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<nettime> The Language of Politics
d.garcia on Tue, 14 Oct 2014 17:04:50 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> The Language of Politics

Spaces for the Language of Politics

It will be well known in these parts that European Commission is involved in 
an anti-trust struggle/investigation with Google. The threat of a $6 billion 
fine may hurt, just a bit, but in the end it will be little more than a 
pinprick given the mountain of cash and power that Google is sitting on.

The larger question is how to move to a more generative place than the 
pleasurable but futile pastime of ritualised google bashing? The more 
interesting question is whether there is the political will to build new 
spaces for the social media era, capable of conjuring something like a 
genuine public sphere. Meaning what? Meaning a place, with critical mass, 
where we participate as citizens not customers.

Its not always an easy distinction to draw- Habermass made a good job of 
explaining why the distinction can be so tricky -Because private enterprise 
evoke in their customers the idea that in their consumption decisions they 
act in their capacity as citizens the state has to address its citizens as 

If even the most ardent advocates of a free market would draw the line at 
the buying and selling of votes then a reasonable corollary would be that 
public discourse - to be truly public - can not plausibly operate in spaces 
that are founded on profit optimising filters and algorithms.

Even though it feels like history, just a few weeks ago in the Scottish 
Referendum, British politicians suddenly awoke -briefly- from their 
neo-liberal slumber, to discover that financial arguments within which they 
had sought to exclusively couch the debate were not enough. They realised, with a 
collective jolt, that large numbers of people had re-discovered the language 
of politics and how, at key historical moments, the language of politics 
trumps exclusive reliance on the language of money. The terms of the debate 
were hurriedly reconfigured. The level of participation in that political 
moment speaks volumes for the importance of rediscovering this language.

Developing alluring spaces to rival with the behemoths (with their 
serendipity engines and happiness experiments) that are secure and ad free 
will be very very hard. Particularly given the great vaults of data their 
head- start has given them. Its even more difficult to imagine any crowd 
funded DIY tactical solution that will make a dent. Maybe its time to admit that 
sometimes we need an institutional solutions and scale. A properly resourced, public 
service model, funded through general taxation. Judging by the the level of 
the discussion taking place in the European Commission this is the least likely 
outcome but it doesn't make the need any less urgent.

Is this a deeply unimaginative narrowly statist approach, quite out of tune 
with the reality of the technological paradigm of informationalism and 
networks ? Probably. But if not this then where are the natively internet 
spaces Wikipedia or Linux? Move On/Avaz. hmmm What else is on the table?  

slightly longer version at: 

d a v i d  g a r c i a

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