Activists and Technology

This term has the main load of my teaching which means that I spend lots of time close to the students discussing and attempting to capture their attention for subjects ranging from eCommerce to Computer Ethics. It is very difficult to conduct larger research work in between teaching so most of the extra time is spent attempting to plan future work. This entails discussions of future work: meeting other researchers, planning projects, writing research applications and doing basic reading to cover the groundwork. This is useful in the sense that it lays the foundations for future work but it is also very frustrating since it is not real research work (some of you may disagree â?? but then thatâ??s the point of blogging).

One of my larger planned projects is developing well. No real results as yet (funding, publisher contacts etc) but it is still promising in that the basic reading reveals a good field ripe for additional research which may reveal very interesting results. The people around are enthusiastic, open and friendly.

The basic project idea is to gather empirical data on the use of technology in political resistance. To do this I intend to spend time interviewing activists to understand the way in which they use technology. The hope of this project is to understand both their mundane usage and the more â??exoticâ?? technology use. The point of this work is to first collect data on actual use and then hopefully penetrate the reasons for their use or lack of use of technology.

In particular I want to find out if the recent changes in attitudes towards activists has encouraged them to use more secretive technologies such as encryption and covert messaging. Ideally the project would like to understand what it is they believe to be threats to their activities and how they set about countering such threats. Alternatively the work will look at the reasons for their non-use of different technologies.

In order to do this I need to get into contact with diverse groups of political activists. In order to limit the study I will also be focusing on groups which primarily deal in non-violent methods within the participatory democracy ideal.

To me this is very exciting and I hope to begin data collection this summer and continue with this until February. In parallel with this will be data analysis and writing. The chance to do more detailed empirical work and connect it to my analytical background is an exciting prospect.

As I write this the train (yes another trip â?? but short this time) is speeding through a foggy landscape and two deer were walking slowly through a field itâ??s a mystical uplifting experience looking at nature â?? even if it is through the window of a speeding train.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.