the vonderful vorld of virtual v

12. Dezember 2016

Alien in airplane

Filed under: English,photo — Schlagwörter: — vg @ 20:06

alien-on-luxair-1On the plane to Luxemburg. Sleepily leaning back. There’s an alien looking at me. Seemingly a sad one. Wouldn’d you be if you were stuck in the ceiling of an airplane?

7. November 2016

„Alone, but not Lonely“ – Otaku reloaded

Filed under: book,English,Public Appearance — Schlagwörter: , , — vg @ 16:04

Otaku_mediamatic-magazine-5-426 years ago, “’I’m alone, but not lonely‘. Japanese Otaku-Kids colonize the Realm of Information and Media“ appeared in the Amsterdam magazine Mediamatic.

One year ago, Paul O’Kane wrote to me, saying he’s an artist, writer, publisher and lecturer in fine arts based in London, and that he has used my essay for many years to inspire his students to start thinking about art, society and technology. Recently, he and two colleagues had started a not-for-profit artist’s publishing company, eeodo, and wanted to print a special edition of my essay. Would I give my permission to do so? Of course, I did.

eeodo: Alone but not LonelyOne month ago, the book arrived, beautifully designed and illustrated by manga artist Kengyuan Qiu, with a preface by Paul O’Kane and a brief introduction by me. It can now be ordered from eeodo for £7.95.

A week from now, the book will be presentend at the


Photograph by Paul Boyling

Photograph by Paul Boyling, taken at MCM Comic Con at the Excel Centre London

Thursday 17th November, 6pm sharp to 8pm
Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation
13/14 Cornwall Terrace (Outer Circle) London NW1 4QP

Paul and I will be speaking briefly, after which Griseldis Kirsch, an expert in modern Japanese culture at SOAS, University of London, will chat with me about the state of otaku and otakulogy. The discussions will be followed by drinks and a book-signing. N.B. Booking required.

A week later, there will be another BOOK EVENT:

Thursday 24th November, 6.30pm to 9pm
Waterstones Tottenham Court Road
19 – 21 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 1BJ

For this additional event, in Waterstones‘ basement bar, video work by artists Katya Gargi and Shinji Toya will join an ambient otaku soundscape supplied by musician Christopher Smith. The schedule starts with a screening of a 30-minute film by Bong Joon-Ho alluding to the Hikikomori lifestyle, after which artist, writer, lecturer and eeodo founder member Paul O’Kane will discuss the book and field questions with Hayato Fujioka, a specialist in modern Japanese Art History at CSM.

19. Mai 2016

„Watch us die.“ Must see: „The March“ by David Wheatley, UK 1990

Filed under: English,movie — Schlagwörter: , , , — vg @ 16:26

Der MarschJust discovered this visionary movie from 1990. A five-year drought has brought people in North-East Africa to starvation, leaving them with the choice of death or Europe. When Irish EU Commissioner for International Development, „Clare Fitzgerald“ (Juliet Stevenson) meets their leader „Isa el-Mahdi“ (Malick Bowens), he tells her that it takes 50 dollars a year to keep one of them alive. „I have heard that you in Europe spend 200 dollars to feed your cats. Let us come to your homes and be your cats. It will be cheaper.“ His message is as simple as it is powerful:

We are poor because you are rich.

As they march across Libyia and Algeria to Morocco, their numbers grow to a quarter of a million. Meanwhile, the Commissioner does all she can to find solutions: letting a limited number of them into Europe as a steam valve, a Marshall Plan for Africa. But the walls of ‚Fortress Europe‘ are already in place in the heads of European politicians. At the same time the Afroamerican US presidential candidate „Marcus Brown“ (Joseph Mydell) tries to radicalise the marchers and stages them on TV to utilize them for his campaign.

At the end of the movie, the marchers set accross the Strait of Gibraltar in hundreds of small boats, landing on a tourist beach in Spain where they are met by armed military. 25 years later, El-Mahdi’s words are more powerful than ever:

We believe that when you see us before you, you will not let us die. That is why we come to Europe. If you will not help us, there is nothing more we can do. We will die, and you will watch us die, and may God have mercy on us all.

When „The March“ was first shown on German television in May 1990, it was followed by a discussion in which the movie was critized for being too pessimistic. Even though the news immediately before the sceening had reported on yet another boat with 300 African refugees arriving in Italy that day. For the link to Ghandi’s 1930 „Salt March“ to protest British colonial rule in India, for the contrast to Jean Raspail’s dystopian 1973 French novel „The Camp of the Saints“ and for an optimistic view of where Europe stands today, see the blog post va Laurence Jarvik (20.11.2015).

„The March“ was directed by David Wheatley and produced by the BBC. It is available on DVD and on Youtube.

19. April 2016

Contribution to EU consultation “Next Generation Internet”

The European Commission in its Next Generation Internet Survey had asked what the Internet would look like in 2025 and what research is required to get there. Articles on this survey on, Digitale Gesellschaft, and Heise News.

Below is my brief contribution to the survey. I have not yet received an acknowledgement of receipt, nor have my questions been answered whether the results of the survey will be published and how they will be used to inform EU research priorities. Answeres will follow as they are received.

Dr. Volker Grassmuck, media sociologist, Berlin

via webform at
— as PDF

Berlin, den 10.04.2016
Bez.: EU Survey „Next Generation Internet“

Dear ladies and sirs,

I welcome the opportunity by The Net Futures Directorate to express my opinion on research priorities with respect to the further development of the Internet. (more…)

18. April 2015

Anti-TTIP Global Day of Action, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, 18.04.2015

StartbildToday was the Global Action Day to Defeat Free Trade and Investment Treaties. More than 1000 actions took place across the planet. Berlin’s largest event was a human chain from Potsdamer Platz to the Brandenburg Gate in which more than 4000 people participated.

There are a number of Free Trade and Investment Treaties brewing — CETA, TPP, TiSA and most prominently TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Merkel und Juncker have put concluding TTIP in 2015 on top of their agenda.

Negotiations between EU and US started in 2013 on condition that culture and media be excluded. Near the supposed end of the negotiations, it seems that the fears most of us had from the beginning come true and digital culture is coming back in the form of „audiovisual goods and services”.

Here some materials on this, alas mostly in German.

16. November 2013

Brazil’s Marco Civil about to be voted in Parliament

Filed under: English,News — Schlagwörter: , , , , , — vg @ 16:44

The much applauded Brazilian legislative project for an Internet Bill of Rights is about to enter its decisive phase in the House of Representatives. The Marco Civil da Internet had it ups and downs. A devastating cyber-crime bill introduced by senator Eduardo Azeredo had triggered a wave of protests in 2009. This in turn, led to an innovative, broad, participatory process of drafting a counter-bill guaranteeing fundamental rights on the Internet that was conducted by the Ministry of Justice in partnership with the Center for Technology and Society of the Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School in Rio de Janeiro. The first round of public consultations at the end of 2009 served to identify issues to be dealt with. The draft bill based on the more than 800 contributions was published for public consultation in spring 2010. The administration of President Dilma Rousseff approved the bill and sent it to Congress in August 2011. There it has been postponed and watered down eversince. Especially the net neutrality rules met with resistance by the powerful telcos. Meanwhile, the Lei Azeredo was passed in April 2013.

It took Edward Snowden’s leaks to bring the Marco Civil draft back on track. „In addition to the re-installment of old guarantees aspired for by civil society organisations, the post-Snowden Marco Civil also embodies the reaction of Brazil’s government to the NSA mass surveillance,“ writes Monika Ermert on Intellectual Property Watch. She also presents an English language translation of the current text of the bill, prepared by Carolina Rossini, Project Director for the Latin America Resource Center at the Internet Governance and Human Rights programme at the New America Foundation’s OTI.

Voting on the Marco Civil is again scheduled for next week. It is feared that it sufferes the same fate as the similarly progressive Brazilian Copyright Bill, the drafting and public deliberations on which had started in 2005 already, that was delayed countless times and is now schedulded to be voted in 2015. But there is still hope that the indignation over practices by the NSA and US corporations will create the political will and momentum to finally approve the Marco Civil.

18. Juli 2013

The Sharing Turn: Why We are Generally Nice and Have a Good Chance to Cooperate Our Way Out of the Mess We Have Gotten Ourselves into

Filed under: English,text — Schlagwörter: , , , , , , — vg @ 21:17

Grassmuck, Volker Ralf, The Sharing Turn: Why We are Generally Nice and Have a Good Chance to Cooperate Our Way Out of the Mess We Have Gotten Ourselves into (August 18, 2012). Available at SSRN:

Published in: Wolfgang Sützl, Felix Stalder, Ronald Maier, Theo Hug (Eds.): Cultures and Ethics of Sharing / Kulturen und Ethiken des Teilens, Innsbruck University Press 2012 ISBN 978-3-902811-74-5

After a period of neoliberal blind faith in the power of economic self-interest and of austerity to tackle its catastrophic effects, we are re-discovering our more pleasant sides. There is currently a surge of interest in sharing – in research in various developmental sciences, in popular debate and most of all in practice. This paper proposes that our society is undergoing a Sharing Turn that has its roots in human nature and in cultural history, is media-technologically enabled by networked computers and is fueled by the rising anger over societal systems that fail to serve the public in- terest. It attempts to set out some of the roots, diverse manifestations and dynamics of this para- digmatic shift, and it expresses hope that the ‘trending’ values of sharing and cooperating will change the world for the better.

Keywords: sharing, cooperation, commons, res universitatis, knowledge commons, commons-based peer-production, evolutionary anthropology, evolutionary biology, homo economicus, scacity, abundance, free software, OA, OER

9. Juni 2013

Atul Chitnis, RIP

Filed under: English,News — Schlagwörter: , , — vg @ 23:56
Atul Chitnis

Atul Chitnis

It was for no particular reason that on Monday, 3d of June, I picked the „“ t-shirt from the pile. Or so I thought. When next day I received an e-mail from Harald Welte informing me that Atul Chitnis (on Wikipedia, on LinkeIn) had succumbed to cancer on Monday morning, I realized that my choice of t-shirt hadn’t been by chance.

„Technology For A Free World“ is the subtitle on the shirt and the battle-call that had brought Atul and me together. He had invited me to give a talk on the knowledge commons at Linux Bangalore 2001, the first in his series of conferences that would change the Indian tech landscape. I was more than happy to reciprocate and invited him to Berlin for the Wizards of OS 3 in 2004 and to the Wizards of OS 4 in 2006. Linux Bangalore in 2005 widened its scope and became FOSS.IN. Atul invited both Harald and me to an unforgetable FOSS.IN 2005.

Through our encounters in Berlin, where Atul was born, and in Bangalore and Goa I got to know and respect him as a kind, sharing and hospitable friend, a passionate technologist and an impressive mover of massive projects. Up to his last days, Atul was tweeting, and, as Harald told me, planning for FOSS.IN 2013 and working on three books at the same time.

While fond memories of our encounters and conversations keep surfacing, my thoughts go out to Atul’s wife and daughter and to his mother. His personal motto was „You aren’t remembered for doing what is expected of you.“ No, Atul you won’t. You will be remembered as the amazing guy you were and for using your skills and visions to a create a free world.


The memories of Atul’s brother Arun, posted on June 8, 2013

19. April 2013

„Alternative distribution models in the digital environment”, Riga, 23 April

The seminar „Alternative distribution models of works protected by copyright in the digital environment” will take place on 23 April 2013 from 9:30 – 14:00 at Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration (RISEBA), Architecture and Media Centre “H2O 6” (Riga, Ūdens iela 6). It is oranised by the Ministry of Culture of Latvia in cooperation with the British Council in the context of Creative Action Week “Create!” (22 to 28 April).

Application by 19 April here.
A live-stream will be available here.

The seminar-discussion will be devoted to tendencies of copyright in the current digital environment. The local and foreign experts will discuss the alternative distribution models of music and e-books online providing their easy accessibility, on one hand, and fair remuneration to the authors, on the other hand. The topics presented by the experts will include: possibility to introduce so-called culture flat-rate for the use of culture products; current tendencies of management of online music rights in Europe, the role of the collective management organisations therein and others.

Participants include Žaneta Jaunzeme-Grende, Minister of Culture; Magda Papēde, doctoral candidate of the University of Freiburg (Germany); Guna Zučika, manager of the band “Brainstorm”; Uldis Zariņš, head of Strategic development unit of the National Library of Latvia; Ilona Tomsone and Rihards Gulbis, Legal Advisors on copyright, Ministry of Culture and myself.

13. April 2013

Sharing Licence Library

This is a collection of materials on the proposals to legalize file-sharing in exchange for a flat-rate remuneration. These proposals are as old as P2P file-sharing itself. They have been advanced by law scholars, people from the music industry, consumer and Internet user organisations, collecting societies and political parties. They have come in the form of feasibility studies, passionate manifestos, scholarly and popular articles, law proposals and (near) pilot projects. And they have come under names such as alternative compensation system, content or culture flat-rate, licence globale, artistic freedom voucher, noncommercial use levy and sharing licence. If you have materials (text, audio, video) that should be in this collection, please mail me. Any discussion paper, law proposal, artist’s statement from any country in any language pertinent to the subject is welcome. Broken links as well. Thank you.

— Last updated 13.04.2013 — (more…)

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