There are a lot of questions that can be make about the relationship between NTICs and social movements. From Move.net are suggested several discussion lines, without ignoring the topics that would may appear on the own debate. As a basic guide of the discussion we will focus on the next topics:
Technological Sovereignty: The emancipatory potential brought about by ICTs often comes at odds with dominance by large corporations and with the legislative control by different governments. Surveillance and control are a real risk to privacy and to the users’ right to anonymity; in particular, for social activists this may imply repression by the powers they face. Despite these inherent risks, social movements are becoming more and more adept at finding disruptive uses for commercial technologies, while on the other hand contributing to the development of autonomous projects in technical innovation. Which are the risks and threats faced by social movements when using technologies made by oligopolistic companies? What dangers do surveillance and large corporations pose for activism and social movements? Which will be the challenges for autonomous development of technological tools by social movements? Is it worth using outside technologies despite their inherent risks?
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Digital Rights: Nowadays the very concept of intellectual property is being challenged by new practices on the Internet. Simultaneously, laws are being issued to protect and reinforce copyright. As a result, users suffer serious from a serious deficit in net neutrality, with freedom of expression being put at risk, while access to the net is being reclaimed as a new civil right. How are we to understand copyright in the new digital world? Is it possible to reconcile the remuneration of authors with the ease of digital copy? How can the industry adapt to the new digital environment? Does intellectual property rights pose a threat to digital networks?
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Ciberactivism: Social movements use technology for a number of tasks including organization, as well as internal and external communication. Technology is also key in relation to political struggle, as it enables social movements to carry out actions that are virtually organized, but implemented on the physic space. Internet becomes not only a tool for struggle but, at times, the battlefield itself and the element guiding collective action. Are actions taking place exclusively on-line effective? How is it possible to complement on-line actions in the physical space? What relationships can be seen between classic and virtual activism?
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The Internet is not only a tool for struggle, but also a symbol of new forms of participation and organization. The Internet allows large-scale horizontal communication, questioning classic approaches and opening new ways to question the inevitability of representative systems. On the other hand, digital democracy also implies new uses of the Internet by classic political parties, often without real change onto their hierarchies or their proposals. Political campaigns such as Obama’s in 2008 reflect a contradiction between the claim that wider citizen participation may counter the influence of large companies and that which foregrounds the massive use of surveillance techniques. How can ICTs enlarge participation and improve democracy? Which are the risks of digital participation? Is it possible to balance political representation and participation through ICTs?
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Open Data: The philosophy behind open data speaks of openness and transparency, especially from governments and public bodies, translating into transparency laws. Once Public Administrations agree to free data, questions emerge about access, scope, data utility and the divide between public and reserved information. Are these these transparency laws enough? What is the role of open data for a effective government control by citizens? To what extent must public bodies maintain confidential data? Are the leaks of classified information (Wikileaks, Snowden, Falciani) legitimate? Can digital networks help citizens to control their governments or is surveillance their main task?
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Digital Culture: Culture on the Internet (language, memes, myths) are deeply embedded on the political actions of contemporary social movements. These have the ability to mirror the Internet’s cultural frame, adopting its language and its values. Anonymous masks, slogans such as “Error 404: Democracy not found” or documents such as “Open Code Manifesto” draw from network cultures, from hackers, mass culture reappropriations, freak culture… etc. Accordingly, the Internet becomes not only a medium to quickly distribute ideas, but also a vehicle to preserve and spread the collective memory of social struggles. Which are the cultural referents used by cyberactivism? How does cyberculture translate into discourses and political practices? What is the relationship between mass and popular culture on digital environments? How does the Internet contribute to maintain the collective memory of social movements?
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Media on-line: The Internet is, overall, a mass media. It fosters initiatives to create autochthonous mass media for social movements, ones aiming to counteract traditional media. New digital media (Periodismo Humano, Indymedia, Madrilonia, etc.) offer discussion and widen the scope of alternative medias (Diagonal). Also, these new mass digital media open a new space for debate through the interaction of blogs and conventional media (Menéame). Other projects allow journalists to seek their independence using the network (La Marea). In addition to this, on-line debate breaks on through the conventional mass media agenda and, sometimes, it can counter the enormous power of big corporative media favoring a real turn on the public opinion (13M). This is giving social movements a certain independence from institutional media. How do conventional and new media relate to each other? Do the former still dominate the media landscape, setting the agenda and determining public discourse? To what extent can new media influence public opinion? What is the role of traditional journalism in relation to citizen journalism? What is the journalist’s role in the new, saturated informative environment?
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Videoactivism: As technological development allows a significant increase in bandwidth and smartphones reach wider sections of society, social media sites (and the Internet itself) increasingly revolve around audiovisual content, mainly photographs and video. It is a phenomenon that has a direct and clear effect on cyberactivism as it widens the scope of vision and makes the task of creating dissident, bottom-up audiovisual pieces easier to make. However, the predominance of visual media on-line can also be put in relation to the increase in surveillance and control or the banalization of content in the Internet. Which are the discursive features of digital videoactivism? How does it contribute to social change? What contradictions lie in videoactivist practice? Is it a question of form or content?
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