09
Oct 15

Beyond culture jamming—digitally augmented artivism

by Michael O’Regan

They say empty vessels make the most noise, and that’s certainly borne out in the hollow cacophonies projected by many practitioners of culture jamming, a celebrated sub-division of activist art, which all too often problematically conflates the petulant with the profound.  Continue reading →


05
Oct 15

From ‘villains’ to ‘heroes’, by IOM – perceptions about migration in the public sphere

by Isabel Marques da Silva

herois

The 21st century’s (big) enthusiasm about the potential of new media for fast and generalised social change is not without conceptual basis, and has been underpinned by its theoretically established features: ubiquity, interactivity, recombination, and networking (Leah Lievrouw, 2011, p. 15). But recent research shows that online activism and advocacy are not a contemporary magic wand with super catalytic powers for mobilisation and civic engagement. The ‘click activism’ shortcomings are well documented in the article about the “Save Darfur Cause” on Facebook, (1 billion members, 100,000 USD in donations) where Kevin Lewis, Kurt Gray and Jens Meierhenrich (2014, p.7) state that “Facebook is less useful a mobilization tool than a marketing tool (…) it largely failed to transform these initial acts of movement participation into “a deep and sustained commitment to the work” (Land, 2009, p.220)”.

But halfway between marketing (of trends/concepts) and mobilisation (for action/participation), I argue that new media can have a ‘transitional’ role in what concerns discussion in the public sphere. An example is the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) use of new media to influence perceptions about migration, specifically in Europe, with internal campaigns, but also in association with external partners.

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27
Sep 15

Modalities of mobilisation: whither Indymedia?

by Michael O’Regan

A Map Of The World

New media are constantly being (re)born. Their endlessly emergent iterations and configurations present something of a double-edged sword to the activist demos. On one hand, this ongoing technological shape-shifting encourages and facilitates a continuously regenerating oppositional praxis. On the other, an ever-deepening techno-centrism risks fetishizing novelty at the expense of continuity. Novelty, of course, withers swiftly on the vine; that which seems exciting and useful in one moment, faces a near-immediate battle to skirt obsolescence or irrelevance.

An illustrative manifestation of this phenomenon is the confused status of the Independent Media Center (Indymedia, for short). Indymedia was the future once, the loadstar of a supposed revolution in journalism that expanded exponentially and inspired a thousand treatises, before academic and activist attention was captured by the social media of Web 2.0. Continue reading →