Centre for Internet & Society

Details of a session proposed for the Internet Researchers' Conference 2022 - #Home.

Internet Researchers' Conference 2022 - # Home - Call for Sessions

Session Type: Presentation and Panel Discussion 

Session Plan

This session will begin with a general overview of various social movements during the pandemic and how they were affected by it. For instance, the Farmer’s Protests and Anti-CAA Protests in India, BLM in America and other environmental, anti-globalization and LGBTQ global movements.

A cursory Google search on the term ‘Social Movements’ suggests -

“A social movement is a loosely organized effort by a large group of people to achieve a particular goal, typically a social or political one. This may be to carry out, resist or undo a social change. It is a type of group action and may involve individuals, organizations or both.”

The broad objectives of this session are -

  1. To reimagine the idea of social movements, not just as flash points but consistent, collective, coordinated efforts for effective social transformation over time and,
  2. To broaden its ambit by reimagining spaces for protests, borrowing from “Yunus Berndt’s people-less protests”.

If geographically distributed work environments are now possible (courtesy of COVID), why not virtually launched DAO based social movements? We are living in unprecedented times. Today, the internet is not just facilitating social movements from home but also allowing many possibilities for more inclusive and democratic participation of communities, collaborative mobilizing and transparent funding mechanisms. The internet has made it possible for all of us to become citizen-activists and imagine create better future(s).

The metaverse is a 3D immersive participatory internet experience that makes use of AR and VR technologies. Combined with the blockchain and DAOs, this trifecta could potentially show the way for everlasting high-impact citizen-led social movements. The advantages of meta-activism include:

  1. Transparency - traceable trail of docs
  2. Greater Reach - beyond borders - greater collabs
  3. Efficient - low mobilization cost
  4. Harder to Censor by Govts - cannot delete info on the blockchain
  5. Liberating - use of avatars and pseudonymized identities (free from pre-existing structural inequalities and traditional markers individual, offering a clean slate)
  6. An opportunity to Build New Decentralized Worlds with different (direct) governance structures - shifting human behaviour towards better outcomes
  7. No Hierarchy - shared responsibilities, leaderless movements - reimaging leadership
  8. Egalitarian Decision Making - Decision making occurs when conversations turn into proposals that are voted upon by members of the collective. No action is taken without recorded collective consent.

 However, new technology by itself cannot fix all societal problems. We will need to put in place consensual principles that enable us to do so. It is precisely this area that excites both of us. How do we create meaningful digital publics? How do we ensure greater inclusion, participation and voice in such digital political spaces? Thus, in the session, we will elucidate on the ways in which citizen-activists can launch and lead sustained future movements on the metaverse:

  1. Hacks
  2. Mass Migration from the State’s Central Registries
  3. Social movements as Repositories of Truth - Ex: Farmer NFT & Museum
  4. DAOs to Redeploy Cooperative Wealth
  5. Peace Initiatives that Obliterate Borders - Ex: Aghaz-e-Dosti
  6. Funding Mechanisms for Transparency - Ex: CryptoRelief

 Regarding session format, we’d like to present the key points from our joint paper followed by a panel discussion with the members of prominent social movements cited above, ending with a Q&A with the audience. Additionally, our paper will exist in the metaverse for people to come and read and engage with us further. We are in touch with the organizers of the Farmer’s Protests and founding members of Aghaz-e-Dosti. We will be contacting members from other social movements as well if our proposal is selected.

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