November 4-6, 2016
Chemistry Creative, 315 Ten Eyck Street, Brooklyn NY

Pierre Depaz

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Pierre is a political and computer scientist from France. He studied the first in France before studying and working in the second in the U.S -being involved in the political life in both countries. In between, he has been working as a software developer and contributor for digital news outlets and art institutions. He is currently a lecturer of Interactive Media at New York University Abu Dhabi, where he teaches "The Politics of Code", an introduction to political science through the lens of software.


Proactive Protest with Software

Most of the technologies developed recently for political and citizen action seems to actually be developed for citizen organization and re-action, not about radical action. Your current means of political protest (worker strikes, demonstrations, public petitions, etc.) are not as effective as they once were. Recurrent protest movements in western democracies such as the U.S (e.g. the Black Lives Matter movement), in France (the Nuit Debout movement), in Spain (Indignados) or in Greece have not had the expected outcome of their organizers, failing to curb police violence, state emergency, austerity measures and extra-territorial financial intervention. Once the protests die down and the media attention goes away, it is business as usual.

Networked communications and social media have had the same effect for political organizations, starting up movements and uprisings such as the Arab Spring or the Umbrella Revolution, and yet it does not seem to be enough to change the long-term status quo of the balance of power. The question I will be exploring, then, is how can we also use these tools to support active political protest so that we can, once again, make them relevant to fight against the negative actions and behaviours of the current political, economical and technological authorities?

This talk will first focus on a historical account of how political protests as well as the presentation of projects that are currently in development or are being developed around the world to actively put pressure on them and return agency to protesters as a group with legitimate political demands instead of simply “protesters”. I will look at the technical, legal and ethical implications of developing such tools and the potential impact that they could have if political activists could use software for action, on top of exclusively re-action and organization.