April 03, 2020

Institute of Network Cultures

Out now: TOD#35 The Arab Archive: Mediated Memories and Digital Flows

INC is proud to announce the publication of The Arab Archive, edited by Donatella Della Ratta, Kay Dickinson, and Sune Haugbolle.

As the revolutions across the Arab world that came to a head in 2011 devolved into civil war and military coup, representation and history acquired a renewed and contested urgency. The capacities of the internet have enabled sharing and archiving in an unprecedented fashion. Yet, at the same time, these facilities institute a globally dispersed reinforcement and recalibration of power, turning memory and knowledge into commodified and copyrighted goods. In The Arab Archive: Mediated Memories and Digital Flows, activists, artists, filmmakers, producers, and scholars examine which images of struggle have been created, bought, sold, repurposed, denounced, and expunged. As a whole, these cultural productions constitute an archive whose formats are as diverse as digital repositories looked after by activists, found footage art documentaries, Facebook archive pages, art exhibits, doctoral research projects, and ‘controversial’ or ‘violent’ protest videos that are abruptly removed from YouTube at the click of a mouse by sub-contracted employees thousands of kilometers from where they were uploaded. The Arab Archive investigates the local, regional, and international forces that determine what materials, and therefore which pasts, we can access and remember, and, conversely, which pasts get erased and forgotten.

Download or order your copy here:

https://networkcultures.org/blog/publication/tod35-the-arab-archive-mediated-memories-and-digital-flows/

 

 

 

 

 

by Barbara Dubbeldam

April 02, 2020

The Society for Social Studies of Science

Science and Democracy Reconsidered

To what extent is the normative commitment of STS to the democratization of science a product of the democratic contexts where it is most often produced? STS scholars have historically offered a powerful critical lens through which to understand the social construction of science, and seminal contributions in this area have outlined ways in which citizens have improved both the conduct of science and its outcomes. Yet, with few exceptions, it remains that most STS scholarship has eschewed study of more problematic cases of public engagement of science in rich, supposedly mature Western democracies, as well as examination of science-making in poorer, sometimes non-democratic contexts. How might research on problematic cases and dissimilar political contexts traditionally neglected by STS scholars push the field forward in new ways? This paper responds to themes that came out of papers from two Eastern Sociological Society Presidential Panels on Science and Technology Studies in an Era of Anti-Science. It considers implications of the normative commitment by sociologists working in the STS tradition to the democratization of science.

by Joseph Harris (josephh@bu.edu)

Hidden Injustice and Anti-Science

This essay responds to the five articles on Anti-Science in this journal issue by discussing a significant theme identified across all of them: hidden injustice. Some of the ways that injustice is hidden by organizational forces related to anti-science are identified. In response, the essay points to the need for empirical data on anti-science policies, a symmetric approach to anti-science contexts, and institutional analysis of anti-science power imbalances. Additionally, a reflexive question about whether anti-science analysis in STS leads the field toward racial justice is raised. The essay calls for further organizational level research with a critical STS lens to uncover hidden injustice.

by Laurel Smith-Doerr (lsmithdoerr@soc.umass.edu)

Learning in Crisis: Training Students to Monitor and Address Irresponsible Knowledge Construction by US Federal Agencies under Trump

Immediately after President Trump’s inauguration, US federal science agencies began deleting information about climate change from their websites, triggering alarm among scientists, environmental activists, and journalists about the administration’s attempt to suppress information about climate change and promulgate climate denialism.  The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) was founded in late 2016 to build a multidisciplinary collaboration of scholars and volunteers who could monitor the Trump administration’s dismantling of environmental regulations and science deemed harmful to its industrial and ideological interests.  One of EDGI’s main initiatives has been training activists and volunteers to monitor federal agency websites to identify how the climate-denialist ideology is affecting public debate and science policy.  In this paper, we explain how EDGI’s web-monitoring protocols are being incorporated into college curricula and how, in this way, EDGI’s work aligns with STS work on “critical making” and “making and doing.” EDGI’s work shows how STS scholars can establish new modes of engagement with the state that demand a more transparent and trustworthy relationship with the public, creating spaces where the public can define and demand responsible knowledge practices and participate in the process of creating STS inspired forms of careful, collective, and public knowledge construction.

by Gretchen Gehrke (gehrke.gretchen@gmail.com)

Du Boisian Propaganda, Foucauldian Genealogy, and Antiracism in STS Research

This essay explores the relationships between the “new” anti-science formation under Trump and the kinds of anti-Black racisms we are experiencing at present. What appears at first glance to be a new anti-science formation, isn’t new at all, but old wine in new cloth, all dressed up to confound and distract our gaze from power. The vast majority of Black and Brown people are not surprised nor fooled by Donald Trump and the danger he represents to truth, to our lives, to our precious Earth. For that matter, how are STS scholars working to produce anti-racist knowledge that directly benefits Black people? In this commentary, I briefly respond to these questions by exploring how wildly contrasting accounts of propaganda, truth, and science by W.E.B. Du Bois and Michel Foucault might help STS scholars make sense of the relationship between anti-Black racism and the current anti-science moment in American society.

by Anthony Ryan Hatch (ahatch@wesleyan.edu)

STS Currents against the “Anti-Science” Tide

This essay considers some possible relationships that STS scholars can have with activists who are resisting attacks on environmental science. STS scholars can document the counter-currents to the “anti-science” moment, work in partnership with activists outside of academia, use access to institutional resources to give environmental movements strength, use STS research to help activists better understand the policy process and the history of science funding, and help people to develop a sociological imagination about science and the environment.

by Abby J. Kinchy (Kincha@rpi.edu)

Drought, Hurricane, or Wildfire? Assessing the Trump Administration’s Anti-Science Disaster

We describe the Trump Administration as an “anti-science disaster” and approach study of the phenomenon as other disaster researchers might study the impacts of a drought, hurricane, or wildfire. An important, but rare, element of disaster research is identification of baseline data that allow scientific assessment of changes in social and natural systems. We describe three potential baselines for assessing the nature and impact of Trump’s anti-science rhetoric and (in)action on science, science policy, and politics.

by Christopher M. Rea (rea.115@osu.edu)

Sticks, Stones, and the Secular Bones of Indian Democracy

While being inspired by the compelling social protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens in India, the authors of this critical engagement argue that now, more than ever, is time to reflect on the nature of secularism that is being invoked by nonviolent protesters. What can a focus on lathi-wielding and stone-throwing, all low technologies of governance, tell us about the practices and challenges of liberal democracy in India? This piece excavates a brief history of the lathi and stone-pelting to show what kinds of "illiberal" protests are deemed aesthetically pleasing and palatable to elites in India and abroad, which ones are not, and the dangers of this kind of exclusion with respect to new forms of Islamophobia.

by Sreela Sarkar (ssarkar@scu.edu)

<b>From Sideline to Frontline: STS in the Trump Era</b>

The Trump presidency and its relationship to science and truth have prompted considerable reflection as well as significant action by STS scholars.  Among those thinking, speaking, and acting are the authors of the articles in this thematic collection.  This brief introduction summarizes the major strands in each of the articles, placing them in the context of current political trends.

by Daniel Lee Kleinman (dlkleinman@gmail.com)

Low-Carbon Research: Building a Greener and More Inclusive Academy

This essay examines how the fossil fuel energy regimes that support contemporary academic norms in turn shape and constrain knowledge production. High-carbon research methods and exchanges, particularly those that depend on aviation, produce distinct exclusions and incentives that could be reformed in the transition to a low-carbon academy. Drawing on feminist STS, alternative modes of collective research creation and collaboration are outlined, along with an assessment of their potential challenges and gains. This commentary concludes with several recommendations for incremental and institutional changes, along with a call for scholars of social and technical systems to uniquely contribute to this transition.

by Anne Pasek (apasek@ualberta.ca)

Upgraded to Obsolescence: Age Intervention in the Era of Biohacking

Popularized by DIY scientists and quantified-selfers, the language of “biohacking” has become increasingly prevalent in anti-aging discourse. Presented with speculative futures of superhuman health and longevity, consumers and patients are invited to “hack” the aging process, reducing age to one of the many programs, or rather “bugs” that can be re-written, removed, and rendered obsolete. Drawing on recent examples from popular media and anti-aging promotional materials, I explore how the language of biohacking signals an orientation to the body that denies the acceptability of a body that is anything but optimal. In the endless strive towards the latest and greatest, the language of biohacking renders the old body obsolete, standing as nothing more than a relic of an outdated operating system.

by Kirsten L. Ellison (kellison@trentu.ca)

April 01, 2020

/tmp/lab

How to install and run bots for the Matrix network

Matrix is a fun and exciting federated protocol that we’re using more and more at /tmp/lab.

If you want to join the discussion, head to our riot channel and check it out!

Riot is a well-known web GUI for the Matrix protocol which could be defined as “a chat interface between IRC and Slack”. It’s cooler than IRC to some extend – backlogging is easier- and it is free software, not like Slack 🙂 Still, IRC, Slack and Riot have in common a capacity to use bots, and that’s what we’ll be drilling today: Matrix bots. Onward, my mechanical steed!

Note: Our privacy-aware assistance might interject here with some well founded critics of the Matrix ecosystem, which is not free enough as of now. Find here a list of concerns as a github issue tracker for more information.

Anyway, which bot to choose? There are many available bots for matrix and even a page dedicated to them on the project’s website. We chose maubot.

The maubot homepage on github

Why maubot?

Well, first, it’s python, which we like. Also, it’s actually well coded: Tulir Asokan -the author- did an impressive work at providing his own implementation of the matrix api which he plans to use to provide a number of bridges. It is modular, meaning that you can extend the functionnalities in a clean manner. And that leads us to hackability, writing your own plugins should be easy with maubot, more on that soon hopefuly.

Deploying Maubot on a server

Though maubot proposes a docker install, we were not fans of that for system administration reasons. So we’ve made an install script in bash you can find in this git project.

The maubot installer project

This install script should really simplify your job. Assign in the DNS a subdomain name -say botsinspace.example.com- to your server IP address and the installation should be as simple as

git clone https://git.interhacker.space/alban/maubot-installer.git
cd maubot-installer
bash install.sh

After indicating your chosen subdomain, you can go for default answers, including the matrix.org homeserver, and should be fine for the rest of this tutorial.

Et voilà ! You should have a maubot instance running with Letsencrypt on https://botsinspace.example.com

Creating your first bot

Once the maubot instance is up, understanding the maubot concepts will help you configure it.

Plugins

Plugins are the bots “brains”. They are python code and configuration files, ran in background by maubot. Ther are stored on the server as mbp files, which are archives using a zip compression.

Clients

Clients are the bots “physical presence”. They are in fact user accounts on matrix servers, no more no less.

Instances

Instances are associations of a plugin and a client. Once you have an instance, you have a bot!

So let’s start creating our first instance!

Add a plugin

The project page lists a number of plugins based on the maubot framework.

To install a plugin, you have two options.

Option 1. Use the web interface

Log in your maubot instance, click on the plugins “⊕” button. A big UPLOAD button (cf. screenshot) shows up, click on it, select a plugin zip file on your disk, and there you go !

The maubot plugin menu

Easy right?

Well except one thing: where do you get that zip file in the first place? From the github “Get a zip copy of the project” button of a plugin page? Well, nuhuh, nope, that won’t work. Maubot will reject that zip file. Why?
The github zip file contains the file “in a directory” called “$projectname-$branch” and maubot expects files to be at the root of the zip archive.
So, the right way to go is:
٭ Download a zip file from a plugin repository home page
٭ Extract it locally
٭ Enter the newly created directory
٭ Select all its files and sub-directories
٭ Create a new zip archive with these
٭ Upload that zip file to maubot.

Or if you will, plugins might available as “mbp” files in the “release” section of their github page. Sadly, they’re not always up to date, so you might be left with a manual job to do.

Option 2. Use the command line interface

Well seeing this could be a bit complex and annoying to repeat we came up with a script in the “maubot installer” project, called plugin-install.sh

You will need to use a config file or edit the variables at the beginning of the script for it to work though.

Once you’ve done it you just have to
٭ Run the script
٭ Select a plugin in the list
٭ Login (once only) with your maubot user and password
٭ And the script will call the “mbc” executable provided by maubot.

It is worth mentioning that some plugins might require a few additional dependencies. For example the trump plugin required to run an install command in the virtualenv of the project:

cd /opt/maubot
source bin/activate
pip install Pillow

But now, you should have at least one plugin available. Let’s head to the next stop.

Add a client

We won’t cover here the run-your-own-bot-factory approach, which requires running your own synapse server, in other word running your own matrix instance. So we will create an account on an existing server and retrieve its token used for interacting with the API.

We will use the default web interface https://riot.im/app and request a free matrix.org account.

The Riot.im home

You have to pick a username, for example rook_the_bot, which will provide a matrix identifier/address such as “@rook_the_bot:matrix.org” after creation.

The riot account creation interface

One your mail is validated, log in the web interface and head to the settings page to retrieve the token.

A Riot settings menu link

You will find it token at the end of the “Help & About” page: click on the <click to reveal> link, and copy the string that appears.

Riot token finally shows up!

Time to head back to your maubot instance, and click on the Client “⊕” button. Fill the requested informations : the username you created and the access token are mandatory. Validate.

The maubot client menu

And that’s it. You’re ready for the last stage.

Add an instance

Head your maubot instance and client on the Instances “⊕” button.

The maubot instance menu

Just pick a client and a plugin before validating.

And now you should have your first bot ready! Congratulations!

How to use your bot

Now if everything went well, you should be able to invite your bot in a room, using the matrix handle you created earlier, as in our example rook_the_bot@matrix.org.

Let’s say you created an “Instance” associating the dice “Plugin” to the rook_the_bot “Client” .

Once you invited rook_the_bot to your channel, simply type a !dice command. Your bot should after a while reply to you.

Each plugin has its own commands, and you can attach multiple plugins to a single client. But all commands use the front ! mark.

That’s it, have fun. And for questions or anything else… see you on matrix!

by alban

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 4x28 - App a cappero e esperti del quartierino

Il MInistero per l'Innovazione e la Digitalizzazione ha annunciato il proprio team di esperti "data-driven" per definire le future politiche del governo. Chi sono? Scelti come? Non si sa. Ma si sa che dovranno valutare le oltre 300 app di contact tracing che dovrebbero "contenere l'epidemia". Non sarà così. Le app sdoganeranno la sorveglianza di massa senza alcun effetto sul Covid-19, e gli esperti saranno solo una foglia di fico.

by Walter Vannini

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the last week of March, 2020.

Pro drivers are competing with gamers after F1 and Nascar canceled races
March 22, 2020 (comments)
Advertising finds a way. Hackernews' response comes in three categories: Pro Racing Hackernews who live for the track and would like us to know that racing simulators are either flawless or irredeemable, Pro Gaming Hackernews who live for the livestream and would like us to know that real cars are exactly or not at all like computer games, and Pro Expert Hackernews, who are only here to find irrelevant nits to pick in the inapplicable information provided by the first two groups.

Jitsi Meet: An open source alternative to Zoom
March 23, 2020 (comments)
Some copyright cultists scream into the wind. Hackernews posts anecdotes about videoconferencing software. Some consideration is given as to whether Zoom's "virtual background" feature is crucial for quarantined work-for-home success, since it relieves the user of the last traces of desire to clean their living space in any way.

Zig cc: A drop-in replacement for GCC/Clang
March 24, 2020 (comments)
An Internet decides that clang is not complicated enough. The "programming language intended as a C replacement with extreme C interoperability" genre is one of Hackernews' favorites, so the story receives many votes, but nobody can figure out what the goal of this particular language is, whether anyone has ever actually used it, or why one would bother, so there aren't too many actual discussions. Most of what does get posted focuses on cross-compilation, as though that were either a feature people actually used or else one that hasn't been dead-simple (outside of GNU) since the 1980s.

Private client-side-only PWAs are hard, but now Apple made them impossible
March 25, 2020 (comments)
A webshit is mad that Apple won't let browser shit in its yard. Hackernews, deeply invested in webshit, Apple products, and yardshitting, is on the case. It turns out there are ways to authorize selected webshits to bypass the limitation whined about in the article, so Hackernews argues about whether Apple's communications team is good enough for a while, then the article's author posts an update: still mad. Elsewhere in the comment threads, Hackernews bitches that Apple and Google fuck up webshit in incompatible ways, and a Google shows up to reassure everyone that they're going to make the documentation better... real soon now.

Zoom iOS app sends data to Facebook even if you don’t have a Facebook account
March 26, 2020 (comments)
Vice dot com is a website that sends data back to Google, Facebook, and Segment, even if you don't have a Facebook account. But someone at the office made Hackernews use Zoom, so they're on the warpath about that EULA they accepted. Hackernews is outraged about whatever indiscernible difference may exist between Zoom's data collection practices and the data collection practices that pay for Hackernews' studio in San Mateo. [Editor's note: we have been informed that Hackernews has in fact moved to a studio in Oakland.] Zoom-the-company modifies Zoom-the-computer-program to discontinue the outrageous API requests, but Hackernews is still mad, because there's nothing better to do.

Zoom needs to clean up its privacy act
March 27, 2020 (comments)
An Internet is still mad about the videoconference software from yesterday, and writes a blog post that sends data back to Wordpress, even if you don't have a Wordpress account. It also sends data directly to the webshit's personal stats server running piwik, because you just cannot have enough user surveillance on your vanity blog. Right, Doc? There's no useful information here, so Hackernews reverse-engineers Zoom's Mac OS program (okay, okay: Hackernews reads about someone else reverse-engineering Zoom's Mac OS program on Twitter) and then stoke the rage fires even futher -- not only does this company do business with Facebook, it abuses a bad package manager as well! Hackernews, faced with this cavalcade of turpitude, is forced to take firm and drastic action: grumpy posting on a web forum, followed by several hours of Zoom meetings.

The internet should be a public utility
March 28, 2020 (comments)
Quartz continues to shit out a harried stream of barely-coherent thinkpieces with "coronavirus" in the titles. Hackernews is disappointed with residential internet connections and blames Boomers.

WireGuard 1.0 for Linux 5.6
March 29, 2020 (comments)
The Linux kernel sprouts a seven hundredth network encryption feature, and we are assured that this one is the good one for real this time. Hackernews is extremely grateful for this development, as they suspect it might get simpler to watch their home Plex server at work without getting caught by IT. Nobody is actually allowed to go into work to try it because of the plague quarantines, so they limit themselves to recommending other networking gadgets to play with in the meantime. Fun fact: this same story was posted (via a different mail list mirror) the next day and not only was the highest-voted story THAT day as well, it was higher-voted than THIS one. Hackernews moderators could not stand the sheer disorder of things and dumped all tomorrow's comments into this article.

WeWork sells Meetup
March 30, 2020 (comments)
The most hilariously topical coporate trade occurs. Hackernews is glad that the assholes let go of an otherwise useful site, but can't decide if what is essentially a shared calendar service with a really shitty interface is a viable business or not. Other Hackernews debate what the hell all those people do all day, why it takes a couple hundred people to run a site that could be replaced tomorrow by Craigslist, and how terrible it is that venture capitalists keep supporting these bullshit companies, instead of real value-producing organizations that bring needed improvements to the human condition, like "crowdfunding for funerals" or "AirBnB for sheds."

Honda bucks industry trend by removing touchscreen controls
March 31, 2020 (comments)
Exactly the same article as last time, except it's Honda instead of Mazda, and Autocar is stupid enough to open their article with "Honda has done what no other car maker is doing." Hackernews' response is utterly indistinguishable from the last time I covered it, except for the couple dozen Hackernews pasting these same links.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2020/03/31/0/

March 31, 2020

all things legal blog from UK

Pipe Up or Pipe Down: The COVID Dilemma.

Earlier, in the second week of the Coronavirus lockdown, I tweeted a question, “Will Brits just arriving at @Gatwick_Airport from Peru be tested before joining the community?” This was in the light of a BA Flight just landing at Gatwick with those poor Brits who had been stranded in Peru. My question was particularly heightened by my own experience, some two weeks ago, when I was waved through customs at Heathrow from Gibraltar, with not as much as a hand wash, had I not asked to borrow one from an Officer.

Within a few minutes, in true Twitter fashion, I was chastised for raising the issue of testing the Brits just arriving back from Peru on the basis that testing was better directed to frontline services and that Peru was not a Covid “hotspot”. I was then told to “Pipe Down”.

This got me thinking. Let me say that it is not the first time and hopefully will not be the last, that someone wanted me to “pipe down” and that the merits of the debate between those of us who think that all our international borders should now have the benefit of testing, whether or not another jurisdiction is a “hot spot”  and those who think that because of the Governments lethargic response to getting testing equipment, we are compelled to make choices, is not a valid debate. Of course it is, it is a vital debate. It was the suggestion that the debate should not be articulated that gave me food for thought.

My mind turned to the authoritative observations of the former Supreme Court Judge, Lord Sumption, who told Radio 4’s World At One Programme that he thought that some policing of the present Covid crisis risked us falling into a police state. This caused a number of commentators on social media to politely suggest that His Lordship should have kept “schtum” as it was put and that making such critical remarks might make it easier for those who politically wished to undermine the judiciary and impugn their independence. In other words, that Lord Sumption should have “piped down”.

Again, I am not, in this piece, going to analyse the comments made by the former Supreme Court Judge. The question is, should he have made them?

In times such as this and thankfully, there are few precedents, governments place as a priority the seizing and maintaining of control over the population, or the herd, if you will.

This is, on one approach, absolutely understandable.

War time analogies are helpful.

The suppression of the Daily Worker newspaper by Herbert Morrison, the Home Secretary in 1941 was criticised by Professor J. S. B. Haldane. He asked what the newspaper’s crime was and concluded “A very serious crime indeed. It is the only newspaper that opposes the government.”

Neither do the government’s view have to be consistent. Churchill gave John Platts Mills, the left wing barrister, the job of running a pro Soviet campaign saying “I’ve been teaching the British people since 1918 that the Russians eat their young. Take as much money as you need and change the public perception of them”.

Quite understandably, public morale is at the centre of the “Pipe Downers” position. After Dunkirk there was significant concern about how the manifest weakness of the British fighting forces might affect morale back at home. As a result, a military event of blundering ineptitude was transformed into an English epic of heroic proportions. As Major General Mason-MacFarlane, Director of Military Intelligence told the British Press,  ” I’m afraid there is going to be a considerable shock for the British public. It is your duty to act as shock-absorbers.

As Michael Foot wrote with a number of other journalists ” A miracle is born. This land of Britain is rich in heroes. She had brave, daring men in her Navy and Air Force as well as her Army. She had heroes in jerseys and sweaters and old rubber boots in all the fishing ports of Britain…” Indeed she did, and women too, but all this was an example of dissent, “Piping Down”.

Of course, this is not a time of war and despite how it may feel, far from it. Young men and women are not being sent to the front to die in their thousands in battle and all that most of them are being asked to do is stay inside.

There is, nevertheless, a palpable threat in the Coronavirus and one which is being challenged by the government using wartime techniques of control, be it of how we wash, how we exercise or how we think.

In 2020, we live in a World awash with views and opinions, some sound, some not so sound. Voices of authority matter. I find myself disagreeing with much of what Lord Sumption has said since his retirement, but that does not matter. When he speaks, people listen, the media who are not simply acting as “shock absorbers” listen. Many pieces on the over reaction of the police is prefaced with the comments made by Lord Sumption. He has significantly helped to elevate the debate into the public sphere.

By “Piping Up” the arguments on both sides are made. Whichever one prevails, perhaps matters not. What does matter and matters profoundly is that we are still allowed the air to question, challenge and dispute.

None of this, in my opinion will affect the future of the judiciary. But even if it did, any hypothetical government who would seek to diminish the role of our judge’s as independent individuals, may find a lot more “Piping up”

It is in times of any National Crisis that anyone who might not act like the ‘Herd’ is made to feel vulnerable. We must cherish them because when all this goes away, it is most likely going to be some of them who will ask why we got into this disaster in the first place.

by shadowofthenoose

Classic Programmer Paintings

“Raft Consensus Algorithm Failure”, Théodore Géricault, 1819,



“Raft Consensus Algorithm Failure”,
Théodore Géricault, 1819,

DYNDY - Imagine the Future of Money

The Social Wallet: free software to tackle the corona-crisis

As this website and other connected projects document, we have been developing public interest technology that in these critical times can be deployed to promote new practices for the social and common good.

The current corona-crisis pushes us to reflect on our relationship with money, privacy, surveillance and freedom of economic interaction much more urgently than ever before.

The consequences of the pandemic started at the end of 2019 in China. Yet, the health emergency and swift economic downturn that it catalysed at the beginning of 2020 in many parts of the world have dire and long-lasting economic ramifications for many in society.

To counteract this social and economic crisis, we share the Social Wallet, a free software framework to issue emergency basic income and commercial credit circuits by local authorities such as city councilsproductive businesses and citizens groups.

The aim is to provide people sufficient liquidity to weather the incresingly intense economic and monetary storm without creating new debt as per current insitutional interventions.

This flexible toolkit enables the issue of regulatory compliant, social purpose complementary currencies and commercial credit circuits that provision debt-free disposable income for basic goods and services,  supporting business continuity of the productive economy in the areas most hit by the corona-crisis.

Let’s be crystal clear, the corona-crisis is only accelerating the collapse of an already brittle monetary system. As expected, the economy cannot print its way out of debt by issuing more debt and the current crisis is sending shockwaves at the health, social and economic levels such that the status quo cannot simply go on with business as usual.

Desperately trying to prop up the neoliberal economy, central banks around the world are frantically printing money as never before, begetting hyperinflation, with the Federal Reserve leading the central banking pack as issuers of the world reserve currency, the US dollar.

These institutions are leading the world in uncharted territory with initiatives like lowering reserve requirements to zero, infinite Quantitative Easing, and helicopter money to fund stimulus packages, i.e. increase national debts of countries around the world to even more unsustainable levels to bail out entire industries. Waiting in drawers for a long time, there are thousand-page long proposals for a digital dollar surfacing to reshape the collapsing global financial and monetary system as the quadrillion dollars derivative bubble pops.

Predictably, massive job losses, rising unemployment and business bankruptcies are already contributing to less expenditure and investment.

This social time-bomb will most probably result in widespread social unrest while increasing the risk to favour criminal organizations, because many don’t have any way to have an income.

In fact, as we write this post, the world economy is grinding to a halt and, if dealt with in the same way as the 2008 global financial crisis, the post corona-crisis world could see a significant increase of economic inequality in many countries.

Entire industries, especially in the services sector and related supply chains, oil, airlines, automotive and consumer products, are experiencing a severe crisis that central banks and governments are trying to address by issuing more debt to stimulate the economy.

This crisis is unprecedented and the economic, monetary and social consequences of the pandemic – the coming major recession and even a depression – will be experienced virtually all over the world with for a long time.

This is why we write this post. Because it is a perfect moment to remind the communities and partners with aligned values and a shared ethos that what we wrote about in the past years is even more relevant today.

We, thus, gather here the solutions that our approach to monetary innovation can bring to society thanks to crisis management methodologies and free and open source software we researched and developed in the past 10 years.

These tools can help curb the economic disruption through the implementation of forms of welfare provision tailored and adaptable to tackle the challenges at hand, both for citizens and small businesses. For they urgently need emergency lines of access to liquidity in complementary forms of disposable income and commercial credit to provide basic goods and services. The outcome is an increase in the local multiplier effect at extremely low cost, without creating new debt.

A description of the process, whereby a municipality, business consortium or citizen group willing to create liquidity for a community can issue and exchange digital complementary currency is available  describing the tutorial for Commoncoin, on the commonfare platform.

A bottom up effort in monetary research and technological development, through the experimentation of complementary currencies, the study of cryptocurrencies, Blockchain technology for the social good and Common-based approaches to money and value have demonstrated that both science, technology and people can provide solutions for society where old power structures continue to fail in taking care of the public interest.

The converging element of this research and software development is Freecoin, now renamed as Social Wallet,

a toolkit that can be deployed to face and overcome the challenges that a low performing monetary system is systemically bringing forward, now accelerated – and increasingly exacerbated – by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inspired by the art of UNIX programming, we share the Social Wallet, a software framework comprising the following modules that can be freely customised ad hoc by local authorities and businesses.  It allows them to issue complementary means of payment to circulate in parallel with the national currencies in order to address the current economic challenges.

The modules are:

– Database: centralised or Blockchain.
User authentication and authorisation: user registration; password recovery; 2 Factor Authentication.
Social Wallet API: safely issue currencies; webapp database query; create, tag, filter transactions – expand the API as needs arise.
Webapp: send and receive tokens.

More details at https://socialwallet.dyne.org together with installation instructions using Docker.

This is our way to tackle what is by far the most challenging monetary and economic crisis in the past 70 years. On the other side of this crisis, as always, there is an even more compelling opportunity and Dyndy is prepared to support those who want to grab it and realise a new monetary landscape, whereby money is a servant not a master of its users.

Money is an agreement to use something as a means of payment. Nowadays we are forced to find new agreements to avoid further deterioration of the social fabric.

In the midst of the current crisis, we call on communities to start with us at the local level.  We believe that municipalities and local supply chains leveraging these tools can have a more immediate, positive impact on those that are hit hardest by the economic consequences of the corona-crisis.

by Dyndy

March 28, 2020

Classic Programmer Paintings

“Experienced developer deploys hotfix on production”Francisco...



“Experienced developer deploys hotfix on production”

Francisco Goya

Oil on canvas

circa 1788 

March 26, 2020

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 4x27 - #laScuolaNonSiFerma (?)

il ministro e i media la fanno facile con la #scuolaDigitale, #laScuolaNonSiFerma e le lezioni online, ma cosa significa in pratica? Una puntata speciale per presidi, docenti e genitori.

by Walter Vannini

March 25, 2020

Institute of Network Cultures

Letizia Chiappini: Why I feel unsafe and stay in the Netherlands

It’s early morning and the Italian news is dramatic. The Corona virus hits Northern Italy with a magnitude comparable to China. My mother and my grandmother are there, alone. Confined at home, scared and victims of a wretched television that shows sensationalist news about Corona-virus. Numbers are growing at a rapid pace. Young individuals are safe, they said, elderly and vulnerable are in danger. I am puzzled, between heartbroken for my beloved ones in Italy and incredulous because in the Netherlands one month ago everything was still ‘gezellig’ (cozy, mellow and normal).

I start with my morning routine opening social media platforms on my phone, jumping in a compulsive way between Instagram stories and Facebook, mmmh so booooring. Let’s open Twitter. Twitter is exploding, like a square during a riot. I need to take part in this riot, I think.

Letizia_Chiappini @Molly_Ulysses. 22 March 2020.

“I feel unsafe. The #Netherlands are playing with lives and their public care system. They are the most stubborn country ever. No empathy for countries like #Italy or #Spain, nor expats. Colonialist mindset comes into play also during #covid19Nederland times #LockdownHolland.”

A journalist approaches me on Twitter.

Klaas Broekhuizen @KlaasBroekhuize 23 March 2020. Answer to @Molly_Ulysses

“Care to talk about this? Klaas Broekhuizen, reporter Dutch Financial Daily.”

I respond, “yes, sure”. I would love to expand my 280 characters in a broader reflection.

Klaas Broekhuizen asked me a few questions by email. Here is the rest of the story.

Main question: what would make you feel safe/more safe? What’s missing? What should we learn from other countries, and specifically from Spain and Italy?

I start with a quote by Pierpaolo Pasolini (The Tears of Excavator, from The Ashes of Gramsci, 1957):

“Only to love, only to know,
is what matters; not having loved, having known. It’s agony
to live a consummated love.
The soul, straitjacketed, just can’t grow.”

My sentiment towards the Netherlands, where I’ve been living for three years so far, is one of love. As part of the Millenial-Erasmus generation, I have been in love with Europe and the benefit of traveling as a student during my undergrad. I’ve had a sort of poly-amorous relationship with European countries. I have been traveling and living for a long time in other European countries with the myth of a strong European Union. For me ‘we were family’. When I truly love, I truly want to understand. That’s my motto as a researcher. The sentiments behind my Tweet are love and dismay.
As an intellectual person and a theorist, I have been observing the decline of the ‘glorious thirty years’, the rollback of the state in providing welfare measures, in favour of more individualistic and neoliberal regimes of policy in Europe. The Netherlands, after praising itself for its extreme social liberalism, is trapped by right-wing populism which has been increased after austerity and the consequent blaming of migrants, Islam and expats for the crisis. As Dr Merijn Oudenampsen (Universiteit van Amsterdam), wrote about “the remarkably radical transformation in the 1980s and 1990s of the Netherlands into one of the most liberalised European economies, and the paradoxical manifestation of Dutch neoliberalism in a depoliticised, consensual guise.”

As the Netherlands has become one the most laissez-faire and neoliberal countries in Europe, I am not surprised that Rutte is a voyeur of the Anglo-American project, in particular during the Covid19 crisis, in which the death rattle of neoliberal countries is DON’T CRASH THE ECONOMY! Mentioning ‘groepsimmuniteit’ in a public speech in front of the mournings of other countries, such as Italy where there are tanks carrying corpses because mortuaries are full, felt like the denial of other people’s disasters, of other countries which shows a lack of empathy. Policies often reflect the ‘lokale politiek’ and the cultural ideology of a country.

The journalist asks: And is it the policy, or is it the Dutch people (as well)?

‘’Playing with lives’’ is making presumptions; Rutte and other politicians don’t listen, don’t learn. What about vulnerable people? What about the homeless? What about expats? A fact is that all my international students ran away from the Netherlands after they heard about the crisis in their countries. The Netherlands without expats that hijacked their economy is difficult to imagine. It’s like Amsterdam without Italian, Spanish and Brits tourists is empty.

‘’The colonialist mindset’’ is there, it’s thinking that you are right and righteous. Altruism and solidarity were not sentiments during the colonial historical momentum. Colonialism is not heritage, it is a shame. An indigenous woman told me about surviving during the violence of colonialism which conducted her both to complain and NOT to complain. Both actions were a sort of protection for her and her people. I have found myself in this condition. We must learn a lot from indigenous people. Not from the patriarchal countries and glorious colonialists patronizing other populations. I express myself by sharing in our digital square, like Twitter. I don’t complain, I survive. As Audre Lorde (2017) claims in her book “Your Silence Will Not Protect You’’. That’s why I spoke up. I am not a conflict avoider, I am not passive-aggressive. I am passionate and I love. You can build a wall from silence, but it is difficult to find love from silence and indifference.

Journalist: From the tweet (and LinkedIn) I get you live in The Netherlands? At least part of the time? If so, how long have you lived here?

Before the corona-crisis, I felt I was a part of this country and I am still a part of it. I will stay in the Netherlands to grasp what it is going on in our dysfunctional society. The problem is global, there is no escape. I change tactics. Sara Ahmed wrote in one her recent contribution: “To survive institutions, we need to change them. It can be a difficult deal: how we survive some structures can be how those structures are reproduced.” This crisis shows the cracks of EU as institutions. But it is not a failure if we all try to change it! How the Netherlands is acting shows a failure of being part of Europe. Why did Rutte not act earlier when the crisis started in Northern Italy? Spain and Italy are a part of the EU, so why dismiss them? As an excuse — politicians claim, old people will die, that’s the echo. But old people are my grandmother, your parents, your friends. Would it be fine for you to let them die?

Journalist: Do you plan to leave The Netherlands asap? Maybe even stop your research at the UvA (temporarily)? And stop teaching in Utrecht (temporarily)?

Those questions… the average Dutch person always asks expats those exact questions. I have found them offensive, a sort of micro-aggression and that kind of questions always upset me. Other Dutch minds consider me a part of this country. Now, I ask you. Why should I leave the country and close the door? To build a wall of silence? No, I am sorry, but I will stay and try to contribute with my complaints to a better society. I love my students, I love my colleagues, I love my work. I love my research. I dream of Europe as an institution that protects its citizens.
For populists, right-wing and sovereignist parties the idea to leave your country is absurd and a ‘Wilders-Baudet’-like suggestions. Those are my suggestions for them, but perhaps it works also for the premier Mark Rutte to remind him how important it is to stay united and keep expats in his magnanimous country. If all expats leave, the economy will smash so badly.

The journalist concludes: I might use your answers/story for an article in my paper (Het Financiele Dagblad). Would that be okay with you?

Yes, I am okay with that. Could you kindly send me your article before publishing it?

by Geert Lovink

Launch of LAVA, Letters from the Volcano-Issue #1: Be Water

Letters from the Volcano is an experimental zine conceived by Franco “Bifo” Berardi and developed by Mitra Azar, Hugo Sir, and a small group of agitators from the four corners of the world. LAVA emerged from a desire to understand the recent wave of social movements starting in autumn of 2019. These movements involved a number of people from countries with very different sociopolitical and cultural conditions who nevertheless displayed certain common dispositions: the desire to break free from the psychic and economic impoverishment ingrained into surveillance-oriented computational neo-liberalism, and strategies developed both offline and online towards the achievement of this goal.

LAVA believes that the inevitable is always superseded by the unpredictable.

Issue #1 of LAVA – Letters from the Volcano, entitled “Be Water,” can be read here

Until the beginning of 2020 it seemed that the volcanic explosion in the form of the unpredictable and simultaneous appearance of radical and direct forms of resistance was taking over the global political scene. Then, all of a sudden, this human-unpredictable was replaced by a nonhuman-unpredictable: the virus COVID-19. The human lava was swept away by a nonhuman lava, and the explosion of the volcano turned inward, imploding.

The virus COVID-19 has taken over the stage of human unrest and has opened the door for a meltdown of the global capitalist economy. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic opens space for rethinking politics from scratch: on the one hand, it allows a profound questioning of the structural dysfunction of global capitalism; on the other, it risks turning the cadaver of capitalism into a zombified techno-fascist limbo of total surveillance, ultimately killing civil society. This political conundrum will be the center of issue #2 of LAVA – Letters from the Volcano, entitled “Be Earth.” The forthcoming issue will deal with nonhuman agents such as COVID-19, melting ice, pollution, and the nonhuman forces that more and more turn into political vectors in ways that, paradoxically, go beyond politics.

by Geert Lovink

March 24, 2020

Riccardo Orioles

Addio a Lillo Venezia, da I Siciliani a Il Male. Fu tra i primi a dire che bisognava continuare dopo l’omicidio Fava

I Siciliani ricordano con affetto e orgoglio Lillo Venezia, uno dei primi redattori dei Siciliani di Giuseppe Fava. Subito dopo l’assassinio di Pippo Fava fu uno dei primissimi a dire che bisognava continuare. Oltre che nella redazione, in quegli anni durissimi fu impegnato anche nell’amministrazione del giornale, pagando personalmente coi suoi poveri beni i mancati impegni di illustri “sostenitori”. Da allora è sempre stato in tutte le iniziative sociali che si andavano sviluppando in Sicilia e altrove. Negli ultimi anni, gravemente malato, era sempre presente almeno nei social, con lucidità e determinazione.

Lillo Venezia è stato una delle figure più significative dei movimenti sociali e del giornalismo libero dal Sessantotto in poi. Con Mauro Rostagno e Peppino Impastato aveva fatto parte del gruppo di Lotta Continua, impegnato in Sicilia non solo nelle lotte operaie e studentesche ma anche in quelle contro i poteri mafiosi. Da giornalista aveva subito oltre cento denunce – fino al carcere – per i suoi articoli contro i potenti di allora; come direttore del Male aveva dato un impulso decisivo al giornalismo satirico e d’impegno sociale, pagandone puntualmente tutti i prezzi.

E’ morto povero, con una pensione sociale di quattrocento euro che negli ultimi tempi gli era stata anche tolta dalla burocrazia. Questa sua povertà testimonia più di ogni altra cosa lo spirito con cui il nostro Lillo ha lavorato e lottato per tutti questi cinquant’anni, senza mai chiedere carriere o onori, orgoglioso della sua semplice condizione di compagno e di cittadino.

In questi tempi di riflussi e di ritirate, Lillo Venezia ha mostrato a noi tutti, avversari e amici, il senso della parola “compagno”, profonda e antica, modesta e responsabile, per il bene di tutti. E con questa semplice parola noi lo onoriamo.

Foto tratta da Facebook

L'articolo Addio a Lillo Venezia, da I Siciliani a Il Male. Fu tra i primi a dire che bisognava continuare dopo l’omicidio Fava proviene da Il Fatto Quotidiano.

by Riccardo Orioles

March 22, 2020

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the third week of March, 2020.

Vienna Opera opened its archive for free streaming
March 15, 2020 (comments)
Austria wants you to check out its soundcloud. Hackernews has a lot of links to similar soundclouds. One Hackernews wonders if there's some way to get a radio-like experience over the Internet. Another is angry that Austria wants email addresses.

NPM Is Joining GitHub
March 16, 2020 (comments)
Microsoft, having previously embraced Github, extends it. A Microsoft shows up to enthuse about the flawless corporate oversight being provided to the webshit that every single Hackernews depends utterly upon. Hackernews, however, is skeptical. Skype is the obvious comparison to make, so Hackernews gets into a pointless shitfight about whether Skype was awesome before Microsoft ruined it, whether Skype was shit from day one and Microsoft tried to fix it, or whether Skype was shit and Microsoft made it worse. Other Hackernews are just relieved that purported adults are finally at the helm of a webshit source code downloader.

TikTok told moderators to suppress posts by “ugly” people and the poor
March 17, 2020 (comments)
The Chinese State Council, which was Hackernews' top pick for global government last week, puts a 'No Fat Chicks' bumper sticker on its Vine clone. Hackernews is astounded that nobody is trying to blame machine learning, but is generally fine with the idea of pretending ugly people don't exist.

GM’s CEO Offers to Make Ventilators in WWII-Style Mobilization
March 18, 2020 (comments)
Hackernews doesn't really give a shit about General Motors, and neither does Bloomberg; the article focuses on Elon Musk acting like an asshole. Hackernews spends some time wondering if the United States military will save them from a viral pandemic. Several comment threads develop wherein Hackernews questions General Motors' capability to manufacture things, attempts to demonstrate their keen insight and profound understanding of medical equipment safety standards, and proclaims that only Hackernews is smart enough to react quickly to changing needs. The rest of the comments are Hackernews incorrecting one another on viral epidemiology and treatment of COVID-19, exactly like an old-people Facebook group, except with misplaced assumptions about manufacturing instead of Minion memes.

Netflix to cut streaming quality in Europe for 30 days
March 19, 2020 (comments)
Europe shouts for Netflix to hang up the phone so its ZModem download can complete. Hackernews is having network connectivity issues and reports them all in this comment section. Other Hackernews complain about Netflix not being 4k enough for them, and then recommending various piracy services instead. Most of the threads are about Hackernews whining that they're not getting their money's worth and other Hackernews admonishing them to quit being a fuck during a global emergency.

MIT to no longer consider SAT subject tests in admissions decisions
March 20, 2020 (comments)
MIT makes an extremely minor change to their application process shortly after kicking all their students out. Hackernews is extremely concerned that colleges are deprioritizing arbitrary standardized testing, since those are the only things Hackernews was ever good at. Other Hackernews point out that these tests tend to return better results for rich people who can afford shitloads of preparatory work, and that this might be an unjust practice that needlessly excludes people without access to the preparatory training. Mostly, says Hackernews, those people can fuck off. If those kids are so smart, why are they poor?

Grocy: web-based, self-hosted grocery and household management
March 21, 2020 (comments)
Some webshits really, really like spreadsheets. Hackernews does too, but they spend several hours trying to come up with a way to keep track of all this data without having to type it into a computer like some kind of Neanderthal.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2020/03/21/0/

March 20, 2020

Radio #Cybernet

Live now 09:30-21:00, special 13:00-14:00 and tonight 20:00-21:00 GMT

We’re as usual live non stop from 09:30-21:00! (dalle 10:30 alle 22 in italia)

Special transmission at 13:00-14:00 in which we tear apart our radio receiver! (dalle 14 alle 15 in italia)

LIVE on Radio Ciroma 105.7 FM Cosenza at 20:00-21:00 GMT (dalle 21 alle 22 in italia)

 

by admin

March 19, 2020

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 4x26 - La Corea (del Nord) è vicina

Un breve commento sulla moda del momento: sdoganare la sorveglianza di massa con la scusa dell'emergenza.

by Walter Vannini

Riccardo Orioles

Coronavirus, quando questa guerra sarà finita inizierà il dopoguerra. E lì ci sarà da discutere

La guerra persa, i bombardamenti, i tedeschi, i generali che scappano, tenentini e soldati che resistono, puntando disperatamente i moschetti 91 contro i carri armati nazisti. La colpa non è di nessuno, la colpa è di tutti, le scarpe erano di cartone ma il duce, poveretto, non lo sapeva. Italiani, l’Impero! La quinta economia del mondo! Razza romana! Via gli ebrei! I negri, al loro posto! “In questo negozio si vende solo merce ariana”.

Ecco, noi siamo qua. Come ci siamo arrivati – o come ci siamo tornati – non è ora il momento di approfondirlo. Comunque, siamo al solito punto. L’italiano che scappa, l’italiano che combatte. Quello che assalta i treni, quello che con o senza mascherina cura i malati. I gerarchi nascosti e zitti, non è il momento. I nuovi governanti, messi là per miracolo, che fanno la faccia sicura. Ma il paese è in mano ai pochi e ai poveri, al ciabattino antifascista, allo stracciato che va in montagna, a quell’idea confusa ma nettissima – “intanto io debbo fare qualcosa” – che domani si tradurrà in parole e polis, ma ora è solo una speranza esile, un coraggio sforzato, una dignità.

Nella città di Catania hanno chiuso quattro ospedali in pochi anni, e una decina in provincia. Cemento se n’è alzato tantissimo (valanghe di centri commerciali), ma chiudendo le scuole. I quartieri popolari, in mano alla mafia. I centri imprenditoriali, in mano alla mafia. I palazzi, i poteri, qualunque piccolo e grande luogo in cui si decide qualcosa, in mano alla mafia. La mafia dei Santapaola e Mazzei, la mafia che ammazza fisicamente i ragazzini, ma soprattutto la mafia dei Cavalieri, la mafia – secondo i giudici – del loro successore Mario Ciancio.

La mafia dei milioni buttati all’estero, la mafia dei giornali che stendono lenzuolate di silenzio su tutto questo. E che ora festeggiano, ingiuriano chi – giudici e giornalisti onesti – li ha denunciati, si gloriano del passato e promettono di far di peggio per l’avvenire. Miserie di cui non parleremmo, nel dramma che attraversiamo, se non fossero minacciose.

E’ bello, nella nostra Catania, vedere i cittadini che fanno disciplinatamente la fila. Ci son quelli che scappano, ma ci sono, e di più, quelli che tengono disciplinatamente il loro posto. Il vigile con la mascherina, la signora che difende la zingarella sull’autobus, il professore e il ragazzo che fanno le loro ore di scuola via internet, il tizio che bofonchiando accetta di chiudersi in casa come tutti – tutte queste cose sorgono da anni e anni d’intrallazzo e d’abbandono, eppure da qualche parte c’erano, e ora, da un antico profondo, vengono a galla.

Lo sappiamo benissimo che è una faccenda esile, che dopo i soldati per le strade qualcuno vorrebbe qualcosa di ben differente, non più aiuto civile ma prepotenza. Ma sono in pochi a volerlo, e il popolo, che è lento a capire, al bisogno impara, e ognuno di questi giorni durissimi per imparare vale un anno.

Umanità, disciplina, impegno individuale di ciascuno; prima le cose urgenti, alle altre ci si pensa poi. Ma quando questa gran guerra sarà finita, comincerà il dopoguerra. E allora avremo tutti parecchie cose da discutere. Degli ospedali chiusi e di tutto il resto.

L'articolo Coronavirus, quando questa guerra sarà finita inizierà il dopoguerra. E lì ci sarà da discutere proviene da Il Fatto Quotidiano.

by Riccardo Orioles

Radio #Cybernet

Transmitting from the quarantine zone in Siracusa…

…we’re live today from 0700 GMT because of… well, insomnia?

I found the static noise coming from 4625 KHz quite interesting. So I decided to stream just it – radio static noise, with some music.

As usual, our stream will continue ’till 2100 GMT.

Have fun, be safe, stay home.

by admin

March 18, 2020

Bordermonitoring.EU

Aufnehmen statt Sterben LAssen!

Es war zu erwarten: 4 Jahre Zuschauen zeigen jetzt ihre katastrophale Wirkung. Der Corona-Virus hat auch die griechischen Inseln erreicht. 40.000 Menschen, zusammengepfercht in völlig überfüllten EU-Hotspot Lagern wie Moria, unter desaströsen Hygiene-Bedingungen und fast ohne medizinische Versorgung, könnten schon bald der tödlichen Krankheit ausgeliefert sein. Während europäische Staaten zum Schutz vor der Pandemie ihre … Aufnehmen statt Sterben LAssen! weiterlesen

by ms

REFUGEES WELCOME! DON’T SHOOT! STOP EUROPES’S TREND TOWARDS FASCISM!

It happened as it was to be expected: Four years of standing on the sidelines have resulted in a catastrophe. 40,000 human beings, penned up in hopelessly overcrowded EU-hotspot centres like Moria on Lesvos Island, living under squalid living and hygienic conditions, will soon face the deadly disease. European countries close their borders and enforce social … REFUGEES WELCOME! DON’T SHOOT! STOP EUROPES’S TREND TOWARDS FASCISM! weiterlesen

by ms

Radio #Cybernet

LIVE TONIGHT 20:00-21:00 GMT

LIVE NOW 09:30-21:00GMT as every day!

Special program with Radio Antidoto at 13:00 GMT!

Big show tonight ONLINE and FM 105.7 Radio Ciroma, Cosenza at 20:00GMT!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN: http://radio.dyne.org/radiocybernet.mp3

by admin

March 15, 2020

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the second week of March, 2020.

Do whatever you can't stop thinking about
March 08, 2020 (comments)
A webshit can't stop thinking about posting screenshots of text on Twitter. Hackernews finds it more difficult to doggedly pursue useless bullshit, but there are older, more experienced Hackernews around to dispense advice on pursuing your stupid little dreams despite the unceasing rain of derision and apathy that always comes along to crush the spirits of boring people with meaningless interests. Other Hackernews sternly lecture on the merits of whatever approach to success they most recently read about on a blog.

“Just walk out” technology by Amazon
March 09, 2020 (comments)
Amazon seems to be hearing the phrase "walkout" a lot lately, and decide to take advantage of the search-engine optimization opportunity. There is no evidence the technology described is in use by anyone at all, but the presence of the linked webpage is sufficient to convince Hackernews of Amazon's inescapable dominance of inaccurate smartphone-centric shopping experiences.

MIT moves all classes online for the rest of the semester
March 10, 2020 (comments)
MIT's leadership team defends itself against the filthy children who infest their halls. Hackernews can't decide if this is a wise decision which today appears to be an overreaction or whether this is a wise decision which will appear to be an overreaction in the future. Most of the other comments are bickering over the logistics of shifting to online learning, then inventing pretend 'rules' that university professors must abide. Finally, Hackernews takes a break so people with degrees and people without degrees can face off to fight; in a surprise twist, they instead line up to demand performance evaluations from people with Ivy League degrees.

Covid-19 is now officially a pandemic, WHO says
March 11, 2020 (comments)
Some bureaucrats state the obvious. Hackernews has been pasting keywords from Wikipedia into Google Scholar for the past week, and is by now the single greatest source of epidemiological knowledge in the history of the planet. Armed with a deluge of hazily-understood and possibly-debunked thinkpieces from self-employed computer-adjacent social media hobos, Hackernews reports the actions of their local governments, criticizes them as being insufficiently fascist, and pines for direct rule by the Chinese State Council. The comment threads are an endless sequence of Hackernews trying to find some way to visibly out-strategy themselves and each other, and they all talk about "the public" as though it were some alien entity instead of all of us everywhere.

Linux Kernel Teaching
March 12, 2020 (comments)
Someone attempts to document Linux. Hackernews is super glad that someone is trying, and they bookmark the site to read it later, but the 10:1 vote:comment ratio indicates nobody actually gives a shit. The few comments that exist are mostly centered around whether or not kernel programming will get you a job.

Twilio releases open source video conferencing apps for iOS, Android and web
March 13, 2020 (comments)
A company releases clients for their communications platform. The service is sufficiently bad that they give the code an open-source license in hopes of luring developers. Hackernews either worked at Twilio or recommends not using their software. Later, some Hackernews stage a debate wherein they try to divine the ethical stance of a pedo apologist. Most of the comments are links to software that might be able to combine to do something useful.

Open letter from Italy to the international scientific community
March 14, 2020 (comments)
The Italians would like other countries to die slightly less rapidly. Hackernews admonishes one another that this issue is extremely serious and other people should pay close attention to the words coming out of Italy (and also the words coming out of Hackernews). This thread is almost unreadably packed with Hackernews talking about "humans" in the third person, "society" as something apart from Hackernews, and computer touchers stridently incorrecting one another's medical analysis of the global pandemic.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2020/03/14/0/

March 14, 2020

Radio #Cybernet

TONIGHT we’re live on Radio Ciroma 107.5 Cosenza, from 21:00 to 22:00 GMT+1

Alle 2100 ora italiana saremo in diretta fino alle 2200 anche su Radio Ciroma 105.7FM a Cosenza e dintorni! Ascoltateci! Fino ad allora potete sentirci su http://radio.dyne.org/radiocybernet.mp3

by admin

Institute of Network Cultures

Cultural Workers Shouldn’t Pay for the COVID-19 Pandemic in NL

We are reposting this anonymous open letter meant to address Dutch cultural organisations, institutions of education and research, and government bodies. Its goal is to raise concerns regarding freelance and remote work during the COVID-19 emergency. Feel free to circulate, appropriate and adapt this text. Here’s the source: https://cryptpad.fr/pad/#/2/pad/view/N+YV5BXQdELU0Z2RZLIuwLkH3My2GNNk9SsdwJ51Gd0/

We are freelancers working in schools, universities, art academies, museums and cultural organisations. Many of us are hired as freelancers not because we asked for it, but because this has become the default in the Netherlands. Coronavirus is now showing us the limits of freelancing. Precarity is becoming even more apparent. Often, we have regular and continuous labor relationships with our institutions: we are like employees, however we lack the same leverage and safety. We are part and parcel of the organisations we work for. We don’t deliver a service to these institutions, we are these institutions. The fictitious autonomy that was projected on us came out of the 2008 financial crisis, where budgets for education and culture were slashed, never to recover despite 10 years of significant economic growth. Precarity has been there for a long time, now it is just more visible.

As the pandemic escalates, strict countermeasures are introduced. Many events are cancelled while schools, universities and museums are now closed. While unavoidable and necessary, these measures also result in a significant loss of income for anyone working under such precarious conditions. Now these conditions are clearly revealed. And we shouldn’t be the ones paying for it.

For ZZP’ers (self-employed), the pandemic falls under category of “business risk”[1]. Well, fuck that. Cultural work is not our “business”. We didn’t choose to be a business, we never asked for the risk, so it shouldn’t be offloaded on us. This shift of structural responsibility to the individual is a neoliberal favourite and we should expose it for the fraud that it is.

As much as possible, we are asked to organise our work to be carried out remotely, while facing the anxiety and the mental load provoked by the current state of exception. We are asked to actively dedicate extra time and energy to keep things running during the emergency. But we need some guarantees from the cultural organisations and institutions we work for, and from the government.

We demand cultural organisations & art academies:

  • to accommodate and devise solutions to allow remote work or work from home, allowing for truly flexible ways to deal with the consequences of the pandemic (e.g. taking care of the elderly and kids). At the same time, performing remote work shouldn’t be the condition to be paid for a previously agreed plan.
  • to maintain agreements with the staff even if events, classes and lectures are cancelled or postponed. To make sure that despite any emergency measure, cultural workers are paid unconditionally.
  • to postpone lectures, classes and events only in agreement with the freelancer, as they might have other commitments.
  • to ensure that any measures deployed in this moment of crisis are not there to stay. e.g. online classes are a temporary solution to a measure where people are asked to stay home; when universities reopen, so too should normal classes.
  • to agree to accommodate these demands in written, official form.

When discussing remote work, we demand the cultural organisations & art academies:

  • to not consider it as the first concern right now.
  • to not see remote work as a condition for teachers to be paid.
  • to not make remote work mandatory for both teachers and students.
  • to consider the time students and staff need to spend with household members these days.
  • to not offload the research and testing of methods and tools for remote work solutions onto individual workers.
  • to keep in mind that predatory Big-tech industries will instrumentalise this crisis for their own gain. The current crisis shows our dependence on digital infrastructures. In order not to become fully dependent on them, it is important to talk about the alternatives to these offers which uncritically promote technology as a solution to everything. Neither students nor teachers should be required to open social media accounts or install software against their own will.
  • to ensure that any measures deployed are temporary.

If remote work is being organised, we demand:

  • to take into account the home situation of both students and staff, to not be blinded by the illusion that everyone can work and concentrate at home. This situation will be increasingly difficult for families to handle as more and more private and public locations, spaces, outlets, venues, shop, schools will be closing. Likewise, many may contract the virus or take care of someone who has contracted it.
  • to not impose synchronous work. Students and staff might not be able to show up at a specific time for anything, as they might have to prioritize their days differently. At the same time, asynchronicity shouldn’t mean that the workday exceeds the agreed boundaries. Bottom-up and considerate self-organisation should be prioritised over top-down managerial plans.
  • to not forget that internet connection is unstable and at times unavailable for some, which means that personal data-bundles need to be used. Also, to not forget how frustrating and counter-productive it can be to talk over a stuttering video connection.
  • to acknowledge the circumstances and turn remote work into an exercise of collective care taking for all. Sometimes this means to cancel classes, decrease workload and allow disconnection. This is more important than the continuation of the routine.

We demand the government:

  • to defer the payment of mortgages installments for unprotected cultural workers and precarious workers in general. This is already happening in Italy[2].
  • to support freelancers and students (who are often working on the side to pay their studies) with a “pandemic allowance” to still be able to afford the minimum requirements for stable living (rent, food, etc).

These demands do not only concern the welfare of cultural workers, but they are meant to preserve the quality of education and the cultural sector in the long run. What maintains these fields alive is the trust among the parties involved. Ignoring these demands means eroding that trust and therefore contributing to more atomised and individualised cultural organisations.

Some steps in the direction of our demands are already being taken: a majority in the House of Representatives proposed “a support package for the cultural sector” because of the corona crisis.[3] The Kunstenbond opened a website where freelancers in the cultural and creative sector can report their cancellations due to the corona virus.[4]

As previously mentioned, the current emergency has only made more apparent the precarity inherent in the education and cultural sector, where structural risk is often disproportionately shouldered by the individual. If the limits of such a system were not already apparent, this moment of crisis should allow us to reconsider it and foster the struggle against the flexibilization of working conditions with renewed urgency.

Notes

[1]: https://www.kunstenbond.nl/home/339/corona-virus-leidraad-voor-zelfstandigen-in-cultuursector
[2]: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/italy-readies-crisis-plan-that-includes-mortgage-deferrals-2020-03-10
[3]: https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2020/03/13/kamer-steunpakket-nodig-voor-culturele-sector-a3993692
[4]: https://www.kunstenbond.nl/home/338/corona-virus-kunstenbond-wil-financiele-steun-voor-zelfstandigen

by admin

March 13, 2020

Institute of Network Cultures

Listen now: Zine renaissance and hyperlocal news – Eurozine podcast

Listen to “Eurozine Podcast Part II: Local journalism in the digital age” on Spreaker.

Globalization was supposed to connect people, but instead ended up connecting the powerful. Local news is rapidly disappearing and leaving crucial stories unreported, communities unrepresented and disconnected, a side-effect of digitalization and the ownership concentration in media markets. But local and hyperlocal media play an important role in sustaining robust and resilient regimes of public service. In an age of technological changes and political pressure, niche publications and a renaissance of zines lead the quest for new, sustainable models in publishing.

In the second instalment of the special edition Eurozine podcast series, produced by Talk Eastern Europe, Eurozine editor-in-chief Réka Kinga Papp talks media models old and new with Rachael Jolley, editor of Index on Censorship and philosopher Miriam Rasch of the Institute of Network Cultures.

The podcast was recorded in November 2019 at the 30th European Meeting of Cultural Journals.

by Miriam Rasch

March 12, 2020

March 11, 2020

Radio #Cybernet

Emergency Broadcast: we’re LIVE every day FROM 0930 TO 2100 GMT

The COVID-19 forces us to be at home. SO, we decided to bring all you some entertainment!

For this reason we’re now streaming, hopefully, every day from 0930 to 2100 GMT, here:

MP3:

Check also our streaming webpage at http://radio.dyne.org 😉

We are streaming shortwave radio stations received with our YAESU FRG-7 radio receiver, plus some other stuff, rants and random stuff, as usual.

This is our actual setup (evolving):

  • YAESU FRG-7 Shortwave Radio Receiver, connected to a…
  • …PA0RDT Mini Whip Antenna mounted on the roof here in Siracusa, for radio receiving!
  • Behringer XENYX 1202FX Audio Mixer
  • Zoom H2N microphone / recorder
  • Zoom G1Xon multieffect pedal
  • an old iMac 7.1 (2007) for streaming
  • a bunch of cables, adapters and shit
  • …and a lot of unuseful but funny things!

How it works:

We tune our shortwave radio to some funny station and we stream it thru the mixer using mixxx installed on our old iMac. That’s it! 🙂

Happy listening!

 

 

by admin

March 10, 2020

Zero Days

Introduzione alla ricerca nelle Banche Dati Giuridiche (Lezione #1)

Questa è la registrazione della prima lezione del Modulo Integrativo al Corso di Informatica Giuridica sulla ricerca giuridica nelle banche di dati.

Introduco il tema, i contenuti tipici delle banche dati oggi più comuni, le prime basi delle strategie di ricerca.

by Giovanni Ziccardi

March 09, 2020

Institute of Network Cultures

Out Now: ToD#34 The Age of Total Images: Disappearance of a Subjective Viewpoint in Post-digital Photography

pdf of the Media Do Not Exist book inc_icon_lulu_@2x

In The Age of Total Images, art historian Ana Peraica focuses on the belief that the shape of the planet is two-dimensional which has been reawakened in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and the ways in which these ‘flat Earth’ conspiracy theories are symptomatic of post-digital image culture. Such theories, proven to be false both in Antiquity and Modernity, but once held to be true in the Medieval Period, have influenced a return to a kind of ‘New Medievalism’.

By tracing visual representations of the planet across Western history and culture, Peraica provides support for a media-based explanation behind the reappearance of flat Earth theories. Through an adventurous exploration of the ways the Earth has been represented in sculptural globes, landscape painting, aerial photography, and even new media art, she proposes that a significant reason for the reemergence today in the belief that the world is flat lies in processes and practices of representation which flatten it during the compositing of photographs into ‘total images’. Such images, Peraica argues, are principally characterized by the disappearance of the subjective point of view and angle of view from photography, as the perspectival tool of the camera is being replaced with the technical perspective of the map, and human perception with machine vision, within a polyperspectival assemblage. In the media constellation of these total images, photography is but one layer of visual information among many, serving not to represent some part of the Earth, but to provide an illusion of realism.

Ana Peraica is an art historian whose research focus is on post-digital photography. She is the author of the books Fotografija kao dokaz (Multimedijalni Institute, Zagreb, 2018) and Culture of the Selfie (Theory on Demand #24, 2017), among others, as well as the editor of several readers, including Smuggling Anthologies, Victims Symptom (PTSD and Culture) (Theory on Demand #3, 2009), and Žena na raskrižju ideologija. She teaches at Danube University near Vienna, Austria, and is a visiting lecturer at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, in addition to continuing to run a photographic studio in Split, Croatia, founded in 1932 by her grandfather.

 

Colophon

Series: Theory on Demand #34

Author: Ana Peraica

Editor: Devon Schiller

Production: Sepp Eckenhaussen

Cover design: Katja van Stiphout

Publisher: Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam, 2019

ISBN: 978-94-92302-54-0

Copyright: This publication is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDer- rivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) licence.

 

Get the book

Print on demand: http://www.lulu.com/shop/ana-peraica/the-age-of-total-images-disappearance-of-a-subjective-viewpoint-in-post-digital-photography/paperback/product-24453991.html

PDF: https://networkcultures.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/TheAgeOfTotalImagesPDF.pdf

ePub: https://networkcultures.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/TheAgeOfTotalImages.epub

by Sepp Eckenhaussen

March 08, 2020

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit leaply

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the first week of March, 2020.

Draft of the Fast.ai Book
March 00, 2020 (comments)
Some idiots do not understand how the GPL works. The Hackernews commenting about the linked book are struggling with it as well. Most of the rest of the comments are either uncritical gratitude or arguments about whether the authors deserve to be famous or already are.

NymphCast: Casual attempt at open alternative to Chromecast
March 01, 2020 (comments)
Blogger is inexplicably still online. Hackernews argues about whether Chromecast is the most important technology ever introduced to humanity, or whether it is ineligible for that accolade because Apple didn't create it. Dozens of Hackernews bicker with one another over the precise analogy that should be used to explain Chromecast to moronic non-Hackernews, complain that this knockoff implementation isn't worth pursuing because it can't ever be flawless, or whine to the author about the name of the software.

Firefox is showing the way back to a world that’s private by default
March 02, 2020 (comments)
The Verge[who?] praises Mozilla's bold privacy-defending action: shipping all your DNS queries to a private corporation without asking you first. Hackernews, as is customary regarding any article about Mozilla, bemoans the fact that Google's search product ain't what it used to be, while all its competitors are getting better -- but not better enough. Yes, you can use DuckDuckGo, but it's not Google, but you can use Google with it, still. Additionally, you can use Firefox, but it's not Chrome, but you can spoof your user agent string to look like Chrome, still. Since the idea that users don't change their behavior because nobody actually gives a shit is antithetical to webshit self-importance, lots of excuses are made about user experience, Overton windows, and Apple's software policies.

SETI@home shuts down after 21 years
March 03, 2020 (comments)
SETI ceases to be @home. Since there's no information of use presented, Hackernews descends into nostalgia, argues about Bitcoin mining, or lectures one another on the uselessness of communicating with aliens when we can just wait a thousand years and go find some.

Highest French court reclassifies Uber drivers as employees
March 04, 2020 (comments)
France deals a critical blow to Uber (business model: "Uber for cars") by cruelly and oppressively holding it to the same standards as other companies. Hackernews can't differentiate between employment, contracting, indentured servitude, or rank slavery, and so must invent each concept from first principles. The resulting discussion does not arrive at any conclusion, but comprises half of the comments on the article. The next discussion sees Hackernews around the world discover (to much surprise) that different governments have different laws, and so taxis are not operated according to identical rules everywhere on earth.

Using Anki to remember what you read
March 05, 2020 (comments)
A webshit uses webshit to remember things. Hackernews complains about the faddish obsession with various note-taking regimens, then settles in to obsess about current fads in note-taking regimens. Later, the discussion turns to the central question: is knowing things even worth it?

DuckDuckGo is good enough for regular use
March 06, 2020 (comments)
A webshit tries to search the web without using Google. It kind of works, so we get a large blog post about it. Hackernews has the same conversation it always has: you can use DuckDuckGo, but it's not Google, but you can use Google with it. The only new twist is that British Hackernews are angry that DuckDuckGo does not seem to give a shit about Britain.

I have seen things
March 07, 2020 (comments)
An academic writes a blog post about something. I'm not entirely sure what the point is, and the text is insufficiently interesting to motivate further investigation. Apparently there are old Hackernews, and they all show up to report that they are still capable of learning things, as long as those things are programming languages. Another Hackernews would like teenagers to hold regular seminars so that out-of-touch weirdos like Hackernews can understand new memes. The rest of the comments are from Hackernews assuring us they saw things before we did, and then succumbing to nostalgia about those things.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2020/03/07/0/

March 05, 2020

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 4x24 - Snumerati, tecnopaninari e l'anno della peste

Il coronavirus non è un morbo, è una ferita narcisistica. Ma non temete, la realtà è un ottimo terapista.

by Walter Vannini

March 04, 2020

Zero Days

Informatica Giuridica Avanzata Lezione #1 2020: la società sorvegliata

Ecco in linea la prima lezione del corso di quest'anno di Informatica Giuridica Avanzata, che tratta dell'avvento della società sorvegliata e dei vari tipi di controllo in corso sul cittadino, sui suoi dati e sulla sua vita.

by Giovanni Ziccardi

March 03, 2020

Zero Days

Informatica Giuridica 2020 Lezione #1: l'Unione Europea e le origini della sicurezza informatica

Nella prima lezione del 2020 del Corso di Informatica Giuridica ci occupiamo di come, all'interno dell'Unione Europea e del Consiglio di Europa, dagli anni Ottanta sino all'avvento del commercio elettronico si tratta il tema della protezione dei dati.

by Giovanni Ziccardi

February 29, 2020

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the last week of February, 2020.

More bosses give four-day workweek a try
February 21, 2020 (comments)
Some bureaucrats take some time off. Hackernews is mostly interested in avoiding traffic. Other Hackernews try to rationalize the innate natural laws that lead to a forty-hour workweek, which immediately turns into a one-sided pissing match. As the people who prefer to work longer hours over fewer days dickwave about their indefatigable work ethic, the people who have lives express a deep and fundamental unwillingness to give a shit.

Does memory leak? (1995)
February 22, 2020 (comments)
An Ada mailing list contains the origins of the Android development model, wherein the software is carefully calibrated not to crash until the hardware suddenly ceases being supported. Instead of taking the message of the original story, Hackernews tells stories of memory allocation strategies they heard about in bars. Later, the Rust Evangelism Strike Force shows up and demands access to weapons platforms, nuclear reactors, and aircraft. Finally, Hackernews holds an ethics seminar wherein we are told that the only indefensible use of computer programming is weapons systems. Writing software to track how much time a warehouse picker spends pissing is fine, though.

Mathematics for the Adventurous Self-Learner
February 23, 2020 (comments)
A webshit writes a book report. Hackernews is mad that people take it for granted that everyone went to high school; upon asking for advice, other Hackernews provide every possible response. The complainer never returns. As usual with math-related topics, Hackernews votes the link into the stratosphere, but doesn't have much to say about it, so the vote:comment ratio exceeds 6:1.

“We found PayPal vulnerabilities and PayPal punished us for it”
February 24, 2020 (comments)
Some webshits discover that bug bounty programs are in fact extortion honeypots. Hackernews can't decide if the evil comes from within PayPal or from the bureaucrats they hired to maintain the illusion of interest. Each Hackernews takes a turn whining about the time they broke some software and were insufficiently rewarded for their ingenuity. Then, of course, the webshit Hackernews show up to claim that none of the problems are actually problems and the article authors got what they deserved.

Smithsonian Releases 2.8M Images into Public Domain
February 25, 2020 (comments)
A museum dumps its purse onto the internet. Hackernews is glad it happened, but struggles to find anything meaningful to say about it, so they resort to bitching about the style of the website and the license applied to the data.

Tailwind UI
February 26, 2020 (comments)
Some webshits have managed to completely remove any advantage of CSS while simultaneously making it an even bigger percentage of a given web page. This sort of counterproductive wheelspinning is right up Hackernews' alley, so they immediately get elbow-deep in pedantic arguments about the most aesthetically pleasing and ethos-expressing methods of putting a drop shadow on a modal newsletter-nag dialog. In the end, the only real problem with this software that Hackernews correctly identifies is that some asshole has the temerity to demand payment for having produced it.

Let's Encrypt Has Issued a Billion Certificates
February 27, 2020 (comments)
Quantity over quality, in all things webshit, but most of all in ephemeral certificates. One Hackernews wants to know which certificate was the actual billionth certificate, and a LetsEncrypt arrives to provide a high-quality, technically-excellent answer: there's no way to know, because Let's Encrypt's monitoring and accounting is for shit. Hackernews loves free certificates and is not very picky about reliability, so after the party dies down they sit around the fire and incorrect one another about how certificate trust is implemented on the web.

Freeman Dyson Has Died
February 28, 2020 (comments)
A scientist has passed away. Hackernews has a handful of personal anecdotes about the deceased, but mostly prefers to politicize opinions about climate change. A handful wonder why the site administrators ignored the passing of a mathematician (who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Congressional Gold Medal) but noted the passing of a scientist who did not. They are instructed to fuck off.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2020/02/28/0/

February 26, 2020

Institute of Network Cultures

Let’s Detoxify Ourselves-Knowledge for the Future (On Politics of European Education)

Dear friends,

I’d like to share with you the English translation of our position paper Disintossichiamoci–Sapere per il Futuro, published a week ago on the largest academic discussion website in Italy, that quikly exceeded 1000 subscriptions from all areas of the country and from all disciplines. Also some foreign colleagues gave us their valuable support. It is very encouraging and allows us to aim high.

The biennial summit of European education ministers, the 2020 EHEA Ministerial Conference, will be held in Rome in June, a meeting organized within the framework of the Bologna Process. During those days – 23-25 June 2020 – we want to organize a counter-summit in Rome: a meeting that brings together different European opposition movements of professors and researchers, to ask – together with the students as well – a profound rethinking of knowledge policies at the international level. We are convinced that the supranational framework is decisive, as shown by the many affinities between the particular situations in which everyone of us is involved. We want to work together, apart from the individual differences, with the aim of building a strong and clear alternative to the idea of knowledge the current policies are enforcing in Europe and beyond.

Help us to get in touch with others. It would be very important to identify representatives from the various organizations, with whom work operationally in network for setting up our June counter-summit.

Thank you for your help and hope to hear from you soon,

Valeria Pinto  (sapereperilfuturo@gmail.com)

Let’s Detoxify Ourselves-Knowledge for the Future

“Economics are the methods. The object is to change the soul”. Margaret Thatcher’s formula sums up well the process that characterized the policies of knowledge, education and research (but not only that) in the last decades.

The economic method, shortage as a normal condition, at or below the survival limit, is visible to everyone. Also clearly visible, together with the financial one, is the bureaucratic strangulation. Less visible is the target. The change of our soul is so deep that we do not even notice anymore the destruction that has taken place around us and through us: the paradox of the end – inside the “knowledge society” – of a world dedicated to the things of knowledge. Our very hearing has become accustomed to a programmatic linguistic devastation, where an impoverished technical-managerial and bureaucratic jargon reiterates expressions having a precise operational value, which however seems to be difficult to grasp: quality improvement, excellence, competence, transparency, research products, teaching provision… And autonomy, or – to evoke Thomas Piketty’s words – the imposture that initiated the process of destruction of the European university model. A destruction that has taken as a rhetorical pretext some faults – real and not – of the old university, but of course without remedying them, because that was not its goal.

Thirty years after the introduction of “autonomy”, twenty after the Bologna process, ten after the “Gelmini Act” (in Italy), the critical literature about this destruction is boundless. It is a fact, although making it explicit seems a taboo, that research and teaching are no longer free. Research, subjected to senseless pressure that pushes us to “produce” more every year, is, every time more than just before (in Italy VQR, ASN etc.), in the grip of a real bubble of titles, which transforms an already fatal “publish or perish” into a “rubbish or perish”. At the same time, pressure is exerted to “deliver” an education entirely modeled on the demands of the productive world. The modernization that programmatically tore the university away from every “ivory tower” – making it a “responsive”, “service university” – meant nothing but a way, the “third way”, towards the world of private interests. Emptied of their value, education and research are evaluated, that is to say “valued”, through the market and quasi-market of evaluation, which, in its best institutional capacity, serves only to “favor (…) the effect of social control and the development of positive market logic “(CRUI 2001).

Due to the imposition of this market logic, the freedom of research and teaching – albeit protected by art. 33 of the Italian Constitution – is now reduced to freedom of enterprise, submitted to a regime of production of useful knowledge (useful above all to increase private profit), which controls the ways, times and places of this production. An authoritarian management expropriates researchers and scholars of their own faculty of judgment. Criteria deprived from internal justification, as numbers and measures that, as everyone knows, have no scientific basis and do not guarantee in any respect the value and quality of knowledge, are smuggled as objective ones. Pre-defining percentages of excellence and unacceptability, dividing with medians or prescribing thresholds, sorting in rankings, dividing magazines into ratings, all of this, together with the most vexatious control practices in the form of certifications, accreditations, reports, reviews, etc., only has one function: forcing competition of individuals, groups or institutions within the only reality to which today the right to establish values is given, that is the market, in this case the global market of education and research, which is an entirely recent invention.

As a matter of fact, where traditionally the markets did not exist (education and research, but also health, safety and so on) the imperative was to create them or simulate their existence. The logic of the competitive market has established itself as a real ethical command, opposing which has meant, for the few who have tried it, having to defend themselves from accusations of inefficiency, irresponsibility, waste of public money, defense of corporative and caste privileges. Far from the triumph of laissez faire: a police “evaluative state” has worked to ensure that this logic is internalized in normal study and research practices, operating a real de-professionalisation, which has transformed scholars engaged in their research into compliant entrepreneurial researchers, obedient to the diktats of the corporate university. To gratify them they are offered an economic and existential precariousness that goes under the name of excellence: the functional framework to a “competitive Darwinism” that is explicitly theorized and, also thanks to the moral coverage offered by the ideology of merit, forcedly made normal.

Many now believe that this knowledge management model is toxic and unsustainable in the long term. The performance measurement and reward evaluation devices convert scientific research (asking in order to know) into the search for competitive advantages (asking in order to obtain), thus jeopardizing the meaning and role of knowledge for society. More and more today we write and do research to reach a productivity threshold rather than to add knowledge to humanity: “never before in the history of humanity have so many written so much despite having so little to say to so few” ( Alvesson et al., 2017). In this way, research is fatally condemned to irrelevance, dispelling the social appreciation it has enjoyed so far and generating a deep crisis of trust. The time has come for radical change if we want to avoid the implosion of the knowledge system as a whole. The bureaucratization of research and the managerialization of higher education risk becoming the Chernobyl of our model of social organization.

What is needed today is to reaffirm the principles that protect the right of all of society to have free knowledge, teaching, research – to protect, that is, the very substance of which a democracy is made – and for this reason to protect those who dedicate themselves to knowledge. A standpoint is needed to bring together what resists as a critical force, as the ability to discriminate, distinguish what cannot be held together: sharing and excellence, freedom of research and new evaluation, good higher education and rapid supply of low- cost workforce, free access to knowledge and market monopolies.

In this direction some stages are outlined. The first one is an assessment of the actual existence and consistency of our field. A project cannot move forward unless a minimum mass of people willing to commit to it is reached. If there is an adequate preliminary adhesion – let’s say 100 people in symbolic terms – we will organize a meeting to discuss alternative policies about evaluation, times and forms of knowledge production, recruitment and organization. Looking ahead, we will carry out an initiative in June, at the same time as the next ministerial conference of the Bologna process, which will be held in Rome this year, with the aim of demanding – in conjunction with other European movements of researchers and scholars – a radical rethinking of knowledge policies.

Valeria Pinto – Davide Borrelli – Maria Chiara Pievatolo – Federico Bertoni + 1000

If you want to add your name to the declaration, write to sapereperilfuturo@gmail.com, indicating your name and institution.

by Geert Lovink