Joss Hands – @ Is For Activism: Dissent, Resistance And Rebellion In A Digital Culture

Joss Hands

Pluto Press, ISBN: 978-0745327006, 2011, English, 224 pages
After all the myths about the magical use of digital networks for political reasons, including the north African uprisings, and the consequent hype, it’s healthy to read a book focusing on giving context and perspective to practices. Hands feels it a necessity to question what Slavoj Zizek calls “interpassivity”, or the illusion of doing something (like the popular act of signing online petitions) which don’t really affect the problem, and gives the agent the reassuring feeling of a better conscience without taking any risk, technically defined by Malcolm Gladwell as “clicktivism.” These actions have in some cases, however, lead to successful collective strategies. Taking as a compass the three directions of activism, clearly explained (dissent, resistance and rebellion) the author is not only reexamining famous cases like the Iran rebellion or the Obama campaign’s use of social networks, but also comparing Current TV vs. Free Speech TV business models, explaining the definition of the network as a moral machine and analyzing internet protocols. He’s well aware, for example, that Twitter is not, as mainstream media depicted it, the magic bullet for revolutions. But he also points out that the ubiquitousness of global capital make it very vulnerable to mobilization organized via social networks. And furthermore his vision is to push on openness (undermining surveillance), possibly making networked spaces into zones of contestations, supporting a real chance of meaningful change.