Bart Cammaerts brings to our attention that the world not only is, but is made, and that activism is about agency and makeability of society. Activism can be direct or indirect, collaborative or confrontative, violent or peaceful, offline, online or both. Regardless of what, it is evident that media and communication play a crucial role in activist strategies and processes of social change. According to Cammaerts, media can be understood both as a medium to communicate, propagate and interact, as well as an arena for negotiating meaning. He stresses however that activism to be successful cannot be confined to the media-realm, but has to be an interaction between offline and online strategies for mobilising, organising and debating resistance.

From Reclaiming the Media (2007), Cammaerts, B. Activism and Media, pages 217-221.

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hemlis_ui_mocks
Hemlis aims to provide a private secure channel for interpersonal communication in the wake of the on-going revelations by Edward Snowden of NSA spying and wiretapping. Meaning ‘secret’, the forthcoming alternative instant messaging application is being built by Peter Sunde, Leif Högberg and Linus Olsson, three well known individuals within the Swedish and international hacking scenes and individually affiliated to prior projects including The Pirate Bay and Flattr.

This is an interesting project in relation to the idea of New Media Activism in that it is at the cross roads of a political project of sorts and commercial activity.
We’re building a message app where no one can listen in, not even us. We would rather close down the service before letting anyone in. Secrets are only secrets if they are secret.

Though the aim of this app is to offer a privacy enhancing alternative to existing services, they are not doing this as a charitable exercise. They intend to make the app profitable via the use of in app purchases. It also exists at the boundary of the open source software in that while the team involved are committed to the idea of and participate in open source projects they make it clear on the Hemlis site that open source is not in and of itself the answer.

We have all intentions of opening up the source as much as possible for scrutiny and help! What we really want people to understand however, is that Open Source in itself does not guarantee any privacy or safety. It sure helps with transparency, but technology by itself is not enough. The fundamental benefits of Heml.is will be the app together with our infrastructure, which is what really makes the system interesting and secure.

I find it interesting to see this project as a response to collective issues of privacy and surveillance, done so not in the terms of activism or as part of a civil society project but organised in the spirit of business with a focus on commercial sustainability rather than as an act of political expression as such. Does this then qualify as activism?

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Artist / Activist!

October 17, 2013

When I was an artist I was an activist too, and here are some of my pieces 🙂   INTEGRERINGS VIDEO:   ALL PLACES CONTAIN ALL OTHERS   OLYMPIC MIMING:   THE ACT OF SELF_SURVEILLANCE  

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Civil Rights Captcha

October 17, 2013

CAPTCHA is the acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart” and is defined as a type of challenge-response test used in computing to determine whether or not the user is human (wiki :-). Captcha tests are used to prevent bots (web-robots) from using various types of computing services and […]

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Will Social Media Bring an End to Totalitarian Regimes?

October 16, 2013

On April 7, 2009, thousands of people in Moldova took to the streets and stormed the presidential palace and the government building, breaking windows and setting furniture on fire. Soon the event became known as the Twitter Revolution as it was argued that the protesters had been using Twitter to organize themselves. From Moldova to […]

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Fred Ritchin – Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen

October 14, 2013

This past Friday, Fred Ritchin, professor of Photography and Imaging at New York University and co-director of the NYU/Magnum Foundation Photography and Human Rights educational program, spoke at Malmo about the future of photographic media and it’s impact on journalism and citizenship. It was a very engaging talk and can be viewed below. You can […]

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It’s Your Fault: Ironic activism?

October 14, 2013

Here is a youtube video produced by All India Bakchod, an Indian web comedy show. It approaches the issue of violence against women and specifically rape, through the use of ironic statements that it is the victims fault for being attacked. I think this is a good example of the way in which new media […]

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When the New Media is not any longer New!

October 11, 2013

After spending some time reading the introduction part of Leah´s book (1), pages where she propose definition of New Media, I ended up slightly irritated and disappointed. I am not going to retrieve how much time I spend reading – but as a none native English speaker – I have often to check different terms […]

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Defining New Media Activism: Leah Lievrouw

October 10, 2013

In Alternative and activist new media, Leah Lievrouw proposes that, “alternative and new activist media employ or modify the communication artefacts, practices and social arrangements of new information and communication technologies to challenge or alter dominant, expected, or accepted ways of doing society, culture and politics” (Lievrouw 2011, p19). This is a functional and clear […]

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