Michel Bauwens and Sam Rose on the Choke Point Project

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  • Balkanizálódik az internet?: "Sokan várták az internettől, hogy demokratizáló hatása lesz minden társadalomra, ám az elmúlt években a politika számos országban rácáfolt erre."

In English: http://chokepointproject.net/?p=129


Interview

"The image above is from a Hungarian publication which interviewed us this week. They asked us a few question like how the CPP differs from OpenNet Initiative with it’s focus on concentrating mostly on the possibility of complete Internet blockouts and the ways to circumvent it by means of “distributed internet infrastructures”.


Arpad: “Could we specify, with examples, what we mean by these infrastructures?”

Michel Bauwens and Sam Rose (CCP): ” ‘Distributed Internet Infrastructures’ in relationship to the physical layer of networks means that there is actually a physical “many to many” distribution of hardware itself. This hardware presumably connects in a network in ad-hoc ways, although that it is not required. This type of infrastructure is likely actually very rarer right now in comparison to existing government and corporate owned/controlled physical networks. However, ChokePoint Project will potentially show all connectivity, which could include where people are routing around using combinations of existing hardware networks, too. Most of the “circumvention” from activists in Egypt, for instance, happened by way of using existing government physical telephony systems. We still think, however, that it is really important for us to also keep an eye out for emerging p2p (or”distributed”) hardware networking technologies, because they are evolving so fast that they could soon become a significant part of networks in some areas of the world.”


Arpad: “Do we think that the “Balkanization” of the Internet is also a tendency in Western-type democracies, the way for example Evgeny Morozov sees it?”

Michel Bauwens and Sam Rose(CCP): “Depends on what you mean by Balkanization. If you mean that there is a danger that nationally-controlled internets created protected zones, such as with the Great Firewall of China, or the censorship in Iran, then that is definitely a real danger. An European country like Italy, even if it does not directly censor, makes internet access very difficult, for example for illegal migrants who cannot show official papers. Even in democratic Europe, we have to be very alert to this type of developments and mentality, recently displayed so evidently by Sarkozy during the eG8. But as far as Balkanization concerns in the context of the recent book on the Filter Bubble, I do not think that the freedom to choose one information stream is a negative for democracy on the contrary. People are complex both because they have different sides of themselves, and because they have a multitude of friends with different backgrounds; all communities have ‘boundary spanners’, that function as curators for unlikely material; and as long as we maintain collective social spaces, we will encounter difference. Autocrats have always feared the free flow of information and the free choice of information sources, but repeatedly in history, the broadening of information and choice has been proven to be beneficial, and not a negative.”


Arpad: “Do we think the Internet automatically fosters democratic processes in the long run in any society? Or does the architecture of the Internet need a major restructuring to achieve this? If yes, how?”

Michel Bauwens and Sam Rose(CCP): “One has to distinguish the peer to peer socialization that can occur independent of the precise topology of the network, i.e. Egyptians used Facebook, from the network topology itself. This means that even in controlled environments, as long as people can horizontally connect and organize, the internet will create more and more channels for self-organisation and public discourse; however, to the degree that networks are controlled, and subtly manipulated, to that degree public discourse and mentalities can be steered in particular ways. One could argue that Facebook has a ‘neoliberal’ structure. Nevertheless, compared to one way mass media where there was no recourse, I believe overall there has been substantial progress of the autonomization of civil society. What matters is not necessarily a wholesale restructuring of the internet, but a careful attention to the invisible infrastructures that steer communication, and to build strong user communities that can react to corporate and governmental attempts at enclosure and manipulation. It was always, and will remain, a constant struggle. Technology can help but is no substitute for social struggle.” (http://chokepointproject.net/?p=129)