front cover of Radical Secrecy
Radical Secrecy
The Ends of Transparency in Datafied America
Clare Birchall
University of Minnesota Press, 2021

Reimagining transparency and secrecy in the era of digital data

When total data surveillance delimits agency and revelations of political wrongdoing fail to have consequences, is transparency the social panacea liberal democracies purport it to be? This book sets forth the provocative argument that progressive social goals would be better served by a radical form of secrecy, at least while state and corporate forces hold an asymmetrical advantage over the less powerful in data control. Clare Birchall asks: How might transparency actually serve agendas that are far from transparent? Can we imagine a secrecy that could act in the service of, rather than against, a progressive politics? 

To move beyond atomizing calls for privacy and to interrupt the perennial tension between state security and the public’s right to know, Birchall adapts Édouard Glissant’s thinking to propose a digital “right to opacity.” As a crucial element of radical secrecy, she argues, this would eventually give rise to a “postsecret” society, offering an understanding and experience of the political that is free from the false choice between secrecy and transparency. She grounds her arresting story in case studies including the varied presidential styles of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump; the Snowden revelations; conspiracy theories espoused or endorsed by Trump; WikiLeaks and guerrilla transparency; and the opening of the state through data portals.

Postsecrecy is the necessary condition for imagining, finally, an alternative vision of “the good,” of equality, as neither shaped by neoliberal incarnations of transparency nor undermined by secret state surveillance. Not least, postsecrecy reimagines collective resistance in the era of digital data.


front cover of The Real Cyber War
The Real Cyber War
The Political Economy of Internet Freedom
Shawn M. Powers and Michael Jablonski
University of Illinois Press, 2015
Contemporary discussion surrounding the role of the internet in society is dominated by words like: internet freedom, surveillance, cybersecurity, Edward Snowden and, most prolifically, cyber war. Behind the rhetoric of cyber war is an on-going state-centered battle for control of information resources. Shawn Powers and Michael Jablonski conceptualize this real cyber war as the utilization of digital networks for geopolitical purposes, including covert attacks against another state's electronic systems, but also, and more importantly, the variety of ways the internet is used to further a state’s economic and military agendas.
Moving beyond debates on the democratic value of new and emerging information technologies, The Real Cyber War focuses on political, economic, and geopolitical factors driving internet freedom policies, in particular the U.S. State Department's emerging doctrine in support of a universal freedom to connect. They argue that efforts to create a universal internet built upon Western legal, political, and social preferences is driven by economic and geopolitical motivations rather than the humanitarian and democratic ideals that typically accompany related policy discourse. In fact, the freedom-to-connect movement is intertwined with broader efforts to structure global society in ways that favor American and Western cultures, economies, and governments.
Thought-provoking and far-seeing, The Real Cyber War reveals how internet policies and governance have emerged as critical sites of geopolitical contestation, with results certain to shape statecraft, diplomacy, and conflict in the twenty-first century.

front cover of Really Fake
Really Fake
Alexandra Juhasz
University of Minnesota Press, 2020
More important than flagging things “really fake” is to understand why they are dismissed as fake

The new truth is the one that circulates: digital truth emerges from lists, databases, archives, and conditions of storage. Multiple truths may be activated through search, link, and retrieve queries. Alexandra Juhasz, Ganaele Langlois, and Nishant Shah respond by taking up story, poetry, and other human logics of care, intelligence, and dignity to explore sociotechnological and politico-aesthetic emergences in a world where information overload has become a new ontology of not-knowing. Their feminist digital methods allow considerations of internet things through alternative networked internet time: slowing down to see, honor, and engage with our past; invoking indeterminacy as a human capacity that lets multiple truths commingle on a page or in a body; and saving the truths of ourselves and our others differently from the corporate internet’s perpetual viral movement.

Writing across their own shared truisms, actors, and touchstones, the authors propose creative tactics, theoretical overtures, and experimental escape routes built to a human scale as ways to regain our capacities to know and tell truths about ourselves.

front cover of The Revolution That Wasn’t
The Revolution That Wasn’t
How Digital Activism Favors Conservatives
Jen Schradie
Harvard University Press, 2019

This surprising study of online political mobilization shows that money and organizational sophistication influence politics online as much as off, and casts doubt on the democratizing power of digital activism.

The internet has been hailed as a leveling force that is reshaping activism. From the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, digital activism seemed cheap, fast, and open to all. Now this celebratory narrative finds itself competing with an increasingly sinister story as platforms like Facebook and Twitter—once the darlings of digital democracy—are on the defensive for their role in promoting fake news. While hashtag activism captures headlines, conservative digital activism is proving more effective on the ground.

In this sharp-eyed and counterintuitive study, Jen Schradie shows how the web has become another weapon in the arsenal of the powerful. She zeroes in on workers’ rights advocacy in North Carolina and finds a case study with broad implications. North Carolina’s hard-right turn in the early 2010s should have alerted political analysts to the web’s antidemocratic potential: amid booming online organizing, one of the country’s most closely contested states elected the most conservative government in North Carolina’s history.

The Revolution That Wasn’t identifies the reasons behind this previously undiagnosed digital-activism gap. Large hierarchical political organizations with professional staff can amplify their digital impact, while horizontally organized volunteer groups tend to be less effective at translating online goodwill into meaningful action. Not only does technology fail to level the playing field, it tilts it further, so that only the most sophisticated and well-funded players can compete.


front cover of RFID Protocol Design, Optimization, and Security for the Internet of Things
RFID Protocol Design, Optimization, and Security for the Internet of Things
Alex X. Liu
The Institution of Engineering and Technology, 2018
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information. RFIDs have been widely used in countless applications such as object tracking, 3D positioning, indoor localization, supply chain management, automotive, inventory control, anti-theft, anti-counterfeit, and access control. The Internet of Things (IoT) promises a huge growth in RFID technology and usage.

front cover of The Rise of Nerd Politics
The Rise of Nerd Politics
Digital Activism and Political Change
John Postill
Pluto Press, 2018
The recent irruption of WikiLeaks, Anonymous, Snowden and other tech-savvy actors onto the global political stage raises urgent questions about the impact of digital activism on political systems around the world. The Rise of Nerd Politics is an anthropological exploration of the role that such actors play in sparking new processes of political change in the digital age.
Drawing from long-term ethnographic research in Spain, Indonesia and Malaysia--as well as empirical examples from the United States, Iceland, Taiwan and further afield--Postill tracks the rise of technology "nerds" as a new transnational class of political brokers with growing influence. The book identifies and explores four domains of "nerd politics" that have experienced a dramatic expansion since 2010: digital rights, data activism, social protest, and institutional politics.
A lively and engaging intervention at the conjuncture of anthropology, media studies, and sociology, this book offers a pertinent reflection on the future of political change in the digital age.

front cover of Russian Social Media Influence
Russian Social Media Influence
Understanding Russian Propaganda in Eastern Europe
Todd C. Helmus
RAND Corporation, 2018
Russia employs a sophisticated social media campaign against former Soviet states that includes news tweets, nonattributed comments on web pages, troll and bot social media accounts, and fake hashtag and Twitter campaigns. Nowhere is this threat more tangible than in Ukraine. Researchers analyzed social media data and conducted interviews with regional and security experts to understand the critical ingredients to countering this campaign.

Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter