On the political significance of the refusal of new technologies

Announcement at the university
Announcement at the university

Maxigas spoke on the “Emergent features of old new media: The case of IRC backlogs” at the Politics of Disconnection and Disruptive Media (Disconnect!) workshop organised by Anne Kaun at Södertörn University, December 12, 2016.

The workshop explored the possibilities of disconnection in digital culture and was the second event in a series dedicated to questions of disconnection. Current discourses on digital culture often link media technologies to immediate delivery and constant availability that result in the experience of hurried lives and a culture of speed (Davis, 2013; Rosa, 2013; Sharma, 2014; Tomlinson, 2007). However, in this context practices and technologies of disconnection emerge as well. We are interested in exploring how disconnection, i.e. the non-usage of digital media technologies is constructed as being of economic, cultural, social and political value in contemporary, information affluent societies. As the abundance of media technologies contributes to the necessity to make choices for connection or disconnection, use or non-use, participation or abstention, these choices are becoming of interest to the digital economy.

The full text of the presentation and the corresponding slides are available online. The talk text will be reworked for publication based on the feedback from the workshop. It will appear in Spring 2017 in the second edited volume on Technological Sovereignty edited by Alex Haché and published by Ritimo Foundation in English, French and Spanish.

Maxigas presented at hacker camp: What is critical technology appropriation?


Talk video available here.

The Hungarian Autonomous Center for Knowledge (H.A.C.K.) hackerspace in Budapest organised its annual hacker camp called Camp++ at Fortmonostor, on the Hungarian-Slovakian border on the banks of the Danube. Maxigas presented on “What is critical technology appropriation?”, introducing and combining concepts from Science and Technology Studies, pragmatic sociology and the history of technology, taking the case of Internet Relay Chat as a starting point. As a staple of Maxigas presentations, the critical stances of the Amish and the Luddites against capitalist, modern and liberal uses of technology have also been discussed. The aim of the presentation was to disseminate research results to practitioners, exchange ideas and experiences, and mutually shape an informed, critical, radical taste in technology choices. Here is the abstract from the conference program:

New technologies sometimes express a critique of the existing social conditions. However, their subsequent iterations often increasingly conform to the requirements of capitalism: capital accumulation (exploitation) and social peace (repression). The history of chat devices is no exception. Critical appropriation of IRC by contemporary peer production groups show how it is possible to resist such historical logic.

The talk is comprised of three parts.

First, I go over the history of technologically mediated chat, and propose a rough periodisation: chat programs, instant messaging applications, and social networking. I argue that the history of chat devices is a textbook example of recuperation.

Second, I talk about the contemporary use of IRC as a backstage infrastructure by peer production communities: free software developers, hackerspace members, (Anonymous) hacktivists and Wikipedia editors. I highlight the functional role that IRC in general plays in the contemporary media ecology, a technological landscape where social networking takes up most of the space. At the same time I also list some particular ways in which these different user groups appropriated the medium for their own ends.

Third, I draw the theoretical conclusion from these empirical details, answering the following question: what is critical technology appropriation, why is it important, and which conditions make it possible? I close the presentation with some reflections on the political meaning of the rejection of new technologies and the continued use of old technologies, in light of current proposals for decentralised and distributed communication tools.

The camp also included a traditional Sardine Tasting event in the spirit of sharing, seen below.

Sardine tasting, Camp++, photograph courtesy of boldi.
Sardine tasting, Camp++, photograph courtesy of boldi.

Whose ‘industrial revolution’? Track at the 4S/EASST conference

Illustration by Elizabeth Slote, montage by Maxigas.
Illustration by Elizabeth Slote, montage by Maxigas.

Maxigas convened a track with Adrian Smith and Johan Söderberg at the annual international meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science and the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (4S/EASST), September 2016. The track attracted 25 abstracts and culminated in 10 presentations spread over two sessions. A report of the track by Yana Boeva and Bruno Chies is forthcoming in the next issue of the EASST Review. The track was announced in a blog post on the 4S website and other blogs. The outcome is a special issue of the Journal of Peer Production based on the track material and edited by convenor Adrian Smith and presenter Kat Braybrooke. The special issue is scheduled for early 2018.

Kat Braybrooke presenting at the 4S/EASST track.
Kat Braybrooke presenting at the 4S/EASST track. Source: https://twitter.com/geoplace/status/771330367269789696

Keep empirical political

Harry Fain, coal loader, checks out in the afternoon after cleaning up after work. Inland Steel Company, Wheelwright #1 & 2 Mines, Wheelwright, Floyd County, Kentucky.
Harry Fain, coal loader, checks out in the afternoon after cleaning up after work. Inland Steel Company, Wheelwright #1 & 2 Mines, Wheelwright, Floyd County, Kentucky.

Maxigas keynoted the summer school Hackademia: Empirical Studies in Computing Cultures at the Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany. The rough text as well as the slides are available. Other keynote speakers included Chris Kelty, Adam Fish, Gabriella Coleman, Götz Bachmann.

Image source (public domain).

Informe final del projecte Viquipèdia i Ciència

Ahir, 4 d’octubre vam presentar públicament a la UOC els resultats del nostre projecte de recerca ‘Anàlisi del contingut científic de la Viquipèdia en espanyol”, amb el suport de la FECYT.




Aquí us podeu descarregar l’informe final del projecte:

Análisis del contenido científico de la Wikipedia  en español


Vam presentat també una Guia, orientada a científics i centres de recerca, per a editar el contingut científic de Viquipèdia:

Guia de recomanacions i bones pràctiques per a editar el contingut científic de Viquipèdia

Guía de recomendaciones y buenas prácticas para editar el contenido científico de Wikipedia



Acte de presentació pública del resultats del projecte de recerca “Anàlisi del contingut científic de la Viquipèdia en espanyol”

Lloc: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Sala Tony Bates (al hall de l’edifici). Av. Tibidabo 39. 08035 Barcelona

Dia i hora: Dimarts 4 d’octubre de 2016. De 12.30 a 14h.



12.30 Obertura: Marta Aymerich. Vicerectora de Recerca de la UOC.

12.40 Roderic Guigó. Investigador i Group Leader al Centre de Regulació Genòmica.

12.50 Àlex Hinojo. Membre d’Amical Wikimedia.

13.00 Eduard Aibar. Professor dels Estudis d’Arts i Humanitats de la UOC i director del projecte.

13.30 Torn obert d’intervencions i preguntes.

14.00 Cloenda


L’assistència a l’acte és lliure.


Eduard Aibar presentarà els principals resultats del projecte de recerca “Anàlisi del contingut científic de la Viquipèdia en espanyol”, finançat per la Fundació Espanyola per a la Ciència i la Tecnologia i desenvolupat per membres del grup de recerca sobre Open Science & Innovation (https://osi.blogs.uoc.edu/) de la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Maura Lerga, Josep Lladós, Antoni Meseguer, Julià Minguillon i Peter Dunajcsik). L’objectiu general de l’estudi ha estat dur a terme una anàlisi exhaustiva del contingut científic de la versió  espanyola de Viquipèdia. El projecte s’ha desenvolupat al voltant de quatre eixos: (1) l’anàlisi de la qualitat del contingut científic de la Wikipedia espanyola; (2) un estudi de la presència de la ciència espanyola a Viquipèdia; (3) l’estudi dels editors i del procés d’edició dels articles en temes de ciència; i (4) una anàlisi del tractament de temes controvertits en ciència i tecnologia a la Viquipèdia. Finalment, fruit de l’estudi, s’ha dissenyat també una “Guia de recomanacions i bones pràctiques per a editar el contingut científic de Viquipèdia” orientada a científics, centres de recerca, universitats i societat científiques.