Welcome to the internet home of Group 4’s literature review. Explore the pages above for an in depth look at different aspects of New Media Activism, and visit our Tactical Media Tumblr for more inspiration. You can also download our full report as a PDF from the side bar on the right.

We’ll be presenting our work on Saturday morning (November 5th, 2011) as part of the Communication for Development seminar on Media, communication and social entrepreneurship in transitional societies. Follow us live below:

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Flash Mob Attempt

As part of our practical and content-based activist work we wanted to set up a FLASH MOB to speak up against the resently introduced student fees.
We thought to post it in the chat in the LIVE lecture in our presentation. When Shahriar would mention FLASH MOB, all the co-students contacted by e-mail and facebook should post:

I WOULD NOT BE HERE, if student fees would have been already imposed in 2010.



or other related protest slogans.

Unfortunately the bambuser-video which we recorded a day before, as Shahriar is living in Iran and we feared the insecurity of the connection (in technical as well as in political terms) was too big to be shown in Tirana. So we missed our “codeword” to begin the FLASH MOB.
Not knowing what to do we unfortunately started posting when an other student was presenting, which we normally wanted to avoid, the other problem was that the few people online who wanted to participate where also hindered by technical constrains, maybe also due to the far destinations they are living, like South Africa or Indonesia.

so somehow our FLASH MOB failed. But only in terms of the right moment and the broader participation. The content of the protest was seen on the “big screen” as the chat was projected. So everybody saw the letters:

I WOULD NOT BE HERE, if student fees would have been already imposed in 2010.



but strangely enough nobody reacted really…also not after the talk we might have disturbed…

that is one reason, why we wanted to post these reflections on our blog, to hope to get some response on our questions

Kalea, Shahriar and Sonja

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Mediatization theory. Professor Andreas Hepp

Research: Project “Mediatized everyday worlds and translocal Vergemeinschaftung”

DFG project “Mediatized everyday worlds and translocal Vergemeinschaftung: The communicative networking and mediated community building of ‘digital natives'” (Priority programme 1505 “Mediatized Worlds”)

Prof. Dr. Andreas Hepp, Matthias Berg, MA, Cindy Roitsch, MA

The establishment of digital media and new forms of computer mediated communication like the so-called web 2.0 have opened up manifold possibilities for communicative networking and–based on this–or community building. This is especially the case for ‘digital natives’, i.e. teenagers and young adults who grew up with digital media. The aim of the project is to investigate everyday communicative networking practices with regard to which (new) forms and horizons of translocal mediated Vergemeinschaftung they allow on the whole and to shed light on their potential for civil society. The fulfil this aim, we develop a grounded theory of the ‘mediatized everyday worlds of translocal community building’ . The data bases of this theory is provided by an innovative qualitative media and communication analysis, using a triangulation of network analyses (based on different kinds of visualising strategies), media diaries, interviews and other material. The project is part of the “Research field B: Networks” of the priority research program.



Hartmann, Maren/Hepp, Andreas (eds.) (2010): Die Mediatisierung der Alltagswelt. Wiesbaden: VS.

Hepp, Andreas (2010): Netzwerk und Kultur. In: Stegbauer, Christian/Häußling, Roger (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Netzwerkforschung. Wiesbaden: VS, in print.

Hepp, Andreas (2009): Differentiation: Mediatization and Cultural Change. In: Lundby, Knut (ed.): Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences. New York: Peter Lang. pp. 135-154.

Hepp, Andreas/Krotz, Friedrich/Moores, Shaun/Winter, Carsten (eds.) (2008): Connectivity, Networks and Flows. Conceptualizing Contemporary Communications. Cresskill: Hampton Press.

Hepp, Andreas (2004): Netzwerke der Medien. Medienkulturen und Globalisierung. Wiesbaden: Vs

This text retrieved from: http://www.zemki.uni-bremen.de/index.php?id=3125&L=1

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Democracy in the age of viral reality (1)

Democracy in the age of viral reality (1)
by John Postill

From Postill, J. forthcoming. Democracy in the age of viral reality: a media epidemiography of Spain’s indignados movement. Submitted in September 2011 to special issue “Media Ethnography and Public Sphere Engagement”, eds. Debra Vidali and Thomas Tufte, Ethnography journal (NB. This is work in progress).

Reports of recent episodes of social unrest and protest in cities across the Arab world, Europe and other world regions have often pointed at their ‘viral’ nature and speculated on the role played by digital media in their explosive growth (e.g. Almiraat 2011, Cohen 2011).

The sociologist Zeynep Tufekci (2011a, 2011b) has described the new media landscape in the Arab world as ‘a game-changer’. The combination of a politicised pan-Arab TV network (Al Jazeera), widely available mobile phones with photo and video capabilities, and the rapid growth of  social media such as Facebook and YouTube since 2009, has created a ‘new media ecology’ that authoritarian regimes are finding very difficult to control. Using an epidemiological idiom, Tufekci argues that until recently repressive governments had been able to ‘quarantine’ pockets of resistance through using force selectively, preventing these local outbreaks from spreading. In other words, they were able to stifle ‘an oppositional information/action cascade’. However, with the proliferation of portable digital media, autocrats in Tunisiaand Egypt were overwhelmed ‘by simultaneous and multi-channel uprisings which spread rapidly and “virally”’.

Some work in the US also suggests the growing importance of viral contents to the political process in democratic countries. Wasik (2009) has described America as a viral culture where countless amateurs experiment with sophisticated media to produce and share ‘nanostories’. This author is pessimistic about the implications for democracy, and sees the emergence of a nanopolitics around trivia that ‘go viral’ but are forgotten almost as soon as they peak. For their part Nahon et al (2011) have mapped the spread of presidential election viral videos through the US blogosphere and found important differences in the ability to set the agenda amongst different categories of blog.

These case studies raise interesting comparative questions for further research and theorisation in both democratic and authoritarian countries.  The present series of blog posts builds on existing anthropological work on cultural and media epidemiology (Boyer 2000, 2001, Postill 2005, 2006, Sperber 1996, Spitulnik 1996) and on recent fieldwork in Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) to propose a new approach to the study of popular politics in the digital era. I call this approach ‘media epidemiography’. This is a composite of the terms ‘epidemiology’ and ‘ethnography’ that I shall use as a heuristic to explore the new techno-political terrain in which popular struggles unfold in today’s world. The article starts with a brief account of Spain’s 15-M (or indignados) movement from its start as a peaceful day ofprotest through its pandemic growth in subsequent days to more recent events. This is followed by a media epidemiographic sketch of the movement under four subheadings: campaign virals, viral campaigns, niche virals and sustainable virals. I argue that digital media virals in various forms have played a key role in the movement so far, with Twitter as the central site of viral propagation. I also suggest that this may signal the coming of an era in which political reality is strongly shaped by viral contents ‘shared’ by media professionals and amateurs – an age of viral reality.  I then discuss what this highly viral media ecology may entail for the future of democracy in Spain and other media-rich countries, concluding with a summary and suggestions for further research.

To be continued…


Almiraat, H. 2011. Egypt: Videos Are Worth a Million Words, Global Voices, 28 January 2011,

Boyer, P. 2000.  Functional origins of religious concepts: ontological and strategic selection in evolved minds.  Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.)  6,


Boyer, P. 2001.  Cultural inheritance tracks and cognitive predispositions: the example of religious concepts. In: Whitehouse, H. (ed.), The Debated Mind: Evolutionary

Psychology versus Ethnography, Oxford/New York:  Berg.

Cohen, J. 2011. Photo Of Egyptian Saying ‘I Love Facebook’ Goes Viral, Allfacebook.com, 4 February 2011,

Nahon, Karine; Hemsley, Jeff; Walker, Shawn; and Hussain, Muzammil (2011) “Fifteen Minutes of Fame: The Power of Blogs in the Lifecycle of Viral Political Information,” Policy & Internet: Vol. 3: Iss. 1, Article 2.

Postill, J. 2005. Internet y epidemiología cultural en Malaisia: reflexiones desde la antropología cognitiva. In Ardevol, E. and J. Grau (eds) Antropología de los Media.  Seville: AA.EE.

Postill, J. 2006. Media and Nation Building: How the Iban Became Malaysian. Oxford and New York: Berghahn.

Sperber, D. 1996.  Explaining Culture: A naturalistic approach,     Oxford:  Blackwell.

Spitulnik, D. 1996. The social circulation of media discourse and the mediation of communities. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 62, 161‑187.

Tufekci 2011a Faster is Different: Brief Presentation at Theorizing the Web, 2011, Technosociology, 13 April 2011.

Tufekci 2011b New Media and the People-Powered Uprisings, Technology Review, 30 August 2011.

Wasik, B. 2009 And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture, Viking.

John Postill | October 3, 2011 at 10:38 am | Tags: 15m, anthropology, indignados, media anthropology, political virals, spanish revolution, virals | Categories: activism, anthropology, digital anthropology, digital epidemiology, media and conflict, media anthropology, microblogging, social media, social movements, Spain, Web 2.0 | URL: http://wp.me/p1dND-1yu

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Anders Hög Hansen interviews Shahriar Khonsari at Ørecomm Festival

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