This international workshop is organised in collaboration with CNRS Institute for Communication Sciences.

International workshop

The alternative Internet(s) – state of the art and the possible future

15-16 September 2014, London

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The Internet Messenger by Buky Schwartz
Photo by Dr. Avishai Teicher Pikiwiki Israel under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license and available on Wikimedia Commons.

The Internet has been conceived as a distributed, decentralized and self-organized network. However, it is slowly being transformed to a highly centralized system dominated by the services offered by big corporations such as Google, Facebook, and Yahoo !, and surveilled by national agencies like NSA. This evolution has important implications for both civil liberties (privacy, security, freedom of expression) and economic freedoms (concentration, walled gardens, unbalanced terms of use).

Several research and activist groups and projects worldwide try to avoid dependencies at different layers and design proposals of an alternative Internet, which would rely on distributed architectures, from infrastructures to services and applications.

Building on history and the current state-of-the-art, we aim to foster an open discussion between practitioners and scholars of various disciplines in order to assess the techno-legal feasibility of alternative Internets, understand their design requirements and social implications, and suggest possible ways for an improved network governance, that would enable a wide diversity of options in order to avoid the concentration of power and single points of failure.

The workshop will explore the techno-politics, architecture frameworks, governance and socio-cultural implications of alternative internet projects. Participants are asked for short position papers (1-3 pages), to be eventually assembled by the organizers into a working paper or/and a policy recommendations paper.

Practical information

The workshop will take place on Monday 15 September afternoon and Tuesday 16 September all day at London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). We have reached full capacity. Recommended hashtag #LSEAlternets


Monday 15th LSE
Room OLD 3.21, Old Building, Houghton Street

4-6pm Unconference
Round table with introductions and expectations (2 minutes)
Free discussion on topics (including group work) to be addressed the next day

6-7pm Pub on LSE Campus (at your own cost)
Ye Old White Horse, Portugal Street

7:15pm Dinner
Coopers : 49A Lincoln’s Inn Fields

Tuesday 16th LSE
room NAB 1.07 from 10:00 to 18:00, New Academic Building, Lincoln’s Inn Fields

10:00-10:15 Introduction by the organisers
Alternet : Melanie Dulong de Rosnay
Welcome : Nick Couldry and Pascal Griset
Structure of the discussion : Panayotis Antoniadis

10:15-10:45 Topic A : Lessons from the past (case studies, successes, failures, evolution over time...)
Seed talks : Dan McQuillan, Leandro Navarro & Efrain Foglia

10:45-11:15 Topic B : Tensions (local vs. global, usability vs. ownership, activism vs. politics...)
Seed talks : Juan Carlos De Martin, Félix Tréguer

11:15-11:30 Coffee break

11:30-12:00 Topic C : Joining forces (law, politics, technology, social sciences, art, design, activism...)
Seed talks : Johan Söderberg, Renata Avila

12:00-12:30 Topic D : Future steps (policy recommendations, collaborations, networks, events, marketing...)
Seed talks : Amelia Andersdotter, Francesca Bria, Alison Powell

12:30-13:30 Lunch

13:30-14:30 Discussion

14:30-16:00 Smaller group work on topics identified during the discussion

16:00-16:15 Coffee break

16:15-17:00 Round tables with 3-5 people reporting on behalf of groups and 1 moderator

17:00-18:00 Synthesis
Towards a working paper
Possible opportunities for future work, networking, events

Scientific committee of the workshop and partners of the project

The workshop is supported by the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) Interdisciplinary Programme on Communication Sciences and part of the project Alternet on Alternative architectures of the internet : risks of network (de)centralisation.

Additional support is provided by the Department of Media and Communications of London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the CNRS Institute for Communication Science (ISCC), Paris Sorbonne-Universités, the French National Agency for Research within the frame of the Adam project, and the European Network for Internet Science.

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