Unlike Us #3

The aim of Unlike Us is to establish a research network of artists, designers, scholars, activists and programmers who work on ‘alternatives in social media’. Through workshops, conferences, online dialogues and publications, Unlike Us intends to both analyze the economic and cultural aspects of dominant social media platforms and to propagate the further development and proliferation of alternative, decentralized social media software.

Whether or not we are in the midst of internet bubble 2.0, we can all agree that social media dominate internet and mobile use. The emergence of web-based user to user services, driven by an explosion of informal dialogues, continuous uploads and user generated content have greatly empowered the rise of participatory culture. At the same time, monopoly power, commercialization and commodification are also on the rise with just a handful of social media platforms dominating the social web. These two contradictory processes – both the facilitation of free exchanges and the commercial exploitation of social relationships – seem to lie at the heart of contemporary capitalism.

On the one hand new media create and expand the social spaces through which we interact, play and even politicize ourselves; on the other hand they are literally owned by three or four companies that have phenomenal power to shape such interaction. Whereas the hegemonic Internet ideology promises open, decentralized systems, why do we, time and again, find ourselves locked into closed corporate environments? Why are individual users so easily charmed by these ‘walled gardens’? Do we understand the long-term costs that society will pay for the ease of use and simple interfaces of their beloved ‘free’ services?

The accelerated growth and scope of Facebook’s social space, for example, is unheard of. Facebook claims to have 700 million users, ranks in the top two or three first destination sites on the Web worldwide and is valued at 50 billion US dollars. Its users willingly deposit a myriad of snippets of their social life and relationships on a site that invests in an accelerated play of sharing and exchanging information. We all befriend, rank, recommend, create circles, upload photos, videos and update our status. A myriad of (mobile) applications orchestrate this offer of private moments in a virtual public, seamlessly embedding the online world in users’ everyday life.

Yet despite its massive user base, the phenomena of online social networking remains fragile. Just think of the fate of the majority of social networking sites. Who has ever heard of Friendster? The death of Myspace has been looming on the horizon for quite some time. The disappearance of Twitter and Facebook – and Google, for that matter – is only a masterpiece of software away. This means that the protocological future is not stationary but allows space for us to carve out a variety of techno-political interventions. Unlike Us is developed in the spirit of RSS-inventor and uberblogger Dave Winer whose recent Blork project is presented as an alternative for ‘corporate blogging silos’. But instead of repeating the entrepreneurial-start-up-transforming-into-corporate-behemoth formula, isn’t it time to reinvent the internet as a truly independent public infrastructure that can effectively defend itself against corporate domination and state control?

# vimeo.com/63320545 Uploaded 250 Plays 0 Comments

Follow

Unlike Us #3

Institute of Network Cultures PRO

Unlike Us #3: 22-23 March, 2013
at TrouwAmsterdam and Studio HvA / MediaLAB Amsterdam

Is the word ‘social’ hollowed out, or does it still have some meaning? How to understand the thunderous growth of mobile uses in social media? Is there really something…


+ More

Unlike Us #3: 22-23 March, 2013
at TrouwAmsterdam and Studio HvA / MediaLAB Amsterdam

Is the word ‘social’ hollowed out, or does it still have some meaning? How to understand the thunderous growth of mobile uses in social media? Is there really something like a Facebook riot and how do we start one? Theorists, programmers and artists alike react to the monopolies that control social media – by designing decentralized networks, creating art that’s criticizing and surprising at the same time or by trying to understand the big networks from within. Meet them at the third Unlike Us conference organized by the Institute of Network Cultures on 22-23 March 2013 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

International speakers discuss both the big gestures of Theory, the ambitious plans of artists, programmers and activists. There are workshops to put Unlike Us into practice without delay and discussions on specific issues that Unlike Us hasn’t dealt with so far. The different themes will cover theory and critique, decentralization, mobile use, activism, and the art and politics of social networks.

Shout Box

Heads up: the shoutbox will be retiring soon. It’s tired of working, and can’t wait to relax. You can still send a message to the channel owner, though!

Browse This Channel

Channels are a simple, beautiful way to showcase and watch videos. Browse more Channels.