What do we mean by content?

What do we mean by content?

What do we mean by content?

 hello okay yes uh  uh cat what was that you were saying uh  i was just saying welcome to thursday  night live and i was wondering how  everyone could hear us  um  so yes all right we've got uh  people can hear information on the  levels how about uh peggy and connor  could you just say something as we're uh  as we're testing audio for fun mic test  hi there yeah hello hello  all right folks in the audience can you  hear pega and connor  let's throw that out there and move  right along  everyone's good great  so yes welcome to thursday night live a  live streaming series from the mackenzie  art gallery  i'm kat blimke  i'm jonathan carroll and we're digital  programs coordinators  at the gallery and so on thursday nights  at 7 pm we partner with

artists curators  and educators to deliver workshops  panels or screenings that reflect on how  to view how to make and how to enjoy  digital art  you the audience watching play a key  role in how this happens during today's  discussion you'll be able to ask  questions by typing into the chat box  the chat is located on the right hand  side of the video if you're watching  through desktop and  it's underneath the video if you are  watching on a tablet or mobile device  the chat is an important feature of any  live stream because this is where you  can join in  during the stream we encourage you to  ask any questions  whether you are watching on youtube  facebook or twitch  if you can't seem to be able to access  the chat make sure you are logged into  the platform that you are using to vi

ew  the stream  we encourage you to ask questions at any  time during the stream and we'll try our  best to answer them  and you can use the chat to also talk  with other audience members who are  watching but we just  keep in mind that there is always  another person at the end of that  username  so over the past few weeks on thursday  live we've been talking with artists  and curators and critics about making  art using digital technology and on  digital platforms and tonight we're  going to talk about who controls that  technology um so the moderation of our  digital environment is a structure that  includes peoples and lands splat  spanning the whole globe uh and uh we'd  like to  begin tonight by acknowledging the land  that we are gathered on for this live  stream  which is treaty iv

territory it's the  homeland of the cree the soto the lakota  the nakota the dakota and the metis  people  you are gathered uh wherever you are out  there  um we're joined today for this  conversation  uh content moderation um with pega vizai  vezie sorry sorry and connor turland uh  to uh talk about commonly used platforms  and how they can limit artists and  creators  hi you both of you  why don't why don't you tell us a little  about yourselves  well i'm a designer and a curator um  just  just a curious person i guess  and  i come from  the arts background  i also um  i'm really interested in co-creating um  spaces for inclusive uh discourses um  [Music]  so i really became interested in the  past a  couple of years  in content moderation just like the  presence of art in the digital s

pace  and that led me to uh  the thesis i worked on um  and a symposium i curated last year  uh related to content moderation in  digital sphere  um  and i'm really excited to share  what i've learned and uh  just have a conversation with you all  about that  and my partner connor um  we're on a design and development studio  uh together and  i want him to introduce himself as well  sure um so my name is connor trillant  and  um  yeah so we're we're in ontario right now  and um this is where i was born and  raised and um  uh i studied computer science in  university but then uh dropped out to  kind of move on and and live in the  world of um kind of web development and  uh  and generally like software development  and  um  like from my passions uh  since high school been very strongly  env

ironmentally uh kind of an  environmental advocate um  and  so that's that's a strong piece and  uh  generally very interested in systems  thinking systems change  uh really understanding um things from  uh from a systems theory and  and systems thinking perspective um all  my mentors and and  folks who influence me heavily are are  all very um  uh kind of systems thinkers that's kind  of  really what i've been steeped in and so  i like to think about systems change big  big systems change some of the big big  systems waste energy  food systems really really interested in  that  that level of complexity  and um i've always been interested in  building  uh  that  that connects into and aims to impact  things at that  at that  societal social  uh and um  global hopefully level  and  yeah we'

re running a business together  doing design and development  and  i was part of the symposium  bringing  some of my experience with technology  technology that empowers people  into the  into the context of the workshops and  the symposium  and  talking about in particular the history  of peer-to-peer technology which is  something i'm really interested in so  what uh what is the the  potentials of peer-to-peer technology um  is probably the key the key thing that  interests me is really i hope i hope we  are we get to talk about  um  we're just going to take one second to  switch our audio our our classic  bluetooth  headphones not working problems so just  two seconds the audience can hear you  though loud and clear  this is  what you tune in for  to see  us deal with audio  live live

this is live so uh  this is also a text a tech support uh  live stream a live stream book making  zoom work  um  [Music]  okay and speaker out and  oh great  no uh i we are good i just have to make  sure the audience can hear you  by boosting up that okay that's so much  better okay so yeah um  uh what i was  just  sort of jumping off um what we were talk  or what you were just talking about and  sort of what i'm excited about uh  learning from you both tonight uh in the  context of things we've been talking  about on this live stream  uh is like as an artist when you're  working with at digital technology  especially um  often the sort of like uh  you're thinking about the  utopian possibilities versus the  dystopian realities of technology um  which uh i think uh we're going to talk  abo

ut that dystopian side but i'm also  really excited to talk about some of the  utopian possibilities especially from  um  uh yeah the more uh technical side of  things because i think uh as artists we  engage with things aesthetically a lot  and a lot of people we've been talking  to have been engaging with things  aesthetically but uh for me it will be  very uh helpful to uh have a bit more of  a robust understanding of like what and  even just like what sort of a utopian  imagining we could have when it comes to  digital technology  cool cool yeah so tonight you were  thinking about kind of giving a  quick summary of like  content moderation in the digital space  and then  seeing how  it functions  mainly in democratic societies in north  america because  it's  visible  vegetarian societ

ies like you know  censorship and surveillance and how the  contemporary but i really was interested  in um like looking at close to home like  you know and seeing how  how actually functions  um uh  here  and then how how is relationship with uh  in a global scale too like uh how you're  contributing to that  um  so i just wanted to  also give a quick kind of like  background around like how i became  interested like  what's the direction  that i took  um  to came up with this um research  um is that because uh  i grew up in iran as an artist and  um  so like really uh saw and faced um  a lot of like content moderation  system out there  and  when i moved back to the states after 19  years  i i was interested in kind of creating a  dialogue between between the two  cultures like uh some a

rtistic dialogue  between the two  um  so um  i saw the digital space being  a potential ground for that to make that  possible  uh at the same time realizing that  in the digital space we also are facing  um  placing challenges related to uh  moderation of content well  and wasn't it the case that when  when you moved to the us and  people and then you would talk about  these things and then people would sort  of point you back to iran like as kind  of a case study and  and that kind of bothered you like that  yeah felt like it was  all pointing fingers and that it wasn't  reflecting on this yeah it didn't feel  that reflective of like what's happening  here um to me so  um i thought  we first need to  know what's happening here within our  digital system here  so that we can better make

sense of it  so  so given that background  and the invisibility the rather  invisibility of it um i just wanted to  kind of like open up  some conversation  um  around uh what kind of systems um  content moderation functions true  um and i want to focus on censorship and  surveillance um and  i want to give a quick history of how  how it emerged  like in the digital space  through the internet  and then  and then seeing examples of that and  then at the end i wanted i want to  bring some attention to some of the  artistic approaches  that's happening  that feels like  hopeful and empowering  in the artistic discourse  so how about starting  with a quick kind of historical  background about that yeah  you want me to  yeah so  um  we thought that it was interesting um to  start with  um  you

know i'm not sure who who would  exactly would recognize uh  this catalog  but the whole earth catalog uh was a  kind of a a revolutionary  um  catalyst cultural catalyst uh that was  that was  kind of  centered in the bay area in san  francisco um  stuart brand was the kind of  one of the instigators  and uh it was the the pictures is quite  relevant um to the whole story of the  whole thing because it was around the  time that astronauts first made it out  kind of into space and that they decided  that they should turn the camera around  and not just focus on the stars but  actually reflect back on earth and take  that picture of earth and that was what  sparked from an environmentalist  standpoint that was actually what  sparked the whole earth day movement  um  but just that these wer

e the same people  who actually  um  were  looking at cultural  revolution looking towards the future  and  um  and  a very high concentration of  technologists obviously or the people on  the kind of cutting edge of computer  computer programming computer science  and technology in general and  silicon silicon valley um  and  uh  yeah they were they were  kind of  dreaming big about the future and  dreaming big about technology and you  mentioned utopian  utopian visions and that actually was a  huge part of this phase was as people  were kind of right  on that edge of discovering uh and  starting to build internet uh networking  infrastructure  i mean there were military there was  military involvement  and it kind of spun out from there but  as um  as people got their hands on it uh the

y  saw the revolutionary potential of this  uh to create a networked world and the  potentials of a network work a networked  world to  um address issues like uh like climate  change or global warming this is like  early um kind of moments of of having  those kinds of realizations of what  kinds of impacts and challenges we were  going to face as  a society and as a globe going forward  um  and uh those were really kind of  starting points for the for the internet  the many people who joined uh the  internet or joined kind of uh forums and  that kind of thing it was all extremely  optimistic there was a huge optimism  about where this was  about where this was going what was the  potential of the internet to connect  people into  um  and to  create like massive ripple effects of  change ac

ross um across the globe  because of instant connectivity uh which  at that time was like blowing their  minds yeah they were like kind of  promising and open like neutral and  community empowering space that was like  the european vision that they have  but then what happened  like uh yeah what years that passed  um  they realized that it's a little bit  like distance from from what they were  imagining as a truly democratic  information society like  um  as users start like creating uh and  generating content on the internet there  are like lots of questions that that  were raised  first was  um  is that  um yeah we can keep over here um so like  it was first the copyright for example  in the united states that begin to  extend liability of  intermediaries in a significant way  so these

intermediaries uh  like found a huge role on the internet  like like to connect people and to  provide a space yeah i wonder if you can  say like intermediaries what you mean by  engineers just an example  yeah for example i  started like from  i don't know like uh blog spaces and  um  uh kind of like  i don't know early social uh social  platforms like myspace and all that  if you remember that uh it was like a  long time ago um  so  so first it was copyright and then there  were other issues that like were brought  up like online harassment and  pornography and  um  a hate speech and all of that these all  like uh led into  changes in policies and creation of  policies so it's very important to  talk about these policies talk about how  law played a huge role in how today uh  our interne

t functions  so  for example  with the copyright  did the dmsa or the digital millennium  copyright act uh that went into effect  in in 2000  um  it really like  opened like lots of questions and lots  of  implications for uh  for the use of the users on internet  um  and then  what happened was that um  in 1996  there was a  law that  got into place the section is called  section 230 telecommunication decency  act  dca  that  that became really  important  for the platforms that emerged  as these intermediary intermediaries uh  on the internet  um which  was talking like  so  the impacts of it was that um  it  um remove the liability uh  of  the content that was generated on the  platform um  for these owners of the platforms  um and so  they were liable for  whatever content that  the us

ers  put put in the platform at the same time  it gave them  immunity to  moderate the content that exists in  their platform  so it's like double  benefit for them  um  also at the same time so it's like a  double-edged word thing because it also  like kind of created a space for  so-called freedom of expression  and like is  safe haven for  for platforms to exist to be based on in  the u.s  so that they can benefit from this law  um  yeah which i which i found  very kind of  um  just like when you look at the  international kind of playing field  it's often  tricky for us to  i mean we we know this but just based on  the the sort of  how the internet feels like it's  everywhere nowhere at the same time we  can forget where where the headquarters  of all these um tech companies  that run

our  uh you know that run our platforms are  based um and and the the significant  majority  operate uh in the us and  um  and  uh it's just it's it's not a coincidence  but and  and we have to understand some of the  some of the legal um  the legal  the environment in the legal space in a  way to to understand why they were they  were able to uh  grow bigger and also to have different  um  to have different  laws that govern them than if they were  to exist uh elsewhere in the world now  now you've got  you're we're only starting to see  uh  international  um legislation come into effect like  where  where google and the likes they have to  abide by um  you know for example that judy um  what was the  um the european the european  uh  gdpr  um  legislation and so back in the fall we  saw

them we saw all  the tech companies uh sending us updates  to their terms and conditions and that  was because europe was rolling a new uh  new legal stuff into effect and because  they operate globally they now have to  actually be compliant  uh with europe's with europe's staff too  but that kind of thing is is relatively  new pretty much they've been operating  u.s companies have been operating in a  kind of like they can reach into the  whole globe but be governed only by  american  american law  so like  yeah can i ask a question about that so  how do you  um  the laws that were created to govern the  internet um  especially initially how do you think  they related to uh people like stuart  brand or the  um the sort of initial um uh like  proponents of the internet and of  virtual spa

ce as utopia how do you think  those laws uh fit with their vision in  terms of um  uh creating this sort of like free and  open cyberspace platform  the relationship between the um  in particular the the legal you said  like when the when the legal stuff was  yeah so i'm thinking like just  specifically like this  uh  um what we're what we're looking at now  on the slide is the uh  something that um in one way uh favors a  certain idea of free speech  um so i'm just wondering if that would  have uh sort of  uh a law like this would uh  be seen by the like sort of  early  silicon valley uh guys as being  something that supported their vision of  this like uh yeah  yeah that's another question in terms of  like how they related to this this  particular one i can imagine that like  in terms

of the general rollout of  legislation  to govern it  um  i think there's been quite a few battle  spot to defend uh you know internet  internet freedoms and and sort of  neutrality that was one of the things i  think we were kind of yeah bordering on  touching on was net neutrality  um  and  uh  i i can imagine that that this one in  particular uh  didn't do didn't do a lot to kind of  shake up those uh those perspectives  like because  it didn't necessarily  um  it it seemed that this one actually  provided  um  not a lot of  uh  backlash on what what people were going  to be able to do or say like online um  and it mostly covered  the  you know  behinds of the um of the tech companies  from from liability it wasn't visible  yeah right um  and then the other  thing you want to talk about

is that how  like  only in the past two or three years we  kind of like having this like more of a  public awareness around the content  modulation that's going on in the social  platforms especially the biggest ones  um but i think question  here you would ask like so with this cda  230 like why then  like they don't have to they're not  liable for the user content but why they  would wanna still moderate the content  right  um  so  one  big thing to note here is that most of  these  major communication and social digital  platforms  are run and owned by private companies  so that's very important  and they're mainly based in the us as we  mentioned  but they're  used by you users across the globe so  it's an important thing to to notice and  also  their business model is that they want

to keep  they depend on advertising or  gatherings of data or a combination of  both  um  and it's not only for economic reasons  that they need to  um  make the public happy or something like  that but also the fear of losing their  public brand  like end users leaving their ecosystem  um so um  that that might be more of a  incentive for them to  to do these like uh which we will talk  about like these uh  systems that they they've come up with  to  uh  to monitor the content that uh usually  is  through public pressure or  the government  at points  uh that leads them to to do that like at  a larger scale  yeah it's usually like to do with  keeping just keeping face um you know  like like they'll be they they'll be  like  the public pressure  instances just like these um  these pattern

s where there's some  particular thing on online and they  receive a lot of  uh  a concentrated amount of um  of backlash they feel the backlash  against a particular thing and then  they'll take that particular thing down  and that's part of how they just they  just do it it's kind of like a  a whole test bed it all goes out and  then  and then whatever  uh whatever the people don't like but  that's that's part of the difficult  thing too is like  they they get to make the calls they are  the arbiters um and they're making the  question is what are they making the  calls according to and that's what  you're pointing at is that they make the  calls according to whether they think  that um  the content that people are seeing is  off-putting  because they're not being held  responsible to an

y larger body  except for very few exceptions right  like that the government government  might say like like look this is like  you know like terrorist for example  content or something like that that  might deal with  actual like governmental law yeah um  well that's what they that's part of  what they do too is they create their  policies like they have they have  policies what they say about their  platforms is okay and what's not  the question about policies is how is it  enforced because there's millions of  posts millions or billions of posts and  so even if they've got these policies  uh  technically there's no filter when you  hit post like it's not like it checks it  before you post it it's a it's it's it's  post checked it's like anyone can post  any anything they want uh at any

time no  no barrier and um  and so it's it's a flood and then the  question is how are they going to  enforce their policies which things are  they going to choose  to uh follow up on from their policies  which things are they going to let go  and that's entirely up to their own  sort of personal or private arbitration  yeah  um  so um  i just wanted to go back to  um  the question of what do we mean when we  say content moderation  talking about collaboration  the way  i've been  thinking about it in my research is  about  content  as as  speech  as expression and so the process of  content migration reshaping  uh narratives through  true moderating of this speech  regulation of a speech and regulation of  expression  um  [Music]  and so by thinking about it from that  lens of like resha

ping narratives  um  [Music]  we can think about how  how this mechanism of content moderation  can impact  or is impacting  the creative discourse  especially because when we talk about  art and creative content  um we're talking about the gray areas  the gray areas  true leech um  [Laughter]  as you can see like um from this picture  uh art has dealt with content moderation  uh  for a long time you know it's not new in  any sense  so  especially because like  in art uh  since art often deals with like  sexuality like or political content and  things that might be  um  uh like  uh kind of like in the edge of our human  conception at points it kind of falls  into those holes where  uh where  through the mechanisms of communication  it can really hurt  i just wanted to read this quote by  j

ulia  farrington  which is artistic freedom of expression  is a tricky right because it supports  artists to investigate the most  sensitive areas of society and ask the  difficult questions  perhaps we are losing our appetite for  disagreement and debate in the arts  um  and so  so we wanted to kind of like  when we talked about the mechanisms um  of country moderation  in the digital  space especially with neural platforms  i wanted to mention  three main  systems they do that  and  so the first one is  true algorithms  um  the second one is through user or  community flagging  and the third one which might be  we might  less familiar with uh is that  content moderation commercial  commemoration workers  um  so i just wanted to touch on those a  little bit and see how they  how they impa

ct the content  i can't go back it's fine sometimes i  wonder who like  how many people know  what an algorithm is  yeah it's kind of like we can have a  whole conversation about that i don't  know like we like yeah we like to keep  it as 101 here as possible so if you're  down if you're into that quickly  describe uh  like just like  into like one of these and it would take  like  so say them again the three again so the  person's out so the first one's  algorithms the second one is user  flagging user of community they call it  community flagging and then the third  one is  uh  commercial content moderation work is  tcm workers  and they are interrelated at the same  time so  why they like these platforms this  source especially we were talking about  social platforms they came up with u

h  these three  solutions or methods or whatever you  call it  uh  is that because of the problem of scale  right we talked about like the massive  amount of content that's generated every  second right um  um at the same time and the fact that  it's not  filtered pre-posting exactly it's not  filtered pre-posting is different from  the traditional media which is like you  have editorial for example team right  or have like  live streams you have like the delay  yeah i'm thinking of like you see or you  hear stories of like someone cursing on  like saturday night live and they have  to like they cut they always run the  feed four seconds  uh behind what actually happened so they  can cut it at any  matches like i just like  cut through the audience image  so  so the problem with scale as i

talk  about which is very different from  traditional media um  and at the same time the qualitative  complexity of the content that exists  yeah  so in the skill makes self-governance  almost impossible right  um and what happens here is that uh it's  also more invisible because um  because of these systems it's like very  difficult to  see like compared to  like um how  content is moderated through  the editorial team right  you just assume there's it oh everybody  on my uh facebook it must be very nice  people or uh there's nothing and there's  no there's no uh  scary images that ever show up there  like like  the the the opaqueness of it like for  example and of the algorithms like how  the fact that when you go to your  facebook feed it's it's sort of a it's a  it's just a collection

you know it's  just kind of a smattering of the post  from here in a post from there but what  you don't know it's you you only know  which posts you're shown and you don't  know which ones you're not shown  and you don't know  a post that showed up there yesterday  and now it doesn't show up there today i  don't i don't even notice that because  it's a constantly rotating it's a  constantly rotating feed and that means  that uh i don't know what  whether it would have seen yesterday or  or um  you know a post that was up yesterday is  now taken down but no one is seeing  everything  so there's an invisibility i mean you  don't know how they function like for  example  uh talking about algorithms and i don't  know how much you want to like go into  it uh but uh  the other name for is mach

ine automation  um  do you wanna like a little bit explain  how how it functions sure um  the the thing with the algorithms  i think there used to be  like the last couple of years has seen a  spike in it in a new  type of um you know probably  everyone is probably caught on to the  wave or the hype of artificial  intelligence  um  but to describe  what people call artificial intelligence  as artificial intelligence is is often  very much an  exaggeration uh a more a more accurate  kind of um  term for what  people are calling artificial  intelligence is is um machine learning  which is the ability for for a machine  to uh just to basically  level up at  one of the things that humans and human  brains are good at which is which is  pattern uh pattern recognition  and um the thing is that t

hey don't  learn pattern recognition on their own  what they do is they take a data set  that's actually been  sort of um  people have  people have  tagged the data set as being okay  here's a picture of this and here's uh  here's how to interpret it here's  another here's a picture of um  uh this and how to interpret it and you  need a big data set like that you train  you train that  the machine on this data set now it kind  of extrapolates the pattern it it learns  the basic principles of the pattern and  you feed it another image or another  string of text  and it'll give you back pretty much like  a uh  it's a predictive thing and it doesn't  always get it right that's the thing is  it's got to cut it'll give you back a  rating and a confidence um a confidence  rating on how it assess

es it so for  example  um  just  kind of  like the middle image was a woman on a  period right and say that you trained  this machine learning algorithm to um to  pick up images of  women on having a period and um it was  an artistic project by  actually canadian-based  artist and poet uh rupee carr  which i think became really also um  kind of like voiced uh on the internet  about that  so so if you you vetted a new image um  then it would give you back uh a  statement this yeah  yes this is uh this is a woman having  period and it's um that we're ninety  percent uh this algorithm is ninety  percent sure that that's that that's  true but there's a ten percent error um  range of error so  um basically they don't tell you  anything definitively but they give you  a system for uh  for maybe

flagging certain things  with a relative degree of confidence  there's there's a couple issues  one is that it's trained on a data set  whatever whatever people  uh interpreted images however they  interpreted them the the machine will  learn to interpret them the same way as  the people did so it can actually  perpetuate  uh biases um  yeah  rather than being  so-called objective uh yeah you know  yeah exactly because uh you usually  promise or like think about algorithms  or ai  um as an objective very machine oriented  kind of  mechanism but actually  those are built by uh  the bias of their builders and those are  learned  learning through those biases so  whenever it's fed it's like  making judgments based on based on those  uh feedings i love i love thinking of  this in terms of labo

r uh like you were  saying and content moderation as labor  and the sort of in these three images  you have this sort of um  uh continuum of of uh  one is sort of like the  the  this image is of the contractor at the  manila office of task us is just a sort  of more straightforward form of labor  and then the algorithmic content  moderation is like you said automation  which is that's uh i feel like that's a  very straightforward way of thinking  about algorithms which off often like if  you're not tech if you're not working  technically it could be confusing and  then the the  the really sort of the way the one in  which it is um  this labor process is innovative uh is  bringing this community uh  sourced uh crowdsource content  moderation uh in the chat yeah in the  chat we get uh tac fa

m uh mentioning how  the use of captcha so for the audiences  like when you're asked to identify  whether this is a road or not um that  trains that that's being used to train  that's sort of like crowd sourced and  algorithmic automated so although we're  at we're being asked to authenticate  ourselves as human beings by identifying  these roads we're in fact just trying to  train robots to think like certain types  of human beings  that's a perfect example of  um  of  how  people  and their participation online  uh people create  value through every single uh little  thing that they do  and that value is is  is endlessly limitlessly uh extracted  and skimmed off uh from  uh from people and a lot of that is done  through  um that kind of um  uh secretive or um  kind of miss uh  mislabeled

um  activities of how they present things  they say we're presenting you a game or  for example like the face recognition  ones where they they say or turn your  face  the app where they said um  see what your face would look like if  you were old and everybody goes in and  takes a selfie for this uh for this app  and then it turns out that this is  they're training up a data set for a  facial recognition company and uh like  overseas on this and  on that note yeah exactly i wanted to  have like a historical anecdotes in  addition to that  which is um  uh if you're familiar with the  pseudoscientific techniques that  was used even not too long ago like a  century ago physio physionomy and  ergonics  they actually used very similar ways  to  um  so what's exclusionary is like accessing  c

haracteristics of a person  through their outer appearance  uh and also economics is a science of  improving human breeds by kicking out  the bad genes  uh so um they were used at points as  like an actual scientific method  um but what they were doing is that they  were  uh kind of putting faces uh  like  uh  creating  patterns for certain faces saying that  if that person has an appearance so that  they have a higher chance of becoming a  criminal for example for example on the  left  picture  queer physio physionomies  the connected masculine characteristic  to female offenders  for example  it was  in a book in 1895  or the right one uh  like touches on intersectionality of  physionone  [Music]  i can't read that um but as you can  probably read it yourself  is that when like  a person

is black or like  um they're indigenous they have certain  like features and  and it kind of portrays them  [Music]  as a potential offender so um what i  want to say is that that you can see in  uh in the algorithm mechanism too which  is  like for example this version of the  world painting microsoft corbett  was taken down  on facebook and many times or venezuelan  roof which is a 30 000 year old statue  right that was taken down  there yeah the middle one yeah and the  recurrence of these although like they  apologize you know facebook apologies  for that they're happening and you see  like it's like a confirmation on like  how  these algorithms are  functioning um through that pattern  recognition  yeah  so  um that's that also like um  and the second thing i want to just  quickly me

ntion  um is that user or community flagging as  you yourself mentioned is that how the  labor works out in the process of  content moderation like how you're  helping with the  uh algorithm  learning  um  so another  feature or mechanism that  these platforms  mostly have is community flagging so  they use  free user labor um  and it's with this kind of logic where  moderators can't be everywhere but users  can so they use that um  free involuntary labor  and that brings them economic values not  only that but also  um  and that's how they that's how they go  about that's one of their strategies for  going about finding out which content is  offensive  um yeah  also yeah they learn what what what is  the social norm like what's kind of  exactly the this is it's all  that idea of social no

rms is hugely  important in this space because what  we've what we've kind of realized is  that the platforms the only um  uh  basically like content moderation comes  down to  in a sense what's what's deemed  acceptable and unacceptable right and so  what is deemed acceptable and  unacceptable uh differs culture to  culture  and yet  um  we're seeing a predominantly  uh  american  what do you call it kind of  taste um american tastes of of  what's tasteful what's distasteful  basically exported globally via the fact  that you facebook operates globally  um and yet  it's sort of a another side of the coin  is that um it depends on really they're  like  when we talk about the public uh the  brand image or whatever we talk about  like  keeping  more users globally is that if for  example  so

mething is a deal breaker for  government in a country for example in  saudi arabia for example  there was this  search engine by microsoft like  was offered in 2000 bing 2010 what they  did is that they  only made safe search available in  certain areas where the government  if they didn't do that the government  would filter  the whole search engine in the country  so for example what they did is that  they filtered  certain  keywords  that it will show you nothing no results  for example you type in breasts you get  nothing you type in chicken breasts  you get nothing  so it kind of shows how how they if they  see  the potential for  like losing a massive amount of like you  know potential users they would add here  to certain  norms or something norms yeah  this one's like  jonathan  u

h i was just thinking of like who the  the  like the the parties  who are sort of the norms are being  defined by and sounds like it's either  like a sort of like  idea of who their customers are or if  you want to call their users customers  because the it sounds like the way the  legal framework is set up is so that  it's like uh it's really supporting that  sort of like consumer platform or  customer platform relationship and so  it's just the sort of ambiguous  will of like what they think their users  want or else like whatever the the state  uh wants where they have access they  want are seeking access to a new market  exactly yeah those are yeah those are  the some of the big factors yeah exactly  and  we're mainly right now talking about the  commercial content migration and so the

motives are  different  um  and then the last uh but not least  is about the commercial content  moderation workers uh which  until recently it's been  really  unknown to the public  i really recommend watching um this  documentary called the cleaners uh i'll  link it in the chat for people yes yes  please and we have like a list of  suggested  readings or to watch stuff too  very interested um  so i want to read this quote by a former  moderator for facebook  uh most of these  moderators they they are based in  post  colonial  uh  regions like for example in philippines  like a majority of these content  moderate moderators and giving examples  of facebook  are in philippines um  like very underpaid and  uh  because they didn't have a choice they  they got this job  so and this former m

oderator for  facebook says think like that there is a  sewer channel and all of the master  waste should of the world flow towards  you and you have to clean it  um  so  so imagine like  these workers are  sitting in front of the computer  they have to  um  like decide or judge  uh whether a content needs to be removed  or be ignored  like about 10 000 images or more per day  so that gives them  about maybe  up to five seconds  for each image to decide whether an  image  should be taken down or not  um so those things that are usually  flagged by  the algorithms or the community flagging  comes to them and they have to do that  at times  um so these are the best content right  like metaphorical waste content right  there it can  be  pornography it can  be some terrorists like you know the

most traumatic  images that you can see they they  receive those things for us to have a  what they call clean  social media  so i just wanted to  kind of  have another another historical anecdote  really in relation to that  and  seeing how  how the waste like in a metaphorical  sense  is not removed but actually displaced  um  when you think about like a  through a global perspective  [Music]  and  um  sarah roberts  which is a great researcher  especially focused on  the ccm workers  kind of  sees that a historical relationship  between the  colonizer and the colonized regions  uh and uh like for example this is a map  the trade routes of the orient which  shows the flow of  [Music]  flow of things that between the  colonizer and the colonized  and  she sees that actually how these ar

e  mirrored these like  relationships are mirrored  in the way that data flowing in and out  of the philippines for example right now  today  um you were you commenting on that john  i say something i said i said wow  underneath my breath  mike didn't pick it up i was i feel it  i know like and i've seen these slides  and and it still hits me kind of like  it's still  it's it's kind of  it's hard to fathom and and i think it's  i think it is so  largely invisible  and that makes it all the important for  us to  to digest in the process and and the  fact that it mirrors  um  uh even like  the the literal issues of waste um  like how we were we were exporting waste  to china and and indonesia and  everything like that and then they've  they've changed the policies you know  they like they ha

ve their own issues  they say we're not taking this anymore  take your waste take your trash back  they stopped accepting those shipments  and then now canada and the u.s we have  to figure out what to do with their own  imagine if we also have to figure out  what to do with our own like  posting  yeah not exactly like it started seeping  up back through the uh ace ourselves  into faith uh who we are as communities  what it is that we're saying  um  yeah really  and so like uh kind of like uh  connecting it back to  uh  it's its implications on the  creative  creative content  uh is that like see when you see this  process where uh this clearly clear  cutting of the content and lack of  context  for like like you know this condition  that these workers are you know in and  the context they

are in uh so these  images lots of images lots of content is  usually taken out of context and that  makes it really difficult for  if you're dealing with  like you know how how much you can do  within a few few seconds yeah exactly  how much can you imagine it goes from a  cultural context for example to decide  like there's so much pressure on that  person like you know how much they can  think about that like one piece that's  gonna be removed or not and those images  that are like the kinds if you think  about it these are yeah the the  images that people have don't want  online and the the worker being forced  to kind of digest these  ten thousand times a day for very little  pay  uh  yeah  exactly but it also poses what you're  just getting at but it poses issues for  the the artist

ic community on the on the  flip side because the artistic community  is as maybe as you say busy creating  content that challenges the binaries  challenges you know steps outside of  some of the  uh  some of the lines and and one of the  ways that um  that these uh  artistic creations can be filtered is  just according to  uh whether there will be  um  what is it enough backlash if they do  take it down or if they don't take it  down  they either way either way if you like  they can they can they can go either way  on it that they do take it down and then  uh  like basically basically again the fact  of whether something's newsworthy this  very loose  sense of whatever newsworthy is this is  the platforms this is this is their  this is their measure for either keeping  something up or or

taking something down  uh basically is there enough backlash in  either direction um  for for whatever action they take so if  they're leaving it up and there's enough  backlash they'll probably take it down  if there's something that was up  and there's enough backlash then they'll  then they'll probably take it down but  basically they have they don't  necessarily have a mind of their own  when it comes to when it comes to  content  uh well the mind of their own is that as  we mentioned like economic and  it's sure but actually that's the sort  of that's sort of the same sort of thing  as happens like in the investing world  where this is not necessarily considered  ethical it's just what makes money or  not it's just like yeah  yeah in that case in that example  specifically the structu

re that arises  out of it even if it is this uh this  idea of like oh will the backlash be  uh  uh is the backlash of leaving it up  going to be worse than the backlash of  taking down etc that that structure just  like already um  uh  privileges people who are already  popular you know artists who are already  have a following and so people will will  fight for their work i i guess as it  were it's it's already a structure that  is like hierarchical uh like baked into  the foundation  because it reinforces the existing norms  and it doesn't allow it doesn't allow  for this challenging of them because  uh because the content moderation is  according to  like a society and you've said this that  that that art  one of the roles of art in society is to  is to move us forward like comedy it's

to challenge is to challenge us and and  to  make us reflect on things that are that  are a little bit outside of the social  the existing social norms so that we  expand and grow and make more inclusive  the  social norms but if the  if in the online spaces um there's no  there's no avenue for things that um  that challenge the existing norms  because  uh basically they'll moderate according  to  um  they'll moderate according to existing  norms existing norms are their benchmark  um for taking for taking down things  then it doesn't necessarily allow for  that for that proper functioning of art  in society right so yeah given that note  i just wanted to kind of like um  shift our conversation  to like just touching on  how  whatever we talked about so far connects  with  the mechanism o

f surveillance  and then how the commercial  contamination  can be interconnected with the estate  uh content motivation even in even in  democratic societies  um  just to double check  on time too  um we have till like  what happened you guys  go as long as you until you fall asleep  just passing out in your chair  [Music]  feel free to tap out whenever you want  but we're good to go for  as long as it takes  are you happy like you'll interject with  questions or or whatever like you know  you keep that open yeah channel so yeah  i'll try i'll i will i feel like too  much and we will go till midnight so i i  i i'm writing some stuff down to talk  about at the end too so  i'll try to yeah folks in the chat yeah  uh think about those questions  and send them our way  cool  um  so um in rela

tion to um  uh surveillance  i think i recommend uh  works uh reading works by jonathan penny  he  is a researcher um  working with the citizen lab uh if  you've heard of it based in toronto  and um  so they really work on the issues of um  like  privacy freedom of expression  um  in the digital space  and he's  really focused on  the impacts of  surveillance on  on expression and  and especially like self-censorship  uh and how these two are connected  especially with his research he's given  more quantitative evidence around that  because he's found that there are lots  of eskeptism around that because it's a  little bit more  difficult or  less  immediate  understanding the  the implications of surveillance on  ourselves and it's a very special very  difficult subject to study  because

self-censorship is very  difficult to study because the deeply  psychological phenomena  so um so  through his research he  has given very interesting quantitative  evidence that how like  how the awareness of public and public  sector  surveillance  leads to self-censorship and what's the  implication of that um especially on  creative  workers and  you like younger people especially women  um so  uh he um  what he calls this um effect is called  chilling effects chilling effects of the  the surveillance and and  um and through his studies like he talks  about the watching eye effects i don't  know how  did he term that did he coin that term  chilling yeah yeah or i think he did i  think so yeah unless he  popularization yeah  um  so there are um  they're very complex mechanisms going on

through surveillance um  and they can lead to  certain  things for example as i mentioned  self-censorship  and he also adds conformity which is uh  through the washing eye effect when i am  looked at um  i behave like i i think you know kind of  like more of the  theory background of that well that's  interesting too because conformity was  was one of the things that was coming  out of the last one that we were just  talking about yeah  yeah exactly  uh this the the next one he talks about  is intellectual privacy  which is being less willing to share  content online and less willing to  express one's opinions on certain topics  the next impact is misinformed public  um because awareness of surveillance  causes people to engage  more in gossip rumors rumors and  disinformation  and the n

ext one is  about  uh marginalized voices um  which is creating new barriers for  participation of marginalized  populations  so these are some of the concerns that  he mentioned  um  and  especially he he emphasizes on  that this concern for self-censorship is  not only for creative workers and  artists  but also a sense of self-censorship of  the institutions  he calls it  institutional  difficult word  institutionalization of that  self-censorship  um uh that these are the spaces that  represent  artist workers uh as major gatekeepers  um  to which art can be seen  um  and then i just wanted to  uh add a quick note at how  like you can talk for hours about that  too with how um  how the the commercial content  moderation mechanism uh can be  intertwined with the state content  moderatio

n for example  you uh probably heard of the nsa's for  example acquisition of private data  that was relieved by eduardo snowden in  2013 or the case off cambridge you know  they got facebook  more recent so these are just uh  examples  well and that that was what  jonathan penn's research was based on  that  or one of the data's ways to be  collected data on that yeah chilling  effect was based on  pre-pre-edward snowden revelations and  post edward silver revelations any any  track  uh search queries right he actually  looked at for the prevalence of certain  search queries prior to  um  prior to edward snowden's um  revelations and and and afterwards and  saw  saw a decline in search queries relating  to things that could be seen it's like  oh i'm looking at something kind of  controver

sial or that kind of thing so  people get less  less inclined to  uh that's why that's why i didn't that's  why it actually encourages rumor when  you  a rumor type  rumors and gossip  in this chilled  chilling effect environment because um  because people won't go  through  through the systems which they think  they can be surveilled which most people  i think  uh  kind of assume that you know something  like google  people kind of know intuitively that  that some of these spaces online they  are just giving away their data and they  didn't have a problem with it up until  realizing  that maybe they should um  maybe there are uh problems maybe there  are concerns maybe we are living  in a state uh that watches us more than  we  more than we liked to think and that  that's in america but w

e have we we also  have we also have a similar agency in  canada that does an incredible amount of  of um data collecting on uh  on us and runs many of the same  types of um  strategies  additionally like like you've said  before uh we're  uh the the companies that like google  that we use on the internet are all  governed through the united states so  we're all sort of so you're totally  you're like exporting stuff like even as  a even as an international you're you're  you're giving your info over into the  handsman organization that in turn is  giving your info over into the hands of  the state or the nsa or yeah what have  you so that was the whole pushback  around this smart city in toronto like  why google um  uh that was the main concern around like  this this info like this all thi

s data  that will be given from the people  living there will be directly going to  um  a powerful u.s based company this is the  sidewalk labs project yeah sidewalk lab  which is a subsidiary of alphabet which  is the company of google so you see you  see how there's even kind of a there's  an entangling and you you have to pay  enough attention to the  legal or the organizational structures  at play i mean not that they could they  they couldn't  they couldn't hide it  it's public information and and  basically like when you  when you uttered sidewalk labs or  alphabet in toronto during the time of  sidewalk  kind of trying to enter  uh the city basically people replaced  both of those words with google and and  they they rightly did that  because  yeah there's just  there's just  it's a

jurisdiction even again  jurisdiction is so important like and i  think um  there's a there's a canadian-based  research um  organization the um cg right yeah that's  done really great  uh research into  data governance and data governance  actually as it turns out is a huge  intersecting issue with everything that  we're talking about  because we've taken for granted  um  we've taken for granted data governance  because um  [Music]  it's just taken us a while to learn the  value of data  and and to learn that it's something  worth governing that it's something  worth giving that much attention to you  know just to to realize like actually  let's let's take care of who we give  access to this and right rather than in  the case of sidewalk labs uh or at smart  the smart city google smart c

ity project  in toronto um the the best way that or  the best way that i heard it explained  is it's as if it's sort of another way  in which we are giving public  public  uh  money like public because data equals  data has value and so there's a monetary  figure we're giving it to a company to  take offshore basically in the form of  google being able to put it in their tax  havens or at least take it out of canada  and put in the u.s so the yeah i think  that idea of tying data together this  emergent people's emergent awareness of  the value of data you can see it from  all these different aspects  yeah there was currency like yeah  and the organization that i meant to  mention was um  cg which is the center for international  governance innovation  they they they were  they are publish

ing and they were part  of they were a reference for you at  points right in your in your research  too um because of the the work into um  data governance that they were doing and  then and then the smart the city thing  was starting to go on at the same time  and it was another  interesting  uh  case study and i think it's actually  what lifted the research of cg into the  public eye even more because canada  actually became  um a hot spot like that like  this was a huge  thing internationally  who who will google build this smart  city thing with um you know people  around the eye the world had their eyes  on this  uh  this unfolding scenario and cg i think  took advantage of that to  popularize uh or to share their research  and to um  and to educate the public which actually  the publ

ic showed an increasing interest  in being educated on that on the topic  of  um  of data governance and and that has to  do with prop with providence like where  does the data actually go with so yeah  they should kind of talk about like  platforms versus protocols and like the  materiality of  infrastructure  uh in relationship to the  networks and  data ownership and that's something that  we're coming to yeah i'm gonna go  quickly through this um so  after all this and just like  taking all this like research uh  i  became interested in kind of exploring  what kind of artistic or creative  approaches that are happening  at the moment um  in the artistic community that are  actually  pushing back or  pushing forward  yeah  this is a snippet of work by sarah  friend  so i  i kind of gath

ered like three main  approaches as a way of um  as like an antithetical to  um to these mechanisms of content  moderation  the first one is thinking about artists  as developers or co-developers of the  web infrastructure  um  so  artists like sarah friend or tan troy  they uh  they've decided to develop their digital  literacy um  and taking a crucial step in being  involved in rethinking  and creating alternative infrastructure  so really like um focus on  the data infrastructure the internet  infrastructure is relation is  materiality and  and the question um and revealing our  limitations of communication and  expression in the digital sphere so well  this is it was so good that you  brought this into  like  one of like one of your streams of  current solutions because  because  um  l

ike from my own perspective as a  developer and technologist it's like  i often feel like i know  and i think many developers feel this  way i know how to build things but i  don't know what  i should build in the sense of like  what  what types of um  constraints should be imposed like if  you left if you left me to my own  devices  uh i might not give it enough thought  necessarily into into what uh  what should be accepted what should be  denied all the um all the biases that  i'm building into whatever software i'm  coming up with at the time which  developers they just like to build  things  um and so it's so it's  it's like  bringing the artists together into it  yeah it's really exciting like we we've  collaborated with  with some of them uh in this difficult  approach uh area and i

t's been really  exciting to feel like  collaborating with them and  uh  like kind of  um  thinking beyond the  the current  mainstream kind of network  infrastructure  bringing more care and stuff control  which is really cool  um  and then  the second approach that  i explored was the artistic gestures  as a way of like activism  uh against online censorship and  surveillance like  uh  like artists like zach plus um  matthias jack christopher wachter hassan  awahi  um  they uh have focused on kind of  revealing the invisible uh which we were  talking about the invisible  uh the more like desensitized or like  more kind of abstracted  systems of content moderation  uh  and social control in the digital space  so  um  you know so i really recommend we have a  list of  lists of things to ex

plore at the end so  we'll give you links to those so that  you can explore for yourself  um  and then  the last approach  but not least uh  which really excites me it's about the  the power of storytelling or changing  narratives through technology and  science fiction  like artists like scavnathi  have found the power of storytelling and  a speculative fiction  in changing the narrative imposed by  we call it digital colonialism  um  which is a very powerful because as we  mentioned throughout the talk  uh concentration deals with narratives  is about reshaping shaping and reshaping  narratives so i find this effort really  fascinating and  powerful  uh we have  sorry uh  there's a question i think that really  uh in the chat that really uh would  suit now uh just sort of thinking about

like alternatives what we can do  um tak fam says these these big tech  companies are the world now is it better  to find a way to live with the situation  or to continue protesting until the next  iphone or tick tock gets launched and  perhaps these are some of the more  ethical iphones  interesting right like them the  like it's kind of like thinking what's  the  we will talk about the decentralized web  in a minute but  like we have these uh kind of  visions around like  we want to create a decentralized  facebook or you want to create a  decentralized whatever like you know and  just  think  like in a very  maybe limited way it's like the same way  of thinking we're just changing the  technology like or  you know the infrastructure but like  you're not changing the way you're  thinkin

g about  those mechanisms  so yeah very interesting comment  so now um  i  would like connor to  kind of expand a little more like  technical side of things maybe for for  us as artists and curators  um  to um to think about like how  how data infrastructure relates to data  ownership and  um  uh  hosting and networking how it works and  protocols versus platforms so make makes  a better understand the layers  of the internet or the layers of the  visual space  yeah  and  and to the question that was brought up  um  i think it's easy to feel obliged into  uh into utilizing the the platforms of  the day to sort of like following  um  you know even if you know there's kind  of  even if you know there's something wrong  with it like for example  uh similar to maybe driving  driving a gasoline

car we all kind of  know that that driving car  uh  carbon  carbon emitting coming out of the  tailpipe you know but do we do we stop  no not necessarily because  we think that we live in a society where  it's fully um  you know you have to stop to there's the  gas stations and that's the way that you  have to resupply to get where you want  to go and that kind of thing and it's a  kind of equivalent in terms of  infrastructure like online we think that  we're kind of obliged to utilize the the  the platforms and the infrastructure of  the day but i think  i i think that they also want you to  continue to think that you're obliged to  uh to use the platforms of the day and  that there aren't alternatives like for  example it would be similar with the gas  uh the gasoline industry wanting

to keep  uh keep  keep  the population driving gasoline cars and  convincing you that the electric cars  aren't aren't a  viable alternative and that would be  similar to say um the  uh  the massive corporations that um  [Music]  that benefit from the massive numbers of  people that that that  live on and use their  their platforms and they are so afraid  of  people  uh leaving them leaving their their  platforms um  that's especially um  something felt by artists i think like  all are not just artists working  digitally but i think all artists feel  um  pretty obliged to share their work on  social media it's like seems to be one  of the only ways to get like i don't  know noticed or to get an audience  for it's an accessible version of  advertising if you don't have a budget  to uh you k

now to send things out and  print you're able to like post and it  becomes another part of your your job as  an artist  an obligation like you said  yeah yeah exactly and and it it can be  difficult there's certainly um  a tension between  uh  incentives to have what i think of as  like  reach which the platforms definitely um  they sell you the idea that you'll get  reach on their on their platforms  because  uh  because of their own large user bases  like facebook can say to people there's  two two billion people on facebook so if  so somehow that number is just so big  that you get in your mind  billion people on facebook  and we forget that that there were other  ways that that um  contents like  previously spread to recommendations  just the fact that people recommend  things to one a

nother and it doesn't all  have to operate within a single silo  where someone can track every single  share and spread and and like um  it's it can relate to the gossip  protocol that you want to talk about  yeah um  totally because um  just how how we  we've kind of arrived at this  place where  uh  just in terms of infrastructure and the  way that the whole thing appears to us  and  actually is in actuality um  the internet is presented in some ways  as  uh kind of decentralized we think of it  as a network it's described as a network  we join the network and that kind of  thing the word network is everywhere and  we think it's all  a network and we extrapolate that idea  to be that the whole thing is a network  you and i and we're all connected over  the network right now but it's not

just  that it's that um  uh just the fact that there are just  because there are many edges like we're  at the edge of a network and you're at  the edge too doesn't mean that uh it  doesn't all run and connect over um  over basically what it what equates to  central  uh central pipes and central channels  the internet as an infrastructure has  a backbone um has many backbones  there was this article  that we kind of pulled out that kind of  highlights this uh  in a kind of funny way  um  which was that the joy this georgian  woman cuts off this was nine nine years  ago but um this kind of thing has  happened  like since and that kind of thing  georgian woman cuts off web access to  whole of armenia she's 75 she slices  through a cable while scavenging for  copper and uh and disconnects the

the  internet service uh access to the  internet to an entire country for for  five hours this is so cool this reminds  me of like 19th century labor uh action  like the luddite movement or something  or  or when uh unintentional  unintentional  accident right this is not this was not  a malicious  actor and  and  so  if you have a non-malicious actor uh  capable of  of having such an incident as this  go down  um it feels like the fragility it shows  it shows the futility it shows the  centrality it shows um  how  how  we could lose access to one another  easier  easier than we than we think we could  in terms of the way that the networks  are actually  um  wired and and and this is this is true  this same principle is true on so many  layers as you look at  the architecture of the inter

net there  are so many ways in which it is in fact  um centralized when when many of us come  to think of it as  decentralized in the sense that it's a  it's a big it's a big uh multi-nodal  network um  but on so many technical layers from  from the actual physical wires to the  protocols that that connect us um  it  uh  there are so many  um  points of of of centralization so many  uh  so many levers that could be used to  either shut it down or reroute it or all  those kinds of things and  and we find that  that this  architecture of the internet is  connected  back to  the power structures that form on top of  it such as the um  such as the  like the most valuable companies in the  world today are are are the the tech  codes right um apple google facebook  amazon whatever they call it r

ight the  big five  um these are the most these are the most  valuable countries in the world right  now and it's because as we were talking  about earlier data has value and these  these were the the companies that got on  top of that game  and um  figured out how to collect all that data  their warehouses their data warehouses  are extraordinary  um  and  at this point in the game we're all  day-to-day giving that  giving that data away  um  daily and  this is the thing where where we have  the sense that we're locked in that  there aren't alternatives um  but but the last few years in particular  has seen a wave of as seen a wave of  um backlash i mean there's there's a  number of different backlashes against  they call it the tech lash at least in  my  sort of world um  it's it's  it's

the tech clash where it's  we're going against  there's been kind of a growing  realization even in silicon valley that  silicon valley has gone too far  and  uh  [Music]  meg and i went  um  twice  two two years in a row uh 2018 2017 i  think or  1819 uh down to san francisco  um in the middle of the  the summer typically to what's called  the d web um one one year was the summit  one year was it called the camp  and um  the d web camp in particular d web  stands for distributed web  the links are gonna be in the at the end  the the d web  camp  in particular brought together  what  relevant to this conversation i feel  was  a more diverse community  a more diverse  uh group than the first one maybe in  terms of like artists and that kind of  thing yeah do you think so a reminiscent  of

the  whole earth catalog kind of  uh movement  kind of like now it feels like it's  going  through um  this loop where like  um like  it's very interesting that's again  happening in the bay area and like it's  kind of like a reflective like uh you  know hosted by the internet archive  um  which uh i don't know if if you familiar  with the internet archives they  they try to  um  archive the internet like because  like websites can be shut down and they  can be removed and  go to nowhere right so interactive  really tries to  keep them you know as uh  i don't know as documents of human  creation i don't know how to  explain that but yeah we talked we  talked a little bit about uh archiving  digital art when we sort of initially  talked about new media art and digital  art and there's a it'

s like similar  sorts of problems there that are it  seems like in a way it's inherent to the  technology but then also the way the  technology is structured  yeah the web is is  can be in fact a very volatile medium  where things pop up and disappear and  the question of longevity of  of our or or anything is as interesting  in  the digital space  um  yeah this this  the camp um  brought together artists technologists  this kind of relates to that first  stream that you mentioned of kind of  like  uh  you know how do we deal how do we deal  with this uh  this environment now of content  moderation or how do we how do we  foresee new uh new opportunities for for  for alternative architectures for for  new  um  new ways of structuring the  conversations that we have online  essentially  uh

so that we can avoid the the pitfalls  of of um  as artists and just uh academics and  anyone having to abide by or or or deal  with the  convoluted and and and  strange content moderation policies that  kind of uh are going going on  in relation to that um and maybe it  would be interesting  to kind of like  point at the relationship between  um the content moderation and where the  data exists and and the right  uh  the right to moderate content and how  that in data ownership  right relates to the  infrastructure  of that data yeah  well exactly and that that that comes  down to the fact that we do most of the  time we sign like every day we sign a  new terms and conditions thing like of a  new platform that we sign on to right  and we don't usually read it and that  whole kind of thing

um that's also because we've gotten used  to the idea that um  that our whole  sort of digital life or or life online  um  is kind of  uh  the whole idea of the cloud has been so  popularized and um and i talked about  this in my workshop in the symposium um  that that at the kind of time  when  uh the idea of the cloud  and you know like dropbox and this kind  of thing uh were  were  going viral and everybody was kind of  getting on board because it it  revolutionized so many things and and i  say like okay fair enough we we fell in  love with the cloud we had kind of a  moment where it's like this is  incredible um the potentials here are  are wild um  in terms of like instant access uh  to data from my phone as as is on my  laptop these kinds of things kind of  blew our mind a little

bit but uh it was  it was less apparent to us  um  where that data was now living instead  it was an abstraction um  and this abstraction  has become  pretty problematic the idea of the cloud  um kind of has become problematic  there's a saying that the cloud doesn't  exist it's just someone else's computer  it's not a cloud it's it's on land  somewhere exactly  it's really seeing metamours like  why  use  that has a physical like real  existence like somewhere it has to live  somewhere the data lives somewhere it  sits on some computer somewhere and it  sits  the question of jurisdiction and  providence was really uh actually it's  really important because  um  which country it it's in or that kind of  thing affects which uh  which  which laws apply to the data itself what  can be done wi

th the data once it's in  the in that data warehouse and that's um  that has that can be governed by  the laws of the country that it sits in  but our network infrastructure connects  us internationally and we don't again  there's sort of a disconnect between our  our um  uh geopolitical framework even and the  internet at a obvious at a basic obvious  level  the internet doesn't necessarily  uh in its natural way  care about  national borders and that kind of thing  but in fact national borders do still  exist and have um have implications  um  and  [Music]  so anyways the the kind of  the point here is  that some of the people  concerned with um the growth the massive  growth of the big techcos um kind of  realize that that a huge  point of leverage is in fact where is  the data hosted w

ho hosts the data and  even what is the architecture of that  hosting of that data  in the sense that um  should it really be the case that that  my data your data and everyone else's  data it all gets pulled into essential  into a central data warehouse  how do we even come up with that idea  and think that it's  think that it's a good one so  um  so that brings us to um some of the  alternative um kind of  hackers inventors people  interested in the whole world of  peer-to-peer  peer-to-peer software  and there's a history to peer-to-peer  software kind of looking back to like  file sharing and that kind of thing  people are familiar with peer-to-peer  from from its file sharing dates but  peer-to-peer has come a long ways  and  and  one of the things  that  um is kind of becoming possib

le is this  uh is this direct connection between  between my computer to your computer and  if that if that connection is possible  then for example if it's possible  without an internet connection so meg  and i have two laptops here so what if  our two laptops could more easily  connect with one another without the  backbone to the to the internet without  assuming that it all routes through  dropbox and syncs through dropbox acts  kind of thing what if we have more  direct uh  more directive of an interface between  between devices  and  that's something that becomes possible  when we deal with and develop um  when we  when we develop  uh protocols for computers via which  that communication between the devices  becomes possible  a protocol is is similar to a human  language it's a way i

n which um it's a  way in which  human language is a is a carrier for us  to communicate with with one another and  a protocol is a similar thing  um  for computers it's uh it's a way that  two computers it's a shared vocabulary  it's a shared language and grammar that  computers can use to  to communicate with one another to pass  messages and to know how to interpret  the messages that it passes between them  so  and in this case it would represent a  more immediate connection between two  computers rather than one that is  mediated by a platform for instance  yeah exactly  um  that via the kind of open and free  a protocol is open and free in the sense  that human language is open and free no  one no one controls  all of human language  it's uh  i have um  contacts who call this uh an u

nimposable  carrier that's that's  kind of a fancy lingo but but it's still  a relevant idea in the sense that it's  um  that it it  from a power structures perspective it's  important because it it can't be  intermediated there's no room for an  intermediary in a thing  um in a thing that that allows this  direct peer-to-peer  thing and the language is peer-to-peer  in this in in the sense that we can use  it uh with no interme with no  intermediary and so  uh certain protocols can be developed  they can allow the computers to talk  with one another directly without an  intermediary and when we do that  we open up a lot of potentials because  we actually open up an interesting  i mean no one like to have viruses on  their computer and that kind of thing  but but the actual idea  of um  of

viruses or not not just viruses but  anything which basically transmits  naturally or moves naturally through  through natural systems like  um  that a message  that i intend for pega to receive uh i  write it into my computer and  um  and my computer shares it with her  computer directly without an  intermediary so as soon as it sees one  another and we call this  message passing between computers gossip  uh computer gossip  and um the idea of gossip is uh a  built-in thing to that what you see on  the screen is these two these two  platforms which are built on top of a  low-level protocol  that i was just talking about called  secure scuttlebutt  and secure scuttlebutt um is is a  protocol that  that allows for this direct message  passing this direct replication of data  from between

computers and devices so  what happens is people kind of own they  they own their own data again so the  data that they create and intend to  share in a social network  it lives first and foremost  primarily like on their device so  they take on a new level of  responsibility as well as a new level of  power  or um  a different set of rights and a  different set of responsibilities when  they  when they step into this world of  peer-to-peer social networking because  we host our own data and um  and then that data is shared  organically between  between computers uh it's still there's  still a there's still a mechanisms for  opting into  um  or filtering for example familiar  familiar  uh  abstractions or metaphors like from  twitter like the idea i follow you and  that means i'm intereste

d in your in  what the things that you share so i'm  interested in uh  in basically replicating to my computer  so that i can read the things that you  share and now  actually i'm becoming co-responsible  uh  co-responsible for your data  um  we're co-responsible not necessarily for  your data but i am i'm co-hosting it now  there's two copies of the data as it's  been replicated and shared between the  the computers so  these are on the right is miniverse  which is a mobile app and on the left is  patchwork which is a desktop client  and um  these two  these two different apps they speak the  same protocol so if uh if i was on my  phone using miniverse and pega was on  her laptop using patchwork and i write a  message into  into many verse  um  because these two apps are interoperable  an

d use the protocol uh pego will see in  her patchwork interface that  um  the content that i shared through many  verse this shows the type of  sovereignty um  that we gain access to  when we  use um  systems that have a that have kind of a  different paradigm  uh built built into them  and um  yeah i'm curious like what  yeah the links uh to these also  are provided in general  this  uh this structure um  uh just to again put it in or like sort  of think of it uh as basically as  possible it sort of makes me think of  passing notes in class  without getting caught though no one to  watch to catch you  and then so i also but i also think  about um  uh so we're sort of talking about  content moderation um  uh i i guess do you think that there  will be less need  for content moderation on  t

hese on platforms that are operating on  peer-to-peer protocols uh because  people are more responsible like uh  there's this other  i don't know if respond i'm trying to  think of there's more more sort of  accountability or responsibility for the  data that you're creating and hosting  and that the people around you are  helping propagate do you know what i  mean like i guess it's just the that the  content moderation would have to be  different but i wonder if you would  there would just have to be less of it  because the network doesn't encourage  the same sort of content as our current  networks do yeah exactly exactly it's a  very different very organized  architecture  and and it kind of  it operates as  a natural or  personal social networks do  which is that um  you can actually c

hange the settings and  that kind of thing but for example um  the way that you can actually connect  with a network of people and not just  like the people on your local wi-fi  network are that are  the fact that when i follow pega i also  if i want i open up myself to  uh  the people that she follows sort of  friend of a friend uh type system  so um so  it's kind of the idea that there's a  natural  kind of boundary around maybe my social  network that has to do with my friends  of friends  and so um  i'm not gonna see anything from outside  of that  that  that circle and what what it means is  that there is there is no  uh  you know it's it's it's unlike something  like facebook or any of those platforms  because  um  no peop no two people share have the  same experience or that kind of

thing  like everyone's everyone's experience is  completely unique according to the shape  of their their social network so so it  really changes what content moderation  is necessary because  for better or worse you  you are kind of operating within  within an  within a bubble  local yeah a local kind of  um  like for example in a natural setting  you would need to  uh  like if you want to connect with a  friend or friend  you would need to be connected with the  friend first and then  then connect with the friend of a friend  so that's that's like  that's how it's natural in in type of  communication because you can't just  like search for example whatever you  want to search and see someone  that has no  connection to your network in a sense  um basically like  i don't i don't know in

the level of  like individual posts how it how it can  kind of work in terms of content  moderation but on the level of like  um  uh  bad actors or where you have like people  um like hate speech and certain stuff  like that if you've got hate speech  operating within the platform you can  block people um and that kind of thing  so so you can still this was very  important to the secure scuttlebutt  community that people still they  actually coined  um i don't know if they coined it or not  but um one of the co-creators of this um  this  system talked about freedom of listening  versus freedom of speech um it was a  really interesting kind of uh  flip it flipping the thing on its head  flipping the whole question to  moderation on its head and saying um  we should be less concerned with th

e  freedom of speech and more concerned  with the freedom of listening which is  which is if i can tailor  if i can you know i should i should be  able to see or to um  moderate in a sense  i'm i'm my moderator inside in in some  ways i need to be able to set the  parameters of what's okay uh for me to  see and not see so you can technically  kind of like  remove a certain content for yourself  like it would then be  removed for the others but because of  sitting in your own  of the network you're selling your own  device  um  you can have  like without  completely removing that data you're  taking  that data for yourself so technically  that's how you  yeah freedom of listening so yeah you  get to take you get to take down a post  not globally not from anyone to see that  post um  which r

emoves the need for some of the  roles of some of the content moderated  moderator type roles that we saw earlier  and i guess  kind of talk  um  you know the whole question becomes a  little bit more of a moot point because  we realize that the architecture of  these other platforms is is is so  global and the whole idea that there's  only one copy of a particular post it's  either it's very binary the post is  either up or it's down  um because it's hosted through just one  data set they own the data  but when we when we own the data and the  data replicates or propagates or is  shared  then  it's not such a matter of taking it down  because taking it down is not  really possible  just just removing it for yourself i  don't want to see this i don't want to  see this kind of thing yeah we

have a an  audience question regarding uh models  for decentralized facebook uh techfam uh  wonders if the the platform only fans  could potentially be a model to envision  a decentralized facebook as it's a  community funded by its own users and  the transaction exchange between users  in this creators and audience is  somewhat transparent  yeah i was just talking with peg about  only fans the other day um  as a kind of interesting example where  where you deal with a different content  moderation  you deal with different issues in terms  of content moderation within when when  what happens happens behind a paywall  um  because again  it's kind of um  we talked i think after that about  both the power  the  the challenges and the opportunities of  sort of you know something like twitter

where it's all about what's public it's  the public post um  and facebook posts can be public and  that kind of thing too and so they're  um  they present their own challenges and  opportunities when there's that public  quality to them because of course on one  on one hand they're  you have to deal with the question of  public public interests if it's a public  post there's the question of public  interest should it should it be up  should it be down should it um  like  what should we yeah but then it also  shapes the public that this course of  public interest itself like by by this  monopoly system that it creates  um so it's like a feedback loop right so  what is the public interest but i'm  shaping the public interests  of the platform that has so much power  so  that's like a chicke

n and egg kind of  scenario  um yeah the uh  the like  i i really like this idea of the  uh protocols  themselves more so centering um  uh like the the listener as you as  you're saying  um and like letting the the you the  person who's just like  every the like agents the degree of  agency that it provides people  in terms of doing their own content  moderation instead of having to like  either outsource that agency to an  algorithm or someone working in the  philippines or even if it was like this  the state for instance and the state  could decide uh what is like as is true  and more like conventional broadcasting  regulated by the fcc in the states or  whatever uh like where that defines what  sort of co like content is tolerable on  a channel um  that there's a chance for like a lot o

f  democracy in in the peer-to-peer model  because people are making that choice  themselves  do we have any additional questions  coming in from the chat uh uh just to  just to put it out there uh to get to  get those final questions out  let me hide myself we're on the screen  or yourselves like you know oh yeah wait  let me look i have a couple of things  well i have two pages  like he said it would literally be  midnight  uh  one yeah oh well one sort of maybe i'll  just this this will be the question is  like uh  um  uh  i feel like there are some interesting  conversations about the idea of like  socialization or nationalization of  platforms um like the um  uh the  uh what oh there's a book that i think  and this is sort of more in the realm of  retail sales but there's a book calle

d  like the the walmart revolution or  something like that that talks about how  walmart has already built these like  sort of logistical systems that would be  well suited to do some sort of to become  uh socialized that is to become things  that are meant to serve distributing  goods to citizens instead of to  consumers like as a way to make sure if  there was uh socialized uh food programs  for instance in in our society  the channels for distribution already  exist they exist  they exist through these giant  corporations so you can sort of imagine  and and then so one of their arguments  is like oh it's actually in a way  if if a socialist government was to ever  take power it would be easy in a way  because they just have to nationalize  this one company and then that that  could help

them do do the distribution  and you could think of a similar thing  with the huge monopolies  it's this is sort of a silly thought  experiment but you can think of a  similar thing with the huge monopolies  in tech  uh where like um  if uh if someone were to want to  nationalize like maybe it was deemed  that because facebook many i think  people have argued that face and rightly  that facebook is like a utility or  twitter is like a utility in that it is  the sort of like public forum for our  society so certainly during quarantine  when you're not able to connect through  any other yeah i mean so because it's a  public utility maybe it should be  run by the uh public which in our in  this civilization that we the public is  the government or the state  um so like yeah i guess what do y

ou  think of this idea of i this sort of  like our conversation tonight sort of  in my mind it's sort of is going beyond  that and saying like peer-to-peer opens  up a solution that  uh sort of pushes past this what the  state is capable of being and puts the  power more into individual people's  hands but what do you think of this idea  of like the nationalize either think of  platforms as utilities or like the  potential for them to become a social  good either through nationalization or  maybe there's other ways legislation  yeah it's interesting talk to think  about like  something like facebook become like a  nationalized property  like or a government property i  because of the history it has had like  in the way it's grown like the way it's  created and it's grown  throughout the  p

ast couple of years  i don't know what the implication  exactly would be  if it just like is handed to the  government for example like  would that really serve the public  uh  public good like  by just through handing it to the  government  um  i'm i'm maybe i'm more of a skeptical  like in that but  um  as as we've mentioned is that like that  the  the government and the commercial um  estate and the commercial content  moderation they go hand in hand like you  know  to  to use the data that we  we give up right and i don't know  if that much data is  given out to the government if that's  the that's a public representer  um  uh if that would be  something good for the public like  having that much data about  details about like you know every  citizen  in the country  um  yeah it seems

like a lot of the problems  with the platforms which is what you've  been saying a lot of the problems are  are baked into the structure of  of the code  and the structure of those social  networks or social medias themselves  rather i think i think the fact that  they're  uh privately run by uh corporations that  also plays into it but um  uh i think a like a very large part of  it like you're saying is the structure  of the thing itself they're they're  built to centralize everyone's data for  instance right yeah i think it's some of  i think it's some of both um  i wanted to mention there's uh in  relation to that there was um  kind of another movement um there's  someone named nathan schneider i was  looking it up  um  based in new york  who has promoted the idea of platform  cooperati

vism  which is um  which is where basically like  uh that all of the platforms in a sense  or or there's the potential in all of  these cases where platforms have become  such uh predominant forces within the  society that these platforms uh are  actually ripe for  for  cooperativism which is where um they  would take on cooperative ownership  structures which uh  which would restructure them  [Music]  from being private corporations to  to cooperative  structures which means co-ownership  which means  uh collective collective governance  which means  um  you know the the community  the user community is the owner  community and when you  when when the community when the users  and the owners become the same you can't  become the same group  then um  then you can then you know that the use

r  community's interests are going to be  represented  um  and taken fully into account so  so there was actually a movement for a  little while that didn't fully  fully fledge or fully succeed but um  for them to actually buy twitter  um  all out  uh because  there was a moment i think where  twitter's fate was a little bit uh  uncertain from the stock market's  perspective um  and  and uh because they ironically they  actually sometimes that these companies  too struggle to figure out what exactly  their twitter in particular struggled to  figure out what their um  monetization strategy was going to be um  and while they were struggling with that  question  uh  they were struggling with the question  of profitability which which led to  whether  um  the article says like wall street was

uncertain whether  um  about the future of twitter so  that's another kind of like idea and i  think it kind of  i think it  is complementary to  the fully distributed fully protocol  baked kind of um  paradigm  uh it it provides maybe a transition  plan or something like that or an  alternative another alternative  structure for  uh  for dealing with the scope and size of  the platform instead of  yeah  yeah because the challenge is always  going to be that those movements are  struggling against  these things that are born out of the  like the capitalist system to be  corporations  exactly yeah they're filled with that  mindset so how how do you create that  transition  and like it was funny because because  companies like uber and airbnb were the  so-called harbingers of the  of the um

the sharing economy um and  bearing economy was uh  kind of like a  a brief glimpse of  opportunity to have a society structured  in  um kind of  co-ownership or or you know just totally  totally revolutionized the ownership  models and instead  uh uber and airbnb  became monoliths themselves  and became intermediaries themselves  even though they claimed to  create a peer-to-peer a marketplace a  peer-to-peer economy um  they skimmed all the value  uh  off the top of that from from the  community so again  it's funny i forgot that that was call i  forgot sort of the word sharing economy  that's sort of like it seems so ironic  like because everyone calls it the gig  or gig economy is associated with  yeah  seems like a more apt description of  what at least what they've become but  yeah

far away from what the initial  optimism was about yeah yeah  um this is a let's so yeah it's  getting it's like 11 o'clock for you  folks uh awesome thank you this has been  like a fantastic comment yeah yeah so  long so much fun and that yeah the pres  that i really like your slideshow as  well yeah  all those links um so yeah if you all  i if you you share them with me and i  will share the link  in the discord so uh folks there's a  link i'm trying to like accurately oh  yeah you're also in the discord so you  could amazing call to action join the  district and as well um please feel free  uh where can we find you uh  uh you you're you have do you have a  website that people can look up for  sprillo um yeah there are new websites  coming soon uh  sprillo.com like s-p-r-i-l-l-o-w  mm-hm

m  yeah and uh we can also share it in in  the links um fantastic  yeah so uh do you need us to uh point  you to the conte to the links right now  or we'll  throw throw them in the discord and uh  the community will be able to get them  so  yeah we're just checking to make sure we  didn't miss any comments  but yeah thank you so much  pega and connor it's been amazing to  have you on with us and i look forward  to being able to check out everything  further uh through those links and that  you'll be sending in the discord  thanks for having us it was amazing too  uh to have the chance to  to share and and to talk uh  with you and  yeah looking forward to more  conversation outside amazing  engage a tough topic  okay goodbye to the streamers we are  going out of stream  goodbye  you

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