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Reclaiming technology as a form of political intervention

quinta-feira 9 de fevereiro de 2012, por Magalí Ricciardi Yakin , Magalí Ricciardi Yakin Magalí Ricciardi Yakin

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Techno-political devices, counter-power, hacking, collective intelligence, real democracy, decentralisation, social goods, privacy, free software, self-managed social networks and global awareness were just some of the concepts debated in the global dialogue "Social tools for political activism". Translated by Angela Frawley.

(26/01/2012, Porto Alegre) During the meeting at the Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana, Javier Tonet, one of the creators of the site n-1 (https://n-1.cc/) and articulator of the 15M movement in Barcelona, explained that in the current climate of crisis of the financial capitalism, social tension and digitalization, “the seed of electronic democracy” is taking root and seeks to "reclaim technology” in order to generate a “counter-power”.

The Spaniard strongly criticised "cognitive capitalism" or the knowledge economy with its corporative products such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, for "getting rich from our data" and calls for the social movements to use its "collective intelligence" to create free autonomous technological tools with greater privacy, designed to permit political activism. However, he highlighted that free software may be supplemented by the "tactical use" of commercial social networks as happened in the case of 15M: not only to organise events on Facebook, but we must "bring the Internet into the street" and with a clear communicative strategy "break the silence of the media and block the tyranny of television".

"Activism is gaining force from technology," agreed the sociologist Sergio Amadeu da Silveira and mentioned, by way of example, the day hackers and social militants "joined forces" during the mass virtual protest on 18 January, blocking the credit card operating networks. He has however clarified that this new form of demonstrating is "legitimate", saying that we should not look on this as a "virtual war" but as a "tool" used by a "more interactive democracy".

Da Silveria indicated that up to relatively recently, free software was a collective tool "free of any politicization", but since the global crisis, hackers have joined forces with activists. "Social movements must be digitalized to be able to face large transnational commercial corporations that manage and control the web," he argued.

Pablo Capilé from Fora do Eixo, in turn, stated that hacking is a process whereby we can “take full advantage of assets” within the framework of 21st century network. "We have to penetrate the structure in order to attain our objectives," he explained and distinguished this new "logic of occupying space", in which the proletariat has no managers, from that of former “friend/enemy paradigms” that characterised the social battles of previous centuries.

Along this same line, Vicente Jurado, member of our.Project.org stated that “simultaneous global hacking is necessary to attain structural changes” and encourages activists “to find cracks in the system”. How can we "create and protect new common assets?" he asked rhetorically. One option would be to "promote joint efforts between philosophers, jurists and IT technicians". In his opinion, the work of IT technicians is crucial, and we must promote innovation to attain tools that the vast section of the population can use without having to depend on IT experts. "We need to develop simple tools so that the majority of people can stop using corporate products, and opt for new decentralised models that would boost free culture," he maintained.

Finally, Da Silveira noted that "there are few companies that manufacture strategic technologies" and that "the battle for freedom of knowledge is also technological" so we must expand our knowledge and use these digital tools.