Share Conference 2 in Belgrade covered a great variety of themes, but maybe the central one were new forms of social/political action. There was an impressive number of single persons, groups, parties, collectives, associations, initiatives, operating online and/or offline, that presented their particular strategies and tactics, their objectives, whom they contend or battle etc. All the talks were physically impossible to attend to all, but, fortunately, all talks are in the process of publication on the official web site of the conference. I will attempt a brief wrap-up, a sketch of an infinitely vaster landscape which took its contours in the last three days in Belgrade. I will cite them in order of their appearance at the conference. If I omit someone, and I most probably will, it is because I either did not manage to attend to the speech and/or I did not find sufficient information on the web to be able to recount their talks.
Share 2 was opened by Peter Sunde, the author and implementor of an alternative vision of intellectual property in the 2000s. His most representative and most famous work is the Pirate Bay. With Rasmus Fleischer, he formed Piratbyrån (Pirate Bureau), which majorly contributed to bring to the fore the question of copyright in Sweden. Their actual work is centered on the diffusion of Kopimi, a yet newer version of the right to copy. On the second day of Share 2, Rasmus Fleischer presented the work of Piratbyrån in a historical perspective, starting on their failures to build a new vision for file sharing of tomorrow. Although Sunde and Fleischer did not engage in politics in the traditional way, their work was the spark which led to the diffusion of Pirate Parties all over Europe now. Intellectual properties may have not been a political question, but only before the Pirate Bay.
To be noted was the presence of the co-founder and former president of PiratenpartijNederland Samir Allioui, a.k.a. „Coretx“. He was followed closely by the very young Serbian Piratskapartija which has recently begun the process of official party registration.
In the information rights line, Tamara Atanaoska and Igor Stamatovski presented their work in Free Software Macedonia. Significantly, they are celebrating their tenth birthday this year.
Jérémie Zimmerman, one of the cofounders of La Quadrature du Net, is one of the very active fighters for the liberty of Internet. His association has multiple enemies of esoteric names, to name just a couple of these monsters, ACTA, IPRED (Anti-sharing directive), and net filtering. Personally, I cannot help but noting the firm belief with which Zimmerman speaks about these struggles, combined with his charm and eloquence, should worry various European commissions which will have to deal with him in years to come.
Leo Lahti is professionally, in his own words, data miner, that is to say, writer of codes for visualisation of data. He works in scientific visualisation, and in parallel, Lahti dedicates himself to the project Louhos of rendering the governmental data available to public in Finland, his country of origin. Although he is not politically active strictly speaking, his intent is to translate the data which is published by Finnish government agencies into information, to visualise it, and “give it back” to the community.
The title of Quinn Norton's talk is telling in itself: Anonymous and other stochastic revolutionary network collectives. Besides speaking about the Anonymous collective and their actions, she emphasised the role of the Occupy movement in the U.S.A. She recounted her personal experience at the Occupy Boston, from which the image above is drawn. With great emotion she told us the story about a drug addict actively participating in the practical chores in the Occupy camp, a moving example of inclusivity of the movement. I would stress here that maybe the most groundbreaking aspect of the Occupy movement, common to all of its manifestations, is the difficulty to classify it into more traditional political categories. It is not organised by any party or established association of any kind, it is a “self-organising network”. In it, everyone is free to act as he believes to, there is no ground common to all, it is in constant making and remaking. Lastly, all Occupy actions are more or less just that, a group of persons using a portion of public space, either by just standing there and discussing, or making a more permanent stand such as a camp.
After Norton's speech I went out of the building to eat something. What I saw was a great crowd of persons who were standing on the nearby Republic Square, the central square of Belgrade. They were all gazing at the stage on which the representatives of a political party were speaking to their supporters. This was one of political meetings the parties are giving in this period as a part of electoral campaign. A crowning moment, a gala event (or sometimes disastrous proof of the lack of support) of any political party's campaign in Serbia is their the public appearance in the capital's main square. Broadly speaking, even in many other European countries organise pre-elections public square meetings. So, this is the way politics is still being done.