Citizen Lab Post-Doctoral Fellow Stefania Milan gave a talk on cloud protesting at the Unlike Us 2, Social Media Activism and the Critique of Liberation Technology conference at the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam.

The audience got a first glimpse of her still-in-progress work on what she calls cloud protesting. The term may seem controversial in the sense that it implies a centralized, corporate structure but in fact points to the decentralized nature of contemporary protests. Through the notion of cloud protesting she understands social media not merely as a tool for, but also as a metaphor and enabler of today’s new forms of protesting and activism.

She sees collective action as intrinsically communicative and expressive, therefore social media is especially apt for enabling such dynamics. But why call it cloud protesting? First of all, cloud is understood as a metaphor for a network but it also signifies an online space where resources are stored. These are ‘soft’ resources, meaning they are immaterial and unstable, that provide a possibility for civic engagement and mobilization to take place. They are the ‘ingredients’ for building today’s social movements creating collective identities, mobilizing frames, narratives, know-how and expertise (e.g. how to set up a camp or live stream events).

For more on Stefania Milan’s presentation, see here.