(pic of the panel courtesy of Emma Hughes)
This morning I took part in a fascinating panel discussion about the intersections of art and technology – with a focus on theatre because it was hosted by the National Theatre of Scotland as part of this year’s Neon Festival in Dundee @NTSonline @weareneon.
A couple of dozen noble people came out on a chilly saturday morning to hear us think out loud about our practice, our concerns, and our dreams, and it was a pleasure to be there with Lizzie Hodgson @ThinkNat Mark Stevenson @Optimistontour Emma Hughes @LiminaImmersive Ruth Catlow @furtherfield and Annie Dorsen @AnnieDorsen, all chaired by NTS Digital Thinker in Residence Harry Wilson @theharry_wilson.
We each had five minutes to introduce our theme, and this is what I said in my attempt to keep the conversation lively. (yes, I’m quoting the Big Chill.. you can’t stop me)
My notes for speaking
(image: noticeboard at Newspeak House)
We have been anticipating the internet’s impact on the political process for over two decades now, with talk of ‘the first internet election’ going back to at least 1997 in the UK, a time when political parties and candidates built their first websites and started emailing supporters in the hope of influencing their voting.
We have come a long way from the first online MP’s surgery, which I ran for Cambridge MP Anne Campbell in 1996, or the mailing list and website archive that constituted the Nexus ‘online think tank’, and it’s clear that we now have what we asked for: it is impossible to disentangle the political process from the network, and all politics seems to have an online dimension, even in countries where net access is limited.
However the consequences are clearly not those that early advocates of networked politics might have hoped for. Far from the network ushering in a new age of deliberative democracy fuelled by active and engaged citizens, online activism has become a tool for those who would undo the Enlightenment’s gains and push pack many of the social changes that have characterised open societies.