PARADOX IN THE NET: AGENCY VERSUS CONTROL AND THE STRUGGLE FOR PERFORMANCE AND PARTICIPATION

Our panel got accepted as pre-conference session for Association of Internet Researchers conference this coming fall.  Thanks to Susan Kretchmer’s remarkable work! Stop by folks…

PARADOX IN THE NET:
AGENCY VERSUS CONTROL AND THE STRUGGLE
FOR PERFORMANCE AND PARTICIPATION
Association of Internet Researchers
Internet Research 12.0
Seattle, Washington
Workshop
Monday, October 10, 2011 from 12-5 p.m.

People’s participation is shaped in large part by the environment within which that activity is enacted.  In turn, dominant, sustained reproduced performance with and within a space shapes the nature and character of that space.  Initially the Internet was celebrated as a technology of freedom; a modern day western frontier with an endless expanse of open, liberating, egalitarian, boundless space; a novel, revolutionary entity distinct from our physical environment.  Yet, as the online space was colonized and the euphoric promise met the reality of performance and participation, diverse and contesting practices, boundaries, and ties to real world settings were revealed.  And, too, as the Internet has matured and evolved, users have increasingly taken on and performed the role of creators of content, manipulators and appropriators of technology, and governors and police in virtual spaces while real world society struggles to negotiate the “appropriate” content and conduct for the medium.

The topic of this workshop is that paradox and tension inherent in the Internet and its impact.  In particular, we explore the nexus of online agency and individual freedom as it interacts and conflicts with virtual and real world norms, authority, and efforts at control (e.g., where individuals or groups have used the Internet for power and participation in ways that conflict with the status quo and some authority in turn has tried to maintain and/or impose control).  Themes that emerge might, for instance, include the blurring of boundaries on- and offline and the dynamic nature and constantly changing dimensions of the interplay of influence between offline life and life online, as well as any other ideas workshop participants find relevant.

As thought-provoking starting points, a series of expert speakers will provide presentations on a broad range of contexts, circumstances, and paradigms of performance and participation with regard to the topic of the workshop, the subjects examined each providing unique insight and perspective on the issues as well as implications and suggestions for the future.  The presentations, which will each be 20 minutes followed by a 10 minute discussion session with participants, include:
* online and offline advocacy and activism in the struggle for labor rights and community
Internet access
* controversies over student expression and use of the Internet off school grounds
* the battle over limiting Internet content, access to information, and conduct by
imposing federal and state online censorship laws and filtering software in public
government funded institutions

* the extent to which Internet usage and participation is constrained by our relationship
with all-powerful ISPs
* the contested metamorphosis and struggle for control of scholarship and scholarly
communication in the Internet Age
* resistance and the social media that powered the Egyptian revolution
* the clash of whistle blowing, transparency, and law in WikiLeaks
* the performance of hacktivism in virtual worlds, disguised under the cloak of grief play,
that results in political activism and influences policy making in those spaces
Taken together, and augmented by subjects raised by workshop participants, the trajectory of expanding complexity, increasing reach and scale, and mounting impact of the Internet will be illuminated, as well as the corresponding difficulties and dwindling ability to exert effective control over Internet content and conduct.  We will use the workshop to explore the issues, the challenges and the opportunities, the promise and the reality, in-depth from various perspectives.  Throughout the workshop, participants will share their expertise and actively engage in discussion and networking.

Schedule

12 p.m.
Welcome and Introductions — Susan Kretchmer

12-12:30 p.m.
“Advocating Advocacy: The Work of Activism and Scholarship Online, Offline, and Over the Line”
Michelle Rodino-Colocino, Pennsylvania State University, USA

12:30-1 p.m.
“A Student’s Right to Communicate in the Internet Age”
Mary Elizabeth Bezanson, University of Minnesota, Morris, USA

1-1:30 p.m.
“Online Censorship Laws and Internet Filtering: Contested Content, Access, and Conduct”
Susan B. Kretchmer, Johns Hopkins University, USA, and Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide

1:30-1:50 p.m.
Break

1:50-2:20 p.m.
“Service Provider or Gatekeeper? Do ISPs Constrain our Online Participation?”
Catherine Middleton, Ryerson University, Canada

2:20-2:50 p.m.
“Information Feudalism, or Knowledge for All?”
Heather Morrison, Simon Fraser University and University of British Columbia, Canada

2:50-3:20 p.m.
“Revolution in Egypt: The Rise of Resistance via Social Media”
Rod Carveth, Fitchburg State University, USA

3:20-3:40 p.m.
Break

3:40-4:10 p.m.
“Whistle Blowing, Transparency, the Freedom of Information Act, and WikiLeaks:
Are these Appropriate Uses of the Internet?”
Kenneth J. Levine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA

4:10-4:40 p.m.
“Negotiating Virtual Governance: Performance of Hacktivism as Grief Play”
Burcu S. Bakioglu, Lawrence University

4:40-5 p.m.
Wrap-Up and Discussion

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