Digital Activism, Resistance, and the Gentrification of the Internet
The internet has become a battleground. Although it was unlikely to live up to the hype and hopes of the 1990s, only the most skeptical cynics could have predicted the World Wide Web as we know it today: commercial, isolating, and full of, even fueled by, bias. This was not inevitable. In this talk, I use the politics and debates of gentrification to diagnose the massive, systemic problems blighting our contemporary internet: erosions of privacy and individual ownership, small businesses wiped out by wealthy corporations, the ubiquitous paywall. But there are still steps we can take to reclaim the heady possibilities of the early internet. I'll outline actions that internet activists and everyday users can take to defend and secure more protections for the individual and to carve out more spaces of freedom for the people—not businesses—online.
Jessa Lingel is an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication, where she studies digital culture, looking for the ways that relationships to technology can show us gaps in power or possibilities for social change. Her recent books include The Gentrification of the Internet: How To Reclaim Our Digital Freedom (University of California Press, 2021), and An Internet for the People: The Politics and Promise of Craigslist (Princeton University Press, 2020).
The event is part of the Seminar Series “Platform Politics and Policy”.
Researchers from outside the WZB who would like to attend may email the organizer, robert.gorwa [at] wzb.eu, to be put onto the seminar series mailing list.