Unlike Us #2: Understanding Social Media Monopolies and their Alternatives

Date: March 8-10, 2012

LocationTrouwAmsterdam, Wibautstraat 127, Amsterdam
Contact: marc[at]networkcultures.org
Program / Biographies / Tickets

Unlike Us 2 is the second event on ‘alternatives in social media’, where artists, designers, scholars, activists and programmers gather. This international research network analyzes the economic and cultural aspects of dominant social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Through workshops, conferences, online dialogues and publications, the Unlike Us network intends to both analyze the economic and cultural aspects of dominant social media platforms and propagate the further development and proliferation of alternative, decentralized social media software.

Unlike Us – Understanding Social Media Monopolies and their Alternatives from network cultures on Vimeo.

Whether or not we are in the midst of internet bubble 2.0, we can all agree that social media dominate internet and mobile use. The emergence of web-based user to user services, driven by an explosion of informal dialogues, continuous uploads and user generated content have greatly empowered the rise of participatory culture. At the same time, monopoly power, commercialization and commodification are also on the rise with just a handful of social media platforms dominating the social web. These two contradictory processes – both the facilitation of free exchanges and the commercial exploitation of social relationships – seem to lie at the heart of contemporary capitalism.

On the one hand new media create and expand the social spaces through which we interact, play and even politicize ourselves; on the other hand they are literally owned by three or four companies that have phenomenal power to shape such interaction. Whereas the hegemonic Internet ideology promises open, decentralized systems, why do we, time and again, find ourselves locked into closed corporate environments? Why are individual users so easily charmed by these ‘walled gardens’? Do we understand the long-term costs that society will pay for the ease of use and simple interfaces of their beloved ‘free’ services?

Unlike Us will ask fundamental and overarching questions about how to tackle these fast-emerging monopoly powers. Situated within the existing oligopoly of ownership and use, this inquiry will include the support of software alternatives and related artistic practices and the development of a common alternative vision of how the techno-social world might be mediated.

Facebook makes everyone believe There Is No Alternative, but Unlike Us dares to differ.


[8 March] Showcasing alternatives in social media: There is currently a multitude of decentralized social network software in the making which allows users greater autonomy to define with whom to share their data. Visit Unlike Us 2 and discover the latest alternatives (Lorea, Secushare, Thimbl, Diaspora, Crabgrass, Social Swarm, Freedombox and more). The best way to undermine platform monopolies is to support alternative open source/free software. Get out of the Cloud, take control of your realm and install your own social network locally. Come along to find out more!

[9-10 March] Conference themes: Social what? Defining the Social, Artistic Responses to Social Media, The Private in the Public, Software Matters, Pitfalls of Building Social Media Alternatives, Social Media Activism, Critique of Liberation Technology.

Confirmed speakers and presenters: David M. Berry (UK), Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius (NL), Philipp Budka (AT), Thomas Chenesau (FR), Jodi Dean (USA), Carolin Gerlitz (UK), Seda Guerses (TR/BE), Spideralex (ES), Anne Helmond (NL), Eva Illouz (IL), Walter Langelaar (NL), Ganaele Langlois (CA), Carlo v. Loesch/lynx (DE), Caroline Nevejan (NL), Arnold Roosendaal (NL), Eleanor Saitta (USA), Max Schrems (AT), Elijah Sparrow (USA) and James Vasile (USA).

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About Me

Marc Stumpel is a new media researcher, blogger and producer.

He holds a MA degree in New Media and Culture from the University of Amsterdam (2009-2010).

His main research interest is the antagonism within the political and economic dimensions of digital culture, especially in relation to social media.

Being a privacy/user-control advocate, he is concerned with the development of alternative social networking spaces and techniques. He is involved in the FB Resistance project and has written his master’s dissertation the Politics of Social Media, focussing on control and resistance in relation to Facebook.

He also holds the degree: Bachelor of Communication & Multimedia Design, Business & Organization Interactive Media at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, specialization project management (2005-2009).

Marc is also a musician and producer under the alias of Zuurstof.

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