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social life of issues workshops
design & media research fellowship, Jan van Eyck
preferred placement book
netlocator software
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the rogue and rogued video
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Life of Issues 9: Making Issues into Rights? (June 2004)

Life of Issues 8: Doing without News? (November 2003)

Life of Issues 7
: Do formats organize networks? (October 2003)

Life of Issues 6
: Network effects of Civil Society (May 2002)

Life of Issues 5
: Mapping Central Asian Issues (November 2001)

Life of Issues 4
: Competing Realities on and off the Web (July 2001)

Life of Issues 3
: Disaggregating Global Civil Society (June 2001)

Life of Issues 2
: Network Forms and Shapes (May 2001)

Social Life of Issues
(April 2001)

The Social Life of Issues 6 : the Network Effects of Civil Society

A workshop organised by govcom.org

15-21 May 2002, Budapest

Proceedings  Proceedings

Preliminary Abstract

In this workshop, Social Life of Issues 6, we will be mapping the lives led by civil society issues on the Web and look to discover and describe new forms of the political in evidence in issue-networks configuring in this medium. The issues to be mapped will be brought in by the workshop participants, mainly representatives of civil society organisations with a presence on the Web.

Reading, one finds that little is known about forms of the political assumed in new media through its purposive use by civil society organizations, apart from campaigning (outreach and word-spreading) and (protest) meeting logistics. One of the questions we may pursue is the extent to which civil society organizations contribute to socio-political globalization by participating in processes of 'issue-fication'. Watching civil society network activity on the Web, we ask to what extent such actors engage in 'issue-networking' efforts, configuring into debate-networks, protest-networks, programme-networks and scandal-networks, and in so doing, (re)define issues on (inter)governmental and media agenda's. One of the critical questions to be asked is whether, in these efforts, civil society actors are following principally inter-governmental agendas, or whether, conversely, they may also be seen to set in motion and redirect processes of issuefication, staking out issue trajectories that are particular to civil society. Querying issue-networks on the Web in this way, the question may arise what type of information interventions can be made by civil society actors on the Web. We believe there may be a case for undertaking such interventions, that are currently identifiable after employing techniques and analysis of the current network effects of civil society as well as intergovernmental politics, in manners to be explored at the workshop.

Some of the clues for such interventions have been gathered previously, in past social life meetings. In particular, we were able to suggest information format considerations for achieving a 'network effect' (in the case of the issue of media freedom). Another example is highlighted in the Web Issue Index. (See http://www.govcom.org/web_index.html.)

Social Life 6 follows on from the Social Life 5, where we mapped the Central Asian and Caucasian issue space(s), with regional issue experts contributing from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazachstan. The issue-network and textual analysis maps, including ones on the Ferghana Valley and Nagorno-Karabagh conflicts, on anti-corruption, on global media freedom (and missing journalists) as well as on the Georgian independent media, are available at http://www.govcom.org/drafts.html. At Social Life 3, we watched the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa on the Web. (All previous Social Life workshop abstracts are here: http://www.govcom.org/works_arch.html)

The specially designed issue network location software, likely to achieve version 2.0 by the workshop, and issue crawler history and instructions of use are here, http://www.govcom.org/ia_ontheweb.html, and here http://www.govcom.org/crawler_software.html (respectively).

The working principle for Social Life 6 is to follow the issue trajectories (over a short amount of time) of civil society issues, and report findings on the network effects achieved by civil society and inter-governmental organizations. We are mainly interested in the extent to which civil society and state agendas comptete, intersect and diverge in (global) issue spaces on the Web. A combination of issue network location and textual analysis will provide initial answers to these questions, and also provide prospective information policy considerations about when (not) to follow whose agendas.


Noortje Marres, Univ of Amsterdam  
Richard Rogers, govcom.org / Univ of Amsterdam
Greg Elmer, Boston College
Andres Zelman, Univ of Amsterdam
David Stubbs, Internews / OSI Info Program / GIPI
Suzi Wells, One World (London)
Marcell Mars, MAMA Croatia (Zagreb)
Kristina Mihalec, BABE Croatia (Zagreb)
Shaddy Basheerhamad, Transparency International (Berlin)
Sasa Milosevi, OSI Croatia
Marek Tuszynski, OSI Info Program / Stefan Batory Foundation Poland (Warsaw)  
Anriette Esterhuysen, Association for Progressive Communications
Monika Satavova, Open Society Foundation CZ
Vera Franz, OSI Info Program  
Marieke van Dijk, govcom.org / anderemedia.nl
Auke Touwslager, govcom.org / anderemedia.nl  
Darius Cuplinskus, OSI Info Program
Andrei Mogoutov, Ecole des Mines / Aguidel.com  
Miklos Peternak, C3.hu