goodtosee #4: “take action” digital grassroots initiatives/ Germany

I came across a couple of really interesting grassroots initiatives in the context of net politics recently, which I’d like to share today. In the course of the annual re:publica conference (Berlin, 13-15 April) quite some net initiatives have been launched in Germany. First of all, the Blogger Markus Beckedahl from Netzpolitik.org and others have created the non-profit association “Digital Society”. Its main goal is to launch critical campaigns concerning issues such as data privacy or the widely debated law on Vorratsdatenspeicherung (data retention). If you’re interested in this newly constituted association you might want to watch the interview with Markus Beckedahl on the re:publica channel here (in German):


– Amongst other interviews such as the one with Maxwell Salzberg, the founder of the social networking platform Diaspora (see also blogpost goodtosee #1). Concerning Vorratsdatenspeicherung I also recommend to check out Florian Klenk’s blog post “Bringt dieses Gesetz in Brüssel zu Fall” or the Facebook group “Stop Vorratsdatenspeicherung“.

Moreover, Wolfgang Sander-Beuermann from the “SuMa-eV, Verein für freien Wissenszugang” (see also this blog post) has formulated a proposal against the increasing “dominance of the Internet by global online companies”, as may be read on the SuMa-Ev Website (in German again):

Google im Bereich der Suchmaschinen, Facebook bei den sozialen Netzwerken und Apple im Musikgeschäft sind die Symbole einer zunehmenden Monopolisierung des Internets. Die Idee einer offenen Plattform, einer Agora, auf der sich die Bürgerinnen und Bürger des globalen Dorfes treffen und austauschen können, ist durch die zunehmende Monopolisierung und Segmentierung bedroht. Gerade in Bereich der Suchmaschinen droht hier die Balance zwischen Öffentlichkeit und privaten Unternehmensinteressen außer Tritt zu geraten.

He put forward his suggestion to the newly installed Enquete Commission “Internet and Digital Society” of the German Bundestag. If you would like to support this initiative you can vote for it here:

Finally, the book “Datenfresser. Wie Internetfirmen und Staat sich unsere persönlichen Daten einverleiben und wie wir die Kontrolle darüber zurückerlangen” by Constanze Kurz (Chaos Computer Club) and Frank Rieger may be interesting to read. It treats an increasingly important issue, the collection and commodification of our data by Internet companies, but it also seems to go beyond that by showing us ways to protect ourselves. That’s the impression I got from their website at least.. I guess I’ll order it soon. If you come across similar, or also different initiatives, – please do post them in the comments! I’m sure there is more out there, also beyond the German border hopefully! (What about Austria or Sweden?)

SWAMP: studies of work atmosphere and mass production

SWAMP (studies of work atmosphere and mass production) is an art label that creates entertaining, yet critical art works, which I highly recommend to check out on their website! That is how they describe themselves:

SWAMP is the collaborative effort of artists Douglas Easterly and Matt Kenyon. Their work focuses on critical themes addressing the effects of global corporate operations, mass media and communication, military-industrial complexes, and general meditations on the liminal area between life and artificial life. SWAMP has been making work in this vein since 1999 using a wide range of media, including custom software, electronics, mechanical devices, and often times working with living organisms. Easterly is a Senior Lecturer and Programme Director of Digital Media Design at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Kenyon is an Assistant Professor in the School of Visual Arts at Penn State University in the United States.

Amongst their wide range of works I particulaly like “coke is it”. This piece questions coke’s marketing strategies with the help of the roboter c3 that destructs itself by drinking coke. Enjoy!

Coke is it from matt kenyon on Vimeo.

Other brilliant works are the “tardigotchi” or the “improvised empathetic device”, which helps to raise awareness to the death and violence occuring in Iraq by creating direct physical pain from the reported events of killed American soldiers.

Thanks Lisa Swanstrom for having introduced me to this great art and for having organized a super interesting Skype interview with Matt Kenyon in the HUMlab!