On the transformation of everyday culture in an era of liquid modernity

Archive for the ‘post-piratical’ Category

New article: Piracy as activism

In cultural industries, everyday life, file-sharing, media ecology, p2p, politics, post-piratical, Sweden on February 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I have a couple of new academic articles in the pipeline.

The first one to be published in 2011 is found in the bilingual online Greek journal Re-Public, which has a current theme issue on the topic of “piracy as activism”. The aim of this issue is to explore “pirate practices and subjectivities in terms of their resistance to the dominant organisations of everyday life” (quoting the editors’ own introduction), and it’s out now, available in both Greek and English.

“It takes (at least) two to tango” is a short article about the activist subject and the pirate subject – and how it seems impossible to maintain agential “purity” in an era that is characterised by an even more complex tangle of agency, in which we as subjects are embedded. My argument, in short, is that the forms of activism found online, connected to what is commonly called the “pirate” movement, are hard to separate from consumerism and entrepreneurialism, given that what is traded remains to be products from the cultural industry, and that all forms of establishment of hubs, sites and the likes are akin to (real or potential) commercial ventures, albeit of an “outlaw” or “rogue” kind.

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“Efter The Pirate Bay”

In file-sharing, media ecology, media history, net neutrality, p2p, post-piratical, Sweden on October 18, 2010 at 9:08 am

In September 2010, me and Pelle Snickars (Head of Research at Sweden’s Royal Library) released an anthology called Efter The Pirate Bay, a reader aimed at the Swedish general reading public, featuring a range of interesting authors on the subject of file-sharing, digitization, copyright reform and the “pirate” movement in Sweden.

See this link for more info. Unfortunately, Efter The Pirate Bay is only available in Swedish, and no English translation is planned. However, the national public interest in Sweden has been considerable, and I believe that many of the insights that I draw on in my currently finalized Ph.D. thesis and in the book are of interest to the English-language reading public as well.

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Q&A re “pirate politics”

In politics, post-piratical, Sweden on October 13, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Goldsmiths MA student and “occasional journalist” Justin Pickard recently contacted me to debrief me regarding some background material for a forthcoming Wired article on “pirate politics”. Here’s an edit of our email exchange, for the record:

I guess, when being asked about “pirate politics,” that the Pirate Bay court case and the subsequent popularity of The Pirate Party (in the European Parliament elections) here in Sweden has showed that there is a huge civic, national interest in questions regarding digitization, changing conditions for copyright, and issues of privacy, surveillance, data retention etc. The problem is that the mainstream parties have failed to properly debate these things, to bring them up onto the agenda.

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The Pirate Bay: Two important speculations

In file-sharing, marketing, media ecology, p2p, politics, post-piratical, Sweden on July 1, 2009 at 9:51 am

Following the announcement that The Pirate Bay will be sold to a Swedish software company, there has been a lot of turmoil and dissent in online communities.

With his typical, holier-than-thou, straight faced idealism, the Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde says in his Twitter feed: ‘People hate me now for wanting to pause the 6 year free work we’ve been doing. Feels unfair.’

Why? Because the move to sell the website appears to be part of a greater manoeuvre, that the men behind The Pirate Bay have hinted about in various forms over the last year. Although a situation like this can give rise to a lot of speculation, it is therefore important to note two things…

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The Pirate Bay: Commercial acquisition in a media-historic perspective

In file-sharing, history, marketing, media ecology, p2p, politics, post-piratical, Sweden on July 1, 2009 at 9:18 am

On June 30th, 2009, The Pirate Bay announced that they are to sell their trademark and website to the Swedish software company Global Gaming Factory X, with the proviso that said company can raise the 60 million SEK (€5,5 million) needed. If it is true that the purchase will come to pass, it will be a very interesting development in terms of media history.

This is a translation of my editorial published on Swedish debate site Newsmill.se.

As a PhD student writing my thesis on Swedish file-sharing, and with a general interest in digitization as a material and historical process, I instantly thought of two observations, rooted in media history:

(1) First of all, it shows that unrestricted file-sharing need not be antithetical to capitalism. In fact, it can be argued to be as much a product of capitalism as tabloid newspapers, pyramid schemes, and ring tones.

So-called “illegal” file sharing sites and services often have a latent commercial potential, right from the beginning. The Pirate Bay has for a long while been financed by advertising and merchandise sales, for example.

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1999 > 1968 ?

In history, politics, post-piratical on April 29, 2009 at 12:14 pm

The politics of the net contain the remedy to its own inherent populism. These politics are arguably more about an “us-against-us” than an “us-against-them”.

The net is boiling and the sentence against The Pirate Bay has raised the temperature. Online civic mobilisation is bubbling throughout Europe, regarding the possible amendments to the EU Telecoms Reform Package which can guarantee better rights for everyday users, in the face of increasing commercialisation, segmentation and regulation. As the political mobilisation regarding all this has swelled very rapidly over the last months, in Sweden it has recently been suggested that this online civil movement is beginning to reach some predictable states, where self-appointed spokesmen and pre-written party manifestos appear. This is a translation of my response to those suspicions, recently published on the Swedish debate site Newsmill.se.

Something is in the air. Spring is blooming, online as well as offline. However, the roots of today’s online political mobilisation are arguably found in the digital revolution of 1999 rather than in the political turning point that was 1968.

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The people who wouldn’t allow endlessly molecular slippage

In file-sharing, media ecology, philosophy, politics, post-piratical, Sweden on March 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm

In Sweden, we seem to prefer even the most nebulous, awesomely vast and non-overseeable phenomenon to be formulated in terms that carry at least a modicum of solidarity and national-corporatist coherence.

The state battles file-sharing using corporatist measures, but ironically the file-sharing world itself – as a product of the same society, the same morality and concept of liberty – is also construed in corporatist terms (albeit of a slightly different flavour than the strong-arm authoritarian state corporatism that the EU currently favours towards all things digital). But this is perhaps also what gives the Swedish file-sharing phenomenon its potency; pirates, warts and all.

Here follows some more excerpts/cut-outs from my thesis…

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To speak for one’s own network

In file-sharing, media ecology, philosophy, politics, post-piratical, Sweden on March 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm

The first Pirate Bay trial is over (the verdict is due to be announced on April the 17th, and I write “first” as it will probably be followed by appeals upon appeals).
A new decade is upon us. This comes to mark what I, and many people with me, would argue is the “post-piratical” era
.

The files have already been uploaded. A jurisdictional bulwark (IPRED; ACTA; FRA; data retention) has been raised throughout Europe, to allegedly deal with the nastier sides of unrestricted file-sharing – while the everday, small-scale sharing of perfectly normal individuals continues and seems to do so for the unforeseeable future, and while even bigger, more institutionalised actors like The Pirate Bay seem slippery to blame and to admonish. This, since the entire phenomenon appears to be distinguished by an agency that is so fractured and distributed, that no one actor can be said to bear the only responsibility.
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