The winning essay for 2021 in Arena’s annual Alan Roberts Prize.
The first and last defence of democracy is in the street where we live.
What does a citizen look like in the eyes of the state when she is constructed from multiple databases and how does she respond to the resultant kaleidoscopic rendition of her?
Decades after its original run, Mafalda, the adored comic strip created by the late Argentinian cartoonist Quino, remains timely and potent.
…continuing a supplicant politics, where we beg or demand of governments that they act, is both destined to fail and underplaying our hand.
There is an alternative... centred on concepts of faculty and student democracy with strong, sometimes generations-deep, social ties to the many communities that they engage with…
Whoever controls the computer-based infrastructure of the city can determine the type of future the city has... ‘Smart city’ vendors and their platforms will immediately lock-in governments and citizens and limit their development, shaping the way we relate to the city while programming citizens’ behaviour.
The ‘smart city’ agenda follows a logic of neoliberal platformisation of the city and its urban infrastructures, where wealth is transferred to private corporations that structurally cannot prioritise public benefit or citizens’ well-being above their own profit-maximising drive, or work to strengthen democratic governments and their institutions.
After COVID, it is possible that participatory democracy will become more mediatised, and public and cooperative initiatives will rise as alternatives to recover technological infrastructure as a public good.
Myths of history and identity leading to the Hong Kong protests
There is a curious and seldom-told backstory and parallel story to the high-profile Cambridge Analytica scandal, one that makes the notorious firm seem like the tip of the democracy-sinking iceberg.