[Air-L] * save the date * Unlike Us #3 in Amsterdam, March 22-23

Geert Lovink geert at desk.nl
Fri Nov 23 04:23:32 PST 2012

The Institute of Network Cultures is happy to announce the second  
Amsterdam edition of the Unlike Us conference, taking place March 22nd  
and 23rd, 2013 at TrouwAmsterdam. This year, the new MediaLAB  
Amsterdam will also be used as a community space with workshops.

In the coming weeks, ticket sales will commence. Keep checking the  
‘Amsterdam 2013′ tab on the website for the most up-to-date  
information, including tickets, schedules, and confirmed speakers with  
biographies. As of now, we are pleased to share the following  
confirmed speakers: Bernard Stiegler (FR/UK), Petra Löffler (DE),  
Tristan Thielmann (DE), Seda Guerses (BE), Simona Lodi (IT), Ben  
Grosser (USA) and Nathan Freitas (USA).

Unlike Us, the Conference

Is the word ‘social’ hollowed out, or does it still have some  
meaning? How can we understand the thunderous growth of mobile uses in  
social media? Is there really something like a Facebook riot and how  
do we start one? Theorists, programmers and artists alike react to the  
monopolies that control social media – by designing decentralized  
networks, creating art that’s criticizing and surprising at the same  
time or by trying to understand the big networks from within. Meet  
them at the third Unlike Us conference organized by the Institute of  
Network Cultures on 22-23 March 2013 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

International speakers discuss both the big gestures of theory, and  
the ambitious plans of artists, programmers and activists. There will  
be additional workshops in the MediaLAB studio of HvA to put Unlike Us  
into practice without delay and discussions on specific issues that  
Unlike Us hasn’t dealt with so far. The different themes will cover  
theory and critique, decentralization, mobile use, activism, and the  
art and politics of social networks.

This year, speakers will be organized into the following sessions:  
Theory and Critique of ‘Social’, Are you Distributed? The Federated  
Web Show
Political Economy of Social Networks: Art & Practice, Mobile Use of  
Social Media and Facebook Riot: Join or Decline.

1. Theory and Critique of ‘Social’
What is the meaning of ‘social’ when social media like Facebook and  
Twitter are structured around the individual from the start? Social  
seems to require a form of collective that isn’t to be found in these  
networks. Let’s take the theory and critique of ‘social’ a step  
further, towards rethinking the power relations between the social and  
the technical in what are essentially software systems and platforms.  
We are more and more aware that social media aren’t just happy-go- 
lucky neutral platforms; while at the same time it’s too easy to  
dismiss them as the bad boys of capitalism. How to understand the  
social networking logic? Even if Twitter and Facebook implode  
overnight, the logic of befriending, liking and ranking will further  
spread across all aspects of life.

2. Are you distributed? The Federated Web Show

The best way to criticize platform monopolies is to support  
alternative free and open source software that can be locally  
installed. In the Federated Web Show we are setting the terms of  
decentralization. A lot of alternative social networks are being  
developed with the aim to give users greater power, for example over  
their data. Just think of Lorea or Diaspora. What choices have to be  
made for a decentralized design and what are the traps? Is it  
necessary to take the sharing individual as a starting point or the  
network? A different kind of social networking is possible, but there  
are many questions to attend to. Are you ready for constant decision- 
making? How deeply does your trust in the community you share your  
data with reach? In a lively talk show, guests – on stage or  
participating on screen – discuss the possible future of  
decentralization and concepts for alternatives. Open or closed,  
commercial or anarchistic, federated, distributed, decentralized: join  
the Federated Web Show.

3. Political Economy of Social Networks: Art & Practice

What better way to counter political economical issues than by art and  
creativity? Artists play a crucial role in visualizing power  
relationships and disrupting the daily routines of social media usage.  
Artistic practice is also a tool for analysis, as artists are often  
first to deconstruct the familiar and present an alternative vision.  
How can we imagine the political economy of the social – whether on  
the big and closed platforms or on newly arising alternatives? Artists  
and researchers talk about creative projects questioning and  
criticizing the commercial side of social media. What alternative  
visions do the arts presents towards free labor, commodification,  
alienation and the likes? And how do they manage to keep out of the  
web of economics themselves?

4. Mobile Use of Social Media

Everyone agrees: mobile is the next big upheaval, changing what we  
know about social media all around. Location matters. Tagging space  
and time and adding location information and context prolongs data  
value into new complexities. Users are embracing Facebook with their  
smartphones, causing trouble to revenue streams and thereby making it  
even more apparent that the user is the commodity. Meanwhile Facebook  
has developed a clever strategy to lock-in new users in the emerging  
markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America by inventing the Facebook  
SIM Card and free apps for feature phones. You can now make friends on  
a black and white 200-character screen. For many first-time connected  
users Facebook becomes the default. Tracking mobile data streams in  
real time provides a gold mine that has only just been discovered. Who  
are the key players in the mobile data business and what are their  

5. Facebook Riot: Join or Decline

The tendency to praise Twitter and Facebook for their revolutionary  
powers has mostly passed, we might even think first about the London  
riots and Project X when it comes to the mobilizing qualities of these  
networks. Still, the concept of ‘liberation technology’ –  
information and communication technologies that empower grassroots  
movements – continues to influence our ideas about networked  
participation. Could there even be something like #Occupy without  
social media? Activists use social media to further their goals, but  
in that way are also dependent on the platform. Is a non-commercial,  
free and open network essential in that respect? But then, how do you  
reach as many people as possible? How do social media and the control  
issues of Internet influence the practice of protest? Governments can  
use the same social media tools for surveillance, propaganda or  
detection. We need to envision organized networks based on strong ties  
yet open enough to grow quickly if the time is right.

More names of speakers and details of the event will be announced on http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/unlikeus/ 
. There you can also find the videos of the previous conferences in  
Cyprus (November 2011) and Amsterdam (March 2012).

The centre of the Unlike Us network is the mailinglist with 700  
members, please subscribe here:

Editorial team of UU#3: Seda Guerses, Margreet Riphapen, Lonneke van  
der Velden, Marc Stumpel, Geert Lovink, Miriam Rasch, Oliver Leistert  
and Larissa Hildebrandt.

For more info please contact Larissa Hildebrandt (producer): larissakh at gmail.com

Institute of Network Cultures
room 05A07
Rhijnspoorplein 1
NL-1091 GC Amsterdam

Institute of Network Cultures
room 05A07
PO BOX 1025
NL-1000 BA Amsterdam

t: +31 20 5951866
f: +31 20 5951840

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