Between November 17 and December 8, the Communication, Power and Counterpower Conferences took place, with the central objective of analyzing how, via communication, networks of hegemonic power are constructed and, in turn, how to reverse these situations through various alternatives.
To begin this exercise of reflection and analysis, we were able to count on a previous lecture entitled “Victims, Sinners and Feminazis” that, with the help of Lorena Arévalo, brought us closer to know about the relationship that exists between women and the world of communication, analyzing the archetypes that this creates, the lack of women in positions of responsibility within the media as well as the incorrect treatment that is done, for example, of gender violence in the media. This leaves open the need for a profound cultural change that reverses this situation.
At the beginning of the conferences, José Candón accompanied us in Santiago de Compostela allowing us, through his lecture “A cage with windows: Risks and opportunities for digital activism”, to review the risks posed for activism by new technologies. He stressed the problematic and false dilemmas that arise with the emergence throughout history of new technologies and how they influence in a decisive way in the conception of communication. In addition, we tackled issues such as censorship, the voluntary transfer of data to the Internet, and the lack of protection that this may imply. The counterpart came with the review of the opportunities, starting with the dissemination movements such as the Zapatista nourished from, or the possibility of being able to contrast fake news at the user level, without forgetting the organizational, logistical and economic advantages they represent for activism.
From there we leaped directly to Vigo on November 18 to attend the conference “Does free press exist?”, given by the founder of Ajoblanco, Pepe Ribas, who focused on the transformation suffered by the press from the transition until today, how most of the media ended up controlled by large companies or political structures through subsidies, advertising or the purchase of distribution chains, as well as pointing out the role that the Internet can play in social change and in the future of the press.
On November 23, we moved to the Casares Quiroga House Museum in the city of A Coruña, aiming to develop the lecture given by Praza Pública’s journalist Marcos Pérez, under the title “Every journalist has his/her own truth. War of stories in a fragmented world”. Through his analysis we discovered how the abandonment of paper is affecting the press and its consequences, such as the current dependence of social networks, the media, and how they prevent a plural vision of reality when operating in closed circles. In addition, Marcos highlighted the need for a culture of responsible consumption of information as well as the need to create new discursive frameworks that are not just given to us.
Approaching the equator of the conferences we returned for another date in the herculine city. On this occasion, within the hands of Antonio Caro and his lecture “Advertising as an instrument of power”, we delved deeply into the world of advertising. One of the issues currently absent in advertising is the lack of interest in investigating it. As a consequence of this, advertising is used to disseminate the capitalist ideology among the population through consumerism. He also noted that the media, through the economic dependence on advertising, ended up belonging to the big transnationals; He also focused on the instrumentalization of semiotics through “Marketing”.
We landed back in Vigo where, in the company of Magda Bandera, editor in chief of La Marea, we reflected with her lecture “Myths about the alleged digital revolution in the media” about the current situation of the media and its relationship with new technologies. She began by talking about the inflection points that were given throughout the 21st century and its relationship with communication, relying on the case of Indymedia as an open media in which anyone could publish without filters. She later pointed out the dangers and advantages of this type of media, stressed today’s problem in accessing information as well as the relationship between the quality of the information and the time dedicated to construct it, while influencing at the same time the lack of women in positions of responsibility in the media.
We changed Galicia to Occitania and went to the Espace Martin-Luther-King in the city of Montpellier where Philippe Corcuff made an analysis about communication and the role that each one must have at an individual level to achieve emnacipation, fleeing from the classical criticism that does not hold people responsible.
On the same day on December 8, we leaped across the Atlantic towards Montreal, where the last act of this conferences, entitled “Manipulating the net. Stories of censorship and defensive security” took place at McGill University. In this forum, along with network security expert Dmitri Vitaliev, we were able to discover how the net is used to attack social movements in an organized way through DDOS attacks, for instance, while also covering other processes that affect in a determining manner the way in which the information circulates in the network, also pointing out the filters and algorithms used by the big digital transnationals such as google or facebook, that determine how news are positioned on the internet. In addition to this, he showed us tools that are part of the eQualit.ie project and can help mitigate and stop this type of attacks, including the circulation of fake news.
Among all that has been talked during the conferences, we observe the continuous repetition of a series of problems. Infoxication, the commercialization and deprotection of private data of people or fake news, are some of them. In order to face this we must learn to make a responsible consumption of information, as well as provide ourselves with tools that improve the quality of the information we consume and disseminate, while supporting independent media that seeks to build another communicative model based on accurate information and of quality.
Without further ado, ECOAR))) wants to thank all the people who participated in this Communication, Power and Counterpower Conferences as well as all those who made them possible through the crowdfunding campaign launched through Pepa Loba. Finally the talk “Strategies for media reform. Is it possible to subvert the media system?” by Alejandro Barranquero will take place on January 18 in Madrid at the CSA Playa Gata. Finally, do not forget that the manifesto Breaking the Siege, Knitting the Network is still open for those who want to give their support to build a better communication model. We keep going!