youth

AAG Presentation: iLearn

I’ll be presenting “iLearn: Space, Time and Social (Re)Production in Young People’s Informational Environments” tomorrow at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Seattle. If you’re attending the AAG, stop on by!

Session:
Beyond School: Geographies of Informal and Alternative Learning Practices II

Location:
Grand Ballroom C – Sheraton Hotel, Second Floor

Date/Time:
Tuesday, 4/12/2011, from 2:40 PM – 4:20 PM

Presentation Title/Abstract:
iLearn: Space, Time and Social (Re)Production in Young People’s Informational Environments

This presentation will draw on MyDigitalFootprint.org, a participatory action research project with New York City youth ages 14-19, to unpack the reciprocity between informational development and contemporary geographies of education. The near ubiquitous presence of cyberspace in young people’s everyday life has both compressed and expanded the space of the ‘traditional’ school and the time in which ‘formal’ learning occurs. Amidst the current transition from industrial to informational capitalism within the U.S., this space-time compression and expansion provides both opportunities for youth empowerment as well as domination. How contemporary spatialities, materialities, and practices of informationalism become produced and reproduced in young people’s everyday learning will be discussed as will the role of securitization in formalizing the boundaries, relationships, and flows that operate between ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ spaces of education. This presentation will conclude with a discussion of the participatory action research methods developed to investigate such (re)production as well as strategies for reworking educational boundaries, relationships, and flows towards young people’s situated interests and concerns.

Clinton on Information War and the Youth Bulge

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 2, 2011:

We are engaged in an information war. During the cold war we did a great job in getting America’s message out. After the Berlin Wall fell we said ‘OK fine, enough of that, we did it, we’re done. ‘ And, unfortunately we’re paying a big price for it. And, our private media can not fill that gap . . .

We are in an information war, and we are losing that war. I’ll be very blunt in my assessment. Al Jazeera is winning. The Chinese have opened up a global English language and multi-language television network. The Russians have opened up an English network. I’ve seen it in a few countries and it’s quite instructive . . .

We are in information war and we cannot assume that this youth bulge that exists not just in the middle east but in so many parts of the world really knows much about us. I mean we think they know us and reject us, I would argue the really don’t know very much about who we are. (emphasis added)

GEMA to Preschoolers: Pay Up or Shut Up

GEMA (Germany’s version of the RIAA) is now demanding that preschools pay corporate giants for the right to sing along. They’re not just talking about sharing music files anymore, now they’re policing preschools for making copies of sheet music for sing-along time.

According to Deutsche Welle:

A tightening of copyright rules means kindergartens now have to pay fees to Germany’s music licensing agency, GEMA, to use songs that they reproduce and perform. The organization has begun notifying creches and other daycare facilities that if they reproduce music to be sung or performed, they must pay for a license.

“If a preschool wants to make its own copy of certain music – if the words of a song or the musical score is copied – then they need to buy a license,” GEMA spokesperson Peter Hempel told Deutsche Welle . . .

. . . Fees start at 56 euros ($74) for 500 copies of a song, a rate charged annually, not per child.

If you think this sort of extreme copyright enforcement is unique to Germany, think again. The same sort of thing is happening in the US, in France, and elsewhere.

Competing Narratives: Internet Freedom, National Security and Social Reproduction

Evgeny Morozov has an excellent post at Foreign Policy that addresses the competing narratives emerging around WikiLeaks. Namely, WikiLeaks as an internet freedom issue vs WikiLeaks as a national security issue.

Discussing these narratives in the context of the pro-WikiLeaks DDoS attacks “organized” by Anonymous, Morozov touches on the same point I made yesterday:

I don’t think that their attacks are necessarily illegal or immoral . . . I like to think of DDoS as equivalents of sit-ins: both aim at briefly disrupting a service or an institution in order to make a point. As long as we don’t criminalize all sit-ins, I don’t think we should aim at criminalizing all DDoS . . . The danger here is obviously that if the narrative suddenly becomes dominated by national security concerns, we can forget about DDoS as legitimate means of expression dissent — that possibility would be closed, as they would be criminalized. (emphasis added)

Morozov also discusses how the dominance of a national security narrative around this issue could rationalize more state-based surveillance of everyday cyberspatial behavior:

I seriously doubt that U.S. authorities would be able to effectively go after Anonymous, in part because there are too many people involved, they are scattered all over the globe, and attributing cyber-attacks to them would be impossible (and would surely require reading a lot of chat transcripts from IRC). The only other possible policy response at their disposal is to make it easier to trace such attacks in the future — most likely by empowering the likes of NSA/Cyber Command. I would imagine that after the current cyber-attacks on credit card companies — even if they didn’t cause much damage — this would enjoy bipartisan support in the United States. (emphasis added)

Two points worth adding to Morozov’s analysis:

  • It’s not only likely the U.S. will use this event to enact pro-surveillance policies that strengthen the role of the NSA/Cyber Command in everyday internet use, but virtually guaranteed (no pun intended). However, these security initiatives are never achieved through policy alone, social production is always necessary to normalize these policies and socialize a public into compliance (or at least attempt to). Since young people are among the most active internet participants and — let’s face it — will be using the internet much farther into the future than today’s adults, they will be a primary target. “Get ’em while they’re young” is a common phrase for a reason.
  • While the U.S. government has yet to arrest anyone affiliated with the recent DDoS attacks, the Netherlands’ recent arrest of a 16 year 0ld — for doing little more than encouraging people to ping servers via an IRC chatroom — is a sign of things to come and an example of this social production.  Based on how the U.S. has thus far framed “file-sharing” as “stealing music” and singled out certain youngsters for unjustified and disproportionate punishment, we have a glimpse of what’s around the corner. Watch WikiLeaks/Anonymous (the distinction is almost irrelevant in the public imagination) become the new internet predator, and online civil disobedience the new cyberbullying.
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