In early June Yochai Benkler spoke at the Personal Democracy Forum about the political power of networked activism.
Drawing on the campaign against the proposed SOPA and PIPA copyright and intellectual property laws, he describes the influential nodes (eg., TechDirt and the Electronic Frontier Foundation) that drove awareness and action on the issues.
Important to the discussion is how radicalized media environments and information systems have changed the way politics, policies and democracy works.
A “loose” transcription comes from OpenCongress:
The networked public sphere is composed of layers. There are the traditional media organizations and they continue to play a role, but interestingly, in this dimension they are not in a privileged position. They are complemented by blogs that allow particularly engaged & knowledgeable individuals… to play substantial roles. We see the tech media, not at all political, playing a critical role. We see traditional NGOs also playing a large role as info brokers & sources of education, and amazingly enough, over 3 dozen special purpose action sites that are set up specifically to find a way to block the legislation… one or two of them stick, and they move forward, and they stop this piece of legislation.
Together creating a tapestry that is in fact the nature of the networked public sphere. No, not everyone is a pamphleteer, but we’re also not falling off a cliff. What you see is a complex relationship between NGOS & commercial organizations, between V.C.’s & activists, b/w traditional media & online media, between political media left & right and tech media, all weaving together a model of actually looking, learning, mobilizing for action, and blocking [SOPA]. This, ideally, is the shape of the networked public sphere.
Recommended Bonus: If you haven’t read it and are interested in how peer production and the information economy works, how the Internet can (and should) reimagine property and the commons, and how all this affects personal freedoms, read Benklar’s The Wealth of Networks (PDF). It’s simply one of the, if not the, most important books on these topics. There’s also an an ever evolving Wiki that you can dive into too.
Run Time: ~16:00.