Utopia and dystopia: hacking the sublime

Utopia and dystopia: hacking the sublime

Utopia and dystopia

In the 1990s, John Perry Barlow, founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, published the Cyberspace Declaration of Independence online. It is a strongly poetic and utopian text in which Barlow outlined his vision of the network: a space that is truly without borders, ungovernable and uncontrollable by the governments of the "real" world and a terrain of conquest for a new generation, free from the constraints of politics. and the economy.

For Barlow, the internet should have become a new, different and completely independent world. Barlow's was a splendid dream that has inspired for years the myths of cyberspace and of the network as a frontier, a positive ideal vision that in no way resembles what we have instead built.

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Listen on Apple Podcast Listen on Spreaker Listen on Spotify Listen on iHeartRadio Listen on Google Podcast Listen on Castbox Listen on Deezer Listen on Podcast Addict Listen on Podchaser Listen on JioSaavn All episodes The reality is that - unfortunately - cyberspace does not exist. The Internet is anything but a space detached from the reality in which politics, the economy and all the other social dynamics that influence our lives outside the digital world operate. On several occasions, however, we have still looked at the Internet in this way, attributing to it almost magical powers and abilities as if it were an alien force capable of influencing our world from the outside. We have done this in different ways over the decade at the center of the stories we are telling in Code Revolutionaries, moving from imagining sublime utopias to very dark dystopias.

At the beginning of the decade, the internet seemed to be the main engine for democracy when, around 2011, people took to the streets all over the world, dreaming dangerously. Then, when things began to go wrong for democracies, with the Leave victory in the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 presidential election, for example, it was all the Internet's fault. From being an intrinsically democratic tool of liberation, the Internet had become a propaganda weapon in the arms of the enemies of democracy and the cause of all the evils of democracy. Suddenly, in short, if democracy was in crisis in the world, it was because of the Internet. Somehow, if you notice, we are still in that cultural climate.

In this fifth installment of the Revolutionaries in Code podcast, we question these ways in which we have talked about the Internet in the decade behind us, trying to dispel some mythical visions with which the assumptions "effects" of the network on democracy have been expressed in the public debate. This is an experiment that wants to push us to look beyond the oscillations between utopia and dystopia that have characterized digital debates in the last ten years. In fact, if we want to imagine a different Internet in the near future and if we want it to contribute to creating a better and fairer society, we need to break this spell and surrender to a fact: the Internet is not a world apart that works according to dynamics and own rules.

Contrary to the previous ones, in this episode we will not talk about a person's life, but about how the biographies we have told with this podcast can be a prism to see also the Internet that we will have to build and the its role at the center of reality. It is a work of imagination to be started as soon as possible in order to avoid the possibility that, once again, technological determinism and what sociologist Vincent Mosco has called “digital sublime” are driving these visions. Be it positive or negative. In short, it is time to hack the way we look at the internet.

Revolutionaries in code is written by Philip Di Salvo and told together with Federico Ferrazza, while the production is curated by Giulia Rocco and Luca Zorloni . Revolutionaries in code is a podcast that examines, through extraordinary biographies, the future of democracy, a theme at the center of the sportsgaming.win Next Fest in Milan scheduled for 7 and 8 October.

Have a good listening.

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