Copy It Right!
On sharing, caring, data and network politics
In the recent years personal data became a valuable resource for politics and economy. Data, also referred to as «the new oil», helped technology companies like Google, Apple and Amazon to become the most prosperous companies of today. Since most digital services like Facebook, Twitter or Google are free of charge, some might wonder why there is no place with more financial resources than Silicon Valley.
Writers like Hannes Grassegger point out that these services are not free at all, the currency used is personal data. What others call «platform capitalism» is simply the ability to predict. Knowing how people will behave is a priceless good in today's society.
Researches at the Cambridge University have demonstrated that Facebook-Likes can be used to automatically and accurately predict a range of highly sensitive personal attributes including: sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political views, personality traits, intelligence, happiness, use of addictive substances, parental separation, age, and gender.
These findings are not only generating plenty of interest in the field of economy, but also in politics. During the US elections of 2016 the discredited company Cambridge Analytica used the same methodologies to create persuasive, big data informed, campaigns for Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
But how does this data actually look? How can we access it and gain a understanding of it’s materiality?
Alternatively to Facebook and others, new social platform like Mastodon and Fritter appeared on the net. The latter is based on peer-to-peer technology (latter called p2p) using an alternative protocol: dat://. The dat:// protocol is developed to use p2p technology to share websites. Similar to previous projects, like BitTorrent, dat:// does not need a centralized server, it uses a network of connected computer to serve files. This means that there is no centralized entity owning the files, instead these are shared among the computers connected to the network. Beaker Browser offers the possibility to surf the network using this p2p technology making every user the owner of their website: no servers required! The downside is that unless there is a big community keeping your website alive, your files may be unreachable while your computer is off. Therefore this technology relies on a community that shares the files of your website in the network and keeping it alive. The network in this case functions as common, in which there is no ownership, but rather the network and its livelihood is shared among the users.
From a designers perspective p2p systems like Beaker Browser offer each user the possibility to openly share the source code of their own website. This gives each user the possibility to copy or improve the existing code, or to implement it in the own website with minor tweaks. In this system the knowledge is openly shared, this means that the knowledge becomes a common. Such technology may give aground for new ways of designing that are the result of emergence rather than creation, in the sense that by copying, tweaking and improving the design will be shaped by community/common knowledge.
During the 3-day workshop the students learn how to access, read and work with their personal data. Through that, they will be confronted with the political and societal implications of data. Every student will develop a small project with their personal data as starting point. A brief glimpse into creative coding will be provided, but the students are encouraged to focus on there individual design practice.
All results will be published on a peer-to-peer-website and shared among the students. They will work with p2p technology to create independent networks in the class. An important part will be to actually copy, extend and collaborate on each others websites in order to explore networks in the context of the common.
The final result will be shown and discussed in the class.
There are no coding skill required. Also it’s optional to use creative coding as tool and students are encouraged to embed their personal data into their individual design praxis. If someone has interest in exploring code, Yann and Max are happy to assist and help.
|10:00 – 12:00||Introduction, course presentation, the politics of data, peer-to-peer based alternatives, software installation|
|12:00 – 13:00||Lunch|
|13:00 – 15:45||Access & download your data, get a brief glimpse into creative coding as possible tool
15 min break after
|16:00 – 16:30||Discussion: How can you embed those concept into your own practice?|
|09:00 – 12:00||Creative Coding: How to fetch and parse your data, introduction to Ajax and Json|
|12:00 – 13:00||Lunch|
|13:00 – 15:30||Individual work and mentoring|
|16:00 – 16:30||Discussion: What can I copy from my classmates? How do the concepts of the common and open source influence my practice?|
|16:30 – 18:00||Individual work|
|18:00 – 19:00||Lecture: Yann & Max|
|09:00 – 11:00||beaker browser, dat input|
|12:00 – 13:00||lunch|
|13:00 – 15:00||End: Presentation in the group, discussion and feedback|
The students learn about the political and societal implications of personal data and networks. They learn how to access, read and work with their personal data. Furthermore students learn the concepts of p2p technology and how to build such websites.They get introduced to the idea of common in the context of network and alternatives to Facebook and other social media platforms.
References / Ressources
Politics of data:
Hannes Grassegger, Das Kapital bin Ich – Schluss mit der digitalen Leibeigenschaft, Berlin: Kein & Aber, 2014
Michal Kosinski, David Stillwell, Thore Graepel, «Digital records of behavior expose personal traits», PNAS 110 (15), 9. April , 2013, 5802–5805 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1218772110
«Cambridge Analytica Files», The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/news/series/cambridge-analytica-files
Alternative Social Networks
Access to your Facebook data: https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account/
P5JS creative coding library: https://p5js.org/
Dat protocol: https://datproject.org/
Beaker Browser: https://beakerbrowser.com/
Dat and Beaker (video talk): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJ_WvfF3FN8&feature=youtu.be&t=799
BitTorrent technology: BitTorrent
Github Pages: https://pages.github.com/
Visual Studio Code
- Install Visual Studio Code
- Go to Plugins and search for Live Server by Ritwick Dey -> Install
- Open current project folder in Visual Studio Code
- In the bottom right corner click -> Go Live
- A browser window will open showing the project.