Globalization from below? ICTs and Democratic Development in the Project “Indymedia Africa”
Indymedia Africa (IMCA) is a global network of media activists that aims to both connect and foster the use of Independent Media in Africa. Originating in the digital age activism of the late nineties, the Indymedia network has been surfing a wave of optimism regarding the potentials of new media and the digital public sphere to democratize publishing and the media. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) were understood as permitting “convergence” between people and movements in a horizontally organized fashion, thereby facilitating desired organizational cultures based on consensus and plurality, and producing “open spaces” relatively unstructured and uncontrolled by conventional political and economic structures. As an element of a “globalization from below,” IMCA considered these ideas as an answer to problems of democracy and freedom of expression in Africa and attempted to spread its own organizational principles into African independent media. In four years of creating virtual and physical convergence spaces, online forums, and Web sites, as well as organizing transnational gatherings, however, the IMCA network has had to face something of a reality check regarding the conditions of its own work and the African context. It has also gone through a process of action and reflection that appears symptomatic for a variety of initiatives of global cooperation in the field of new media, highlighting the limits of technological and pragmatic answers to the debate of the democratic potentials of these media.
KeywordsOpen Space African Context Global Inequality Positive Discrimination Convergence Space
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