18.621 new book; work on Design for Civil Society / Technology and Social Action

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 9 Mar 2005 07:29:57 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 621.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: Maja van der Velden <maja_at_xs4all.nl> (182)
         Subject: Fwd: My (Gianluca's) book - "On the Net Boundaries"

   [2] From: Maja van der Velden <maja_at_xs4all.nl> (65)
         Subject: Design for Civil Society / Technology and Social

         Date: Wed, 09 Mar 2005 07:17:54 +0000
         From: Maja van der Velden <maja_at_xs4all.nl>
         Subject: Fwd: My (Gianluca's) book - "On the Net Boundaries"

From: Gianluca Miscione <gianluca.miscione_at_gmail.com>
Date: February 26, 2005 7:02:36 PM CET
To: maja_at_xs4all.nl
Reply-To: gianluca.miscione_at_soc.unitn.it


MY WORK draws an analytical trajectory through some of the main topics related
to the Internet. The guiding line of the work is discursive, but not
speculative. Indeed the relation with empirical reality is based on
theoretical sampling (all main positions are supported by addressing cases).

The overall sensibility for this matter is rooted in readings of French
post-structuralists, in research activities in sociology of communication,
in a work as a journalist, and in a "culture" lived personally.

Being skeptical about the reclaimed autonomy/independence of the
I focused my attention on its relations with existing communicative, social
and power relations. My aim was to highlight how infosphere is mutually
interweaved with 'offline' world.

In order to do that, each chapter is focused on an specific aspect and
related boundaries are addressed.


Chapter 1
Technocratic reductionism is criticized for the impossibility to create a
perfect language to represent reality or to communicate universally. The
irrationality of any language does not permit to automate it, and then embed
it into technologies.

Chapter 2
Semiotics show that signs do not mirror reality but construct it on the
social level, characterized by own rules (different from physical ones).
Then, the discussion of net.art (2.1.1), hypertexts (2.2.1),
intertextuality (2.2.2), interfaces (2.2.3) and 'cybergeographies'
2.3) is relevant to describe main characteristics of this space made up of

Chapter 3
Paying attention to real uses of the Internet allows to reflect on the fact
that many projects and ideas theoretically possible failed because of
unexpected social inertia (misleading perceptions, divergent routines, lack
of trust). Scarce success of city-networks (3.1) and Semantic Web (=A7
are two examples of the risk to assume a rational conception of ICT
implementations, forgetting social construction of reality.

Based on those three chapters, the second part arguments the centrality of
social aspects in understanding communication and power on the Internet.

Chapter 4
How is a place where communication is content and place of social relations?
How is experience organized there? Why are those social phenomena rather
than produced by an aggregation of individuals?
Assuming that if people believe something is real, it will be real in its
consequences (Thomas' theorem, 4.4), it is possible (and actual) to
construct imagined and shared places. Intersubjectivity of meanings and weak
context in CMC, emphasize the social construction of virtual spaces, of any
kind. The need of constructed and shared social contexts brings together
constructivism and pragmatism (4.4.3).

Chapter 5
On the political level, are we in a distributed situation in which nobody
and nothing is fundamental for the system to work? Does the lack of
political frontiers -that bond people to political decisions- pulverize a
legitimated debate and decision place?
Contemporary social fragmentation is represented and supported by the
Internet. Indeed many issues arisen from the Internet go towards wider
individual independence and group autonomy. Consequently, the Internet is
more like an arena than an agora.

Chapter 6
The conclusion is that the Internet is an extension of reality -not a
representation- with particular rules and dynamics. Exclusion from it has
the paradoxical effect to produce silence, usually unperceived.

About power and policies on the Internet, I accept a relational conception
of power which is based on the attention to how actions are affected, not
only commanded (5). Indeed the ease to create groups and to escape
national boundaries, and laws (5.1) do not allow to apply power
which rely on a sovereign power (Locke, 5.4). Autonomy and privacy
deal with that reality (5.1).
On the other hand, fluidity of social phenomena on the Internet does not
mean that power is not applicable: servers, data organizations, controls
embedded into technologies, laws that only expert users can go around are
ways to control users.

Public sphere (5.1.1), free speech (5.1.2.), and copyright (5.2)
to deal with the described reality, which does not fit with usual dichotomy
More generally autonomy claims tend to weaken a public and homogeneous
public sphere. Democracy is interpreted more as liberty than as distribution
of power (5.3).
Another relevant dualism is nomos/techn=E9. Since Industrial Revolution laws
and technology prospect diverse futures: (in continental philosophy) laws
are expression and support for politics as "volont=E9 g=E9n=E9rale",
promote social automation and technocracy. About this particular
intersection, it is proposed an analysis of the hackers' phenomenon (
5.3.2. this part has been published on a academic journal).
Opensources and freesoftware ( cases are addressed for their
relevance in circulation of information on the Internet (or in the digital
age). Those movements, which generated similar activities for contents in
general (, propose a conception of knowledge which can be produce
profit without reducing its public utility.

WITH THIS WORK I WANT TO highlight the boundaries of information society, as
far as it assumes the autonomy of cyberspace without dealing with existing
social and power relations. I find this understanding needed to analyze
further and design future activities and policies about the infosphere.
Finally this trajectory explains my interest and perspective on development
issues, where basic and common assumption about knowledge society cannot be
taken for granted.




1. Automatismi
1.1. Automatismi tecnici
1.1.1. Un ritorno all'orizzontalit=E0 originaria della Rete
1.2. Automatismi sociali

2. Rappresentazione, palco e non specchio
2.1. I discorsi dell'arte
2.1.1. Arte in azione, fra produzione e critica
2.2. Metacomunicazione
2.2.1. Il fallimento degli ipertesti
2.2.2. La stratificazione letta dall'intertestualit=E0
2.2.3. Il senso esteso dell'interfaccia
2.2.4. La progettazione, attuale fulcro della produzione comunicativa
2.3. Morfologia dell'ambiente Internet
2.3.1. Immaginare e disegnare l'immateriale: un mondo di mappe concettuali

3. Usi, fra consuetudine e saper fare
3.1. Un esempio dalle reti civiche
3.2 Pratiche e Semantic Web, limiti di un'idea di CMC
3.2.1. Spazi informativi omogenei
3.2.2. Cos'=E8 il Semantic Web
3.2.3. Semantica, ontologie, Semantic Web
3.2.4. I problemi che il Semantic Web prospetta di risolvere
3.2.5. Costituire spazi omogenei di informazione
3.2.6. Modello sotteso di comunicazione, i limiti del progetto
3.2.7. Campi di possibilit=E0
3.2.8. I limiti degli spazi omogenei di informazione
3.2.9. Organizzare la variet=E0, a priori o a posteriori
3.2.10. Comunic-azione, istituzioni e pratiche
3.2.11. Implementazione della dimensione sociale della comunicazione


4. Dalla dimensione sociale all'azione
4.1. Intelligenza collettiva, l'utopia della mente sociale
4.2. Comunicare, fra pensare e fare
4.3. La prevalenza del sociale sul mentale
4.3.1. Comunit=E0 virtuali, province finite di significato
4.4. Definizione della situazione in ambiti reciprocamente costruiti
4.4.1. Un quadro teorico che eccede le scienze sociali
4.4.2. La mediologia, il focus sui media
4.4.3. Convergenza in Rete di costruttivismo sociale e pragmatismo
4.4.4. Dalla competenza all'azione

5. Potere in Rete, fra agora e arena
5.1. Autonomia, riservatezza e libert=E0 di espressione
5.1.1. Pubblico e privato, pubblico e segreto
5.1.2. Libert=E0 di parola
5.2. Distribuzione sociale della conoscenza
5.2.1. Finitezza e scarsit=E0, nuovi spazi ed economia
5.2.2. Aspetti dell'economia della conoscenza Free Software e Opensource Opencontent e Creative Commons
5.3. Conflitti e peculiarit=E0 sollevate
5.3.1. Progetti anarchici, esiti mercantili
5.3.2. h4(K3rZ e Information Warfare Chi sono gli hacker Organizzazione per gruppi e attivit=E0 bellicose Matura un'etica mentre l'informazione diviene fulcro della societ
=E0 Le tre anime dell'hacking Divergenza fra natura della Rete, consuetudini e leggi Un livello macro: le ciberguerre Un medium aperto: humus per ecosistemi fortemente intrecciati
5.4. Limiti della politica

6. Rete fra dialogo, ragione e realt=E0
6.1. Dai limiti al silenzio
6.1.1. L'azione =E8 il limite dell'interpretazione
6.1.2. Rete come rappresentazione ed estensione del reale
6.1.3. Silenzio


Maja van der Velden
Oslo, Norway

Catac mailing list

         Date: Wed, 09 Mar 2005 07:18:46 +0000
         From: Maja van der Velden <maja_at_xs4all.nl>
         Subject: Design for Civil Society / Technology and Social Action

FYI, some work I am participating in:

A special issue of Interacting with Computers - Volume 17, Issue 1, Pages
1-120 (January 2005) - on Design for Civil Society, edited by Steve Walker
and Andy Dearden, is available full text online as a complementary issue.
Yu can read the articles online, download them or send them in pdf format.
This issue has also a contribution by CaTac-er Daniel Cunliffe!

A follow-up on this is a project called Technology and Social Action (see
): "a project to foster dialogue and collaboration between activists in
social movements, voluntary and community organisations and technology
designers. We are committed to supporting communities of practice exploring
effective ways of using technology to support social action, and of
ensuring that technological innovation responds to social priorities.

Greetings, Maja

The (very unhandy) link to the Design for Civil Society issue is:

It has the following articles:

1. Inside Front Cover
Page CO2

2. Designing for civil society =95 EDITORIAL
Pages 1-8
Steve Walker and Andy Dearden

3. Participating in civil society: the case of networked communities
Pages 9-33
Andrea Kavanaugh, John M. Carroll, Mary Beth Rosson, Debbie D. Reese and
Than T. Zin

4. Net neighbours: adapting HCI methods to cross the digital divide
Pages 35-56
Mark Blythe and Andrew Monk

5. Fairtrade.com versus Fairtrade.org=97how Fairtrade organisations use the
Internet =95 ARTICLE
Pages 57-83
Dorothea Kleine

6. Online design for bilingual civil society: a Welsh perspective
Pages 85-104
Daniel Cunliffe and Dilwyn Roberts-Young

7. Programming for cognitive justice: Towards an ethical framework for
democratic code
Pages 105-120
Maja van der Velden

Maja van der Velden
Oslo, Norway

Catac mailing list
Received on Wed Mar 09 2005 - 02:39:34 EST

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