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tactical media fdm 20c introduction to digital media lecture 25.11.2008 PowerPoint Presentation
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tactical media fdm 20c introduction to digital media lecture 25.11.2008

tactical media fdm 20c introduction to digital media lecture 25.11.2008

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tactical media fdm 20c introduction to digital media lecture 25.11.2008

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  1. tactical media fdm 20c introduction to digital media lecture 25.11.2008 warren sack / film & digital media department / university of california, santa cruz

  2. last time: media ownership • who owns the media today? • ownership structures of local newspapers • media map of u.s. media • media map of international media • types of connection between media companies • mutual investment • interlocking directorates • news flows • implications • censorship • focus • fcc’s current review of ownership laws

  3. outline • what is “resistance” in digital media? • an example • problem: media consolidation • resistance: alternative viewpoints @ • three different models of politics (of resistance) •, and “enlightenment-style politics” • critical art ensemble, “intervention,” “disturbance,” and “post dialectics” • open-source software and the “politics of artifacts”

  4. what is “resistance”? • Tactics vs. strategies (Michel de Certeau) • tactics and means to oppose the strategies of “The Prince” • e.g., while the prince tries to “divide and conquer” the resistance tries to overcome the imposed isolation • countering the techniques and “technologies of power” (cf., Foucault) that impose isolation, distraction and domination through surveillance, entertainment, and force

  5. example resistance: the problem F.C.C. Votes to Relax Rules Limiting Media Ownership By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON -- Federal regulators relaxed decades-old rules restricting media ownership Monday, permitting companies to buy more television stations and own a newspaper and a broadcast outlet in the same city. The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 -- along party lines -- to adopt a series of changes favored by media companies. New York Times, 2 June 2003

  6. example resistance: a response • WHY WORRY ABOUT WHO OWNS THE MEDIA? • MoveOn Bulletin Op-Ed • by Eli Pariser • It's like something out of a nightmare, but it really happened: At 1:30 on a cold January night, a train containing hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic ammonia derails in Minot, North Dakota. Town officials try to sound the emergency alert system, but it isn't working. Desperate to warn townspeople about the poisonous white cloud bearing down on them, the officials call their local radio stations. But no one answers any of the phones for an hour and a half. According to the New York Times, three hundred people are hospitalized, some are partially blinded, and pets and livestock are killed. Where were Minot's DJs on January 18th, 2002? Where was the late night station crew? As it turns out, six of the seven local radio stations had recently been purchased by Clear Channel Communications, a radio giant with over 1,200 stations nationwide. Economies of scale dictated that most of the local staff be cut: Minot stations ran more or less on auto pilot, the programming largely dictated from further up the Clear Channel food chain. No one answered the phone because hardly anyone worked at the stations any more; the songs played in Minot were the same as those played on Clear Channel stations across the Midwest. •

  7. example resistance: electronic advocacy What does MoveOn do? “When there is a disconnect between broad public opinion and legislative action, MoveOn builds electronic advocacy groups.” example action: “Please join us in asking Congress and the FCC to fight media deregulation.” (3 June 2003) see for current campaigns

  8. enlightenment-style politics • ideals: • reason and rational debate • truth and justice • “natural” rights • universal suffrage • free speech • free assembly • architecture • free press, fair elections, rule-by-law • consider the technological underpinnings of these • theorists • kant, rousseau, montesquieu, locke, smith,etc. • example: u.s. constitution

  9. indymedia and enlightenment-style politics • “Indymedia is a democratic media outlet for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of truth.” Indymedia FAQ • ideals: free speech, free assembly • tactics: open publishing; email discussions; non-corporate funding; coverageof/participation in street protests (e.g., wto, seattle, 1999); independent, distributed governance; volunteer organization • see

  10. weaknesses of older media forms of resistance • CAE’s articulation of the general problem: • powerful individuals and institutions are increasingly nomadic and invisible • consequently, older forms of resistance that challenge the sites and centers of power are no longer viable

  11. weaknesses of older media forms of resistance • street demonstrations and occupations: public streets are no longer a site of power • labor strikes: factory owners now move the factory to another place rather than confront the workers directly • alternative media: education and entertainment have driven us to distraction so that debate and discussion is no longer a viable tool in politics: we live in an “age of dialectic in ruins” CAE, p. 783

  12. critical art ensemble and the politics of disturbance • “Nomadic power must be resisted in cyberspace rather than in physical space. ... A small but coordinated group of hackers could introduce electronic viruses, worms and bombs into the data banks, programs, and networks of authority...Such a strategy does not require a unified class action, nor does it require simultaneous action in numerous geographical areas. ... By whatever means electronic authority is disturbed, the key is to totally disrupt command and control.” CAE, p. 788

  13. examples of “electronic disturbance” • virus • trojan horse • worm • bomb • back door

  14. what is a software virus? • virus: [from the obvious analogy with biological viruses, via SF] n. A cracker program that searches out other programs and `infects' them by embedding a copy of itself in them, so that they become {Trojan Horse}s. When these programs are executed, the embedded virus is executed too, thus propagating the `infection'. This normally happens invisibly to the user. Unlike a {worm}, a virus cannot infect other computers without assistance. It is propagated by vectors such as humans trading programs with their friends (see {SEX}). The virus may do nothing but propagate itself and then allow the program to run normally. Usually, however, after propagating silently for a while, it starts doing things like writing cute messages on the terminal or playing strange tricks with your display (some viruses include nice {display hack}s). Many nasty viruses, written by particularly perversely minded {cracker}s, do irreversible damage, like nuking all the user's files. • Hackers’ Dictionary

  15. a short chronology of computer viruses •

  16. what is a software “trojan horse”? • Trojan horse: [coined by MIT-hacker-turned-NSA-spook Dan Edwards] n. A program designed to break security or damage a system that is disguised as something else benign, such as a directory lister, archiver, a game, or (in one notorious 1990 case on the Mac) a program to find and destroy viruses! See {back door}, {virus}, {worm}. • Hackers Dictionary

  17. what is “worm”? • worm: [from `tapeworm' in John Brunner's novel `The Shockwave Rider', via XEROX PARC] n. A program that propagates itself over a network, reproducing itself as it goes. Compare {virus}. Nowadays the term has negative connotations, as it is assumed that only {cracker}s write worms. Perhaps the best-known example was Robert T. Morris's `Internet Worm' of 1988, a `benign' one that got out of control and hogged hundreds of Suns and VAXen across the U.S. See also {cracker}, {RTM}, {Trojan horse}, {ice}. • Hackers Dictionary

  18. what is a software “bomb”? • logic bomb: n. Code surreptitiously inserted in an application or OS that causes it to perform some destructive or security-compromising activity whenever specified conditions are met. Compare {back door}. • Hackers’ Dictionary

  19. what is a “back door”? • back door: n. A hole in the security of a system deliberately left in place by designers or maintainers. The motivation for this is not always sinister; some operating systems, for example, come out of the box with privileged accounts intended for use by field service technicians or the vendor's maintenance programmers. Historically, back doors have often lurked in systems longer than anyone expected or planned, and a few have become widely known. The infamous {RTM} worm of late 1988, for example, used a back door in the {BSD} UNIX `sendmail(8)' utility. • Hackers Dictionary

  20. The Robert Morris Internet Worm • Robert Morris, a 23 year old computer science graduate student at Cornell, broought the Internet to a virtual stop in 1988 with a “worm.”

  21. “enlightenment” forms of resistance • electronic advocacy • e.g., • media criticism • e.g., • alternative media • e.g., • legal advocacy, litigation and alternatives • e.g., electronic frontier foundation; see, also, Larry Lessig’s work on the “Creative Commons” • • unlike the CAE preferred tactics, these forms of resistance are committed to the Enlightenment ideals of debate and voting: working within the system as it was set down in the 18th and 19th centuries

  22. non-dialectical tactics of resistance • in the face of injustice, what can be done by the artist, the writer, the “cultural producer” beyond simply arguing (i.e., engaging in Enlightenment-style dialectics)? • electronic disturbance • e.g., CAE • detournement • e.g., Yes Men (see

  23. more recent work by CAE: the politics of biotech • see • “this work shows how technical, “expert” decisions are being taken by isolated groups of experts and shows how these decisions affect all of us, even though -- in a democratic society -- we (the “non-experts”) should also be able to have a say about anything that affects us all.” • what can be done to resist genetically modified foods?

  24. CAE member abducted by the FBI • May 25, 2004 • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE • FBI ABDUCTS ARTIST, SEIZES ART • Feds Unable to Distinguish Art from Bioterrorism • Grieving Artist Denied Access to Deceased Wife's Body • DEFENSE FUND ESTABLISHED - HELP URGENTLY NEEDED • Steve Kurtz was already suffering from one tragedy when he called 911 early in the morning to tell them his wife had suffered a cardiac arrest and died in her sleep. The police arrived and, cranked up on the rhetoric of the "War on Terror," decided Kurtz's art supplies were actually bioterrorism weapons. • Thus began an Orwellian stream of events in which FBI agents abducted Kurtz without charges, sealed off his entire block, and confiscated his computers, manuscripts, art supplies... and even his wife's body. • Like the case of Brandon Mayfield, the Muslim lawyer from Portland imprisoned for two weeks on the flimsiest of false evidence, Kurtz's case amply demonstrates the dangers posed by the USA PATRIOT Act coupled with government-nurtured terrorism hysteria. • Kurtz's case is ongoing, and, on top of everything else, Kurtz is facing a mountain of legal fees. Donations to his legal defense can be made at • FEAR RUN AMOK • Steve Kurtz is Associate Professor in the Department of Art at the State University of New York's University at Buffalo, and a member of the internationally-acclaimed Critical Art Ensemble. • Kurtz's wife, Hope Kurtz, died in her sleep of cardiac arrest in the early morning hours of May 11. Police arrived, became suspicious of Kurtz's art supplies and called the FBI. • Within hours, FBI agents had "detained" Kurtz as a suspected bioterrorist and cordoned off the entire block around his house. (Kurtz walked away the next day on the advice of a lawyer, his "detention" having proved to be illegal.) Over the next few days, dozens of agents in hazmat suits, from a number of law enforcement agencies, sifted through Kurtz's work, analyzing it on-site and impounding computers, manuscripts, books, equipment, and even his wife's body for further analysis. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Health Department condemned his house as a health risk. • Kurtz, a member of the Critical Art Ensemble, makes art which addresses the politics of biotechnology. "Free Range Grains," CAE's latest project, included a mobile DNA extraction laboratory for testing food products for possible transgenic contamination. It was this equipment which triggered the Kafkaesque chain of events. • FBI field and laboratory tests have shown that Kurtz's equipment was not used for any illegal purpose. In fact, it is not even _possible_ to use this equipment for the production or weaponization of dangerous germs. Furthermore, any person in the US may legally obtain and possess such equipment. • "Today, there is no legal way to stop huge corporations from putting genetically altered material in our food," said Defense Fund spokeswoman Carla Mendes. "Yet owning the equipment required to test for the presence of 'Frankenfood' will get you accused of 'terrorism.' You can be illegally detained by shadowy government agents, lose access to your home, work, and belongings, and find that your recently deceased spouse's body has been taken away for 'analysis.'" • Though Kurtz has finally been able to return to his home and recover his wife's body, the FBI has still not returned any of his equipment, computers or manuscripts, nor given any indication of when they will. The case remains open.

  25. FBI charges against Steve Kurtz • June 2, 2004 • According to the subpoenas, the FBI is seeking charges under Section 175 of the US Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, which has been expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act. As expanded, this law prohibits the possession of "any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system” without the justification of "prophylactic, protective, bona fide research, or other peaceful purpose." (See for the 1989 law and for its USA PATRIOT Act expansion.)" [CAE Legal Defense Fund, June 2, 2004]

  26. DoJ charges against Kurtz • On April 21, 2008, the indictment for mail and wire fraud was ruled "insufficient on its face" by the presiding Judge Richard Arcara. This means that even if the actions alleged in the indictment (which the judge must accept as “fact”) were true, they would not constitute a crime. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) had thirty days from the date of the ruling to appeal. No action has been taken in this time period, thus stopping any appeal of the dismissal. The only option left for the DoJ would be to re-indict Kurtz.

  27. Amy Goodman interview with Steve Kurtz ( June 16, 2008) •

  28. does “enlightenment” resistance work now... • a postindustrial, post-discussion/debate society?

  29. does a politics of “disturbance” work now... • a climate of post-9.11 surveillance and state-sponsored violation of constitutional rights? • perhaps the kurtz case shows how even a “post dialectical” politics of disturbance depends upon some for of enlightenment politics and the rule of law?