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[Nettime-nl] lezing door elizabeth losh, maandag 31-8 3 uur (UvA)
Geert Lovink on Fri, 28 Aug 2009 10:08:31 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] lezing door elizabeth losh, maandag 31-8 3 uur (UvA)

DIY Authentication: Digital Rhetoric and the Subversive Potential of
Information Culture

Public Lecture and Book Launch by Elizabeth Losh
Writing Director, Humanities Core Course, University of California Irvine, USA

Author of Virtualpolitik: An Electronic History of Government Media- Making in a Time of War, Scandal, Disaster, Miscommunication, and Mistakes (MIT Press, 2009)

Introduction by Geert Lovink

University of Amsterdam, Bushuis, Kloveniersburgwal 48, Room F.2 11B

August 31 2009, 3-5 PM

As the American government becomes an increasingly active content- creator,
officials in the United States have become obsessed with banning certain
applications that allow critics and the general public to generate
authentic looking documents, reports, and online forms. In October of
2006, these anxieties became particularly prominent when a graduate
student in computer science, who was critical of airline security
procedures instituted by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration,
created a humorous web generator that could print what appeared to be
authentic boarding passes from Northwest Airlines. The genre of the online generator, which is used for everything from creating doctored photographs
of church signs to online aliases with superhero names, has become a
particularly popular vehicle for political satire in the current Internet
reputation economy, as PHP programs are circulated amongst those who use
their basic programming skills to create Internet ephemera capable of
creating more Internet ephemera, an activity that is sometimes seen as
extremely threatening to the virtual state.

Today government agencies not only have official Web sites but also
sponsor moderated chats, blogs, digital video clips, online tutorials,
videogames, and virtual tours of national landmarks. Sophisticated online marketing campaigns target citizens with messages from the government— even as officials make news with digital gaffes involving embarrassing e- mails,
instant messages, and videos. In Virtualpolitik, Elizabeth Losh closely
examines the government's digital rhetoric in such cases and its dual role
as media-maker and regulator.

In describing how the Bush administration often struggled with
understanding computational media, Losh reports on a video game that
panicked the House Intelligence Committee, government Web sites produced
in the weeks and months following 9/11, PowerPoint presentations by
government officials and gadflies, e-mail as a channel for whistleblowing,
videogames for the military and first responders, national digital
libraries, and computer-based training for public health professionals.

Losh concludes that the government's virtualpolitik—its digital
realpolitik aimed at preserving its own power—is focused on regulation,
casting as criminal such common online activities as file sharing,
videogame play, and social networking. This policy approach, she warns,
indefinitely postpones building effective institutions for electronic
governance, ignores constituents' need to shape electronic identities to
suit their personal politics, and misses an opportunity to learn how
citizens can have meaningful interaction with the virtual manifestations
of the state.


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