Vol. 3 No. 2 (2023)

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    The European Strive for Digital Sovereignty: Have We Lost Our Belief in the Global Promises of the ‘Free and Open Internet’?
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2023) Pohle, Julia
    Digital sovereignty is the buzzword of the hour in European digital policy debates. But what if it was something more fundamental than just a new policy principle? This short essay analyses shifts in the belief system that underlies our idea of the global Internet in order to better understand the European digital sovereignty debate within its historical and political context. For this purpose, it identifies three different types of dependency that shape today’s global digital order and explains how the perceptions of these dependencies motivate the EU’s claims for more digital self-determination. What come apparent is that the liberal imaginary of an ‘open and free Internet’ could not hold up to reality and that we are in urgent need of alternative visions for a globally interconnected world. The European digital sovereignty debate can be interpreted as the first stage in the search for such an alternative. Whether it will be able to fill the gap, remains questionable.
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    Editorial: Practicing Sovereignty – Interventions for Open Digital Futures
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2023) Irrgang, Daniel; Herlo, Bianca
    This issue is dedicated to the Weizenbaum Conference 2022, titled ‘Practicing Sovereignty: Interventions for Open Digital Futures.’ The Weizenbaum Institute’s annual gathering brought together researchers, networks, and collaborators to focus on the theme of ‘digital sovereignty.’ This term, hotly debated and used with varying connotations in fields such as research, activism, law, and policy-making, refers to competencies, duties, and rights in digital societies. The contributions compiled in this issue are based on papers presented at the 2022 conference. They explore notions of digital sovereignty in tension with topics such as AI deepfakes, algorithmic governmentality, ethics and datafication in the context of machine learning, and community-driven open-access publishing in academia.
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    Reclaiming (Parts of) Scholarly Communication: Resilient Publishing as a Community-Driven Effort
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2023) Wrzesinski, Marcel
    Community-driven open-access journals foster the idea of a biblio-diverse publishing ecosystem and challenge the prevalent commercialization of academic publishing. However, despite their importance, their existence is at risk. With little to no budget, they mostly operate on the unpaid labor of their editorial teams and the free support provided by public infrastructures. The first part of this article describes the model, key functions, and governance principles of community-driven open-access journals within the business of global academic publishing. In promoting fair, resilient, and gratis open access, they contribute to the evolution of an inclusive and biblio-diverse intellectual landscape. The article then concerns itself with the challenges that community-driven publishing faces within the system of academia and academic publishing. Emphasizing the need for more funding, engagement strategies, and wider responsibility, I close with some practical suggestions for immediate aid.
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    Algorithmic Governmentality, Digital Sovereignty, and Agency Affordances: Extending the Possible Fields of Action
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2023) Pop Stefanija, Ana; Pierson, Jo
    In today’s socio-technical constellations, our daily online and offline lives are increasingly governed by what can be termed algorithmic governmentality. Understood as the governing of the social based on the algorithmic processing of big data, algorithmic governmentality significantly limits human agency and individuals’ abilities to control data inputs and algorithmic outputs. An antidote and a solution to governance of this kind require assembling conditions for enabling digital sovereignty. Seen as a counter-conduct to governmentality, sovereignty concerns agency, control, autonomy, authority, self-reflection, and self-determination. Foregrounded on empirical research that relates specifically to platform algorithms, this article discusses the requirements for the digital sovereignty of individuals and the socio-technical conditions that should enable that sovereignty. By introducing and conceptualizing the notion of agency affordances, the article provides several illustrative examples of how this sovereignty can be inscribed through the technical and unfold via the societal.
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    Making Arguments with Data: Resisting Appropriation and Assumption of Access/Reason in Machine Learning Training Processes
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2023) Savic, Selena; Martins, Yann Patrick
    This article presents an approach to practicing ethics when working with large datasets and designing data representations. Inspired by feminist critique of technoscience and recent problematizations of digital literacy, we argue that machine learning models can be navigated in a multi-narrative manner when access to training data is well articulated and understood. We programmed and used web-based interfaces to sort, organize, and explore a community-run digital archive of radio signals. An additional perspective on the question of working with datasets is offered from the experience of teaching image synthesis with freely accessible online tools. We hold that the main challenge to social transformations related to digital technologies comes from lingering forms of colonialism and extractive relationships that easily move in and out of the digital domain. To counter both the unfounded narratives of techno-optimismand the universalizing critique of technology, we discuss an approachto data and networks that enables a situated critique of datafication and correlationism from within.