A Failed Coup At­tempt with Folk Songs (Part III): Anonymity and the Anony­mous in a Cul­ture of Shar­ing

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Sniff, Scrape, Crawl: Part 1

Presentation Title:

  • A Failed Coup At­tempt with Folk Songs (Part III): Anonymity and the Anony­mous in a Cul­ture of Shar­ing

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • Panel: Sniff, Scrape, Crawl: Part 1

    In dystopian de­bates on dig­i­tal pri­vacy, it is sug­gested that pri­vacy can only be pro­tected if we hide our per­sonal in­for­ma­tion or prac­tice con­trol over it. Un­der­ly­ing this im­por­tant po­lit­i­cal and tech­no­log­i­cal turn is the fact that “my data = i”. Fol­low­ing this line of thought, com­puter sci­en­tists, com­pa­nies and other ded­i­cated per­sons from civil so­ci­ety have pro­posed a num­ber of tools to un­link or man­age the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the “i” and the data bod­ies that in­di­vid­u­als leave be­hind. These can be cat­e­go­rized under the title “anonymity tools” or “iden­tity man­age­ment” tools. If used cor­rectly, the for­mer guar­an­tees to some de­gree the anonymity of users traces, while the lat­ter pro­vides the in­di­vid­ual with “con­trol” over traces left be­hind. We are not new to anony­mous traces and the at­tempts to con­trol what we leave be­hind. “Anony­mous”, for ex­am­ple, is also a term used to refer to works with­out au­thor­ship or of un­known ori­gin. A pop­u­lar form of anony­mous works are folk songs. They are melodies that travel, which get a new life blown into them every time they move in time or space. In­ter­est­ingly enough, the lack of au­thor­ship and ori­gin in­vokes ques­tions of au­then­tic­ity and ev­i­dence, as it is shown in the film “Whose is this song?” from Adela Peeva. This also be­comes ev­i­dent in the film “I Love Alaska” where the query po­etry of an “anonymized user” be­comes the script of a film at the edge of fic­tion and non-fic­tion. Anony­mous has also been re­vived re­cently as the label of a dig­i­tal an­ar­chist move­ment, ques­tion­ing the bound­aries be­tween the phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal. In my paper I will look at the strengths and weak­nesses of anonymity in each case, both as a tech­nol­ogy as well as a strat­egy. I will also delve into its re­la­tion­ship to con­trol, mean­ing how it evades and re­places dif­fer­ent forms of con­trol.

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