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Platform Politics is a conference exploring the meaning of platforms–like the Internet, the Web, the iPad and more–and their politics. Dr Tim Jordan from CMCI is a keynote speaker at this conference and will be exploring the nature of platforms as politics in relation to Google, secure information network TOR, OpenLeaks and other elements of a politics of platforms. He will be speaking alongside an international list of speakers including: Dr Tiziana Terranova, University of Naples; Professor Nick Couldry Goldsmiths Collge; Dmytri Kleiner (Telekommunisten); and the Infoscape Research Lab (Greg Elmer, Ryerson University and Ganaele Langlois University of Ontario Institute of Technology)

The conference call for papers best outlines what it’s all about:
“Wired recently announced the ‘death’ of the Web, based on the premise that platforms are becoming the primary mode of access to the Internet. Platforms are portals or applications that offer specific Internet services, frameworks for social interaction, or interfaces to access other networked communications and information distribution systems. Additionally the prevalence of mobile computing and its operating systems, that prioritise Internet access via ‘apps’ not web browsers, is intensifying this transformation, and this model is now being applied to tablet computing – and may well soon spread into general computing and computer mediated communication. These platforms are able to take advantage of the scale-free architecture of the Internet to built very large user bases and communities of interest.

However, unlike the world-wide-web, these platforms are often proprietorial, have closed protocols and operate as a kind of privatised public space. As such platforms themselves are becoming the object and enabler of politics, but also new arenas of control. Therefore network politics can be seen as pertaining not only to the question of content (what questions, agendas and activities are taken up and promoted as
political?) but also to the role of platforms and apps as political ‘objects’ that shape the form and the structure of political mediation.

Such proprietorial platforms as Facebook and Twitter have been used in the various modes of organization of political events, both on and offline, and have been discussed with enthusiasm as new tool for stimulating the democratic process, with electoral campaigns, an as organising tools to influence public opinion and create pressure groups.

At the same time the proprietorial nature of these platforms and their role as an integral part of a ‘communicative capitalism’ works to create a situation of great ambiguity and has not gone unnoticed in either network theory or software development. There is, however, an emerging movement of software development for activism, and non-proprietorial social networking, that places at its core the values of openness, decentralisation and not-for-profit projects – such as Diaspora and Thimbl – that are emblematic of the alternative political economies of network politics. So the question of how politics is increasingly processed through the form of software and hardware design, as well as the hacking of closed platforms and creation of peer-to-peer networks, is a pressing one. This conference thus wishes to engage with the full range of these concerns and to map out the place of software, hardware and online platforms, as a realm of both control, but also as opportunity for radical political practices, in the ‘democratising’ of democracy, and in the challenge to the ‘interpassive’ political economy of communicative capitalism.”


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