Academics, journalists and other commentators considered social media as a major driver for mobilization and organization in recent protest movements. Anne Kaun's project, Crisis and Critique, investigates historical forms of media participation of protest movements questioning the overemphasis on social media. The aim is to provide a history of how – often banal – media technologies as means of communication have been employed by protest movements that emerged in the context of major economic crises in order to promote radical social change.
Global Communication Studies
The rapid spread in use of mobile telephony around the world has sparked interest from the research, policy, and practitioner communities, particularly around the roles even simple mobile phone calls and text messages might play in promoting socioeconomic development and broader participation in a global information society. Yet the next stage of this boom—as basic phones are replaced by “smartphones” and other internet-enabled devices—presents new challenges for those who seek to assess, critique, or harness mobile technologies for social good.
New information and communication technologies (ICTs) have transformed our societies dramatically. New ICTs also contributed to creation of online public spaces under repressive cultures. In the past few years, we witnessed how new ICTs were central to any debate of socio-political movements around the world form Tehran to Tahir and form Occupy Wall Street to Occupy Central. Social media and social networking sites were cited as the new catalysts of social change in these contexts. However, still controversies exist about the role new ICTs played in these movements.
Mobile phones are tools for activism and civic participation, surveillance and repression, market making, and market disruption. In Ithiel de Sola Pool's memorable phrase, there have been few “technologies of freedom” that match the consequences of these new instruments and the infrastructure that supports them. This conference examines dimensions of the social, political, and economic effects of the global ubiquity of mobile phones:
Seen as a political actor, the anonymous individual has often been interpreted as being a threat to the democratic process. With the lack of identity, comes a lack of intent to take culpability for ones actions, which in turn, leads to a disregard for social norms. At the same time, anonymity, and pseudonymity, have been seen as valuable processes in ensuring fearless participation in the democratic process.
Internet advocacy has been credited with recent successful campaigns. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), two copyright enforcement bills, were defeated in the U.S., online organizing led to large-scale street protests against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in Europe, and online organizing has helped drive the current Network Neutrality debate to a record level of FCC comments.