In der aktuellen Ausgabe der Occupied Times, einer selbstproduzierten Zeitung die aus der Londoner Occupy Bewegung hervorgegangen ist, findet sich ein hochspannender Artikel über Medienaktivismus. Was den Beitrag so lesenswert macht, ist dass die beiden Autor*innen, derjenigen Generation des Webaktivismus angehören, die am Ende der 1990er Jahr Indymedia entwickelt haben. Im Text wird die gegenwärtige taktische und strategische Lage des Webaktivismus vor dem Hintergrund dieser Geschichte und damit in historischer Perspektive diskutiert.

Public debate on digital media tends to be organised in “either-ors.” Such polarisation allows for clarifying positions, but it doesn’t do justice to the messy dynamics of everyday digital practice. Paolo Gerbaudo’s recent contribution on internet activism in OT24 is no exception. He contrasts what he calls a “cyber separatist strategy” allegedly pursued by veterans of the anti-globalisation movement with “occupying the digital mainstream,” which he sees as a more inclusive and forward-looking strategy adopted by contemporary tech activists.

Although the juxtaposition “Cyber-Separatism versus Occupying the Digital Mainstream” is catchy, we think it’s a dead end. The argument suggests that today’s cyber-activism is split into two entrenched and incompatible positions: One camp embraces commercial online services while giving up any claims to net autonomy, privacy and security. The other maintains a minimum of net autonomy at the price of severing all links to the digital mainstream. Thus media activists are stuck between the rock of compromising privacy and the hard place of inhabiting a relatively secure island in the web with no ties to the buzzing flows of communication, conversation and collaboration on commercial online services.

As veterans of media activism, we’d like to complicate this neat line of argument by throwing in our version of radical history and a reminder of the classic confusion over tactics and strategy.