Oct 12

Activism as support? An invitation to write letters to Gottfrid Svartholm.

Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm was arrested in late August in Cambodia and later extradited to Sweden. Today his supporters are asked to show their support by writing him letters. The move is interesting to reflect upon in regards to the offline and online relation within new activism. By reaching out to the online community the intention is to have them act in the offline world. And relating to Pirate Bay it’s of course always fascinating to see how online mobilization can lead to offline momentum.

But when we talk about mobilization we need to do a short detour. Mobilization or “mobil(e)isation” is something Joss Hands reflcts upon in her work @ Is for Activism : Dissent, Resistance and Rebellion in a Digital Culture. Mobilization is the move “from gathering to acting” or from “demonstration to direct action” (Hands, 2010, p.124). This movement is something Hands, and other scholars on the topic, mean have changed radically with the growth of our digital culture. Today activists can use a myriad of different devices and networks to “coordinate, organize and disrupt at speed and in numbers” (ibid.) This means that mobilization today can be almost instant, but most important of all according to me–global. Which in turn leads us back to the global support of Svartholm and the Pirate Bay. A global online support that also lead to local offline support which lead to political policy impact.

During the Pirate Bay-trial and the demonstrations and protest that surrounded it several of the organizers of the offline protest, that was mobilized mainly online, were a part of the Swedish Pirate party, a political party founded in 2006, who among other issues is known for its fight for increased freedom in sharing online content. After the verdict in the TPB trial was announced the number of members among the Swedish Pirate Party increased rapidly–which can b interpreted as the online and offline activity leading to political mobilization. During the elections to the European Parliament the following year the Party managed to secure a seat and showed that it had become a part of the Swedish and European policy setting political sphere. The online and offline debate hence helped mobilize support to impact current policy.


— Irina Bernebring Journiette

Oct 12

Introducing myself and my views on Internet Freedom

I was doing some minor work the other day when it occurred to me that one way for me to introduce myself and my perspective upon New Media Activism properly would be share some of the opinionated pieces I’ve written for the online think-tank policymic. From the following pieces you should be able to get a good understanding of my own stance within the debate.

UK Communications Data Bill Would Destroy Internet Freedom and Lead Us On the Road to Totalitarianism

“The bill stipulates a further infringement of online privacy, and is without doubt a step towards a more totalitarian, and perhaps down the line authoritarian, online regime. Everyone is now considered a criminal until proven otherwise.”

British government announces plans to monitor emails and website visits

“As surveillance of our offline and online activities increases, the dystopia of the monitoring society seems already upon us. The idea of the thought police might not seem as distant as before.”

Indiana Boy Expelled For Dropping F-Bomb on Twitter Sparks Free Speech Debate

“The right to express oneself and one’s ideas freely is a human right. As stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

Expelling a young boy might seem trivial, but even the most basic erosion can lead up to erosion of the freedom of thought. What hinders the authorities from seeking out, questioning, and persecuting every individual with unconventional or uncomfortable views?”

— Irina Bernebring Journiette

Oct 12

Understanding New Media Activism

So the directive for this blog and assignment is to reflect upon the topic of New Media Activism. To do so , in my mind, you need to determine: What constitutes “New Media?” What constitutes “Activism?” And how are the two terms related? “Blah, blah, blah” some of you might say, “we already know that.” But just bear with me and let’s pretend that you don’t, so that we can settle on some vague definition that will be the basis for the rest of the material provided by me on this site.

The easiest way to define new media is to claim that new media is everything that is not traditional, or by other words, old media. New media then become media associated with post-millennial technology and communication. However, this definition feels very over-simplistic and perhaps it’s easier to define new media by the features that it embodies, the most important one for the reflections that are to follow–it’s possibilities to be interactive. New media, according to my definition, hence becomes something that turns the spectator into a spect-actor. This is something that Lievrouw in her book, Alternative and Activist New Media, also seem to land in. What she writes is that “New Media” is media that “provides conditions for participation” (Lievrouw, 2011, p.3). With, for example the expansion of and the wider use of, the world wide web, the distance between gaining information of something you find is wrong and acting/partaking to prevent the wrongdoing from continuing has lessened (Lievrouw, 2011, p.14). This idea of participation is in itself a key feature of activism in the form that it’s captured in Reclaiming the media: communication rights and democratic media roles:  “activism (…) represents the practice of struggling for change” (Cammaerts & Carpentier, 2007, p.217). At the same time, however, even though activism always indicates participation, participation does not always indicate activism. Instead it needs to be evaluated on a case-to-case basis to, in the words of Cammaerts and Carpentier, determine “when participation has taken on such a focused, critical mass of energy aimed at attaining specific changes that we would want to label it activism” (2007, p.ix).

So to conclude, my very brief theoretical framework is that: “New Media Activism” is based on focused participation with the goal of attaining specific changes and use media with interactive features to reach it’s goal.

— Irina Bernebring Journiette