WHOSE TECHNOLOGY? Protest, Resistance, and the Reshaping of the Global Village
Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 7:00 p.m., City Lights Booksellers, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco


Finn Brunton in conversation with Ramesh Srinivasan as moderated by Shahid Buttar (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

Two groundbreaking critics and historians of technological effects on culture discuss a re-envisioning of the electronic commons. As reactionary corporate elites reshape our geo-political landscape, possibilities emerge for a radical re-accessment of our relationship to information technology and its use. Finn Brunton and Ramesh Srinivasan rigorously explore the possibilities for grassroots resistance to misinformation campaigns, invasions of privacy, trolling, and offer creative approaches for the rebooting of progressive agendas and effective techniques of re-appropriating technology into the service of democratic principles.

Ramesh Srinivasan celebrates the release of his new book:

Whose Global Village? Rethinking How Technology Shapes Our World                                                                                                                                                     from New York University Press

In the digital age, technology has been prophesized to shrink our country and planet into a "global village," where we all seem to be connected as information travels to the farthest reaches of the planet with the click of a mouse. Yet while we think of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook as open and accessible to all, in reality, these are commercial entities developed primarily by and for the Western world. These tools often reinforce the inequalities of globalization, rarely reflecting the perspectives of those at the bottom of the digital divide. This book asks us to re-consider 'whose global village' we are shaping with the digital technology revolution today. Sharing stories of collaboration with Native Americans in California and New Mexico, revolutionaries in Egypt, communities in rural India, and others across the world, Ramesh Srinivasan urges us to re-imagine technology and how it functions from the perspective of grassroots users and cultures. Such collaborations can pave the way for a people-first approach toward designing and working with new technology worldwide. Whose Global Village seeks to inspire professionals, activists, and scholars alike to think about technology in a way that embraces the realities of communities too often relegated to the margins. We can then start to visualize a world where technologies serve diverse communities rather than just the Western consumer.

Finn Brunton will discuss his critically acclaimed book (co-authored with Helen Nissenbaum):

Obfuscation: A User's Guide for Privacy and Protest                                                                                                                                                                                      from MIT Press

Obfuscation: A User's Guide for Privacy and Protest describes and defends the deliberate use of ambiguous, confusing, or misleading information to interfere with surveillance and data collection projects. Brunton and Nissenbaum provide tools and a rationale for evasion, noncompliance, refusal, even sabotage—especially for average users, those of us not in a position to opt out or exert control over data about ourselves. The book includes a guide to the forms and formats that obfuscation has taken, from radar chaff to Twitter bots, explains how to craft an obfuscation implementation to suit the goal and the adversary, and discusses when it is justified, how it works, and how it can be integrated with other privacy practices and technologies.

About the speakers:

Finn Brunton (finnb.net) is an Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. He is the author of Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet and, with Helen Nissenbaum, Obfuscation: A User's Guide for Privacy and Protest (both MIT Press) and numerous articles and papers. He is currently working on a history of digital cash and utopian currencies.

Ramesh Srinivasan studies the relationship between technology, politics and societies across the world. He has been a faculty member at UCLA since 2005 in the Information Studies and Design|Media Arts departments. Srinivasan earned his Ph.D. in design studies at Harvard; his master's degree in media arts and science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and his bachelor's degree in industrial engineering at Stanford. Srinivasan is a regular speaker for TEDx Talks, and makes regular media appearances on NPR, Al Jazeera, "The Young Turks," and Public Radio International. His writings have been widely published by Al Jazeera English, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post. Visit: http://rameshsrinivasan.org/about/

Shahid Buttar is the Director of Grassroots Advocacy for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Shahid leads EFF's community outreach efforts. He's a constitutional lawyer focused on the intersection of community organizing and policy reform as a lever to shift legal norms, with roots in communities across the country resisting mass surveillance. Visit: www.eff.org/

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