BWPWAP Networks with Geert Lovink
Social Media: From Complaints to Alternative Tools
This presentation gives a strategic overview of the philosophical underpinnings of the Unlike Us project, a network of designers, geeks, activists and researchers that investigates both critique and alternatives in social media. Many believe that we should not get stuck in our culture of complaint about privacy and do something about it instead. Unlike Us was founded in July 2011 and has, thus far, been coordinated mainly by the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam. Unlike Us has an active list of 700 members, a blog, and has produced a reader, two conferences in Cyprus and Amsterdam (and a third on March 22-23, 2013) and has hosted workshops in Berlin and elsewhere. The central aim of Unlike Us is to discuss the very concepts of alternative network architectures. Whereas some believe that we should not underestimate the efficiency of centralized infrastructure, others have pointed at the real-existing utopia of decentralized and distributed initiatives (for instance in peer-to-peer and mesh networks). In contrast, what is this buzz around a “federated Web”? Are these ideas simply coming too late or is it still possible to deconstruct power structures? It is time to emphasize the tool character of apps (from “making things” to causing revolutions). It is time to disrupt the flow of updates. The idea is not to design the Ultimate Facebook Competitor. Unlike Us discusses efforts to inscribe alternative social relations into Internet protocol itself and what we can learn from existing activist platforms such as Lorea.