Part V - How an engineer can be an activist, and and activist can be technical?

Aningen försenat kommer nu femte och sista delen i min bloggserie “How can engineers and activists work together?”. Det blir ett kort och avrundande avsnitt, främst på grund av att jag inte får mer plats i artikeln, som kommer att publiceras inom kort i en tysk tidsskrift (givetvis postar jag hela texten då).

Part I - Introduction

Part II - Panspectric Surveillance and War

Part III - Citizen journalism, pirate parties and activists

Part IV - How an engineer can be an activist, and and activist can be technical?

Part V - The Internet(s) – democratic spaces or mine fields for panspectric surveillance?

As there seems to be a general tendency towards more surveillance, not only in the EU member states but globally, it is easy to become absorbed with pessimism. Shaping publics does not seem to be enough, and turns into a democratic dilemma, especially in places where civil society is less likely to assemble. Technological activism, such as encryption and routing, may be effective, but could also be accused of denying the idea of a collective social and legal project.

I have argued not only that such an opposition is unproductive, but also that it is analytically false in its division of social and technological phenomenon. An issue may be formed around rights and parliamentary processes in the same fashion as it takes an encryption protocol or a piece of hardware as its object. This “hacker attitude” (1) towards the politics of emerging technologies is maybe best expressed in the works of the French activist group La Quadrature du Net, who argue (2) that law is code, and if there are errors in it, activists should start “patching” them, instead of merely protesting towards them.

As all of these processes more or less take place on the Internet, simultaneously as they are about the Internet, the expression of “reclaiming the streets” seems quite obsolete. Instead we should maybe say that reclaiming the cables, routers and lines of code would be the crucial task for a vibrant politics of the Internet(s).

1 See also: Palmås, Karl & von Busch, Otto (2006) Abstract Hacktivism – The Making of a Hacker Culture, London: Mute Publishing Ltd.

*2 Zimmermann Jérémy (2008) Presentation at the 25C3 congress in Berlin, 2008-12-30.*