Interpreting The Logan Symposium … Part 1

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Our initial preview of the CIJ2016 Logan Symposium is here.

work-in-progress

Many inspiring tales to take from The Logan Symposium, which brought together journalists, activists, hackers, technical specialists and citizens aiming together to Challenge Power ! The theme of the event brought into sharp focus the multi-layered aspects which are endangering the space for democracies and a free press to evolve around the globe.

Not surprising, given all the changes in media brought on by digital environments, many sessions were dedicated to the new tools in the arsenal today for investigative journalism.

Given the XLterrestrials long-developing critiques with all the fallout from technotopian dreams, contradictions and corporate takeovers, we found many points of contention with a conference for journalists which is still charging ahead with such technological faith, without deeper critical analysis about where these territories have been and are still leading us.

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To begin, we’ll start at the end, the closing address, a Google-hangout chat with Edward Snowden.

While we all can and should be inspired by the whistleblowers now coming out of the US imperialist situation… Snowden is a 32 year-old “digital native” IT security specialist who spent most of his employed experience in service to American secret intelligence agencies, and has yet to show a truly global (nor radical) perspective on what havoc technological krapitalism and/or californian ideology has wrought upon humanity and the lives in the digital “coal mines” – ie. the entire spectrum: from unemployed Frackbook users/surfers in Idaho, to the slave labor ( i.e cobalt extraction )  in the Congo and/or chip-manufacturers in maquiladoras or Foxconn , to a teacher in rural India.

Which reminds us, that the most fascinating interaction we’ve seen so far with Snowden was the visit from Arundhati Roy

While his insights about security, privacy and civil liberties carry a unique insider perspective, we believe it might take some time before he would grasp, much less take a position in, the heavier dystopian view of an expanding and transnational “cybernetic regime”.

While most of what he conveyed in his address to the Logan audience was not very new, it was interesting to hear him first use the word ” techno-utopian” … and to mention a Marxist notion of “seizing the means of communication”.

But even that gets more complicated …

{ work-in-progress }

Secondly, the story of activist + tech adept Tim Jenkin provided for us some odd perspective. His incredible tales of helping to break the apartheid regime in South Africa and achieving a daring jailbreak w/ his colleague Stephen Lee after being arrested for working with the banned ANC  is the real stuff of Rebel Legends.

But we believe that analyzing HOW his accomplishments were framed at such a symposium might be constructive…

Namely, that highlighting the technical breakthroughs without taking into account the multiple factors and players in the black population’s fight for freedom in S. Africa is a little problematic…

While communications ARE absolutely essential in such a battle with the state as Jenkin tells us, the narrow perspective we got is one which aligns with the technological fetishism of the hacker community … and does little to shine light on the broader spectrum of political tools in the citizens’ toolbox that when combined can bring a racist authoritarian regime down.

Would it be too much to ask to have provided some actual voices from the ANC, which was the militant force and brave leadership for which Jenkin’s brilliant technical skills became such an asset ?

Given that the conference already had some cultural diversity and multi-cultural perspective issues, this became a kind of glaring omission… and not to say this is Jenkin’s fault …  But we are already highly sensitive to this, since we are especially  concerned that our dilemmas in the tech sectors could be better addressed when they are being analyzed in collaboration with cultures of resistance that are approaching struggles from positions far outside the realm of IT… and all those colonial tech industries.

While we – XLT – are not historians, a brief review of the S. African struggle reveals black labor unions, the leverage of a large militant force, violent clashes, a charismatic leader in prison, economic sanctions + solidarity movements + boycotts … all central to breaking the back of white colonial rule ( which is far from over ). Communications and a clever encryption tool being apart of all that. But let’s not over-fetishize it.

It feels as though an awkward potential for a weird “white tech savior” narrative emerges if one over-emphasizes its importance.

to be cont.

Note: we have removed a foto posted of Anas Aremeyaw Anas, an undercover journalist working in Ghana and across the African continent… as the program had requested NO PHOTOS FOR THIS SESSION, which we’ve only later discovered. He presented from behind a screen, as a silhouette, and then briefly coming out to sit briefly with the moderator with a very unusual beaded mask.

But this uncovers another strange oddity, when one realizes the only African journalist keynote speaker present at a conference for journalists must not show himself. Certainly not the fault of Anas, but a powerful contextual image to reflect upon in the extreme asymetrical global struggles of mass mediation, technologies and the voices from a subjugated developing world.

Our foto was from a distance of the silhouette. Perhaps we can get permission to use it, but will proceed with caution until advised.

Added:

RT > Voice Republic ?@_VoiceRepublic 1h1 hour ago

@SomersetBean Snowden speech can be listen to and downloaded here https://voicerepublic.com/talks/edward-snowden … # LoganCIJ16 #podcst

more archived links to come !

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