Arquivo da tag: Interatividade

Occupy, Anthropology, and the 2011 Global Uprisings (Cultural Anthropology)

Hot spot – Occupy, Anthropology, and the 2011 Global Uprisings

Submitted by Cultural Anthropology on Fri, 2012-07-27 10:36

Introduction: Occupy, Anthropology, and the 2011 Global Uprisings

Guest Edited by Jeffrey S. Juris (Northeastern University) and Maple Razsa (Colby College)

Occupy Wall Street burst spectacularly onto the scene last fall with the take-over of New York City’s Zuccotti Park on September 17, 2011, followed by the rapid spread of occupations to cities throughout the US and the world. The movement combined mass occupations of urban public spaces with horizontal forms of organization and large-scale, directly democratic assemblies. Making effective use of the viral flows of images and information generated by the intersections of social and mass media, the occupations mobilized tens of thousands around the globe, including many new activists who had never taken part in a mass movement before, and inspired many more beyond the physical encampments themselves. Before the wave of violent police evictions in November and December of 2011 drove activists into submerged forms of organizing through the winter, the Occupy movements had already captured the public imagination. Bequeathing to us potent new memes such as the 1% (those at the top of the wealth and income scale) and the 99% (the rest of us), Occupy provided a framework for talking about issues that have been long obscured in public life such as class and socio-economic inequality and helped to shift the dominant political-economic discourse from an obsession with budget deficits and austerity to a countervailing concern for jobs, equality, and economic fairness.

In other words, prior to Occupy, much of the populist anger stemming from the 2008 financial crisis in North America and Europe had been effectively channeled by the Right into both an attack on marginalized groups—e.g. immigrants, people of color, Gays and Lesbians—and a particularly pernicious version of the already familiar critique of unbridled spending. This was especially so in the US where the Tea Party tapped into the widespread public ire over the Wall Street bailouts to bolster a far-reaching attack on “big government” through a radical program of fiscal austerity. Of course, the debt problem was a consequence rather than a cause of the crisis, the result of deregulation, predatory lending, and the spread of highly complex financial instruments facilitated by the neoliberal agenda of the very people who were now seeking to impose budgetary discipline (see Financial Crisis Hot Spot).

However, the contributions of Occupy are not exclusively, or even primarily, to be assessed in terms of their intervention in public discourse. The Occupy movements are also a response to a fundamental crisis of representative politics embodied in an embrace of more radical, directly democratic practices and forms. In their commitment to direct democracy and action the politics put into practice in the various encampments are also innovative prefigurative attempts to model alternative forms of political organization, decision making, and sociability. This turn is crucial: while neoliberalism has been endlessly critiqued it seems to live on as the only policy response—in the form of austerity—to the crisis neoliberalism itself has produced. The need for ethnographic accounts of this prefigurative politics, and its attendant challenges and contradictions, is especially urgent given that Occupy has refused official representatives and because occupiers have extended democracy beyond formal institutions into new spheres of life through a range of practices, including the collective seizure of public space, the people’s mic, horizontal organization, hand signals, and general assemblies.

It is also important to remember that Occupy was a relative latecomer—if a symbolically important one—to the social unrest the global crisis and policies of austerity have provoked. Cracks in the veneer of conformity emerged during the 2008 rebellion in Greece, where students, union members, and other social actors, galvanized by the murder of a fifteen year old student, took to the streets to challenge the worsening economic conditions (See Greece Hot Spot). Students were also among the first wave of resistance elsewhere with protests against budget cuts and increased fees in California, Croatia, the UK, and Chile. In the US signs of wider social discontent finally surfaced during the Wisconsin uprising in February 2011, which included the occupation of the Wisconsin State House in opposition to Governor Scott Walker’s attack on collective bargaining for public sector unions under the guise of budgetary discipline (cf. Collins 2012). As in Wisconsin, the widespread circulation of images from the Arab Spring continued to spark the intense feelings of solidarity, political possibility, and agency that ultimately led to the occupation of Wall Street. From the pro-democracy marches in Tunisia in response to the self-immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi to the mass occupations of Cairo’s Tahrir Square in opposition to the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, the Middle East uprisings, imbued protesters with the sense that dramatic political transformation was possible even as subsequent events have indicated that actual political outcomes are always ambivalent and uncertain (see Arab Spring Hot Spot).

Inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and responding to the working and middle class casualties of Spain and Europe’s debt crisis, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Madrid on May 15, 2011 and occupied the Puerta del Sol square, sparking a wave of similar mobilizations and encampments around the Spain that would become known as 15M or the movement of the Indignados. Indeed, the combination of mass public occupations with large-scale participatory assemblies provided a template that would be enacted in Zuccotti Park, in part via the influence of Spanish activists residing in New York. That summer a similar movement of Israeli youths sprang up in Tel Aviv, using tent cities and popular assemblies to shine a light on the rising cost of housing and other living expenses.

Finally, in response to an August 2011 call by the Canadian magazine AdBusters to occupy Wall Street in the spirit of these 2011 Global uprisings, activists occupied Zuccotti Park after being rebuffed by the police in an attempt to take Wall Street itself. The occupation initially garnered little media attention, until its second week when images of police repression started going viral, leading to a surge in public sympathy and support, and ever growing numbers streaming to the encampments themselves each time another protester was maced or a group of seemingly innocent protesters rounded up, beaten, and/or arrested. Occupations quickly spread around the US and other parts of the world, generating, for a moment, a proliferating series of encampments physically rooted in local territories, yet linked up with other occupations through interpersonal and online trans-local networks. Following the evictions in the US last fall, local assemblies and working groups have continued to meet—hosting discussions, planning actions and campaigns, producing media, and building and modifying organizational forms—even as the Occupy movements prepared for their public reemergence in the spring through mobilizations such as the May Day protests and mass direct actions against NATO in Chicago and the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.

Additionally, each of these uprisings has diffused through the widespread use of social media, reflecting the mutually constitutive nature of embodied and online protest. The use of social media, in particular, has allowed the Occupy movements, as in other recent mobilizations, to penetrate deeply into the social fabric and mobilize many newcomers who have never been active before in social movements. At the same time, these emerging “logics of aggregation” within the Occupy movements have resulted in a more individualized mode of participation and a form of movement that is more singularizing (e.g. the way the 99% frame can obscure internal differences) and more dependent on the long-term occupation of public space than other recent movements (Juris 2012). A particular set of tensions and strategic dilemmas have thus plagued the Occupy movements, including a divide between newer and more seasoned activists, the difficulty of recognizing and negotiating internal differences, a lack of common political and organizational principles beyond the General Assembly model, and the difficulty of transitioning to new tactics, strategies, visions, and structures in a post-eviction era. In short, activists are now faced with fundamental questions about how to build a movement capable of actually transforming the deep inequalities they have attempted to address.

In assembling this Hot Spot on Occupy we have invited contributions from anthropologists, ethnographers, and activists writing on the above themes: the mass occupation of public spaces, directly democratic practices and forms, the use of social media, the emotions and emerging subjectivities of protest, as well as the underlying political critiques and contradictions that have arisen in the movement. Similarly, in light of the global history we outline above, the range of other social movement responses to the current global economic crisis, as well as the ongoing links between struggles in the US, Europe, Latin America, and North Africa, we have been careful to include contributors conducting research beyond the US in countries such as Greece, Slovenia, Spain, Israel, Argentina, Egypt, and Canada. In so doing, we insist that Occupy must be understood in a global rather than a populist US-centric framework.

Our collaboration on this Hot Spot—which emerged from conversations around our articles on Occupy in the May 2012 edition ofAmerican Ethnologist (Juris 2012Razsa and Kurnik 2012)—also reflects our scholarly and political commitments, as well as those of our contributors. First, it was our priority to invite scholars and activists who are directly involved with these movements rather than adding to the abundant armchair punditry on Occupy. These contributions also reflect recent trends in anthropology with respect to the growing practice of activist research, militant ethnography, public anthropology, and other forms of politically committed ethnographic research, which are taking increasingly institutionalized forms with Cultural Anthropology “Hot Spots”like this one, “Public Anthropology Reviews” in American Anthropologist, recent interventions in American Ethnologist on Egypt, Wisconsin, and Occupy, as well as Current Anthropology “Current Applications.”

In addition to providing an ethnographically and analytically informed view of and from various occupations and kindred mobilizations, this Hot Spot thus provides another example of how anthropologists are making themselves politically relevant and are engaging issues of broad public concern. Given these shifts, together with the progressive inclinations of many anthropologists and the ubiquity and inherent interest of Occupy, it should come as no surprise that so many anthropologists and ethnographers from related fields, including those within and outside the academy, have played key roles in the Occupy movements and their precursors in countries such as Greece and Spain. Indeed, in their post Carles Feixa and his collaboratorsrefer to anthropologists as the “organic intellectuals” of the 15 M movement. As many of the contributions to this Hot Spot attest, a similar case might be made for the role of activist anthropologists within Occupy more generally.

As the contributions below make clear, our emphasis on participatory and politically committed research does not imply a romanticization of resistance or a refusal to confront the contradictions, limits, and exclusions of social movements, especially along axes of class, race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship. Given the disproportionate, though by no means exclusively White, middle class participation in the US Occupy movements, such critical perspectives are essential. Each of the following entries thus combines thick ethnographic description on the part of anthropologists, ethnographers, and activists who have been directly involved in the Occupy movements or other instances of mobilization during the 2011 global uprisings—either through engagement with one more encampments and/or the themes addressed by Occupy—with critical analysis of one or more of the issues outlined above.

NOTES

[1] Occupy has thus addressed many of the same themes and drawn on many of the organizational practices associated with the global justice movements of a previous era, even as it has resonated more strongly with domestic national contexts of the Global north.

[2] The people’s mic is a form of voice amplification whereby everyone in listening distance repeats a speaker’s words so that others situated further away can also hear (See Garces, this Hot Spot).

[3] For example, in the U.S. local encampments created “Inter-Occupy” groups maintain ties with other occupations, while twitter feeds, listservs, websites, and other digital tools were used to communicate and coordinate more broadly. See our digital resources page for additional links.

REFERENCES

Collins, Jane. 2012. “Theorizing Wisconsin’s 2011 Protests: Community-Based Unionism Confronts Accumulation by Dispossession.” American Ethnologist 39 (1):6–20.

Juris, Jeffrey. 2012. “Reflections on #Occupy Everywhere: Social Media, Public Space, and Emerging Logics of Aggregation.”American Ethnologist 39 (2):259-279.

Razsa, Maple and Andrej Kurnik. 2012. “The Occupy Movement in Žižek’s Hometown: Direct Democracy and a Politics of Becoming.” American Ethnologist 39 (2):238-258.

***ESSAYS***

Prefigurative Politics

Marianne Maeckelbergh, Horizontal Decision-Making across Time and Place

Chris Garces, People’s Mic and ‘Leaderful’ Charisma

Philip Cartelli, Trying to Occupy Harvard

Public Space

Zoltán Glück, Between Wall Street and Zuccotti: Occupy and the Scale of Politics

Carles Feixa, et al., The #spanishrevolution and Beyond

Dimitris Dalakoglou,  The Movement and the “Movement” of Syntagma Square

Experience and Subjectivity

Jeffrey S. Juris, The 99% and the Production of Insurgent Subjectivity

Diane Nelson, et al., Her earliest leaf’s a flower…

Maple Razsa, The Subjective Turn: The Radicalization of Personal Experience within Occupy Slovenia

Marina Sitrin, Occupy Trust: The Role of Emotion in the New Movements

Strategy and Tactics

David Graeber, Occupy Wall Street rediscovers the radical imagination

Kate Griffiths-Dingani, May Day, Precarity, Affective Labor, and the General Strike

Angelique Haugerud, Humor and Occupy Wall Street

Karen Ho, Occupy Finance and the Paradox/Possibilities of Productivity

Social Media

Alice Mattoni, Beyond Celebration: Toward a More Nuanced Assessment of Facebook’s Role in Occupy Wall Street

John Postill, Participatory Media Research and Spain’s 15M Movement

Critical Perspectives

Yvonne Yen Liu, Decolonizing the Occupy Movement

Manissa McCleave Maharawal, Fieldnotes on Union Square, Anti-Oppression, and Occupy

Uri Gordon, Israel’s “Tent Protests:” A Domesticated Mobilization

Alex Khasnabish, Occupy Nova Scotia: The Symbolism and Politics of Space

The Secret Lives of Dangerous Hackers (N.Y.Times)

‘We Are Anonymous’ by Parmy Olson

By , Published: May 31, 2012

In December 2010 the heat-seeking Internet pranksters known as Anonymous attacked PayPal, the online bill-paying business. PayPal had been a conduit for donations to WikiLeaks, the rogue whistle-blower site, until WikiLeaks released a huge cache of State Department internal messages. PayPal cut off donations to the WikiLeaks Web site. Then PayPal’s own site was shut down, as Anonymous did what it did best: exaggerate the weight of its own influence.

WE ARE ANONYMOUS – Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency, By Parmy Olson. 498 pages. Little, Brown & Company. $26.99.

But, according to “We Are Anonymous,” by Parmy Olson, the London bureau chief for Forbes magazine, it had taken a single hacker and his botnet to close PayPal. “He then signed off and went to have his breakfast,” she writes.

(The accuracy of this account is in dispute. PayPal says that its site was never fully down. But as Ms. Olson says, in “a note about lying to the press,” this is how she weighed information as a reporter: “Did supporters of Anonymous lie to me in some interviews?  Yes, though admittedly not always to start with. Over time, if I was not sure about a key point, I would seek to corroborate it with others.  Such is the case with statements presented as fact in this book.  My approach to Anons who were lying to me was simply to go along with their stories, acting as if I were impressed with what they were saying in the hope of teasing out more information that I could later confirm.  I have signposted certain anecdotes with the word “claimed” — e.g., a person “claimed” that story is true.  Not everyone in Anonymous and LulzSec lied all the time, however, and there were certain key sources who were most trustworthy than others and whose testimony I tended to more closely, chief among them being Jake Davis.”  Mr. Davis, known as Topiary, appears to be a principal source in describing how the PayPal attack unfolded.)

Valgas Moore. Parmy Olson

Even so, Anonymous made it seem like the work of its shadowy horde. “We lied a bit to the press to give it that sense of abundance,” says the figure named Topiary, one of the best sources in “We Are Anonymous,” a lively, startling book by Ms. Olson that reads as “The Social Network” for group hackers.

As in that Facebook film the technological innovations created by a few people snowball wildly beyond expectation, until they have mass effect. But the human element — the mix of glee, malevolence, randomness, megalomania and just plain mischief that helped spawn these changes — is what Ms. Olson explores best.

“Here was a network of people borne out of a culture of messing with others,” she writes, “a paranoid world whose inhabitants never asked each other personal questions and habitually lied about their real lives to protect themselves.”

The story of Anonymous and its offshoots is worth telling because of the fast and unpredictable ways they have grown. Anonymous began attracting attention after it attacked the Church of Scientology in 2008; subsequent targets have included Sony’s PlayStation network, Fox television and ultimately the C.I.A.  The Homeland Security Department expressed its own worries last year.

Ms. Olson provides a clear timeline through Anonymous’s complicated, winding history. She concentrates particularly on how it spun off the smaller, jokier group LulzSec. “If Anonymous had been the 6 o’clock news, LulzSec was ‘The Daily Show,’ ” she writes.

The breeding ground for much of this was 4chan, the “Deep Web” destination “still mostly unknown to the mainstream but beloved by millions of regular users.” The realm of 4chan called /b/ is where some of this book’s most destructive characters spent their early Internet years, soaking up so much pornography, violence and in-joke humor that they became bored enough to move on. Ms. Olson, whose evenhanded appraisals steer far clear of sensationalism, describes 4chan as “a teeming pit of depraved images and nasty jokes, yet at the same time a source of extraordinary, unhindered creativity.” It thrived on sex and gore. But it popularized the idea of matching funny captions with cute cat photos too.

“We Are Anonymous” also captures the broad spectrum of reasons that Anonymous and LulzSec attracted followers. Some, like Topiary — who turned out to be Jake Davis, an outwardly polite 19-year-old from a sheep-farming community on the remote Shetland Island called Yell, who was arrested in 2011 — were in it for random pranks and taunting laughs. This book does not shy away from the raw language its principals used, as when Topiary told one victim: “Die in a fire. You’re done.” Other participants had political motivations. The New Yorker calling himself Sabu began as a self-styled revolutionary and was instrumental in getting Anonymous to invade the Web sites of top government officials in Tunisia.

A pivotal part of this book concerns the arrest of Sabu, the unveiling of his real identity as Hector Monsegur, and the F.B.I.’s subsequent use of him as an informant. Sabu’s dealings with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks are also described. Ms. Olson notes how Sabu “suddenly seemed very keen to talk to the WikiLeaks founder once his F.B.I. handlers were watching.”

Ms. Olson regards it as inevitable that neither Anonymous nor LulzSec could reconcile the divergent goals of its participants. Bullying jokesters and politically oriented hacktivists may share sophisticated knowledge of how to manipulate the Web and social media, but each faction became an embarrassment to the other. Topiary told Ms. Olson about his own long-distance contact with Mr. Assange, whom he describes as both intrigued by the saboteurs’ potential and critical of their silly side. (After sifting through 75,000 e-mails from a digital security firm, Topiary bashfully admits, one of the things that most interested him was an e-mail from the chief executive’s wife saying, “I love when you wear your fuzzy socks with your jammies.” )

The most startling conversation in “We Are Anonymous” was arranged by the author: an in-the-flesh meeting between Topiary and a person she calls William, since he remains unidentified.

William personifies the dehumanizing effects of cybercrime, and he knows it. One of his specialties is extorting pornographic pictures and then putting them to damaging use. “We split up several boyfriends and girlfriends and appalled many people’s mothers,” he recalls, about the Facebook tricks the book describes in detail. “I’d be lying if I said there was any great reason,” he adds. “I don’t feel guilty, it makes me laugh, and it wastes a night.”

Together they confirm the worst suspicions about the power of sophisticated but untethered Internet manipulation. “You could inspire some 15-year-old, or someone with a 15-year-old’s mind-set, to hate whoever you want them to hate,” William says.

Postscript: May 31, 2012

After this article was published, PayPal contacted The Times to take issue with the statements in the book that say the hackers shut down its Web site. Jennifer Hakes, a senior manager in corporate communications, said that as a result of the attacks in December 2010, “PayPal was never down.”

TATU OR NOT TATU Manifesto Uninômade +10

TATU OR NOT TATU
Manifesto Uninômade +10
15 de Junho de 2012
 
A palavra revolução voltou a circular. Nas ruas, nas praças, na internet, e até mesmo nas páginas de jornal, que a olha com olhos temerosos. Mas, principalmente, em nossos espíritos e corpos. Da mesma maneira, a palavra capitalismo saiu de sua invisibilidade: já não nos domina como dominava. Assistimos ao final de um ciclo – o ciclo neoliberal implementado a partir dos anos 80, mas cujo ápice se deu com a queda do muro de Berlim e o consenso global em torno da expansão planetária do mercado. Muitos dentre nós (principalmente os jovens) experimentam seu primeiro deslocamento massivo das placas tectônicas da história. 

Mas nossa era não é apenas crepuscular. Ao fim de um ciclo abrem-se amplas oportunidades, e cabe a nós transformar a crise da representação e do capitalismo cognitivo em novas formas de democracia absoluta. Para além das esferas formais, dos Estados e nacionalidades. Para além do capitalismo financeiro e flexível. Lá onde brilha nossa singularidade comum: a mulher, o negro, o índio, o amarelo, o pobre, o explorado, o precário, o haitiano, o boliviano, o imigrante, o favelado, o trabalhador intelectual e manual. Não se trata de um recitar de excluídos, mas de uma nova inclusão híbrida. A terra, enfim, nossa. Nós que somos produzidos por esta chuva, esta precipitação de encontros de singularidades em que nos fazemos divinos nesta terra.

É pelo que clama a multidão na Grécia, na Espanha e os occupy espalhados pelos Estados Unidos; é pelo que clamam as radicalidades presentes na primavera árabe, esta multidão situada para além da racionalidade ocidental. É o mesmo arco que une a primavera árabe, as lutas dos estudantes no Chile e as lutas pela radicalização da democracia no Brasil. Nossas diferenças é o que nos torna fortes.

A luta pela mestiçagem racial, simbólica, cultural e financeira passa pela materialidade do cotidiano, pela afirmação de uma longa marcha que junte nossa potência de êxodo e nossa potência constituinte. Acontecimento é o nome que nos anima para o êxodo perpétuo das formas de exploração. Êxodo para dentro da terra. Fidelidade à terra. Tatu or not tatu.

É preciso ouvir em nós aquele desejo que vai para além da vida e da sua conservação: para além do grande terror de uma vida de merda que nos impõe o estado de precariedade e desfiliação extrema. É preciso re-insuflar o grito que nos foi roubado à noite, resistir aos clichês que somos, e que querem fazer de nós: para além de nossas linhas de subjetivação suspensas entre o luxo excedente do 1% ou do lixo supérfluo dos 99%. 

É preciso não precisar de mais nada, a não ser nossa coragem, nosso intelecto e nossos corpos, que hoje se espraiam nas redes de conhecimentos comuns apontando para nossa autonomia. Somos maiores do que pensamos e desejamos tudo.  Não estamos sozinhos! É preciso resistir na alegria, algo que o poder dominador da melancolia é incapaz de roubar. Quando o sujeito deixa de ser um mero consumidor-passivo para produzir ecologias. Um corpo de vozes fala através de nós porque a crise não é apenas do capital, mas sim do viver. Uma profunda crise antropológica. Manifesta-se no esvaziamento de corpos constrangidos, envergonhados, refletidos na tela da TV, sem se expandir para ganhar as ruas. Nossos corpos paralisam, sentem medo, paranóia: o outro vira o grande inimigo. Não criam novos modos de vida. Permanecem em um estado de vidaMenosvida: trabalho, casa, trem, ônibus, trabalho, casa. A vida individual é uma abstração. Uma vida sem compartilhamento afetivo, onde a geração do comum se torna impossível. É preciso criar desvios para uma vidaMaisvida: sobrevida, supervida, overvida. Pausa para sentir parte do acontecimento, que é a vida.  Somos singularidades cooperativas. Pertencemos a uma esfera que nos atravessa e nos constrói a todo o momento.

O capitalismo cognitivo e financeiro instaura um perpétuo estado de exceção que busca continuamente reintegrar e modular a normalidade e a diferença: lei e desordem coincidem dentro de uma mesma conservação das desigualdades que produz e reproduz as identidades do poder: o “Precário” sem direitos, o Imigrante “ilegal”, o “Velho” abandonado, o “Operário” obediente, a “Mulher” subjugada, a “Esposa” dócil, o “Negro” criminalizado e, enfim, o “Depressivo” a ser medicalizado. As vidas dos pobres e dos excluídos passam a ser mobilizadas enquanto tais. Ao mesmo tempo em que precisam gerar valor econômico, mantêm-se politicamente impotentes.

O pobre e o louco. O pobre – figura agora híbrida e modulada de inclusão e exclusão da cadeia do capital –  persiste no cru da vida, até usando seu  próprio corpo como moeda. E o louco, essa figura que vive fora da história, “escolhe” a exclusão. Esse sujeito que se recusa a produzir, vive sem lugar. Onde a questão de exclusão e inclusão é diluída no delírio. Ninguém delira sozinho, delira-se o mundo. Esses dois personagens vivem e sobrevivem à margem, mas a margem transbordou e virou centro. O capital passa a procurar valor na subjetividade e nas formas de vida das margens e a potência dos sem-dar-lucro passa a compor o sintoma do capital: a crise da lei do valor, o capitalismo cognitivo como crise do capitalismo.

A crise dos contratos subprimes em 2007, alastrando-se para a crise da dívida soberana europeia, já não deixa dúvidas: a forma atual de governabilidade é a crise perpétua, repassada como sacrifício para os elos fragilizados do arco social. Austeridade, cortes, desmonte do welfare, xenofobia, racismo. Por detrás dos ternos cinza dos tecnocratas pós-ideológicos ressurgem as velhas bandeiras do biopoder: o dinheiro volta a ter rosto, cor, e não lhe faltam ideias sobre como governar: “que o Mercado seja louvado”, “In God we trust”. O discurso neutro da racionalidade econômica é obrigado a mostrar-se em praça pública, convocando o mundo a dobrar-se ao novo consenso, sem mais respeitar sequer a formalidade da democracia parlamentar. Eis o homo œconomicus: sacrifício, nação, trabalho, capital! É contra este estado de sítio que as redes e a ruas se insurgem. Nas mobilizações auto-convocadas em redes, nas praças das acampadas, a exceção aparece como criatividade do comum, o comum das singularidades que cooperam entre si.

No Brasil são muitos os que ainda se sentem protegidos diante da crise global. O consenso (neo) desenvolvimentista produzido em torno do crescimento econômico e da construção de uma nova classe média consumidora cria barreiras artificiais que distorcem nossa visão da topologia da crise: a crise do capitalismo mundial é, imediatamente, crise do capitalismo brasileiro. Não nos interessa que o Brasil ensine ao mundo, junto à China, uma nova velha forma de capitalismo autoritário baseado no acordo entre Estados e grandes corporações! 

O governo Lula, a partir das cotas, do Prouni, da política cultural (cultura viva, pontos de cultura) e da distribuição de renda (programas sociais, bolsa família, valorização do salário mínimo) pôde apontar, em sua polivalência característica, para algo que muitos no mundo, hoje, reivindicam: uma nova esquerda, para além dos partidos e Estados (sem excluí-los). Uma esquerda que se inflame dos movimentos constituintes que nascem do solo das lutas, e reverta o Estado e o mercado em nomes  do comum. Uma esquerda que só pode acontecer “nessa de todos nós latino-amarga américa”. Mais do que simples medidas governamentais, nestas políticas intersticiais, algo de um acontecimento histórico teve um mínimo de vazão: aqueles que viveram e morreram por transformações, os espectros das revoluções passadas e futuras, convergiram na construção incipiente de nossa emancipação educacional, racial, cultural e econômica. Uma nova memória e um novo futuro constituíram-se num presente que resistira ao assassinato simbólico da história perpetrado pelo neoliberalismo. A popularidade dos governos Lula tinha como lastro esses interstícios onde a política se tornava uma poética. Já hoje, nas taxas de aprovação do governo Dilma, podemos facilmente reconhecer também as cores deslavadas de um consenso prosaico. O “país rico” agora pacifica-se no mantra desenvolvimentista, retrocedendo em muitas das políticas que tinham vazado. Voltam as velhas injunções progressistas: crescimento econômico para redistribuir! Estado forte! As nuvens ideológicas trazem as águas carregadas do gerencialismo e do funcionalismo tecnocrático: menos política, mais eficiência! Desta maneira, removem-se e expropriam-se os pobres: seja em nome de um Brasil Maior e se seu interesse “público” (Belo Monte, Jirau, Vila Autódromo), seja em nome de um Mercado cada vez Maior e de seu interesse “privado” (Pinheirinho, TKCSA, Porto do Açu). Juntando-se entusiasticamente às equações do mercado, os tratores do progresso varrem a sujeira na construção de um novo “País Rico (e) sem pobreza”. Os pobres e as florestas, as formas de vida que resistem e persistem, se tornam sujeira. A catástrofe ambiental (das florestas e das metrópoles) e cultural (dos índios e dos pobres) é assim pacificada sob o nome do progresso. Dominação do homem e da natureza conjugam-se num pacto fáustico presidido por nenhum Mefistófeles, por nenhuma crise de consciência: já somos o país do futuro!
 
Na política de crescer exponencialmente, só se pensa em eletricidade e esqueceu-se a democracia (os Soviets : Conselhos). Assim, governa-se segundo a férrea lógica – única e autoritária – da racionalidade capitalista. Ataca-se enfim a renda vergonhosa dos “banquiplenos”, mas a baixa dos juros vai para engordar os produtores de carros, essas máquinas sagradas de produção de individualismo, em nome da moral do trabalho. Dessa maneira, progredir significa, na realidade, regredir: regressão política como acontece na gestão autoritária das revoltas dos operários das barragens; regressão econômica e biológica, como acontece com uma expansão das fronteiras agrícolas que serra a duração das relações entre cultura e natureza; regressão da vida urbana, com a remoção de milhares de pobres para abrir o caminho dos megaeventos; regressão da política da cultura viva, em favorecimento das velhas oligarquias e das novas indústrias culturais. O progresso que nos interessa não contém nenhuma hierarquia de valor, ele é concreta transformação qualitativa, “culturmorfologia”.

Este é o imaginário moderno em que a dicotomia prevalece: corpo e alma, natureza e cultura, nós e os outros; cada macaco no seu galho! Estes conceitos resultam em uma visão do mundo que distancia o homem da ecologia e de si mesmo. O que está em questão é a maneira de viver no planeta daqui em diante. É preciso encontrar caminhos para reconciliar estes mundos. Perceber outras configurações relacionais mais móveis, ativar sensibilidades. Fazer dessa revolução um grande caldeirão de desejos que crie formas de cooperação e modos de intercâmbio, recombine e componha novas práticas e perspectivas: mundos. Uma mestiçagem generalizada: nossa cultura é nossa economia e nosso ambiente é nossa cultura: três ecologias!

As lutas da primavera Árabe, do 15M Espanhol, do Occupy Wall Street e do #ocupabrasil gritam por transformação, aonde a base comum que somos nos lança para além do estado de exceção econômico: uma dívida infinita que busca manipular nossos corações e manter-nos acorrentados aos medos. Uma dívida infinita que instaura a perpétua transferência de renda dos 99% dos devedores ao 1% dos credores. Não deixemos que tomem por nós a decisão sobre o que queremos! 

A rede Universidade Nômade se formou há mais de dez anos, entre as mobilizações de Seattle e Gênova, os Fóruns Sociais Mundiais de Porto Alegre e a insurreição Argentina de 2001 contra o neoliberalismo. Foram dois momentos constituintes: o manifesto inicial que chamava pela nomadização das relações de poder/saber, com base nas lutas dos pré-vestibulares comunitários para negros e pobres (em prol da política de cotas raciais e da democratização do acesso ao ensino superior); e o manifesto de 2005 pela radicalização democrática. Hoje, a Universidade Nômade acontece novamente: seu Kairòs (o aqui e agora) é aquele do capitalismo global como crise. Na época da mobilização de toda a vida dentro da acumulação capitalista, o capitalismo se apresenta como crise e a crise como expropriação do comum, destruição do comum da terra. Governa-se a vida: a catástrofe financeira e ambiental é o fato de um controle que precisa separar a vida de si mesma e opõe a barragem aos índios e ribeirinhos de Belo Monte,  as obras aos operários, os megaeventos aos favelados e aos pobres em geral, a dívida aos direitos, a cultura à natureza. Não há nenhum determinismo, nenhuma crise terminal. O capital não tem limites, a não ser aqueles que as lutas sabem e podem construir. A rede Universidade Nômade é um espaço de pesquisa e militância, para pensar as brechas e os interstícios onde se articulam as lutas que determinam esses limites do capital e se abrem ao possível: pelo reconhecimento das dimensões produtivas da vida através da renda universal, pela radicalização democrática através da produção de novas instituições do comum, para além da dialética entre público e privado, pelo ressurgimento da natureza como produção da diferença, como luta e biopolítica de fabricação de corpos pós-econômicos. Corpos atravessados pela antropofagia dos modernistas, pelas cosmologias ameríndias, pelos êxodos quilombolas, pelas lutas dos sem teto, sem terra, precários, índios, negros, mulheres e hackers: por aqueles que esboçam outras formas de viver, mais potentes, mais vivas.

II Fórum Mundial de Mídia Livre fará parte da Cúpula dos Povos, durante a Rio +20 (Revista Fórum)

Envolverde Rio + 20
31/5/2012 – 11h08

por Por Mikaele Teodoro, da Revista Fórum.

Capa62 II Fórum Mundial de Mídia Livre fará parte da Cúpula dos Povos, durante a Rio +20Evento acontece no Rio de Janeiro, nos dias 16 e 17 de junho.

Nos dias 16 e 17 de junho acontece, no Rio de Janeiro, o II Fórum Mundial de Mídia Livre. O evento vai reunir “midialivristas” tais como: representantes de sites, ativistas, rádios e TVs comunitárias, pontos de cultura, coletivos atuantes nas redes sociais e também agências, revistas e emissoras alternativas comprometidas com a luta pelo conhecimento livre. O encontro fará parte da Cúpula dos Povos da Rio+20, evento paralelo à Conferência da ONU sobre desenvolvimento sustentável.

Bia Barbosa, do Coletivo Intervozes, explica que o momento é ideal para discutir a mídia livre. “O II Fórum Mundial de Mídia Livre acontecerá num momento em que a mídia livre e todas as suas formas de organização e expressão ganham espaço no contexto das mobilizações globais por um mundo mais justo, como ocorreu na Primavera Árabe e também nas ocupações realizadas, no último ano, em diversas partes do globo”, destaca.

No II FML, midialivristas de diversos países discutirão temas como alternativas de produção de informação, maneiras de estruturar politicamente a mídia livre internacional, discutir alternativas de financiamento e de compartilhamento de conteúdo, propagar novas possibilidades de atuação disponibilizadas pelas novas tecnologias, entre outros. “Vai ter gente de varias partes do mundo, um grupo grande de pessoas do norte da África, representantes do Uruguai, França, Alemanha e muitos outros”, afirma Bia. “A intenção dos organizadores é atrair diferentes públicos para as discussões. Não queremos tornar o debate muito técnico, comum apenas para os profissionais da comunicação.”

O encontro contará com atividades autogestionadas, além de painéis, debates livres, oficinas e plenárias, e será na Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), ao lado do Aterro do Flamengo.

Confira abaixo a programação:

Dia 16

9h: Abertura – Auditório Pedro Calmon (campus da UFRJ – Urca)
O II Fórum Mundial de Mídia Livre e a Rio+20: A luta da comunicação e da cultura como bens comuns

11h: Painéis simultâneos

Eixo 1 – Direito à Comunicação – Auditório Pedro Calmon (UFRJ – Urca)
Temas em debate: acesso à informação; liberdade de expressão; agressões a jornalistas; criminalização da mídia livre; conglomerados mundiais de comunicação e o discurso hegemônico sobre desenvolvimento

Eixo 2 – Apropriação Tecnológica – Auditório Eletrobras (Casa do Estudante – Flamengo)
Temas em debate: novos modelos organizacionais e econômicos; protocolos livres; liberdade de internet; espectro livre e tecnologia digital (rádio e TV digital); formação para apropriação tecnológica

13h – Almoço

14h – Painel eixo 3: Políticas Públicas – Auditório Pedro Calmon (UFRJ – Urca)
Temas em debate: comunicação e democracia; marcos regulatórios; padrões internacionais e boas práticas de regulação; sistema público de comunicação; rádios comunitárias; rádios livres; sustentabilidade das mídias livres

16h – Atividades autogestionadas – salas de aula ECO (UFRJ – Urca)
Rodas de conversa, desconferências, oficinas, Fórum Extendido

Dia 17

9h – Painéis simultâneos

Eixo 4 – Movimentos Sociais – Auditório Pedro Calmon (UFRJ – Urca)
Temas em debate: Produção de conteúdo e informação pela sociedade civil (incluindo o debate sobre a disputa de valores em torno do desenvolvimento sustentável); as lutas nas redes e nas ruas e o ativismo global; como aumentar o impacto da mídia livre nas lutas sociais; sinergia entre plataformas regionais de informação; troca de experiências e iniciativas; os midialivristas e o processo do Fórum Social Mundial

Mulher, mídia e bens comuns – Auditório Eletrobras (Casa do Estudante – Flamengo)
Temas em debate: invisibilidade e exclusão da história das mulheres; liberdade de expressão e negação da memória; lutas das mulheres nas redes sociais; das Marchas das Vadias às denúncias de discriminação das mulheres na Primavera Árabe; produção de conteúdo pelo direito à igualdade e diversidade de gênero e raça na rede; regulação de mídia e a questão da representação da imagem da mulher; o potencial de impacto desse debate nas redes sociais.

10h30 – Plenária Geral – Auditório Pedro Calmon (UFRJ – Urca)
Organização de estratégias e encaminhamento de propostas para a Plenária de Convergência da Cúpula dos Povos sobre Bens Comuns

13h – Almoço

14h – Atividades autogestionadas – salas de aula ECO (UFRJ – Urca)
Rodas de conversa, desconferências, oficinas, Fórum Extendido

Inscrição de atividades para o II Fórum Mundial de Mídia Livre: http://cupuladospovos.org.br/fmml/

Outras informações:
http://medias-libres.rio20.net
http://forumdemidialivre.org
http://freemediaforum.org

* Publicado originalmente no site da Revista Fórum.

How Twitter Is Used to Share Information After a Disaster (Science Daily)

ScienceDaily (May 22, 2012) — A study from North Carolina State University shows how people used Twitter following the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan, highlighting challenges for using the social media tool to share information. The study also indicates that social media haven’t changed what we communicate so much as how quickly we can disseminate it.

“I wanted to see if Twitter was an effective tool for sharing meaningful information about nuclear risk in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant,” says Dr. Andrew Binder, an assistant professor of communication at NC State and author of a paper describing the work. “I knew people would be sharing information, but I wanted to see whether it was anecdotal or substantive, and whether users were providing analysis and placing information in context.

“In the bigger picture, I wanted to see whether social media is changing the way we communicate, or if we are communicating the same way using different tools.”

Binder searched for Twitter posts, or “tweets,” originating in the United States that specifically referenced “Fukushima Daiichi” – which is the name of the nuclear plant – rather than searching for the term “Fukushima.” This allowed him to target tweets about the plant instead of general references to the tsunami and overarching disaster in the region. Using that as a base, Binder then selected every 20th tweet on each day over the two weeks following the onset of the Fukushima disaster – from March 11 to March 25, 2011 – to create a representative sample of these tweets.

Fifteen percent of the tweets in the sample contained some mention of risk-related terms, such as hazard or exposure, while 17.7 percent of the tweets included language that helped place the events at Fukushima Daiichi and their potential causes or consequences in context. For example, one tweet read “Most of the 100s of workers at Fukushima Daiichi live close to the plant so it’s their families and houses at risk.” Overall, 54 percent of the tweets included hyperlinks to external websites, of which 62.7 percent linked to traditional news sources.

“I found that, initially, tweets that mentioned risk were unlikely to include analysis or information on context,” Binder says. “Similarly, tweets that attempted to help understand events at Fukushima Daiichi rarely mentioned risk. By the time people began tweeting about risk issues in a meaningful way, the initial high level of interest had begun to wane significantly.”

Binder also found that people were more likely to include links to websites as time went on. And, as time passed, a higher percentage of those links were to traditional news sites.

“This highlights a significant problem,” Binder says. “People are clearly looking to news outlets for insight and analysis into disasters such as this one. But news organizations have fewer and fewer reporters who specialize in covering science and technology issues – and those are the very reporters who would be able to provide insight and analysis on these events.”

The study also seems to imply that social media have not significantly changed the content of our communications. “This case, at least, indicates that Twitter is allowing people to share news quickly and easily,” Binder says. “But the news they are sharing is not much different from that available to someone reading a print newspaper – they’re simply getting it sooner.”

Educational Games to Train Middle Schoolers’ Attention, Empathy (Science Daily)

ScienceDaily (May 21, 2012) — Two years ago, at a meeting on science and education, Richard Davidson challenged video game manufacturers to develop games that emphasize kindness and compassion instead of violence and aggression.

With a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the University of Wisconsin-Madison professor is now answering his own call. With Kurt Squire, an associate professor in the School of Education and director of the Games Learning Society Initiative, Davidson received a $1.39 million grant this spring to design and rigorously test two educational games to help eighth graders develop beneficial social and emotional skills — empathy, cooperation, mental focus, and self-regulation.

“By the time they reach the eighth grade, virtually every middle-class child in the Western world is playing smartphone apps, video games, computer games,” says Davidson, the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at UW-Madison. “Our hope is that we can use some of that time for constructive purposes and take advantage of the natural inclination of children of that age to want to spend time with this kind of technology.”

The project grew from the intersection of Davidson’s research on the brain bases of emotion, Squire’s expertise in educational game design, and the Gates Foundation’s interest in preparing U.S. students for college readiness-possessing the skills and knowledge to go on to post-secondary education without the need for remediation.

“Skills of mindfulness and kindness are very important for college readiness,” Davidson explains. “Mindfulness, because it cultivates the capacity to regulate attention, which is the building block for all kinds of learning; and kindness, because the ability to cooperate is important for everything that has to do with success in life, team-building, leadership, and so forth.”

He adds that social, emotional, and interpersonal factors influence how students use and apply their cognitive abilities.

Building on research from the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at UW-Madison’s Waisman Center, the initial stage of the project will focus on designing prototypes of two games. The first game will focus on improving attention and mental focus, likely through breath awareness.

“Breathing has two important characteristics. One is that it’s very boring, so if you’re able to attend to that, you can attend to most other things,” Davidson says. “The second is that we’re always breathing as long as we’re alive, and so it’s an internal cue that we can learn to come back to. This is something a child can carry with him or her all the time.”

The second game will focus on social behaviors such as kindness, compassion, and altruism. One approach may be to help students detect and interpret emotions in others by reading non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and body posture.

“We’ll use insights gleaned from our neuroscience research to design the games and will look at changes in the brain during the performance of these games to see how the brain is actually affected by them,” says Davidson. “Direct feedback from monitoring the brain while students are playing the games will help us iteratively adjust the game design as this work goes forward.”

Their analyses will include neural imaging and behavioral testing before, during, and after students play the games, as well as looking at general academic performance.

The results will help the researchers determine how the games impact students and whether educational games are a useful medium for teaching these behaviors and skills, as well as evaluate whether certain groups of kids benefit more than others.

“Our hope is that we can begin to address these questions with the use of digital games in a way that can be very easily scaled and, if we are successful, to potentially reach an extraordinarily large number of youth,” says Davidson.

Elinor Ostrom´s paper: “A Polycentric Approach for Coping with Climate Change”

A Polycentric Approach for Coping with Climate Change, Policy Research Working Paper 5095, World Bank 2009.

Occupy’s Global May manifesto

May 11, 2012

We are living in a world controlled by forces incapable of giving freedom and dignity to the world’s population (if, indeed, they ever were). A world where we are told ‘there is no alternative’ to the loss of rights achieved through the long, hard struggles of our ancestors.

We find ourselves in a world where success is defined in seeming opposition to the most fundamental values of humanity, such as solidarity and mutual support. Moreover, anything that does not promote competitiveness, selfishness and greed is seen as dysfunctional. This immoral ideology is reinforced by the monopoly of the mainstream media, the instrument that manufactures false consensus around this unfair and unsustainable system.

But we have not remained silent! Our consciousness has awakened, and we have joined the wave of collective consciousness now spreading light and hope to every corner of the world. From Tunisia to Tahrir Square, Madrid to Rejkavik, New York to Brussels, people are rising up. In the Arab Spring, in the dignity of Iceland, in the dignified rage of 15M and Occupy Wall Street. Together we have denounced the status quo. Our effort states clearly ‘enough!’, and has even begun to push changes forward, worldwide.

This is why we, women and men, inhabitants of this planet, are uniting once again to make our voices heard this May 12th. All over the world. We denounce the current condition of our planet, and urge the application of different policies, designed to encourage and promote the common good.

We condemn the current distribution of economic resources whereby only a tiny minority escape poverty and insecurity. Whereby future generations are condemned to a poisoned legacy thanks to the environmental crimes of the rich and powerful. ‘Democratic’ political systems, where they exist, have been emptied of meaning, put to the service of those few interested in increasing the power of corporations and financial institutions, regardless of the fate of the planet and its inhabitants.

We declare the current crisis is not a natural accident. It was caused by the greed of those who would bring the world down, with the help of an economics that has lost its true sense. No longer about management of the common good, but simply an ideology at the service of financial power, seeking to impose measures that stifle billions of people, without asking their opinion. They say there is no alternative. They say we must leave our future in the hands of the same experts who destroy it.

Here and now, we’re back. We have awakened, and not just to complain! Here and now, we aim at the true causes of the crisis: their policies and lies hidden in empty rhetoric. Here and now we propose alternatives, because we want to fix the problem while also moving towards a more democratic world. Simply put, we want a world ruled by the values of liberty, equality, and fraternity – the old dream of our ancestors when they rose against oppression in previous generations, throughout the planet! Simply put we want a world where every woman, man and child is guaranteed the right to the free pursuit of personal and collective happiness.

The statement below does not speak, or claim to speak, on behalf of everyone in the global spring/Occupy/Take the Square movements. This is an attempt by some inside the movements to reconcile statements written and endorsed in the different assemblies around the world. The process of writing the statement was consensus based, open to all, and regularly announced on our international communications platforms, that are also open to all (like the ‘squares’ mailing list, the weekly global roundtables and the ‘international’ facebook group). It was a hard and long process, full of compromises. This statement is offered to people’s assemblies around the world for discussions, revisions and endorsements.

There will be a process of a global dialogue, and this statement is part of it, a work-in-progress. We do not make demands from governments, corporations or parliament members, which some of us see as illegitimate, unaccountable or corrupt. We speak to the people of the world, both inside and outside our movements. We want another world, and such a world is possible:

1. The economy must be put to the service of people’s welfare, and to support and serve the environment, not private profit. We want a system where labour is appreciated by its social utility, not its financial or commercial profit. Therefore, we demand:

  • Free and universal access to health, education from primary school through higher education and housing for all human beings, through appropriate policies to get this. We reject outright the privatization of public services management, and the use of these essential services for private profit.
  • Full respect for children’s rights, including free child care for everyone.
  • Retirement/pension so we may have dignity at all ages. Mandatory universal sick leave and holiday pay.
  • Every human being should have access to an adequate income for their livelihood, so we ask for work or, alternatively, universal basic income guarantee.
  • Corporations should be held accountable to their actions. For example, corporate subsidies and tax cuts should be done away with if said company outsources jobs to decrease salaries, violates the environment or the rights of workers.
  • Apart from bread, we want roses. Everyone has the right to enjoy culture, participate in a creative and enriching leisure at the service of the progress of humankind . Therefore, we demand the progressive reduction of working hours, without reducing income.
  • Food sovereignty through sustainable farming should be promoted as an instrument of food security for the benefit of all. This should include an indefinite moratorium on the production and marketing of GMOs and immediate reduction of agrochemicals use.
  • We demand policies that function under the understanding that our changing patterns of life should be organic/ecologic or should never be. These policies should be based on a simple rule: one should not spoil the balance of ecosystems for simple profit. Violations of this policy should be prosecuted around the world as an environmental crime, with severe sanctions for convicted.
  • Policies to promote the change from fossil fuels to renewable energy, through massive investment which should help to change the production model.
  • We demand the creation of international environmental standards, mandatory for countries, companies, corporations, and individuals. Ecocide (wilful damage to the environment, ecosystems, biodiversity) should be internationally recognised as a crime of the greatest magnitude.

2. To achieve these objectives, we believe that the economy should be run democratically at all levels, from local to global. People must get democratic control over financial institutions, transnational corporations and their lobbies. To this end, we demand:

  • Control and regulation of financial speculation by abolishing tax havens, and establishing a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). As long as they exist, the IMF, World Bank and the Basel Committee on Banking Regulation must be radically democratised. Their duty from now on should be fostering economic development based on democratic decision making. Rich governments cannot have more votes because they are rich. International Institutions must be controlled by the principle that each human is equal to all other humans – African, Argentinian or American; Greek or German.
  • As long as they exist, radical reform and democratisation of the global trading system and the World Trade Organization must take place. Commercialization of life and resources, as well as wage and trade dumping between countries must stop.
  • We want democratic control of the global commons, defined as the natural resources and economic institutions essential for a proper economic management. These commons are: water, energy, air, telecommunications and a fair and stable economic system. In all these cases, decisions must be accountable to citizens and ensure their interests, not the interests of a small minority of financial elite.
  • As long as social inequalities exist, taxation at all levels should maintain the principle of solidarity. Those who have more should contribute to maintain services for the collective welfare. Maximum income should be limited, and minimum income set to reduce the outrageous social divisions in our societies and its social political and economic effects.
  • No more money to rescue banks. As long as debt exists, following the examples of Ecuador and Iceland, we demand a social audit of the debts owed by countries. Illegitimate debt owed to financial institutions should not be paid.
  • Absolute end of fiscal austerity policies that only benefit a minority, and cause great suffering to the majority.
  • As long as banks exist, separation of commercial and financial banks, avoiding banks “too big to fail”.
  • End of the legal personhood of corporations. Companies cannot be elevated to the same level of rights as people. The public’s right to protect workers, citizens and the environment should prevail over the protections of private property or investment.

3. We believe that political systems must be fully democratic. We therefore demand full democratization of international institutions, and the elimination of the veto power of a few governments. We want a political system which really represent the variety and diversity of our societies:

  • All decisions affecting all mankind should be taken in democratic forums like a participatory and direct UN Parliamentary Assembly or a UN people’s assembly, not rich clubs such as G20 or G8.
  • At all levels we ask for the development of a democracy that is as participatory as possible, including non representative direct democracy.
  • As long as they are practiced, electoral systems should be as fair and representative as possible, avoiding biases that distort the principle of proportionality.
  • We call for the democratization of access and management of media (MSM). These should serve to educate the public, as opposed to the creation of an artificial consensus about unjust policies.
  • We ask for democracy in companies and corporations. Workers, despite wage level or gender, should have real decision power in the companies and corporations they work in. We want to promote cooperative companies and corporations, as real democratic economic institutions.
  • Zero tolerance to corruption in economic policy. We must stop the excessive influence of big business in politics, which is today a major threat to true democracy.
  • We demand complete freedom of expression, assembly and demonstration, as well as the cessation of attempts to censor the Internet.
  • We demand respecting privacy rights on and off the internet. Companies and the government should not engaged in data mining.
  • We believe that military spending is politically counterproductive to a society’s advance, so we demand its reduction to a minimum.
  • Ethnic, cultural and sexual minorities should have their civil, cultural, political and economic rights fully recognized.
  • Some of us believe a new Universal Declaration of Human Rights, fit for the 21st century, written in a participatory, direct and democratic way, needs to be written. As long as the current Declaration of Human Rights defines our rights, it must be enforced in relation to all – in both rich and poor countries. Implementing institutions that force compliance and penalize violators need to be established, such as a Global Court to prosecute social, economic and environmental crimes perpetrated by governments, corporations and individuals. At all levels, local, national, regional and global, new constitutions for political institutions need to be considered, like in Iceland or in some Latin American countries. Justice and law must work for all, otherwise justice is not justice, and law is not law.

This is a worldwide Global Spring. We will be there on May 2012; we will fight until we win. We will not stop being people. We are not numbers. We are free women and men.

For a Global Spring!

For global democracy and social justice!

Take to the streets on May 2012!

Charting Hybridised Realities (Tactical Media Files)

Posted on April 15, 2012 by 

This text was originally written for the Re-Public on-line journal, which focuses on innovative developments in contemporary political theory and practice, and is published from Greece. As the journal has ground to a (hopefully just temporary) halt under severe austerity pressures we decided to post the current first draft of the text on the Tactical Media Files blog. This posting is one of two, the second of which will follow shortly. Both texts build on my recent Network Notebook on the ‘Legacies of Tactical Media‘.

The second text is a collection of preliminary notes that expand on recent discussions following Marco Deseriis and Jodi Dean’s essay “A Movement Without Demands”. It is conceivable that both texts will merge into a more substantive essay in the future, but I haven’t made up my mind about that as yet.

Hope this will be of interest,
Eric

Charting Hybridised Realities

Tactical Cartographies for a densified present

In the midst of an enquiry into the legacies of Tactical Media – the fusion of art, politics, and media which had been recognised in the middle 1990s as a particularly productive mix for cultural, social and political activism [1], the year 2011 unfolded. The enquiry had started as an extension of the work on the Tactical Media Files, an on-line documentation resource for tactical media practices worldwide [2], which grew out of the physical archives of the infamous Next 5 Minutes festival series on tactical media (1993 – 2003) housed at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. After making much of tactical media’s history accessible again on-line, our question, as editors of the resource, had been what the current significance of the term and the thinking and practices around it might be?

Prior to 2011 this was something emphatically under question. The Next 5 Minutes festival series had been ended with the 2003 edition, following a year that had started on September 11, 2002, convening local activists gatherings named as Tactical Media Labs across six continents. [3] Two questions were at the heart of the fourth and last edition of the Next 5 Minutes: How has the field of media activism diversified since it was first named ‘tactical media’ in the middle 1990s? And what could be significance and efficacy of tactical media’s symbolic interventions in the midst of the semiotic corruption of the media landscape after the 9/11 terrorist attacks?

This ‘crash of symbols’ for obvious reasons took centre stage during this fourth and last edition of the festival. Naomi Klein had famously claimed in her speedy response to the horrific events of 9/11 that the activist lever of symbolic intervention had been contaminated and rendered useless in the face of the overpowering symbolic power of the terrorist attacks and their real-time mediation on a global scale. [4] The attacks left behind an “utterly transformed semiotic landscape” (Klein) in which the accustomed tactics of culture jammers had been ‘blown away’ by the symbolic power of the terrorist atrocities. Instead ‘we’ (Klein appealing to an imaginary community of social activists) should move from symbols to substance. What Klein overlooked in this response in ‘shock and awe’, however, was that while the semiotic landscape had indeed been dramatically transformed (and corrupted) in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, it still remained a semiotic landscape – symbols were still the only lever and entry point into the wider real-time mediated public domain.

Therefore, as unlikely as it may have seemed at the time, the question about the diversification of the terrain and the practices of media activism(s) was ultimately of far greater importance. What the 9/11 crash of symbols and the semiotic corruption debate contributed here was ‘merely’ an added layer of complexity. In a society permeated by media flows, social activism necessarily had to become media activism, and thus had to operate in a significantly more complex and contested environment. The diversification of the media and information landscape, however, also implied that a radical diversification of activist strategies was needed to address these increasingly hybridised conditions.

To name but a few of the emerging concerns: Witnessing of human rights abuses around the world, and creating public visibility and debate around them remained a pivotal concern for many tactical media practitioners, as it had been right from the early days of camcorder activism. But now new concerns over privacy in networked media environments, coupled with security and secrecy regimes of information control entered the scene. Critical media arts spread in different directions, claiming new terrains as diverse as life sciences and bio-engineering, as well as ‘contestational robotics’, interventions into the space of computer games, and even on-line role playing environments. Meanwhile the free software movement made its strides into developing more autonomous toolsets and infrastructures for a variety of social and cultural needs – adding a more strategic dimension to what had hitherto been mostly an interventionist practice. In a parallel movement on-line discussion groups, mailing lists, and activity on various social media platforms started to coalesce slowly into what media theorist Geert Lovink has described as ‘organised networks’. [5] Or finally the rapid development of wireless transmission technologies, smart phones and other wireless network clients, which introduced a paradoxical superimposition of mediated and embodied spatial logics, best be captured in the multilayered concept of Hybrid Space. [6]

Our question was therefore entirely justified, to ask how the term ‘tactical media’ could possibly bring together such a diversified, heterogeneous, and hybridised set of practices in a meaningful way? It had become clear that more sophisticated cartographies would be necessary to begin charting this intensely hybridised landscape.

A digital conversion of public space

If the events in 2011 have made one thing clear it is that the ominous claim of Critical Art Ensemble that “the streets are dead capital” [7] has been declared null and void by an astounding resurgence of street protest, whatever their longer term political significance and fallout might be. These protests staged in the streets and squares, ranging from anti-austerity protests in Southern Europe to the various uprisings in Arab countries in North Africa and the Middle East, to the Occupy protests in the US and Northern Europe, have by no means been staged in physical spaces out of a rejection of the semiotic corruption of the media space. Much rather the streets and squares have acted as a platform for the digital and networked multiplication of protest across a plethora of distribution channels, cutting right across the spectrum of alternative and mainstream, broadcast and networked media outlets.

What remained true to the origin of the term ‘tactical media’ was to build on Michel de Certeau’s insight that the ‘tactics of the weak’ operate on the terrain of strategic power through highly agile displacements and temporary interventions [8], creating a continuous nomadic movement, giving voice to the voiceless by means of ‘any media necessary’ (Critical Art Ensemble). However, the radical dispersal of wireless and mobile media technologies meant that mediated and embodied public spaces increasingly started to coincide, creating a new hybridised logic for social contestation. As witnessed in the remarkable series of public square occupations in 2011, through the digital conversion of public space the streets have become networks and the squares the medium for collective expression in a transnationally interconnected but still highly discontinuous media network.

Horizontal networks / lateral connections

One of the remarkable characteristics of the various protests is not simply the adoption of similar tactics (most notably occupations of public city squares), but the conscious interlinking of events as they unfold. Italian activists of the Unicommons movement physically linked up with revolting students in Tunisia, Egyptian bloggers and occupiers of Tahrir Square linked up with the ‘take the square’ activists in Spain, who in turn expressed solidarity and even co-initiated transnational actions with #occupy activists in the United States and elsewhere. It is the first time that the new organisational logic of transnational horizontal networks that has been theorised for instance in the seminal work “Territory, Authority, Rights” by sociologist Saskia Sassen, has become so evidently visible in activists practices across a set of radically dispersed geographic assemblages.

Horizontal networks by-pass traditional vertically integrated hierarchies of the local / national / international to create specific spatio-temporal transnational linkages around common interests, but also around affective ties. By and large these ties and linkages are still extra-institutional, largely informal, and because of their radically dispersed make up and their ‘affective’ constitution highly unstable. Political institutions have not even begun assembling an adequate response to these new emergent political constellations (other than traditional repressive instruments of strategic power, i.e. evictions, arrests, prohibitions). Given the structural inequalities that fuel the different strands of protest the longer term effectiveness of these measures remains highly uncertain. The institutional linkages at the moment seem mostly limited to anti-institutional contestation on the part of protestors and repressive gestures of strategic authority. The truly challenging proposition these new transnational linkages suggest, however, is their movement to bypass the nested hierarchies of vertically integrated power structures in a horizontal configuration of social organisation. They link up a bewildering array of local groups, sites, networks, geographies, and cultural contexts and sensitivities, taking seriously for the first time the networked space as a new ‘frontier zone’ (Sassen) where the new constellations of lateral transnational politics are going to be constructed.

Charting the layered densities of hybrid space

Hybrid Space is discontinuous. It’s density is always variable, from place to place, from moment to moment. Presence of carrier signals can be interrupted or restored at any moment. Coverage is never guaranteed. The economics of the wireless network space is a matter of continuous contestation, and transmitters are always accompanied by their own forms of electromagnetic pollution (electrosmog). Charting and navigating this discontinuous and unstable space, certainly for social and political activists, is therefore always a challenge. Some prominent elements in this cartography are emerging more clearly, however:

– connectivity: presence or absence of the signal carrier wave is becoming an increasingly important factor in staging and mediating protest. Exclusive reliance on state and corporate controlled infrastructures thus becomes increasingly perilous.

– censorship: censorship these days comes in many guises. Besides the continued forms of overt repression (arrests, confiscations, closures) of media outlets, new forms are the excessive application of intellectual property rights regimes to weed out unwarranted voices from the media landscape, but also highly effective forms of  dis-information and information overflow, something that has called the political efficacy of a project like WikiLeaks emphatically into question.

– circumvention: Great Information Fire Walls and information blockages are obvious forms of censorship, widely used during the Arab protests and common practice in China, now also spreading throughout the EU (under the guise of anti-piracy laws). These necessitate an ever more sophisticated understanding and deployment of internet censorship circumvention techniques, an understanding that should become common practice for contemporary activists. [9]

– attention economies: attention is a sought after commodity in the informational society. It is also fleeting. (Media-) Activists need to become masters at seizing and displacing public attention. Agility and mobility are indispensable here.

– public imagination management: Strategic operators try to manage public opinion. Activists cannot rely on this strategy. They do not have the means to keep and maintain public opinion in favour of their temporary goals. Instead activists should focus on ‘public imagination management’ – the continuous remembrance that another world is possible.

Beyond semiotic corruption: A perverse subjectivity

The immersion in extended networks of affect that now permeate both embodied and mediated spaces introduces a new and inescapable corruption of subjectivity. Critical theory already taught us that we cannot trust subjectivity. However, the excessive self-mediation of protestors on the public square has shown that a deep desire for subjective articulation drives the manifestation in public. The dynamic is underscored further by upload statistics of video platforms such as youtube that continue to outpace the possibility for the global population to actually see and witness these materials.

Rather than dismissing subjectivity it should be embraced. This requires a new attitude ‘beyond good and evil’, beyond critique and submission. A new perverse subjectivity is able to straddle the seemingly impossible divide between willing submission to various forms of corporate, state and social coercion, and vital social and political critique and contestation. It’s maxim here: Relish your own commodification, embrace your perverse subjectivity, in order to escape the perversion of subjectivity.

Eric Kluitenberg
Amsterdam, April 15, 2012.

References:

1 – See: David Garcia & Geert Lovink, The ABC of Tactical Media, May 1997, a.o.:
www.tacticalmediafiles.net/article.jsp?objectnumber=37996

2 – www.tacticalmediafiles.net

3 – Documentation of the Tactical Media Labs events can be found at:
www.n5m4.org

4 – Naomi Klein – Signs of the Times, in The Nation, October 5, 2001.
Archived at: www.tacticalmediafiles.net/article.jsp?objectnumber=46632

5 – Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter, Dawn of the Organised Networks, in; Fibreculture Journal, Issue 5, 2005.
http://five.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-029-dawn-of-the-organised-networks/

6 – See my article The Network of Waves, and the theme issue Hybrid Space of Open – Journal for Art and the Public Domain, Amsterdam, 2006;
www.tacticalmediafiles.net/article.jsp?objectnumber=48405
(the complete issue is linked as pdf file to the article).

7 – Critical Art Ensemble, Digital Resistance, Autonomedia, New York, 2001.
www.critical-art.net/books/digital/

8 – Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, University of California Press, 1984.

9 – A useful manual can be found here: www.flossmanuals.net/bypassing-censorship/

A internet está cada vez mais política (Folha de S.Paulo)

JC e-mail 4464, de 27 de Março de 2012.

fonte: http://www.jornaldaciencia.org.br/Detalhe.jsp?id=81741

O advogado Marcel Leonardi foi um dos principais colaboradores na discussão pública que elaborou o Marco Civil da Internet, projeto de lei proposto pelo Ministério da Justiça para traçar princípios como neutralidade e privacidade na internet brasileira. Tempos depois, Leonardi foi chamado para assumir o posto de diretor de políticas públicas do Google no Brasil.

Em outras palavras, ele é o responsável por conversar com o governo, articular a defesa dos usuários em casos como o da cobrança do Escritório Central de Arrecadação e Distribuição (Ecad) sobre vídeos do YouTube embedados em blogs e levar à esfera pública princípios básicos da internet.

Tanto é que ele vive entre idas e vindas de Brasília e participa de audiências públicas para expor a opinião do Google – e a sua – sobre projetos de leis em discussão que afetam a maneira como as pessoas usam a internet, como o Código de Defesa do Consumidor, a Lei de Direitos Autorais e o próprio Marco Civil da Internet.

O advogado também responde questionamentos em nome do Google. Recentemente, o Ministério da Justiça exigiu explicações sobre as mudanças das regras de privacidade. A empresa, afinal, é custeada por publicidade – e neste modelo, os dados pessoais dos usuários têm muito valor. E é neste ponto em que os interesses da empresa e os dos usuários se distanciam. Leonardi diz que é uma questão de conscientização dos usuários sobre as novas regras.

Vestindo camiseta e calça jeans, sem o terno habitual, o articulador do Google deixa claro: hoje as empresas também fazem política. Cada vez mais.

O Ministério da Justiça questionou as mudanças na política de privacidade do Google. O que vocês responderam?

A gente está disposto a trabalhar com as autoridades. Há muita apreensão do que a gente faz em relação à privacidade, mas há pouca compreensão. Antes o Google tinha políticas separadas por produtos. Mas todas elas, com exceção de duas, já diziam que dados de um serviço poderiam ser utilizados em outros serviços. Então a unificação não alterou nada. Os dados que a gente coleta são os mesmos. As exceções eram o YouTube, que tinha uma política própria, e o histórico de buscas, que hoje expressamente pode ser usado em outros produtos do Google.

O que é preocupante.

A gente não considera assustador porque damos ao usuário as ferramentas para ele controlar isso. O usuário acessa o painel de controle e diz se quer ou não manter o histórico da busca. A pessoa pode desativar completamente. Seria assustador se acontecesse sem o usuário saber o que está acontecendo. Todas as empresas do setor adotam esse modelo.

Os dados pessoais são valiosos, e as pessoas não têm ideia do que é feito com as informações.

A mudança passou pelo maior esforço de notificação da história do Google. Anunciamos no dia 24 de janeiro, e elas só entraram em vigor no dia 1º de março. Durante todo esse período, tinha um aviso em todas as páginas. A lógica era reduzir o “legalês”, porque a indústria de internet sempre ouviu que as políticas e termos de uso tinham de ser mais claros. Enxugamos radicalmente, só que cai nesse problema: em que momento você consegue forçar alguém a ler? As pessoas sempre dizem que estão preocupadas com a privacidade, mas agem diferente.

O Google foi condenado recentemente por causa de uma postagem no Orkut. A responsabilização de empresas por conteúdo de usuários é recorrente?

É um debate antigo. Mundialmente existe o conceito de que a plataforma não é responsável. Nos EUA e na Europa a lei diz isso expressamente. O Brasil ainda não tem uma lei específica. Uma das propostas é o Marco Civil da Internet, que diz que a responsabilidade só será derivada do descumprimento de uma ordem judicial. Na ausência de leis, os tribunais analisam caso a caso. O Google sempre recorre para mostrar que, pela lógica e pelo bom senso, não existe responsabilidade da plataforma.

Como funciona o processo de remoção de conteúdo, por exemplo, um post de um blog?

Em casos de direito autoral, o Google recebe a notificação de alguém que demonstra que é titular daquele direito e que aquilo não foi autorizado, e existe a verificação se isso viola ou não. Mas existem alguns requisitos. Na lei americana, há os requisitos do DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act, lei de direitos autorais sancionada em 1998). No Brasil, da lei autoral.

O próprio Google verifica?

Existem os times internos que avaliam. Se há infração, a remoção acontece sem intervenção judicial, porque está de acordo com a nossa política de não permitir violação de direito autoral.

Concorda com a proposta do Ministério da Cultura, na nova Lei de Direitos Autorais, de institucionalizar um mecanismo de notificação?

Ainda é controverso. Eles pretendiam incluir o mecanismo que transforma em lei uma prática que muitas empresas adotam. O problema desse modelo é que dá margem para muito abuso. A gente vê muito isso nos EUA. Todo mundo tenta enquadrar própria situação em uma violação para justificar uma remoção.

Por que vocês se posicionaram contra a cobrança do Ecad sobre vídeos do YouTube?

Percebemos uma distorção na postura do Ecad. Achamos importantíssimo deixar pública a nossa posição de que não compactuávamos com aquilo, de que a interpretação da lei estava errada. O grande problema é que os novos modelos de negócio querem florescer, mas eles vêem uma interpretação antiga da lei autoral e isso impede que eles cresçam. O Spotify é um exemplo. O sujeito paga 10 euros e tem acesso a milhões de músicas. Muitas vezes a pirataria nada mais é que uma demanda reprimida que o mercado não está cumprindo.

A reforma da lei de direitos autorais é um avanço?

É uma incógnita. Tenho a impressão de que a versão intermediária é um pouco mais aberta e amigável para esses modelos. Tinha a licença compulsória, que era interessante, e uma linguagem que permitiria um uso mais flexível.

Vocês opinaram nesse texto?

A gente participa dos debates, mas depois da consulta pública a coisa fica fechada. No Congresso dá para conversar. É importante. Inclusive, se não fossem os ativistas, muita coisa de regulação de internet no Brasil teria sido diferente. Toda a oposição à lei Azeredo, toda a pressão para o Marco Civil, é fruto do engajamento. Nos EUA, a o caso Sopa foi interessante. O fato da Wikipedia ter saído do ar apavorou muita gente. Foi só aí que houve conscientização sobre os riscos da lei.

Essa lei nos EUA provocou um movimento em defesa dos princípios da internet. As empresas estão assumindo uma postura política?

Não tem como a gente não pensar politicamente hoje. Não dá para olhar para o próprio umbigo e pensar que enquanto o negócio vai bem não é preciso conversar. Porque existem questões acima. Quando a gente pensa politicamente é isso, todas as empresas do setor tendem a conversar e entender melhor como isso funciona.

Há necessidade de uma lei atualizada de cibercrimes?

Existe a necessidade do juiz ou de quem trabalha com direito criminal entender melhor a internet. Porque a maior parte do que está na lei já funciona. Não podemos correr o risco de adotar um texto tão genérico ao ponto de você estar lá fuçando no celular, sem querer você invade um sistema e vão dizer que você cometeu um crime.

O Brasil ainda é líder nos pedidos de remoção de conteúdo?

Sim. No nosso relatório de transparência constam todas as requisições do governo ou da Justiça de remoção de conteúdo. O Brasil é líder em remoções porque aqui é fácil. Você pode ir sem custo e sem advogado a um tribunal de pequenas causas e pedir uma liminar para tirar um blog do ar. Além disso, muita gente está acostumada com a cultura de “na dúvida, vamos pedir para remover”.

O que pode instituir a censura.

É. A gente já se deparou com casos assustadores. Está crescendo o número de empresas criticadas por consumidores que entram com uma ação para remover qualquer referência negativa.

(Folha de São Paulo)

Community Media: A Good Practice Handbook (UNESCO)

Compiled and edited by Steve Buckley

Published by UNESCO and available free online at:
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002150/215097E.pdf

Among its activities to mark World Radio Day 2012, UNESCO has
launched a new good practice handbook with case studies of community
media from around the world. The publication draws on a diversity of
experiences to provide inspiration and support for those engaged in
community media practice and advocacy and to raise awareness and
understanding of community media among policy makers and other stakeholders.

13 February has been proclaimed by UNESCO as a date to celebrate
radio broadcast, improve international cooperation among radio
broadcasters and encourage decision-makers to create and provide
access to information through radio. Community Media: A Good Practice
Handbook is a compilation of 30 community radio and other community
media examples demonstrating successful approaches to strengthening
public voice.

“The value of this publication lies in the fact that it highlights
problems while at the same time offering possible solutions. It
presents a useful empirical basis for replicating time-tested
decisions about how community media can become an even more effective
element of a free, independent and pluralistic media system of any
democratic society. This book will be a useful reference to community
media practitioners, policy-makers, researchers, community
organizers, and other media development stakeholders.”

From the Foreword by Wijayananda Jayaweera, former Director,
Communication Development Division/IPDC, UNESCO, Paris

Government Bureaucrats Still Unable to Write or Speak in Plain Language (Reason/Washington Post)

Ed Krayewski | April 10, 2012

Government transparencyThis week federal agencies are supposed to update Congress on progress made in implementing the Plain Writing Act, passed in 2010, which mandates that government documents be written in clear, plain language, not impenetrable legalese. The Washington Post reports federal agencies are a long way off from compliance.

Why? From the Post:

[W]ith no penalty for inaction on the agencies’ part, advocates worry that plain writing has fallen to the bottom of the to-do list, like many another unfunded mandate imposed by Congress. They say many agencies have heeded the 2010 law merely by appointing officials, creating working groups and setting up Web sites.

In Plain English, that means the law lacks the substance to prevent federal agencies from simply creating new bureaucracies to say they’re in compliance with it, kind of like the “Paperwork Reduction Act” notice at the end of government forms.

*   *   *

Advocates of the Plain Writing Act prod federal agencies to keep it simple (Washington Post)

By Lisa Rein, Published: April 8

Federal agencies must report their progress this week in complying with the Plain Writing Act, a new decree that government officials communicate more conversationally with the public.Speaking plainly, they ain’t there yet.

Which leaves, in the eyes of some, a basic and critical flaw in how the country runs. “Government is all about telling people what to do,” said Annetta Cheek, a retired federal worker from Falls Church and longtime evangelist for plain writing. “If you don’t write clearly, they’re not going to do it.”

But advocates such as Cheek estimate that federal officials have translated just 10 percent of their forms, letters, directives and other documents into “clear Government communication that the public can understand and use,” as the law requires.Official communications must now employ the active voice, avoid double negatives and use personal pronouns. “Addressees” must now become, simply, “you.” Clunky coinages like “incentivizing” (first known usage 1970) are a no-no. The Code of Federal Regulations no longer goes by the abbreviation CFR.

But with no penalty for inaction on the agencies’ part, advocates worry that plain writing has fallen to the bottom of the to-do list, like many another unfunded mandate imposed by Congress. They say many agencies have heeded the 2010 law merely by appointing officials, creating working groups and setting up Web sites.

What’s more, the law’s demand for clearer language seems like make-work to skeptics who say there is no money to pay for the promotion of clarity and that the status quo is the best path to accuracy.

“It’s definitely an ongoing battle,” said Glenn Ellmers, plain-writing coordinator for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “We’re trying pretty hard. But when you’re talking about something as complex as a nuclear power plant, you can’t get around specialized language. The really technical people take a little pride in using it.”

As a concession to them, the commission is simplifying only the cover letters of plant inspection reports, while leaving intact the highly technical and all-but-impenetrable text of the actual documents.

“Part of this is we have a change in culture,” said Ed Burbol, the Defense Department’s plain-language coordinator, who oversees two full-time staff members assigned to promoting clearer communication. “We’re going to encounter resistance.”

A retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, Burbol acknowledged that “some people here can write very well and some people can’t write at all,” a problem he attributes to the large number of service members who return to work as civilians.

Consider the next sentence: “This subpart identifies those products in which the Administrator has found an unsafe condition as described in Sec. 39.1 and, as appropriate, prescribes inspections and the conditions and limitations, if any, under which those products may continue to be operated.”

And here’s the revision of the sentence, a Federal Aviation Administration guideline, by the nonprofit Center for Plain Language: “Airworthiness directives specify inspections you must carry out, conditions and limitations you must comply with, and any actions you must take to resolve an unsafe condition.”

Cheek, the retired federal worker, still devotes at least 20 hours a week to the tiny nonprofit plain-language center she founded for federal employees. To inspire healthy competition when the law passed two years ago, the group started giving out annual awards for the best and worst of government-speak, including a Turn-Around prize for most improved agency. The annual ClearMark awards banquet, scheduled this year for May 22, is held at the National Press Club.In this era of shrinking government, advocates of plain writing say their causecan actually save money.

They cite Washington state’s “Plain Talk” program: A revamped letter tripled the number of businesses paying a commonly ignored use tax, bringing $2 million in new revenue in a year, according to law professor Joseph Kimble, author of a forthcoming book on the benefits of plain language.

And after the Department of Veterans Affairs revised one of its letters, calls to a regional call center dropped from about 1,100 a year to about 200, Kimble said.“People complain about government red tape and getting government out of your hair,” said Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), House sponsor of the Plain Writing Act. “If every one of these forms was written in plain language, the number of contacts to federal agencies would plummet.” He’s started a “Stop B.S.” (for “Bureaucrat Speak”) campaign soliciting examples of badly written public documents.

The law exempts regulations from its mandate for clearer communication, although last fall the Obama administration ordered agencies to write a summary of their technical proposed or final regulations, and post it at the top of the text.

But Braley says that’s not enough. He’s introduced a bill to extend the law to the full text of regulations so ordinary people can understand them.

Americans have always loved plain talkers. But at some point, scholars point out, inscrutable language became associated with high status.

“A lot of people in government wield their jargon to make themselves seem very impressive,” said Karen Schriver, a plain-language expert at Carnegie Mellon University.

There have been many attempts to turn this trend around, including at the presidential level. Richard Nixon required that the Federal Register be written in “layman’s terms.” Jimmy Carter issued executive orders to make government regulations “cost-effective” and easy to understand. (Ronald Reagan rescinded the orders.)

The Clinton White House revived plain language as a major initiative, and Vice President Al Gore presented monthly “No Gobbledygook” awards to federal workers who translated jargon into readable language.

None of these efforts stuck, although some agencies — including Veterans Affairs and the Internal Revenue Service — took the mission seriously. The IRS won the Center for Plain Language’s top prize last year for “intelligible writing in public life.”

And then there is the difficulty of promoting revision while preserving precision. At a January meeting of the Plain Language Information & Action Network, a group of federal employees devoted to the cause, members from 20 federal agencies listened as Meredith Weberg, an editor at the Veterans Affairs inspector general’s office, described how she butted up against an “obstinate” boss.

In attempting to simplify a handbook for auditors, Weberg changed “concur” and “not concur” to “agree” and “disagree.” The manager changed it back.

One of her allies in the cause of plain writing had to, well, concur with the boss’s decision. “A concurring opinion says Justice so-and-so agrees with the conclusion of the court,” said Ken Meardan, who writes regulations for the Agriculture Department. “He may not agree” with the reasoning.

Weberg said she let this one go.

The new law is hitting larger obstacles.

“They didn’t really make it plain as to what my responsibilities are,” said the newly appointed plain-language coordinator at the Department of Transportation, describing her assignment from management. She looked bewildered.

Her counterpart at the U.S. Agency for International Development had an even bigger problem: She could not get behind an electronic firewall for online training.

“We have a lot of classified information,” Christine Brown told the group. “We’re not getting very far with this. No one has the resources.”

USAID has appointed a plain-language committee. But it is just starting to train its members to write plainly.

“A lot of people didn’t think this was the kind of thing you should do a law about,” Cheek said. “We’ll see if it works.”

What the World Is Made Of (Discovery Magazine)

by Sean Carroll

I know you’re all following the Minute Physics videos (that we talked about here), but just in case my knowledge is somehow fallible you really should start following them. After taking care of why stones are round, and why there is no pink light, Henry Reich is now explaining the fundamental nature of our everyday world: quantum field theory and the Standard Model. It’s a multi-part series, since some things deserve more than a minute, dammit.

Two parts have been posted so far. The first is just an intro, pointing out something we’ve already heard: the Standard Model of Particle physics describes all the world we experience in our everyday lives.

The second one, just up, tackles quantum field theory and the Pauli exclusion principle, of which we’ve been recently speaking. (Admittedly it’s two minutes long, but these are big topics!)

The world is made of fields, which appear to us as particles when we look at them. Something everyone should know.

19 Climate Games that Could Change the Future (Climate Interactive Blog)

By 

March 9, 2012 – 10:13 a.m.

The prevalence of games in our culture provides an opportunity to increase the understanding of our global challenges. In 2008 the Pew Research Centerestimated that over half of American adults played video games and 80% of young Americans play video games. The vast majority of these games serve purely to entertain. There are a growing number of games that aim to make a difference, however. These games range from those that show players the complexity of creating adequate aid packages and delivering them to places in need to games thatrequire people to get out and work to improve their communities to do well in the game.

Looking at the climate change challenge there are a number of games and interactive tools to broaden our understanding of the dynamics involved.Climate Interactive, for one, has led the development of the role-playing game World Climate, which simulates the UN climate change negotiations and is being adopted from middle school all the way up to executive management-level classrooms. Many are recognizing the power of games and everyone from government agencies to NGOs to a group of teenagers is trying to launch a game to help address climate change. Below are some of the climate and sustainability-related games we’ve found. Let us know if you’ve found others.

Computer Games:

Climate Challenge

1. Climate Challenge: The player acts as a European leader who must make decisions for their nation to reduce CO2 emissions, but must also keep in mind public and international approval, energy, food, and financial needs.

2. Fate of the World: A PC game that challenges players to solve the crises facing the Earth from natural disasters and climate change to political uprisings and international relations.

3. CEO2: A game that puts players at the head of a company in one of four industries. The player must then make decisions to reduce the CO2 and maintain (and increase) the company’s value.

4. VGas: Users build a house and select the best furnishing and lifestyle choices to have the lowest carbon footprint.

5. CO2FX: A multi-player educational game, designed for students in high school, which explores the relationship of climate change to economic, political, and science policy decisions.

6. “Operation: Climate Control” Game: A multi-player computer game where the player’s role is to decide on local environmental policy for Europe through the 21st century.

My2050

7. My2050: An interactive game to determine a scenario for the UK to lower its CO2 emissions 20% below 1990 levels by 2050. The user can select from adjustments in sectors from energy to transit.

8. Plan it Green: Gamers act as the planners of a city to revitalize it to become a greener town through energy retrofits, clean energy jobs, and green building.

9. Logicity: A game that challenges players to reduce their carbon footprints by making decisions in a virtual city.

10. Electrocity: A game designed for school children in New Zealand to plan a city that balances the needs of energy, development, and the environment.

11. Climate Culture: A virtual social networking game based on players’ actual carbon footprints and lifestyle choices. Players compete to earn badges and awards for their decisions.

12. World Without Oil: An alternate reality game that was played out on blogs and other social media platforms for 32 weeks in 2007 by thousands of players to simulate what might happen if there was an oil crisis and oil became inaccessible. Participants wrote blogs and made videos about their experience as if it was real.

13. SimCity 5 (coming 2013): With over 20 years of experience and millions of players the SimCity series has captured imaginations by putting players in control of developing cities. Recently announced, SimCity 5 will add among other things the need to face sustainability challenges like climate change, limited natural resources, and urban walkability.

Role-playing Games:

14. World Climate Exercise: A role-playing game for groups that simulates the UN climate change negotiations by dividing the group into regional and national negotiating teams to negotiate a treaty to 2 degrees or less. 

15. “Stabilization Wedge” Game: A game to show participants the different ways to cut carbon emissions, through the concept of wedges.

Board Games:

16. Climate Catan: Building on the widely popular board game Settlers of Catan, this version adds oil as resource that spurs development but if too much is used it also instigates a climate related disaster which can ruin development.

17. Climate-Poker: A card game with the aim to have the largest climate conference in order to address climate change.

18. Keep Cool- Gambling with the Climate: Players take on the roles of national political leaders trying to address climate change and must make decisions about the type of growth and balance the desires of lobby groups and challenges of natural disasters.

19. Polar Eclipse Game: A game where players navigate different decisions in order to chart a path to future that avoids the worst temperature rise.

Lessons from Gaming for Climate Wonks and Leaders — Video

By 

Games can help us ensure that climate and energy analysis gets used to make a difference. Last week at the Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshopin Miami, Climate Interactive co-director Drew Jones, gave a keynote presentation to an audience of climate analysts, many who are working to communicate the massive amount of climate data to the public.

In Drew’s speech below, he draws out the key things that we are learning from games, like Angry Birds, Farmville, World of Warcraft, and the existing efforts to integrate climate change into games. Also included in this presentation, but left out of the video, was a condensed version of the World Climate Exercise, a game that Climate Interactive has developed to help people explore the complex dynamics encountered at the international climate change negotiations.

Next Buddha Will Be A Collective (p2pfoundation.net)

Religious and spiritual expression is always embedded in societal structures. If social structures are moving towards the form of distributed networks, what kind of evolution of spiritual expression can we expect? In this essay, we will first describe the general societal changes that we see emerging, and expect to become more prevalent in the future, then examine to what degree these changes will have an impact on individual and collective spiritual expression. The reader has to bear with us in the first general part, which explains the peer to peer dynamic, in order to understand its application to spirituality, which is the subject of the second part of the essay. Finally, in the third and final part, we will discuss a few concrete examples.

Read it here.

Desafios do “tsunami de dados” (FAPESP)

Lançado pelo Instituto Microsoft Research-FAPESP de Pesquisas em TI, o livro O Quarto Paradigma debate os desafios da eScience, nova área dedicada a lidar com o imenso volume de informações que caracteriza a ciência atual

07/11/2011

Por Fábio de Castro

Agência FAPESP – Se há alguns anos a falta de dados limitava os avanços da ciência, hoje o problema se inverteu. O desenvolvimento de novas tecnologias de captação de dados, nas mais variadas áreas e escalas, tem gerado um volume tão imenso de informações que o excesso se tornou um gargalo para o avanço científico.

Nesse contexto, cientistas da computação têm se unido a especialistas de diferentes áreas para desenvolver novos conceitos e teorias capazes de lidar com a enxurrada de dados da ciência contemporânea. O resultado é chamado de eScience.

Esse é o tema debatido no livro O Quarto Paradigma – Descobertas científicas na era da eScience, lançado no dia 3 de novembro pelo Instituto Microsoft Research-FAPESP de Pesquisas em TI.

Organizado por Tony Hey, Stewart Tansley, Kristin Tolle – todos da Microsoft Research –, a publicação foi lançada na sede da FAPESP, em evento que contou com a presença do diretor científico da Fundação, Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz.

Durante o lançamento, Roberto Marcondes Cesar Jr., do Instituto de Matemática e Estatística (IME) da Universidade de São Paulo (USP), apresentou a palestra “eScience no Brasil”. “O Quarto Paradigma: computação intensiva de dados avançando a descoberta científica” foi o tema da palestra de Daniel Fay, diretor de Terra, Energia e Meio Ambiente da MSR.

Brito Cruz destacou o interesse da FAPESP em estimular o desenvolvimento da eScience no Brasil. “A FAPESP está muito conectada a essa ideia, porque muitos dos nossos projetos e programas apresentam essa necessidade de mais capacidade de gerenciar grandes conjuntos de dados. O nosso grande desafio está na ciência por trás dessa capacidade de lidar com grandes volumes de dados”, disse.

Iniciativas como o Programa FAPESP de Pesquisa sobre Mudanças Climáticas Globais (PFPMCG), o BIOTA-FAPESP e o Programa FAPESP de Pesquisa em Bioenergia (BIOEN) são exemplos de programas que têm grande necessidade de integrar e processar imensos volumes de dados.

“Sabemos que a ciência avança quando novos instrumentos são disponibilizados. Por outro lado, os cientistas normalmente não percebem o computador como um novo grande instrumento que revoluciona a ciência. A FAPESP está interessada em ações para que a comunidade científica tome consciência de que há grandes desafios na área de eScience”, disse Brito Cruz.

O livro é uma coleção de 26 ensaios técnicos divididos em quatro seções: “Terra e meio ambiente”, “Saúde e bem-estar”, “Infraestrutura científica” e “Comunicação acadêmica”.

“O livro fala da emergência de um novo paradigma para as descobertas científicas. Há milhares de anos, o paradigma vigente era o da ciência experimental, fundamentada na descrição de fenômenos naturais. Há algumas centenas de anos, surgiu o paradigma da ciência teórica, simbolizado pelas leis de Newton. Há algumas décadas, surgiu a ciência computacional, simulando fenômenos complexos. Agora, chegamos ao quarto paradigma, que é o da ciência orientada por dados”, disse Fay.

Com o advento do novo paradigma, segundo ele, houve uma mudança completa na natureza da descoberta científica. Entraram em cena modelos complexos, com amplas escalas espaciais e temporais, que exigem cada vez mais interações multidisciplinares.

“Os dados, em quantidade incrível, são provenientes de diferentes fontes e precisam também de abordagem multidisciplinar e, muitas vezes, de tratamento em tempo real. As comunidades científicas também estão mais distribuídas. Tudo isso transformou a maneira como se fazem descobertas”, disse Fay.

A ecologia, uma das áreas altamente afetadas pelos grandes volumes de dados, é um exemplo de como o avanço da ciência, cada vez mais, dependerá da colaboração entre pesquisadores acadêmicos e especialistas em computação.

“Vivemos em uma tempestade de sensoriamento remoto, sensores terrestres baratos e acesso a dados na internet. Mas extrair as variáveis que a ciência requer dessa massa de dados heterogêneos continua sendo um problema. É preciso ter conhecimento especializado sobre algoritmos, formatos de arquivos e limpeza de dados, por exemplo, que nem sempre é acessível para o pessoal da área de ecologia”, explicou.

O mesmo ocorre em áreas como medicina e biologia – que se beneficiam de novas tecnologias, por exemplo, em registros de atividade cerebral, ou de sequenciamento de DNA – ou a astronomia e física, à medida que os modernos telescópios capturam terabytes de informação diariamente e o Grande Colisor de Hádrons (LHC) gera petabytes de dados a cada ano.

Instituto Virtual

Segundo Cesar Jr., a comunidade envolvida com eScience no Brasil está crescendo. O país tem 2.167 cursos de sistemas de informação ou engenharia e ciências da computação. Em 2009, houve 45 mil formados nessas áreas e a pós-graduação, entre 2007 e 2009, tinha 32 cursos, mil orientadores, 2.705 mestrandos e 410 doutorandos.

“A ciência mudou do paradigma da aquisição de dados para o da análise de dados. Temos diferentes tecnologias que produzem terabytes em diversos campos do conhecimento e, hoje, podemos dizer que essas áreas têm foco na análise de um dilúvio de dados”, disse o membro da Coordenação da Área de Ciência e Engenharia da Computação da FAPESP.

Em 2006, a Sociedade Brasileira de Computação (SBC) organizou um encontro a fim de identificar os problemas-chave e os principais desafios para a área. Isso levou a diferentes propostas para que o Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) criasse um programa específico para esse tipo de problema.

“Em 2009, realizamos uma série de workshops na FAPESP, reunindo, para discutir essa questão, cientistas de áreas como agricultura, mudanças climáticas, medicina, transcriptômica, games, governo eletrônico e redes sociais. A iniciativa resultou em excelentes colaborações entre grupos de cientistas com problemas semelhantes e originou diversas iniciativas”, disse César Jr.

As chamadas do Instituto Microsoft Research-FAPESP de Pesquisas em TI, segundo ele, têm sido parte importante do conjunto de iniciativas para promover a eScience, assim como a organização da Escola São Paulo de Ciência Avançada em Processamento e Visualização de Imagens Computacionais. Além disso, a FAPESP tem apoiado diversos projetos de pesquisa ligados ao tema.

“A comunidade de eScience em São Paulo tem trabalhado com profissionais de diversas áreas e publicado em revistas de várias delas. Isso é indicação de qualidade adquirida pela comunidade para encarar o grande desafio que teremos nos próximos anos”, disse César Jr., que assina o prefácio da edição brasileira do livro.

  • O Quarto Paradigma
    Organizadores: Tony Hey, Stewart Tansley e Kristin Tolle
    Lançamento: 2011
    Preço: R$ 60
    Páginas: 263
    Mais informações: www.ofitexto.com.br

O futuro da ciência está na colaboração (Valor Econômico)

JC e-mail 4376, de 01 de Novembro de 2011.

Texto de Michael Nielsen publicado no The Wall Street Journal e divulgado pelo Valor Econômico.

Um matemático da Universidade de Cambridge chamado Tim Gowers decidiu em janeiro de 2009 usar seu blog para realizar um experimento social inusitado. Ele escolheu um problema matemático difícil e tentou resolvê-lo abertamente, usando o blog para apresentar suas ideias e como estava progredindo. Ele convidou todo mundo para contribuir com ideias, na esperança de que várias mentes unidas seriam mais poderosas que uma. Ele chamou o experimento de Projeto Polímata (“Polymath Project”).

Quinze minutos depois de Gowers abrir o blog para discussão, um matemático húngaro-canadense publicou um comentário. Quinze minutos depois, um professor de matemática do ensino médio dos Estados Unidos entrou na conversa. Três minutos depois disso, o matemático Terence Tao, da Universidade da Califórnia em Los Angeles, também comentou. A discussão pegou fogo e em apenas seis semanas o problema foi solucionado.

Embora tenham surgido outros desafios e os colaboradores dessa rede nem sempre tenham encontrado todas as soluções, eles conseguiram criar uma nova abordagem para solucionar problemas. O trabalho deles é um exemplo das experiências com ciência colaborativa que estão sendo feitas para estudar desde de galáxias até dinossauros.

Esses projetos usam a internet como ferramenta cognitiva para amplificar a inteligência coletiva. Essas ferramentas são um meio de conectar as pessoas certas com os problemas certos na hora certa, ativando o que é um conhecimento apenas latente.

A colaboração em rede tem o potencial de acelerar extraordinariamente o número de descobertas da ciência como um todo. É provável que assistiremos a uma mudança mais fundamental na pesquisa científica nas próximas décadas do que a ocorrida nos últimos três séculos.

Mas há obstáculos grandes para alcançar essa meta. Embora pareça natural que os cientistas adotem essas novas ferramentas de descobrimento, na verdade eles têm demonstrado uma inibição surpreendente. Iniciativas como o Projeto Polímata continuam sendo exceção, não regra.

Considere a simples ideia de compartilhar dados científicos on-line. O melhor exemplo disso é o projeto do genoma humano, cujos dados podem ser baixados por qualquer um. Quando se lê no noticiário que um certo gene foi associado a alguma doença, é praticamente certo que é uma descoberta possibilitada pela política do projeto de abrir os dados.

Apesar do valor enorme de divulgar abertamente os dados, a maioria dos laboratórios não faz um esforço sistemático para compartilhar suas informações com outros cientistas. Como me disse um biólogo, ele estava “sentado no genoma” de uma nova espécie inteira há mais de um ano. Uma espécie inteira! Imagine as descobertas cruciais que outros cientistas poderiam ter feito se esse genoma tivesse sido carregado num banco de dados aberto.

Por que os cientistas não gostam de compartilhar?

Se você é um cientista buscando um emprego ou financiamento de pesquisa, o maior fator para determinar seu sucesso será o número de publicações científicas que já conseguiu. Se o seu histórico for brilhante, você se dará bem. Se não for, terá problemas. Então você dedica seu cotidiano de trabalho à produção de artigos para revistas acadêmicas.

Mesmo que ache pessoalmente que seria muito melhor para a ciência como um todo se você organizasse e compartilhasse seus dados na internet, é um tempo que o afasta do “verdadeiro” trabalho de escrever os artigos. Compartilhar dados não é algo a que seus colegas vão dar crédito, exceto em poucas áreas.

Há outras áreas em que os cientistas ainda estão atrasados no uso das ferramentas on-line. Um exemplo são os “wikis” criadas por pioneiros corajosos em assuntos como computação quântica, teoria das cordas e genética (um wiki permite o compartilhamento e edição colaborativa de um conjunto de informações interligadas, e o site Wikipedia é o mais conhecido deles).

Os wikis especializados podem funcionar como obras de referência atualizadas sobre as pesquisas mais recentes de um campo, como se fossem livros didáticos que evoluem ultrarrápido. Eles podem incluir descrições de problemas científicos importantes que ainda não foram resolvidos e podem servir de ferramenta para encontrar soluções.

Mas a maioria desses wikis não deu certo. Eles têm o mesmo problema que o compartilhamento de dados: mesmo se os cientistas acreditarem no valor da colaboração, sabem que escrever um único artigo medíocre fará muito mais por suas carreiras. O incentivo está completamente errado.

Para a ciência em rede alcançar seu potencial, os cientistas precisam abraçar e recompensar o compartilhamento aberto de todos os conhecimentos científicos, não só o publicado nas revistas acadêmicas tradicionais. A ciência em rede precisa ser aberta.

Michael Nielsen é um dos pioneiros da computação quântica e escreveu o livro “Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science” (Reinventando a Descoberta: A Nova Era da Ciência em Rede, sem tradução para o português), de onde esse texto foi adaptado.

Atrair a atenção do público é o grande desafio para os satisfeitos jornalistas de ciência (Fapesp)

Pesquisa FAPESP
Edição 188 – Outubro 2011
Política de C & T > Cultura científica
Leitores esquivos

Mariluce Moura

Dois estudos brasileiros sobre divulgação científica, citados em primeira mão na Conferência Mundial de Jornalismo Científico 2011, em Doha, Qatar, no final de junho, propõem quando superpostos um panorama curiosamente desconexo para esse campo no país: se de um lado os jornalistas de ciência revelam um alto grau de satisfação com seu trabalho profissional, de outro, uma alta proporção de uma amostra representativa da população paulistana (76%) informa nunca ler notícias científicas nos jornais, revistas ou internet. Agora o mais surpreendente: no universo de entrevistados ouvidos no estado de São Paulo nesta segunda pesquisa, 52,5% declararam ter “muita admiração” pelos jornalistas e 49,2%, pelos cientistas, a despeito de poucos lerem as notícias elaboradas por uns sobre o trabalho dos outros. Esses e outros dados dos estudos provocam muitas questões para os estudiosos da cultura científica nacional. Uma, só para começar: a satisfação profissional do jornalista de ciência independe de ele atingir com sua produção seus alvos, ou seja, os leitores, os telespectadores, os ouvintes ou, de maneira mais geral, o público?

A Conferência Mundial, transferida de última hora do Cairo para Doha, em razão dos distúrbios políticos no Egito iniciados em janeiro, reuniu 726 jornalistas de 81 países que, durante quatro dias, debateram desde o conceito central de jornalismo científico, passando pelas múltiplas formas de exercê-lo e suas dificuldades, até os variados problemas de organização desses profissionais na Ásia, na África, na Europa, na América do Norte ou na América Latina, nos países mais democráticos e nos mais autoritários. Uma questão que atravessou todos esses debates foi o desenvolvimento da noção de que fazer jornalismo científico não é traduzir para o público a informação científica – seria mais encontrar meios eficazes de narrar em linguagem jornalística o que dentro da produção científica pode ser identificado como notícia de interesse para a sociedade. A próxima Conferência Mundial será realizada na Finlândia, em 2013.

Apresentado por um dos representantes da FAPESP na conferência, o estudo que trouxe à tona a medida preocupante do desinteresse por notícias de ciência chama-se “Percepção pública da ciência e da tecnologia no estado de São Paulo” (confira o pdf) e constitui o 12º capítulo dos Indicadores de ciência, tecnologia e inovação em São Paulo – 2010, lançado pela FAPESP em agosto último. Elaborado pela equipe do Laboratório de Estudos Avançados em Jornalismo da Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Labjor-Unicamp) sob a coordenação de seu diretor, o linguista Carlos Vogt, em termos empíricos a pesquisa se baseou num questionário composto por 44 perguntas aplicado a 1.076 pessoas na cidade de São Paulo e a mais 749 no interior e no litoral do estado, em 2007. Portanto, foram 1.825 entrevistados em 35 municípios, distribuídos nas 15 regiões administrativas (RAs).

Vale ressaltar que esse foi o segundo levantamento direto em uma amostra da população a respeito de sua percepção da ciência realizado pelo Labjor e ambos estavam integrados a um esforço ibero- -americano em torno da construção de indicadores capazes de refletir a cultura científica nessa região. A primeira enquete, feita entre 2002 e 2003, incluiu amostras das cidades de Campinas, Buenos Aires, Montevidéu, além de Salamanca e Valladolid, na Espanha, e seus resultados foram apresentados nos Indicadores de C,T&I em São Paulo – 2004, também publicado pela FAPESP. Já em 2007, a pesquisa, com a metodologia mais refinada e amostra ampliada, alcançou sete países: além do Brasil, Colômbia, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Panamá e Espanha. O núcleo comum do questionário era constituído por 39 perguntas e cada região podia desenvolver outras questões de sua livre escolha.

O outro estudo brasileiro apresentado em Doha chama-se “Jornalismo científico na América Latina: conhecendo melhor os jornalistas de ciência na região” e, a rigor, ainda está em curso. Os resultados preliminares apresentados baseavam-se nas respostas a um questionário composto por 44 perguntas – desenvolvido pela London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) –, encaminhadas até 21 de junho. Mas a essa altura, mais de 250 jornalistas responderam ao questionário, dentre eles aproximadamente 80 brasileiros, segundo sua coordenadora, a jornalista Luisa Massarani, diretora da Rede Ibero-americana de Monitoramento e Capacitação em Jornalismo Científico, instituição responsável pelo estudo, em parceria com o LSE. O levantamento tem ainda o apoio de associações de jornalismo científico e outras instituições ligadas à área de divulgação científica na Argentina, Bolívia, Brasil, Chile, Colômbia, Costa Rica, Equador, México, Panamá e Venezuela.

No alvo desse estudo, como indicado, aliás, pelo título, está uma preocupação em saber quantos são, quem são e que visão têm da ciência os jornalistas envolvidos com a cobertura sistemática dessa área na América Latina. “Não temos ideia sobre isso, sequer sabemos quantos jornalistas de ciência existem no Brasil e se eles são ou não representativos dentro da categoria”, diz Luisa Massarani, que é também diretora do Museu da Vida da Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz) e coordenadora para a América Latina da Rede de Ciência e Desenvolvimento (SciDev.Net). Até algum tempo, lembra, “a Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Científico (ABJC), com base em seu registro de sócios, situava esse número em torno de 500, mas isso na verdade incluía cientistas e outros profissionais interessados em divulgação da ciência”. A propósito, a ABJC vai iniciar no próximo mês o recadastramento dos sócios, junto com uma chamada para novos associados, o que poderá contribuir para esse censo dos jornalistas de ciência no Brasil.

Crença na ciência – Com 46 gráficos e 55 tabelas anexas que podem ser cruzados de acordo com o interesse específico de cada estudioso, o estudo de percepção da ciência bancado pela FAPESP e coordenado por Vogt permite uma infinidade de conclusões e novas hipóteses a respeito de como a sociedade absorve ciência por via da mídia ou como as várias classes sociais ou econômicas no estado de São Paulo reagem à exposição a notícias da área científica. Ao próprio coordenador, um dos pontos que mais chamaram a atenção nos resultados da pesquisa foi a relação inversa que ela permite estabelecer entre crença na ciência e informação sobre ciência. “O axioma seria quanto mais informação, menos crença na ciência”, diz. Assim, se consultado o gráfico relativo a grau de consumo autodeclarado de informação científica versus atitude quanto aos riscos e benefícios da ciência (gráfico 12.11), pode-se constatar que 57% dos entrevistados que declararam alto consumo acreditam que ciência e tecnologia podem oferecer muitos riscos e muitos benefícios simultaneamente e 6,3% acreditam que podem trazer muitos riscos e poucos benefícios. Já daqueles que declararam consumo nulo de informação científica, 42,9% veem muitos riscos e muitos benefícios ao mesmo tempo e 25,5% veem muitos riscos e poucos benefícios. “Ou seja, entre os mais informados é bem alta a proporção dos que veem riscos e benefícios na ciência ao mesmo tempo”, destaca Vogt, presidente da FAPESP de 2002 a 2007 e hoje coordenador da Universidade Virtual do Estado de São Paulo (Univesp), indicando que essa seria uma visão realista. Registre-se que o grau de pessimismo é muito maior entre os que declararam consumo nulo de informação científica: 8,1% deles disseram que a ciência não traz nenhum risco e nenhum benefício, enquanto esse percentual foi de 5,8% entre os que declararam consumo baixo, de 2,3% entre os que se situaram na faixa de consumo médio baixo, de 0,7% na faixa médio alto e de zero entre os altos consumidores de informação científica.

 

Na parte do trabalho sobre interesse geral em C&T, chama a atenção como o tema está medianamente situado pelos entrevistados em quinto lugar, depois de esporte e antes de cinema, arte e cultura, dentre 10 assuntos usualmente cobertos pela mídia (gráfico 12.1). Mas enquanto para esporte 30,5% deles se declaram muito interessados e 34,9%, interessados, em ciência e tecnologia são 16,3% os muito interessados e 47,1% os interessados, ou seja, a intensidade do interesse é menor. Vale também observar como os diferentes graus de interesse em C&T aproximam a cidade de São Paulo de Madri e a distanciam imensamente de Bogotá (gráfico 12.2). Assim, respectivamente, 15,4% dos entrevistados em São Paulo e 16,7% dos entrevistados em Madri declararam-se muito interessados em C&T; para a categoria interessado, os percentuais foram 49,6% e 52,7%; para pouco interessado, 25,5% e 24,8%, e para nada interessado, respectivamente, 9,4% e 5,9%. Já em Bogotá, nada menos que 47,5% declararam-se muito interessados. Por quê, não se sabe. Os interessados totalizam 33,2%, os pouco interessados, 15,3% e os nada interessados, 4%.

Não há muita diferença no nível de interesse por idade. Jovens e pessoas mais velhas se distribuem democraticamente pelos diversos graus considerados (gráfico 12.6a). Já quanto ao grau de escolaridade, se dá exatamente o oposto: entre os muito interessados em ciência e tecnologia, 21,9% são graduados e pós-graduados, 53,9% têm grau de ensino médio, 21,5%, ensino fundamental, 1,7%, educação infantil e 1% não teve nenhuma escolaridade. Já na categoria nada interessado se encontra 1,2% de graduados e pós-graduados, 26,3% de pessoas com nível médio, 47,4% com ensino fundamental, 8,8% com educação infantil e 16,4% de pessoas que não tiveram nenhum tipo de escolaridade (gráfico 12.5).

A par de todas as inferências que os resultados tabulados e interpretados dos questionários permitem, Vogt destaca que se a maioria da população não lê notícias científicas, ela entretanto está exposta de forma mais ou menos passiva à informação que circula sobre ciência. “Cada vez que o Jornal Nacional ou o Globo Repórter fala, por exemplo, sobre um alimento funcional, praticamente a sociedade como um todo passa a tratar disso nos dias seguintes”, diz. Ele acredita que pesquisas de mídia e de frequência do noticiário sobre ciência na imprensa poderão dar parâmetros de indicação para estudos que possam complementar o que já se construiu até agora sobre percepção pública da ciência.

Profissionais satisfeitos – Luisa Massarani observa que se hoje já se avançou nos estudos de audiência em muitos campos, especialmente para as telenovelas no Brasil, na área de jornalismo científico ainda não existem estudos capazes de indicar o que acontece em termos de percepção quando a pessoa ouve e vê uma notícia dessa especialidade no Jornal Nacional. “As pessoas entendem bem? A informação suscita desconfiança? Não sabemos.” De qualquer sorte, permanece em seu entendimento como uma grande questão o que significa fazer jornalismo científico, em termos da produção e da recepção.

Por enquanto, o estudo que ela coordena conseguiu identificar que as mulheres são maioria entre os jornalistas de ciência na América Latina, 61% contra 39% de homens, e que essa é uma especialidade de jovens: quase 30% da amostra situa-se na faixa de 31 a 40 anos e 23% têm entre 21 e 30 anos. De forma coerente com esse último dado, 39% dos entrevistados trabalham há menos de 5 anos em jornalismo científico e 23% entre 6 e 10 anos. E, o dado impressionante, 62% estão satisfeitos com seu trabalho em jornalismo científico e mais 9% muito satisfeitos. É possível que isso tenha relação com o fato de 60% terem emprego formal de tempo integral na área.

Por outro lado, se os jornalistas de ciência da América Latina não têm muitas fontes oficiais que lhes deem um feedback de seu trabalho, 40% deles es–tão seguros de que seu papel é informar o público, 26% pensam que sua função é traduzir material complexo, 13% educar e 9% mobilizar o público. E avaliando o resultado do trabalho, 50% creem que o jornalismo científico produzido no Brasil é médio, 21% bom e somente 2% o classificam como muito bom.

A melhor indicação do quanto os jornalistas de ciência gostam do que fazem está na resposta à questão sobre se recomendariam a outros a carreira. Nada menos do que a metade respondeu que sim, com certeza, enquanto 40% responderam que provavelmente sim. De qualquer sorte, ainda há um caminho a percorrer na definição do papel que cabe aos jornalistas entre os atores que dizem o que a ciência é e faz. “Quem são esses atores?”, indaga Vogt. “Os cientistas achavam que eram eles. Os governos acreditavam que eram eles. Mas hoje dizemos que é a sociedade. Mas de que forma?”

After Pregnancy Loss, Internet Forums Help Women Understand They Are Not Alone (Science Daily)

ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2011) — Nearly one in six pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth, but parents’ losses are frequently minimized or not acknowledged by friends, family or the community.

“Women who have not gone through a stillbirth don’t want to hear about my birth, or what my daughter looked like, or anything about my experience,” said one woman, responding in a University of Michigan Health System-led study that explored how Internet communities and message boards increasingly provide a place for women to share feelings about these life-altering experiences.

The anonymous survey of more than 1,000 women on 18 message boards opens a new window into who is using the forums and why. The findings will be published in Women’s Health Issues.

The researchers were surprised to find that only half of the women surveyed were in their first year of loss after a pregnancy. Many were still coping with the emotional impacts five, 10 and even 20 years later.

“To my family and most friends, the twins have been gone for nearly a year and are entirely a subject for the past,” another woman wrote.

A second unexpected finding was that only 2 percent of survey respondents were African American, despite nearly 60 percent of African Americans having internet access and despite black women having twice the risk of stillbirth as white women.

“This is the largest study to look at who uses Internet message boards after a pregnancy loss and it demonstrates a significant disparity between the women who experience loss and those who responded to the survey,” says lead study author Katherine J. Gold, M.D., M.S.W., M.S., assistant professor of family medicine at the U-M Medical School. “This suggests an important gap in support for African American parents that should be explored further.”

By far, the most common reason women gave for participating in the message boards was that it helped them to feel that their experience wasn’t unique.

One woman explained that the most important aspect of the forums was knowing “that I am not the only one this has happened to and that I am not alone in this horrible nightmare.” Another common theme was that the online environments provided a safe and validating space for the women to express themselves. Others appreciated the ease and convenience of the Internet and their ability to spend more time composing their thoughts than they would be able to in a face-to-face conversation.

Most participants agreed that boards should have a moderator or facilitator, and that health care professionals should participate. Of the 908 women who answered the question, 82 percent said they had learned new medical information from one of the forums.

“The fact that so many women learned new medical information from the message boards shows what an important resource they can be in this regard,” says study senior author Christie Palladino, M.D., M.Sc., an obstetrician/gynecologist with Georgia Health Sciences University’s Education Discovery Institute.

Gold and her colleagues are currently pursuing similar research with bereaved parents who attend in-person support groups and plan to compare and contrast the results.

Number of Facebook Friends Linked to Size of Brain Regions, Study Suggests (Science Daily)

ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2011) — Scientists funded by the Wellcome Trust have found a direct link between the number of ‘Facebook friends’ a person has and the size of particular brain regions. Researchers at University College London (UCL) also showed that the more Facebook friends a person has, the more ‘real-world’ friends they are likely to have.

The researchers are keen to stress that they have found a correlation and not a cause, however: in other words, it is not possible from the data to say whether having more Facebook friends makes the regions of the brain larger or whether some people are ‘hardwired’ to have more friends.

The social networking site Facebook has more than 800 million active users worldwide. Nearly 30 million of these are believed to be in the UK.

The site allows people to keep in touch online with a network of friends. The sizes of individual networks vary considerably, and some users have only a handful of online friends while others have over a thousand; however, whether this variability is reflected in the size of real-world social networks has not been clear.

Professor Geraint Rees, a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Research Fellow at UCL, said: “Online social networks are massively influential, yet we understand very little about the impact they have on our brains. This has led to a lot of unsupported speculation that the internet is somehow bad for us.

“Our study will help us begin to understand how our interactions with the world are mediated through social networks. This should allow us to start asking intelligent questions about the relationship between the internet and the brain — scientific questions, not political ones.”

Professor Rees and colleagues at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging studied brain scans of 125 university students — all active Facebook users — and compared them against the size of the students’ network of friends, both online and in the real world. Their findings, which they replicated in a further group of 40 students, are published October 20 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Professor Rees and colleagues found a strong connection between the number of Facebook friends an individual had and the amount of grey matter (the brain tissue where the processing is done) in several regions of the brain. One of these regions was the amygdala, a region associated with processing memory and emotional responses. A study published recently showed that the volume of grey matter in this area is larger in people with a larger network of real-world friends — the new study shows that the same is true for people with a larger network of online friends.
The size of three other regions — the right superior temporal sulcus, the left middle temporal gyrus and the right entorhinal cortex — also correlated with online social networks but did not appear to correlate with real-world networks.

The superior temporal sulcus has a role in our ability to perceive a moving object as biological, and structural defects in this region have been identified in some children with autism. The entorhinal cortex, meanwhile, has been linked to memory and navigation — including navigating through online social networks. Finally, the middle temporal gyrus has been shown to activate in response to the gaze of others and so is implicated in perception of social cues.

Dr Ryota Kanai, first author of the study, added: “We have found some interesting brain regions that seem to link to the number of friends we have — both ‘real’ and ‘virtual’. The exciting question now is whether these structures change over time — this will help us answer the question of whether the internet is changing our brains.”
As well as examining brain structure, the researchers also examined whether there was a link between the size of a person’s online network of friends and their real-world network. Previous studies have looked at this, but only in relatively small sample sizes.

The UCL researchers asked their volunteers questions such as ‘How many people would send a text message to you marking a celebratory event (e.g. birthday, new job, etc.)?’, ‘What is the total number of friends in your phonebook?’ and ‘How many friends have you kept from school and university that you could have a friendly conversation with now?’ The responses suggest that the size of their online networks also related to the size of their real world networks.

“Our findings support the idea that most Facebook users use the site to support their existing social relationships, maintaining or reinforcing these friendships, rather than just creating networks of entirely new, virtual friends,” adds Professor Rees.

Commenting on the study, Dr John Williams, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust, said: “We cannot escape the ubiquity of the internet and its impact on our lives, yet we understand little of its impact on the brain, which we know is plastic and can change over time. This new study illustrates how well-designed investigations can help us begin to understand whether or not our brains are evolving as they adapt to the challenges posed by social media.”

Book transubstantiation (The Economist)

Media digitisation

Oct 11th 2011, 11:02 by G.F. | SEATTLE

ONCE Babbage buys a book he finds it hard to let go. As middle age approaches, however, and shelf space grows sparse, he has begun to shed titles, retaining only those he actually expects to consult in the future (plus a handful he holds on to for purely sentimental reasons). Now, a firm is offering to slake his voracious appetite for new tomes without forcing him to relinquish old ones—or, at least, their contents.

1DollarScan is the American outpost of the Japanese firm Bookscan, founded to solve the problem of  scant space in Japan’s poky urban dwellings and to prevent damage caused by bookshelf-toppling earthquakes. (Bookscan has  no relation to Nielsen BookScan, an American retail-sales-tracking service). Ship your volumes to 1DollarScan, and the company will slice off the spine, and charge $1 for every 100 pages scanned. (The firm also scans routine documents and photos.) It uses high-speed Canon scanners, with optical-character recognition (OCR) software developed jointly by Bookscan and Canon. The process does not yet produce text in standard e-book formats; instead, customers receive PDF files that show the scanned image, but also have whatever text was successfully extracted in a separate, searchable layer. The resulting files are chunky: tens of megabytes per book, or 100 times bigger than Amazon’s Kindle titles. But it is a start.

Hiroshi Nakano, the boss of 1DollarScan, says a few thousand books have been received in the first month or so of operation. And that is before the firm has begun its marketing drive, or adapted its Japanese-language smartphone software (for reading and managing user accounts) for English speakers. One early surprise has been the linguistic diversity of books sent over: besides English, there have been Portuguese, Hebrew and Arabic titles, among others. Boxes of books are being shipped in from Europe, too, in English and other languages. (The firm uses slightly different OCR software depending on the language in question.) Another difference is the volume of individual orders. Where Japanese customers send batches of 150 books, the California-based service is seeing an average closer to 30.

Chopped-up books are recycled; they are not retained and the firm will not return the pieces. Jessamyn West, a library-technology advocate and editor at the popular community discussion site MetaFilter, calls it “the transubstantiation of the printed word”. Initially, Ms West shared Babbage’s squeamishness about putting books to the knife. But she has bought the argument that there is a huge difference between destroying the very last copy of a work, or one with handwritten annotations, and a mass-market duplicate. A digital copy of the latter is just as useful as the paper version.

The reason for discarding the paper pages after scanning has to do with the ambiguous borders of American copyright law. Mr Nakano and his legal advisers believe that portions of doctrine (related to so-called fair use and first sale) protect the firm’s activities. Yet this remains far from assured. Under fair use individuals have the right to copy music they own for personal use (though the jury is still out on whether this extends to ripping digital files). But that pertains only to music, not to any other media. First-sale doctrine, meanwhile, lets one sell, loan, donate or even destroy a book without permission from the copyright holder. Transforming it, however, is another matter altogether.

As a consequence, when 1DollarScan scans a particular edition for the first time, it does not create a master copy. Instead, each book is treated as a unique item, even if that same edition has already been scanned a number of times for different customers. This strategy sets 1DollarScan apart from MP3.com. In 2001 that company allowed subscribers to access master digital copies of music online after they had confirmed ownership by inserting the appropriate audio CD into their computer. What did for MP3 was that its system could be easily gamed—by duplicating CDs, say. It was forced to settle a lawsuit and discontinued the service.

Mr Nakano, for his part, hopes to strike deals with publishers to allow 1DollarScan’s customers to trade in an analogue copy for a digital one. Publishers would get a slice of the fee and remove a second-hand copy from the market making space for spanking new digital ones they sell. If all goes to plan, customers may get their hands on digital copies of works that may not otherwise be available as e-books. And, crucially, they could avoid purchasing content they have already paid for.

[Original article here.]

Will the information superhighway turn into a cul-de-sac because of automated filters? (The Wall Street Journal)

BOOKSHELFMAY 20, 2011
Your Results May Vary

By PAUL BOUTIN

Last year Eli Pariser, president of the board of the liberal-activist site MoveOn.org, had a shocking realization. A heavy Facebook user, he had become friends—at least on Facebook—with an assortment of conservative thinkers and pundits. As a serious thinker, he wanted to have his opinions on current events challenged by those with opposing political ideologies.

But it struck Mr. Pariser one day that he hadn’t seen a single status update from any of the loyal opposition in a while. Had his sources of conservative thought stopped posting? Had they unfriended him? No, Facebook had quietly stopped inserting their updates into his news feed on the site. Had the social-networking giant figured out that he was a liberal?

It turned out that Facebook had changed the algorithm for its news feeds, in response to its users’ complaints that they were being overwhelmed by updates from “friends” whom they hardly knew. The 600-million-member social network now filters status updates so that, by default, users see only those from Facebook friends with whom they’ve recently interacted—say, by sending a message or commenting on a friend’s post.

For Mr. Pariser, the algorithm change meant that his news feed was filtered to let him know about only the mostly left-leaning people with whom he bantered, leaving out conservative voices that he simply monitored. Facebook’s algorithm has no political parameters, but for Mr. Pariser it effectively muffled the people he most disagreed with but wanted to hear.

This sifting-out of seemingly dead connections—which might strike many people as a wonderful service—spurred Mr. Pariser to undertake a months-long exploration of the growing trend of personalized content on websites. In “The Filter Bubble,” he recounts what he found. “I was struck by the degree to which personalization is already upon us. Not only on Facebook and Google, but on almost every major site on the Web.”

It’s no secret that Amazon, for example, customizes its pages to suggest products that are most likely to be of interest, based on shoppers’ past purchases. But most Google users don’t realize that, since 2009, their search results have been gradually personalized based on the user’s location, search history and other parameters. By tracking individual Web browsers with cookies, Google has been able to personalize results even for users who don’t create a personal Google account or are not logged into one. Mr. Pariser asked two friends to search for “BP” shortly after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill last year. The two were shown strikingly different pages—one full of news about the disaster, the other mostly investor information about the energy company.

Personalization is meant to make Internet users happy: It shows them information that mathematical calculations indicate is more likely than generalized content to be of interest. Google’s personalized search results track dozens of variables to deliver the links that a user is predicted to be most likely to click on. As a result, Google users click on more of the results that they get. That’s good for Google, good for its advertisers, good for other websites and presumably good for the user.

But Mr. Pariser worries that there’s a dark downside to giving people their own custom version of the Internet. “Personalization isn’t just shaping what we buy,” he writes. “Thirty-six percent of Americans under thirty get their news through social networking sites.” As we become increasingly dependent on the Internet for our view of the world, and as the Internet becomes more and more fine-tuned to show us only what we like, the would-be information superhighway risks becoming a land of cul-de-sacs, with each of its users living in an individualized bubble created by automated filters—of which the user is barely aware.

To Mr. Pariser, these well-intended filters pose a serious threat to democracy by undermining political debate. If partisans on either side of the issues seem uninterested in the opposition’s thinking nowadays, wait until Google’s helpful sorters really step up their game.

Through interviews with influential Internet experts including Google News chief Krishna Bharat, Search Engine Land editor Danny Sullivan and Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd, Mr. Pariser exposes the problem with personalization: It’s hard enough for an army of researchers to create algorithms that can match each of us with things we like. It’s nearly impossible, by contrast, to craft a formula that will show us something we wouldn’t seek out but really ought to read—and will be glad we did. Beyond throwing random links onto a screen, it’s hard to model serendipity on a computer.

And there’s another problem with filters: People like them. The Internet long ago became overwhelming. Filters help make it manageable without our having to do the work of sorting through its content entirely by ourselves.

What to do? Mr. Pariser’s opening argument in “The Filter Bubble” is a powerful indictment of the current system. But his closing chapters fumble around in search of a solution—from individuals, from companies like Google or from government oversight. How do you tell the Internet to back it off a bit on the custom content?

For now, the best Mr. Pariser can hope for is to educate readers who don’t want to live in a solipsistic subset of the Internet, especially regarding political matters. Just knowing that Google and Facebook personalize what you see, and that you can turn it off if you want—on Facebook, click Most Recent instead of Top News atop your feed; for Google, get instructions by searching “deleting Web history”—is a good start. “The Filter Bubble” is well-timed: The threat is real but not yet pandemic. Major news sites are toying with personalization but haven’t rolled it out en masse. And in a test I conducted myself, I enlisted a handful of heavy Google users across America to search for “Bin Laden raid” soon after the event. The search results that came back were all nearly identical. To tell the truth, we were kind of disappointed.

Mr. Boutin writes about Internet technology and culture for MIT Technology Review, Wired and the New York Times.

The Filter Bubble
By Eli Pariser
The Penguin Press, 294 pages, $25.95