On theory & practice: why I left academia.edu

In the course of reducing my free labour and data provision to shady and neoliberal companies, I deleted my academia.edu account today. It had been on my mind for a while already, and reading “Should This Be the Last Thing You Read on Academia.edu?” by Gary Hall only gave the final push to do so.

I do not know much about this company that managed in only a few years to lock-in millions of university workers into their walled garden, applying, of course, all kinds of data analytics on what we all publish and selling it to the highest bidder (Elsevier?).

I have never been particularly active on this honey pot site. The reasons I initially joined were rather mundane: being in the loop with latest papers on subjects I am interested in. But soon I noticed that this site is basically run with the same devasting social logics that all neoliberal trajectories entail: who is following whom, who is important, etc.

University workers seem to be particulary receptive for these social logics of digital cultures as we all are constantly reminded that if we don’t publish (of course at Elsevier!), our careers might not develop properly. University worker to large extends have internalized in the best (or worst) Foucauldian sense the gouvernementality of neoliberal subjects in an economy that is based on competition and kissing a.

This is so much more of a problem when the same authors that spent time and thought into critizing this matrix act in total conformity to it.

Well, at least one soul less is now captured by Richard Price’s profit machine.

Maybe you want to do the same? There a lots of other possibilities to publish and network. Starting with a simple blog like this. We really should practically be on the side of the open internet and stop contributing to its further closure and privatization. Think about it, fellow academians! Public space is scarce already. Why are we so stupid to enforce the privatization of the online space, too?

“Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society” website up and running

The project “Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society” at University Cardiff now has its website up and running. The project  explores the nature, opportunities and challenges of digital citizenship in light of the governmental surveillance measures revealed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Solidarity Protest with Edward Snowden in front of German ChancelleryThe leaks initially published by The Guardian and the Washington Post provide unprecedented insights into the workings of digital surveillance programmes and thus a unique historical opportunity for this research. The project analyses digital citizenship along four central themes that all shape and manifest contemporary structures of governance in ‘surveillance society’: policy, technology, civil society, and news media.

I have been awarded the Surveillance Studies Book Prize 2014 for my book “From Protest to Surveillance”

Again good news: I have been awarded the Surveillance Studies Book Prize 2014 for my book “From Protest to Surveillance – The Political Rationality of Mobile Media”.

The committee praised:

“the combination of empirical work with theoretical insight and the consequent benefit of looking more clearly at the conceptual framework that is appropriate for understanding surveillance. In particular, Leistert’s work:

  • Helps us understand the qualitative differences as well as the points of convergence between surveillance in liberal and non-liberal societies;
  • spans a variety of geographic and social spaces in order to produce an informed analysis and a reliable and balanced interpretation;
  • focuses on a specific category of media and deals very clearly with established problematics by demonstrating that contemporary surveillance is essentially about access to the mediating infrastructure;
  • provides an interesting blueprint on the practical and ethical approach to empirical research in sensitive areas”

Other committee members said that “Leistert’s book could guide future research in the field of surveillance studies” and that it combined “Excellent presentation, critical evaluation, elaboration and recombination of surveillance theories adding new relationships and interpretations.” Last and certainly not least, “It is also well written and accessible.”

I am very thankful for this recognition. The book is available from Peter Lang, or from your preferred book dealer.

Review of my book “Mobile Media. From Protest to Surveillance”

Marta Brzezinska has written a review of my book “Mobile Media. From Protest to Surveillance” for Surveillance Studies.org. She closes by writing: “Without any doubt Oliver Leistert’s book proves vital to the field of contemporary aspects of surveillance, the power and media and in the same time provokes to discuss theoretical perspectives on dimensions of modern society.”