Thursday, May 31, 2012

Falkvinge on swarms vs traditional hierarchies. A re:publica video

This article is also available in Macedonian
- на македонски на Блогерај: Фалквинге за роевите наспроти традиционални хиерархии. Видео од ре:публика
- на македонски на Блогспот: Фалквинге за роевите наспроти традиционални хиерархии. Видео од ре:публика 

Good news! The organizers of re:publica conference (#rp12) posted the videos from the recorded sessions online a few days ago. Some of them are real jems, and I plan to recommend and reference them in appropriate context.

For starters, here's the presentation by Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party who talked about their experience in creating an activist movement based on "swarm" structure. Some of his lessons go against the logic used by traditional hierarchical organization, like the classical political parties.

For instance, Falkvinge mentioned the "three Pirate rule" - if three individual Pirates can agree to do something, they do not need any permission from the party leadership. In fact, the party leaders at every level serve more as community organizers or "janitors", taking care of logistics, while it's up to the members to figure out what to do - based on what they can do if it's within the limits of responsibility set in advance. "People won't joint the swarm if they don't know what it's for!" A swarm needs to have a purpose which is not up to discussion, a set axiomatic limits of why it exists in the first place. Therefore, it avoids the growing pains of other movements which have to put up with new ideas by new members on what everybody else should do.

Rick Fakvinge speaking about fun at re:publica 2012 in Berlin
Rick Falkvinge explains the importance of having fun to community
building at re:publica conference in Berlin, May 4, 2012. Photo: Filip Stojanovski

For internal and external communication (press releases! - traditional media are still important), the Pirate Party developed a software which they plan to release as open source. I asked Falkvinge whether such software, which basically can track members behavior and a lot more, has an added value of helping organizations that use it become more democratic, or it can be abused in this sense by non-democratic organizations. He said that the software helps flattening the organizational hierarchy, which removes the distance between the elected leaders, the activists &/ the voters, creating a tremendous "democratizing effect," creating universal trust. One could use the management features of this system "to support a dictatorship" too, but "it's not built for that. It's built to let everybody have a voice, and dictatorships don't usually like that, so it's not going to help them much..."

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Serbia, Azerbaijan: Eurovision and Other Connections

Serbian writer Vladimir Arsenijević discussed the connections between Serbia and Azerbaijan, starting with the case of erecting a monument to late Azeri president Heydar Aliyev in Belgrade, covered by Global Voices.

His text, originally titled "Godzila vs King Kong" was first published in German by under the title "Galaxie der Eurokitch", also appeared on several independent portals in Serbian (e-Novine, Buka, Peščanik) and Macedonian (Okno). Arsenijević writes:
...Even though these countries are somewhat remote and have very different cultural, political, and economic concepts, they are also connected by a range of similarities. One of them--to tell the truth--is in the state of perpetual economic disaster, while the other is getting richer every day. One of them is ruled by an unscrupulous and insatiable political class, while the other is ridden by a classic rising dynasty and the accompanying nouveau riche clique. The differences are numerous, but the similarities are equally telling. Both countries are in a gripping search for a new and modern identity--each in its own way--unready or even incapable to denounce their old habits, the imaginative ways to abuse power, and their own historical and territorial obsessions and illusions. Neither of them enjoys some reputation within the international community. They are famous for pervasive, deeply rooted and incredibly durable corruption which in many ways infiltrates all pores of society. They are also famous for solving territorial problems by "defending" disputed areas (Nagorno-Karabakh, Kosovo) through bloody wars, which are lost together with the above mentioned territories. Both countries have difficulties with the basic understanding and respect for human rights and contemporary values in general, and their efficient implementation.
And, last but not the least, both Serbia and Azerbaijan,  have won the famous Eurosong, the Eurovision Song Contest.
And while mentioning that the Serbian hosting of the Eurosong 2008 brought a temporary respite of the endemic homophobia, which welcomed/ignored the gay tourists which flocked to Belgrade, Arsenijević draws various other parallels, and states: could say that the Eurosong, in the sense of respect of the rules of good taste reflects the state of Azerbaijan and Serbia in the sense of respect for human rights and individual freedoms. This mega-pleiad of Euro-kitsch and Euro-amateurism promotes a conservative, endlessly conventional and foolish musical and any other kind of taste, spirit.. And even worldview, if you will, with the obligatory waving of state flags and voting according to national-ethnic relatedness. Therefore this is essentially an anti-European manifestation, a parade of bad lip-synched music and stupid songs turned into a hysterical contest which incites the lowest passions of the European peoples.