer crimes, the book explains concepts of hacktivism, the information war between states, a new form of politics (such as open data movements, radical transparency, crowd sourcing and “Twitter Revolutions”), and the hacking of political systems and of state technologies. The book focuses on the protection of human rights in countries with oppressive regimes.

Ziccardi, G. (2013). Opening Remarks: Hacking and Digital Dissidence. In Resistance, Liberation Technology and Human Rights in the Digital Age (pp. 1-25). Springer Netherlands.

This first, introductory Chapter, aims to draw a technological and cultural link between the activities of the early hackers and the actions of digital dissidents in modern times that are taking place in different parts of the world. An initial analysis is devoted to the origins of the hacker tradition; is then described, in a general sense, the current landscape of digital resistance and liberation technologies. The themes that are covered are the importance of technology in episodes of the current political rebellion, the controversy over the role of Facebook and Twitter during recent political events (the so-called Twitter Revolutions), the problem of the digital divide and of different technological conditions in the world and, finally, the use of computer technologies for the well-being of society and for the creation of a new public sphere.

Zuboff, S. (2016) The Secrets of Surveillance Capitalism, Frankfurter Allgemeine, 5 March 2016.

Google is ground zero for a wholly new subspecies of capitalism in which profits derive from the unilateral surveillance and modification of human behavior.  This is a new surveillance capitalism that is unimaginable outside the inscrutable high velocity circuits of Google’s digital universe, whose signature feature is the Internet and its successors.  While the world is riveted by the showdown between Apple and the FBI, the real truth is that the surveillance capabilities being developed by surveillance capitalists are the envy of every state security agency.  What are the secrets of this new capitalism, how do they produce such staggering wealth, and how can we protect ourselves from its invasive power?

Zuckerman, E. (2013). Rewire: Digital cosmopolitans in the age of connection. WW Norton, Incorporated.

The Internet has given us an unprecedented ability to share knowledge and information, and yet, Zuckerman argues, we aren’t really taking advantage of that global connectivity. The Internet lets us see the whole world, but we generally look at only one small part of it, using the technology to tailor the news we receive to our interests, thus narrowing our focus. And, perhaps most important, the bigger the Internet becomes, and the more information there is available, the harder it is to find anything (and the easier it is to misinterpret or misunderstand what we do find). The challenge, Zuckerman says, isn’t access; it’s paying attention. We need to expand our focus, sample other cultures, and seek out the new and unfamiliar. It’s hard to counter the author’s well-reasoned arguments, even if his central point (hey, buddy, you’re not using the Internet right) might sting a little. –David Pitt

Zuckerman, E. (2014). New media, new civics?. Policy & Internet, 6(2), 151-168.

Dissatisfaction with existing governments, a broad shift to “post-representative democracy” and the rise of participatory media are leading toward the visibility of different forms of civic participation. “Participatory civics” uses tools of participatory media and relies on theories of change beyond influencing representative governments to seek change. This article offers a framework to describe participatory civics in terms of theories of change used and demands places on the participant, and examines some of the implications of the rise of participatory civics, including the challenges of deliberation in a diverse and competitive digital public sphere.

Zuckerman, E. (2015) As a Drone Captures Global Voices at 10, a Few Thoughts from Cebu, Global Voices,

Posted January 31, 2015 0:11 GMT. I spent last week in Cebu, the second largest city in The Philippines, with three hundred journalists, activists and media scholars from more than sixty countries. The occasion was the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit, a biennial conference on the state of citizen media, blogging, journalism and activism. This summit coincided with the tenth anniversary of Global Voices, the citizen media website and community Rebecca MacKinnon and I helped to found in late 2004.

We’ve held the conference six times, and it’s always been an excuse to gather core members of the Global Voices community for planning, training and building solidarity. More than 800 staff and volunteers run Global Voices, and since we have no home office, headquarters or physical presence, the conference provides a physicality and presence that’s sorely lacking in most of our interactions. Since the Summit began as an excuse for holding our internal meeting, it’s always a wonderful party and family reunion, but it’s not always been the most thoughtfully programmed event. (I’m allowed to say that because I helped program some of those conferences.)

This year’s incarnation (which I had absolutely nothing to do with planning!) reset expectations about what the Citizen Media Summit could be. It was two packed days of panels, workshops and discussions, tackling some of the most interesting a challenging problems facing online writing and activism: threats to the open internet, social media and protests movements, trolling and online abuse, intermediary censorship.

…I’m starting to wonder whether we’re going to be able to keep operating this way in the future. Increasingly, citizen media is private, or semi-public, which raises really interesting questions about how we use it in our journalism. For example, in China, many political discussions shifted from Weibo (which is primarily public) when the company began verifying the identities of users. Many of those discussions moved to WeChat, where groups with hundreds or thousands of members feel like listservs or bulletin boards.

In the wake of the Occupy movement, Indignados, Gezi and other recent popular protests, it’s reasonable to ask whether protest movements are more powerful for expressing dissent than they are in making fundamental changes to systems of power. Listening to panelists speak about protests in Mexico, Syria, Ukraine and Hong Kong, I thought of Zeynep Tufekçi’s idea that digital tools have made it easier to bring people out into the streets, but may have made the groups assembled with those tools weaker and more brittle. (Because it’s so easy to bring 50,000 people to a protest, Tufekçi argues, organizers have to do a lot less work ahead of time and end up having less influence and social capital with those protesters than they did in earlier years. When the protest ends and it’s time to try and influence governance, those movements have a hard time moving into power.)

About the author of this bibliography

Dr John Postill is Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow at RMIT University, Melbourne, and Digital Anthropology Fellow at University College London (UCL). His publications include Localizing the Internet (2011), Media and Nation Building (2006) and the co-edited volume Theorising Media and Practice (2010, with Birgit Bräuchler). Currently he is conducting anthropological research on new forms of digital activism and civic engagement in Indonesia, Spain and globally. He is also writing a book on the connection between techno-politics and new citizen movements around the world, as well as the co-edited volume Theorising Media and Change (with Elisenda Ardèvol and Sirpa Tenhunen). His Twitter handle is @JohnPostill

See bibliographic entries, A-L

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