Peaches, the twenty-first century torchbearer of feminist punk, just released a video and track in support of Pussy Riot, the Russian female anarchist art group that has become the symbol of political oppression in Russia under Putin.
Unlike in the case of something like Kony 2012, this video is not a gratuite kind of protest. The whole point of Pussy Riot, and the wider protests in Russia of which it is a part, is the embeddedness in social media, and performing symbolic acts against the regime. That’s reflected in this ‘Free Pussy Riot’ video, which consists of footage sent in by Peaches fans.
Pussy Riot – whatever else it is – is also really an example for those Western hipster, a-political, “ironic” bands and the people who wallow in it (not excluding myself here). Punk, youth culture here once was a form of actual protest against the powers that be. That aspect of youth culture, thanks to the consumerist hipster, is long gone; grunge probably was the last vestige of it.
The three girls of this group, however, are literally risking everything. By staging an act of protest against spy-dictator Putin in an Orthodox cathedral, they have incurred the wrath of the most powerful institutions in the country. Pussy Riot is facing years in a Siberian prison camp – the worst imaginable place you can be in. This must have known this was going to happen, even though it’s an outrageous and thoroughly undemocratic and unjudicial sentence.
Throughout their trial, in their statements Pussy Riot have courageously pointed at the creeping dictatorship, the obliteration of the separation between church and state, and the squashing of free speech and right to demonstrate in Russia. They’ve even done this in an artful way, declaring themselves heirs to 1920s and 1930s absurdist collectives, and standing in a tradition of ‘last statements’ in show trials like dissidents of the Stalin and Soviet era.
As a political essay, the closing statement by Yekaterina Samutsevich, member of the group, is superb:
Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetic? After all, he could have employed his own, far more secular tools of power—for example, the state-controlled corporations, or his menacing police system, or his obedient judiciary system. It may be that the harsh, failed policies of Putin’s government, the incident with the submarine Kursk, bombings of civilians in broad daylight, and other unpleasant moments in his political career forced him to ponder the fact that it was high time to resign; that otherwise, the citizens of Russia would help him do this. Apparently, it was then that he felt the need for more persuasive, transcendental guarantees of his long tenure at the pinnacle of power. It was then that it became necessary to make use of the aesthetic of the Orthodox religion, which is historically associated with the heyday of Imperial Russia, where power came not from earthly manifestations such as democratic elections and civil society, but from God Himself.
So, what these women have achieved is exposing the coming-into-being of dictatorship in Russia. They’ve shown that to the world. For that – even though Putin is probably feeling the heat and is already saying that the group shouldn’t be treated “too harsly” – they’ll probably end up in jail.
In short: everything you ever did or sent on Facebook. Permanently. Facebook is required to disclose all this data by European law, which has now revealed that the corporation saves the content of all your messages (including deleted ones), tags, pokes, interests, GPS spots where you took your iPhone photos and what not, to sell to advertisers.
A couple of months ago, 24-year-old Austrian law student Max Schrems requested Facebook for all his personal data. The European arm of Facebook, based in Dublin, Ireland, was obliged to turn over this information, as they had to follow an European law that requires any entity to provide full access to data about an individual, should this individual personally request for it. Accordingly, Max received a CD containing about 1,222 pages (PDF files), including chats he had deleted more than a year ago, “pokes” dating back to 2008, invitations, and hundreds of other details.
Berlin-based newspaper taz.de decided to visualize [taz.de] different aspects of this data: the magnitude of the 1.222 unique pages, the exact times Max logged in and wrote messages, the times of day messages he sent or received, Max’s friend network, the locations of the pictures he took in Vienna, and the most popular tags of Max’s messages. While the visualizations by themselves might not stand out, they do reveal the huge amount of digital traces one leaves, even when they were originally purposively ‘deleted’ or discarded.
In addition, this event has triggered a wider initiative called Europe versus Facebook, which aims for more transparency and control of personal Facebook data.
By the way, how can you get access to your own data? Facebook has made it increasingly difficult to do so. What was previously a simple online form, must now happen via email or snail mail. All the instructions can be found here.
Morgen is het zo ver: de Nederlandse vertakking van de Occupy-beweging slaat haar vleugels uit te Amsterdam. De Occupy Wall Street-beweging in de V.S. is al wekenlang bezig, in groeiende getale en onder toenemende media-aandacht, een progressieve protestbeweging van formaat te worden. Een linkse variant op de Tea Party.
De concrete doelen zijn wellicht nog onduidelijk, maar het van de Arabische Lente overgenomen permanent kamperen op de heilige grond van het financieel kapitalisme blijkt een succesvolle innovatie in protestmethodes te zijn. Evenals in Caïro, en daarna in Madrid en Barcelona, wordt geëxperimenteerd met directe vormen van democratie en participatie, als alternatief naast de vertegenwoordige democratie. Men maakt bovendien – eindelijk - een vuist tegen die sector die de Westerse maatschappij nu al jaren in haar greep houdt: de financiële industrie. De door haar veroorzaakte financiële crisis wordt betaald door de belastingbetaler, die er het oprollen van de verzorgingsstaat voor terug krijgt. Ondertussen worden de bonussen nog steeds uitgedeeld. Gek genoeg zijn het alleen de meest linkse partijen in het parlement die hiertegen ageren.
Er bestaat regionale variatie – in de V.S. staan drommen politici op de loonlijst van Wall Street, in Griekenland is de staat mede debet aan de ellende – maar overal in het Westen kan de financiële sector uiteindelijk verantwoordelijk worden gehouden voor de huidige economische ellende. In de meeste landen buiten Nederland is de (jeugd)werkloosheid afschuwelijk opgelopen; er groeit nu een ‘verloren generatie’ op zonder uitzicht op een baan. Speculanten houden de eurozone bovendien nog steeds in hun greep. Maar ook in Nederland zijn onder dit kabinet, met haar domme mantra van ‘achttien miljard‘, de gevolgen groots: eliminering van zorg voor (jong)gehandicapten, sociale werkplaatsen, speciaal onderwijs, korten op hoger onderwijs, het verdwijnen van openbaar vervoer, bezuinigingen op kunst en cultuur, en ga zo maar door. Terwijl er tegelijkertijd wél een extreem kostbare subsidie voor rijken in stand wordt gehouden: de hypotheekrenteaftrek.
Ik hoop dan ook dat de Nederlandse Occupy-beweging dáárover zal gaan: de Nederlandse issues, die niettemin niet los van de internationale financiële crisis kunnen worden gezien. Het kabinet-Rutte staat evident niet aan de kant van gedupeerden in de crisis. Er is Nederland meer, meer dan genoeg om massaal tegen te protesteren, waarbij het overkoepelende punt zou kunnen zijn: de onrechtvaardige maatschappelijke verdeling van de kosten van de crisis. Dat geldt in alle landen, en dat is waarin in Nederland die waardeloze, onnadenkende bezuinigingen vandaan komen, terwijl de financiële sector op oude voet verder gaat en regelingen voor het niet-hulpbehoevende deel der natie in stand blijven.
Occupy Amsterdam heeft potentie. Tradionele media als Nieuwsuur, 1Vandaag, DWDD, BNR en AT5 hebben er al aandacht aan besteed. De Twitter loopt, en de Facebook-pagina telt bijna 3500 aanmeldingen. Het is te hopen dat men een algemeen aansprekende, op Nederland toepasbare boodschap weet te formuleren; en het is te hopen dat de boel niet, zoals in Nederland vaker gebeurd, door krakers of andere links-radicale figuren wordt overgenomen. Kritiek op de uitwassen van een doorgeschoten kapitalisme en haar vervlechting met politieke systemen isniet per se links of radicaal; het is pure common sense die iedereen aan kan spreken, wat hij of zij ook stemt.
Volgens mij bestaat er onder veel mensen die zich niet vertegenwoordigd voelen door dit kabinet – en met name onder jongeren – al tijden een grote behoefte om de straat op te gaan. Misschien wordt dit ‘m dan…
Here at LSD we’ve been following the Iron Sky project for a while. This is a crowd/social media-funded movie created by independent movie makers from Finland, about Nazis from outer space. Yeah that’s right: the story is that after World War II, some Nazis fled from their Antarctic base to the dark side of the Moon, and in 2018 they’re returning to reconquer Earth. Complete with all the aesthetics that entails. Pretty campy huh?
The footage that’s being released looks increasingly cool, and here’s the third teaser trailer:
For more teasers, click here (especially that one) and here. More conceptual art here.
Watch out whom you befriend on Facebook! The Pentagon is developing software that will allow them to secretly manipulate social media using fake online personas.
In a pretty pathetic attempt at starting up some sort of spy program on the Internet, a Californian company has been awarded a contract with Central Command (Centcom) to develop a system in which militarymen can manage 10 online personas, which includes fake backgrounds, histories, and occupations. In this way, they can nest in forums, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other social media; but also attempt to create some online consensus beneficial to US interests.
I actually don’t believe that in the realm of counterterrorism something like this has never been done before, but ok. We’ll look out for some serviceman in disguise commenting on our blog posts!
The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media using fake online personas designed to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.
A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with the US Central Command (Centcom) to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities at once.
The contract stipulates each persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 controllers must be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”.
The project has been likened by web experts to China’s attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet.
Once developed the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with a host of co-ordinated blogposts, tweets, retweets, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command.
OEV is seen by senior US commanders as a vital counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation programme. In evidence to the US Senate’s armed services committee last year, General David Petraeus, then commander of Centcom, described the operation as an effort to “counter extremist ideology and propaganda and to ensure that credible voices in the region are heard”. He said the US military’s objective was to be “first with the truth”.
The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as “sock puppets” – could encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.
Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives.
I don’t buy the latter at all, but they’re welcome to try as far as I’m concerned…
In the Middle East, Facebook, by the creation of action web pages and allowing young protesters to first, get in touch with the world, and second, communicate with each other, played a galvanizing role in the recent revolutions; to the extent that Egyptian and Tunisian people started carrying signs with ‘Facebook’ on it, spray painting the name on walls, and one guy even named his daughter ‘Facebook’.
In the West, though, it’s mostly privacy-eradicating decadence, and rapidly becoming a ‘center’ of the Internet (although a good way to stay in touch with international friends). Either way, here’s a nice infographic with some statistics about global Facebook use…
One of the better analyses I have read of the Egyptian Revolution thus far can be found in the New Statesman. In the European and American media, there’s been an awful lot of concern about the role of islamists in and after the uprising. Earlier on, we’ve pointed to differing interpretations of the Muslim Brotherhood as either a democracy-minded middle class institution, or as a fundamentalist conservative organization (the truth is probably that they have different wings). On the American right, in particular, ‘Iran’ has been frequently invoked to actually denounce protesters, and voice support for the Mubarak regime.
Olivier Roy in the New Statesman, however, paints a picture of a young generation that is not so affected with the political islamism of their fathers. Even though they might shout ‘Allah akbar’, what they want is basic democratic rights and liberties (and work). They’re pluralistic, individualistic, and connected through social media. A particularly interesting analysis, I find, is that, true, Middle Eastern countries have in past decades experienced a process of islamization, but this has effectively pulled the angle out of islamist political movements. Islam has been de-politicized. This puts a different perspective on organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as on the sympathy among the young for fundamentalist dictatorships like Iran’s (which is non-existent).
Thus, the bipolar divide that is often drawn in Western media between the old secular regimes and chaos or islamism (only to be curbed by the military, or an Atatürk-like despot) may be incorrect, and the reason may be the young. I don’t know to which extent this is wishful thinking, but either way: read this article! In addition to giving this persuasive view of the young, it’s also amazing in its breadth and depth of analysis of Middle Eastern society at large.
In Europe, the popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have been interpreted using a model that is more than 30 years old: the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. Commentators have been expecting to see Islamist groups – the Muslim Brotherhood and their local equivalents – either at the head of the movement or lying in wait, ready to seize power. But the discretion of the Muslim Brotherhood has surprised and disconcerted them: where have the Islamists gone?
Look at those involved in the uprisings, and it is clear that we are dealing with a post-Islamist generation. For them, the great revolutionary movements of the 1970s and 1980s are ancient history, their parents’ affair. The members of this young generation aren’t interested in ideology: their slogans are pragmatic and concrete – “Erhal!” or “Go now!”. Unlike their predecessors in Algeria in the 1980s, they make no appeal to Islam; rather, they are rejecting corrupt dictatorships and calling for democracy. This is not to say that the demonstrators are secular; but they are operating in a secular political space, and they do not see in Islam an ideology capable of creating a better world.
This generation is pluralist, undoubtedly because it is also individualist. Sociological studies show that it is better educated than previous generations, better informed, often with access to modern means of communication that allow individuals to connect with one another without the mediation of political parties – which in any case are banned. These young people know that Islamist regimes have become dictatorships; neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia holds any fascination for them. Indeed, those who have been demonstrating in Egypt are the same kinds of people as those who poured on to the streets to oppose Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. (For propaganda reasons, the regime in Tehran has declared its support for the opposition movement in Egypt, though this is little more than a settling of scores with Hosni Mubarak.) Many of them are religious believers, but they keep their faith separate from their political demands. In this sense, the movement is “secular”. Religious observance has been individualised.
It is a mistake, therefore, to link the re-Islamisation that has taken place in the Arab world over the past 30 years with political radicalism. If Arab societies are more visibly Islamic than they were 30 or 40 years ago, what explains the absence of Islamic slogans from the current demonstrations? The paradox of Islamisation is that it has largely depoliticised Islam. Social and cultural re-Islamisation – the wearing of the hijab and niqab, an increase in the number of mosques, the proliferation of preachers and Muslim television channels – has happened without the intervention of militant Islamists and has in fact opened up a “religious market”, over which no one enjoys a monopoly. In short, the Islamists have lost the stranglehold on religious expression in the public sphere that they enjoyed in the 1980s.
What has been perceived in the west as a great, green wave of re-Islamisation is in fact nothing but a trivialisation of Islam: everything has become Islamic, from fast food to women’s fashion. The forms and structures of piety, however, have become individualised, so now one constructs one’s own faith, seeking out the preacher who speaks of self-realisation, such as the Egyptian Amr Khaled, and abandoning all interest in the utopia of an Islamic state.
[The Islamist political movements] have also learned lessons from Turkey, where Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AK party have succeeded in reconciling democracy, electoral success, economic development and national independence with the promotion of values that are, if not Islamic, at least “authentic”.
However, the embourgeoisement of the Islamists is at the same time an asset for democracy, because it pushes them towards reconciliation and compromise, and into alliances with other political forces. It is no longer a question, therefore, of attempting to establish whether or not dictatorships are the most effective bulwark against Islamism; Islamists have become players in the democratic game. Naturally, they will try to exert control over public morality, but, lacking the kind of repressive apparatus that exists in Iran, or a religious police on the Saudi model, they will have to reckon with a demand for liberty that doesn’t stop with the right to elect a parliament.
So. This is world history. The Egyptian Revolution is, in my view, now on par with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, or the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Ever since decolonization, the Middle East has been ruled by a series of secular autocratic regimes. These have been varying in levels of despotism and violence, but Egypt’s – the most populous and culturally the most influential Middle Eastern country - has not been the softest. Let’s not forget, moreover, that these regimes have been pillars of Western and especially US policy for decades. This is what fueled the islamist Iranian Revolution, and now the democratic Egyptian Revolution. For the first time (well, actually not, Tunisia was first), an Arab people stands up and en masse removes a dictator. That is news on a dizzying magnitude, and utterly unthinkable just two weeks ago.
While a jubilant mood on Tahrir Square and the streets of Cairo and Alexandria because of the removal of a dictator by masses of peaceful protesters, led by the young, is now in order, let’s not forget that this is not over. This is essentially a military coup. The army leadership - led by the torturer and chief of intelligence Omar Suleiman – is now in full control of the country, and one might wonder how eager they are to quickly relinguish that power. The military has huge political and economic interests in Egypt. So as Mark noted yesterday, a vigilant eye must be kept on the process of constitutional reform. The state of emergency must be lifted, a real dialogue with the opposition (liberal as well as islamist) must be opened, and open and fair democratic elections are in order.
A historian’s note though. Mubarak’s thirty-year regime has effected an almost total eradication of anything resembling a civil society in Egypt. The middle and lower classes (constituting the vast bulk of Egypt’s population) have no organizations representing them; no labor unions, no interest associations, no political parties, almost nothing. There is only the Muslim Brotherhood – a very dedicated, highly organized minority. And Facebook. In my view, a democracy cannot properly function without a vibrant and stable civil society; unorganized people are prone to manipulation by populists, and may even slid into violence caused by old rifts (witness Iraq). So, I’m very concerned about how a post-Mubarak Egypt will develop. Democratization is more than just quick elections (we can also see that in Iraq). What is needed are organizing principles within Egyptian society. But that takes time.
A glimmer of hope though: the organizing of these protests, albeit informal, has shown signs of being highly coordinated and effective. Maybe from this, like in East Germany post-1989, something can grow…
So, while this is huge and fantastic – we’re not there yet!
Here, you can learn how to do it yourself. But with this app, you can do it in half the time, before your hipster friends have it!
Since French artist Alexandre Oudin took advantage of the new Facebook design to express himself, we’ve been seeing some creative ways to mess with your (and your friends’) profile pictures. As we predicted, Oudin’s hack has inspired other users to play around with their profile to pretty interesting effect. And for those of you that don’t want to trial and error around with the 532 px by 180 px and 97 by 68 px image limitations, photographer Florian Stravock has made the above Photoshop tutorial to help you perfectly execute on your super profile pic. Abridged steps, below:
1) Take a screenshot of your current Facebook page.
2) Create a new Photoshop doc.
3) Grab the Slice tool (same family as the Crop tool) and select around the pictures.
4) With the Marquee tool, select around the sliced areas.
5) Bring the image that you want on Facebook into Photoshop and position it roughly the way you want it.
6) Drag the image layer under the Facebook layer and refine your positioning.
7) Go to “File,” select “Save for web and devices,” select all your document area, click “Jpeg, set the quality to 100% and save. Under slices select “All user slices.”
Upload your pictures to Facebook and tag them from last to first. When you get to the first picture click “Make this my profile picture.”
You can download Stravock’s Photoshop document here. Don’t have Photoshop or too lazy to sit through a tutorial? TechCrunch reader Trevor Farbo has created a profile picture generator that allows you to get the same effect in half the time.
Blogging is very cool: it allows you to expand upon a host of issues, and it’s free-form. It doesn’t really mind what you write (although it’s way better if you make an effort). Yet it’s very ephemeral: a blog post that you put a lot of effort in may only be read by a couple of people, and disappears from the front page after a while. Therefore I’ve sometimes thought of putting the best stuff in a book or something.
The same goes, I guess, for social media like Facebook and Twitter, which are even more ephemeral and devoid of content. So here’s the idea of putting Facebook into a book. Ironically, Facebook originated from high schools’ ‘face books’, so yeah.
Bouygues Telecom asked us to come up with an idea to launch their facebook platform. They wanted us to create something that would go beyond using your profile picture in a funny way, or pranking your friends with a small joke.
We decided to look at the way we use facebook and found that even though we use the social networking site everyday, we forget our favorite moments we share online. So we created an app that could change that, and keep your facebook, in a book.
The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear seems to have been a big success. The interesting thing to me about this rally is its ambiguity. First, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are of course comedians who have made their name on being equally satirical of both sides of the political spectrum. Yet it can’t be denied that today’s political lunacy in the U.S. stems primarily from the right, so how does a comedian deal with this without becoming too political? It seems Stewart and Colbert have pulled it off by primarily pointing at “big things” in the American political sphere, like the pernicious influence of the 24-hour news cycle and the big media like FOX News on political debate.
Secondly, and even more relevant, a rally presupposes a measure of political activism and therefore, firmness of belief in its participants. Yet this was a rally in favour of “moderation”, “civility”, about not being at each other’s throat all the time, about just being a bit more relaxed and behaving normal with each other. Also, there seems to have been a great deal of irony and hipsterness in this rally. I think that’s hugely important, as I’m recently beginning to feel that today’s hipsterdom – being connected through social media all the time, being primarily preoccupied with your own little niche of art and entertainment – may be the death blow to political activism among the young (despite their being aware about global warming etc.). I for one am very disappointed about the complacency among the young in the Netherlands today, in the face of the most right wing cabinet in history, and it might just have something to do with not wanting to get off your seat, and rather dabble with your iPhone, your downloaded series, your fashion and your parties.
So anyway: judging by all the ironic signs in the pictures below, the Rally to Restore Sanity proves otherwise. Being reasonable, moderate and young can result in activism. So here’s hoping for a “Demonstratie voor Redelijkheid” in the Netherlands.
Everyone was wondering what kind of rally Jon Stewart would hold. Would it be a comedy routine, interchangeable with an episode of The Daily Show? Or would it make a serious political statement that could, according to some analysts, undermine Stewart and Stephen Colbert as comedians willing to mock both sides equally?It was both. The Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear, held on the National Mall Saturday afternoon, ridiculed the whole idea of a political rally. But it also managed to send a message about the broken political system, how the media abets it, and why it’s OK to care—even for professional ironists.
Stewart has always walked the line between irony and sincerity. He’s a jokester, but he cares about political discourse, if not the minutiae of policymaking. The rally was a three-hour exploration of that tension.
One obvious observation: it was the first actual ironic rally I’ve attended. Most of those in this movement were clearly ambivalent about being in any movement, but at the same time seemed to be acting out of some shared civic duty. “One man can write a pun, but every man must try.” Almost every poster and placard was ironic, or undercut the ego or seriousness of the protester. One of my truly in-joke favorites: “Personally, I Blame Matt Yglesias.” Who cannot rally behind that?
No one was demanding their country back; they were just demanding, well asking, for a little less polarization, and a little more mutual understanding. It was an Obama rally that didn’t want to be an Obama rally.
[It] is an identity politics: proud of being educated, sick of being stereotyped, interested in facts and reality, fed up with being condescended to … and deeeply worried about the direction in this country.
See Buzzfeed for the 100 best signs of the Rally to Restore Sanity. Also see HuffPost. An excerpt:
Will it not? The experience of the Green Movement in Iran seems to suggest so. I’m thinking lately that social media may have a deteriorative rather than a beneficial effect on political organizing and activism.
Author: lsdimension Published: September 30th, 2010
It’s pretty common on other sites and blogs and we were lagging behind, but as of now we’re completely up to date “social media-wise”! Under every post you can now find Facebook “like” , Twitter, Reddit and e-mail buttons. So if you feel you need to share one of our posts with the interwebs just use one of the buttons.
Please share your thoughts on this new feature in the comments!