NB : All discussions will take place in English, apart from the last roundtable (in French)
Forum curated by Carmen Salas
Free entrance – Le Commun (Rue des Bains, 28, 1205 Geneva)
The evolution of humanity is closely tied to the evolution of communication and the transmission of knowledge. Humankind have for at least three decades been exploring the possibilities of computer-mediated communications. The invention of the World Wide Web in 1989 brought about new social interactions and cultural practices that have changed our lives forever. The magnitude of what began that year is an act that exposes the uniqueness of our civilisation. However, what we are witnessing in the last decade shows a lack of understanding and responsibility towards our digital rights and the complex systems that rule our world. The shift from the wide-open Web to semi closed platforms brought about an unequal distribution of power among citizens, businesses and governments. Centralised control not only has damaged our most valuable medium of communication and exchange of knowledge, it has also threatened our freedom, autonomy and sovereignty. How did we get here?, what could we do differently if given a second chance?, how can we ensure that the Internet is not centralised inside corporate structures? what would it take to build a digital future that is right for us all? who should be involved? These are questions we will have to give much more thought in the years ahead. Perhaps the most urgent questions we need to ask ourselves are: How do we want technology and the ‘network’ to function in the next decades – as means to foster human development or as tools to continue exacerbating the concentration of wealth and power?, how can we ensure that the systems, infrastructures and networks we create don’t end up mutating into tools for control, surveillance and censorship? and how can we build better and more solid systems in the first place?
The networks, systems and the technologies we create are not neutral. They are reflections of power, the power of those who design them. The title ‘Broken Home’ is a metaphor that describes the ‘fractured’ condition of today’s society and the digital ecosystem we are all embedded in due to two main factors: the implementation of a new form of capitalism that potentiates centralisation of power and the exploitation of citizens for economic profit, and our resistance to accept that real power comes from the conscious mind that is behind any human creation.
This year’s theme wants to reflect on the causes and effects of the centralisation of power within the internet. The forum’s programme brings together artists, writers, researchers and curators to explore the complexities of the Internet and technology, and to reflect on how the power forces that dominate them alter our relationship to the world, to others and to ourselves. Through talks, presentations and discussions, the forum wants to make visible the economic model and mechanisms that underpin our digital ecosystem, and its connection and implications at the economic, political, socio-cultural and environmental levels.