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Digital Civil Society

Radical Protocols: Digital Design for Social Solidarity


 Jessica Feldman (Communication, Media, and Culture) : Radical Protocols: Designing Democratic Digital Tools in Social Movements  


This book project is a study of the ways in which democratic values are (or are not) inscribed in the design of emerging networked communication technologies. The book is the result ethnographic fieldwork with democratic social movements, especially the “movements of the squares,” during which Feldman studied these movements’ communications practices and the alternative digital tools that they designed to serve their political values. This is combined with a “values-in-design” analysis of new decentralized communication, consensus, and trust models, such as mesh networks, blockchain, and algorithmic governance applications, which claim to have democratic values. The book asserts the promise that peer-to-peer tools have for democratic practice in a moment when representative democracy is in decay, while pointing out concerns about the ways in which illegitimate power and control could be inscribed into these communication tools at lower layers.