Athina Karatzogianni – Firebrand Waves of Digital Activism 1994-2014: The Rise and Spread of Hacktivism and Cyberconflict


Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN: 978-0230242463, English, 200 pages, 2015, UK

Digital activism started simultaneously with the commercialisation of the Internet, embodying the desire to expand and materialise the promise of a horizontally democratic medium. Since then it has evolved in a different direction. Karatzogianni tries to reconstruct this evolution and the events and major forces that have influenced it. She defines four ‘waves” of upsurge, defining events that have significantly changed social and political conditions, with direct repercussion to activists’ activities, especially in the digital global arena. The first wave of digital activism (1994-2001) is defined from the first Internet experiments to 9/11, which radically transformed the attitude of online dissent. The second wave (2001-2007) includes the Iraqi war and the third wave (2007-2010) includes Obama as the new US President. The longest chapter, however, is about the fourth wave (2010-2014), which arguable marks a paradigmatic shift, especially after Wikileaks, the Arab Spring and Occupy. Among her most sensitive arguments is that governments and mainstream and co-opted NGOs will probably ally in normalising political activities in a “politics as usual” regime. The fatal consequence of this would be that the conflict will shift to an attack on information infrastructures, where networked “mobilisation” would no longer produce any tangible result. This gloomy possible scenario sounds plausible if alternative political forms don’t prevail.