Ben O'Loughlin has been invited to speak at a gathering of nuclear experts being held this week in the US. Three Tweets to Midnight: Social Media, Information Warfare, and Nuclear Stability is organised by the Stanley Foundation and will be held on 18-20 October at Warrenton, Virginia. In the shadow of Trump's tweets about North Korea and Iran, this is an urgent moment to consider how social media can be used to escalate the risk of nuclear weapons use. However, Ben will draw upon his book project on the 2015 Iran deal to show how leaders can use social media to contain risk and threat perceptions and build partnerships based on peaceful intentions. Much debate equates social media's role in politics with disruption and potential destruction. Ben will argue that while these risks cannot be overlooked, we must also look for ways social media can be used for constructive purposes.
This week the 18th annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) will be held at Tartu, Estonia. NPC's Elinor Carmi has organised a panel called 'Sonic Publics' together with Professor Aram Sinnreich (American University), where she will present her paper titled: "The hidden listeners: Regulating publics through media, from telephone operators to social media content moderators". In her talk Carmi is proposing a new theoretical approach to conduct research on media power by using listening rather than seeing/vision as a knowledge production practice that structures various types of power relations. This panel will also include: Aram Sinnreich, Nancy Baym, Andrea Alarcon, Lana Swartz, Larisa Mann, and Ian Dunham. Join the panel on Thursday 19th October at 9am.
Elinor will also participate in a 'fishbowl' titled 'Privacy beyond the individual', where she will talk about the discussions around the European Union ePrivacy Regulation on Friday 20th October at 9:00am. In this fishbowl she collaborates with Airi Lampinen, Ralf Patrick De Wolf, Tuukka Lehtiniemi and Sander Schwartz.
The full AoIR 2017 programme is available here.
If you can't join the conference physically join the live tweet -> #AoIR2017.
Big data influences social, cultural, economical and political aspects of today's society. With 'big data' being one of the most debated topics of 2017, we want to bring specialists to understand this concept in relation to politics in the broader sense. Each month, our new seminar series "Rethinking politics in data times" will invite scholars from different fields to discuss how data changes the way we discuss, analyse, argue and think about politics.
We have finalised our programme, so open your diaries and mark the following dates:
October 5th, 2017 - Monday, 5pm, Room Windsor 103 - Dr. Lina Dencik (Cardiff University) - Founder/Director of Data Justice Lab. If you've missed this event you can read our the recap our student Ellen Simpson wrote about it.
November 23rd, 2017 - Thursday, 5pm, Room Windsor 004, in collaboration with our colleagues from AAME, Centre for Politics in Africa, Asia and the Middle East - Maria Repnikova (Department of Communication, Georgia State University) will speak on China as a Media Player: From Domestic Media Politics to Ambitions for Global Dominance.
December 4th, 2017 - Monday, 5pm, Room Windsor 103 - Dr. Anna Feigenbaum (Centre for the Study of Journalism, Culture and Community, Bournemouth University)- will be talking about her Data Storytelling Workbook (Routledge 2019), which draws on practitioners’ experiences and current research to explore how the rise in big and open data can be put to use to tell better data stories for social change.
February 8th, 2018 - Thursday, 5pm, Room Moore 008 - Dr. Anastasia Denisova (CAMRI Media Research, Westminster University) talking about political memes and viral culture in Russia.
March 5th, 2018 - Monday, 5pm Room FW101 - Professor Louise Amoore (Geography Department, Durham University) will be talking about 'cloud ethics'.
Detailed abstracts will be sent closer to the date of the seminars.
All the seminar series events will be live-tweeted, Join us for the debate -> #RethinkingPoliticsData
We will also have recap blogs and podcasts with the speakers so stay tuned!
Entry is free of charge and we look forward to thinking and debating with you about the future of politics in data times - All welcome!
Written by Ellen Simpson.
Datafication is the trend of turning aspects of our day-to-day lives into information with value to governmental and commercial entities as technology advances. It is the process by which we all become characters in our own digital minority report, generalized by the digital life that people with similar characteristics and interests to ourselves lead, rather than our actual lived experiences. After the leaks by Edward Snowden, the concept of digital citizenship shifted, causing people to re-examine how agency existed within digital spaces where this information was consciously given away in a digital environment that encouraged the free release of such data. This transformative development in society, Denick argued, indicates data can predict how we can be categorized, boiling our personhood down to a series of attributes that can be fed into algorithms and interpreted by others.
But this process is uneven. These systems cannot understand the complexity of the lived human experience, nor the ep and flow of society. There is bias in how this is data is collected and utilized, and the processes can further discriminate, not to mention exclude entire communities. Denick cited this ProPublica Report as an example of machine algorithmic actions informed by big data have bias against black offenders in the United States. Digital rights research, according to Denick, needs to focus on the study of lived experience and that of the “data double” of a person. Data systems cannot account for that difference, as data tends to flatten, decontextualize, and assume that human nature and behaviour are predictable.
The politics of social justice, Denick argued, comes into the conversation when we look at the distances between lived experience and abstracted data. Data governance needs to be understood at a policy level, however this is increasingly challenging, as practitioners often do not understand the technologies used to aggregate such data, preventing conversations about effective policies. This power shift is larger than just a simple shift in the amount of data that’s being collected, but rather one that Denick urges needs a qualitative change in our understanding of these power dynamics.
We need to think beyond the techno-legal solutionism and find a way to have social justice inform a more system critique of the current system as a whole. Activists, Denick pointed out, do not see data as a point of political engagement. There is a disconnect between social justice and digital rights activists; but data is a social issue. Datafiction is a distancing and dehumanizing element. “We need to accept that there are certain areas in our lives that can’t be decided by data.” Denick said in answer to one a question about what a possible future could look like. Admitting that the data systems we have in place might not lead to a better answer than what a human might provide is a good first step in this process, she added. Transparency is another. This is the politics of trying to know the future, as data subjects, we need to be able to hold those who use and gather big data accountable.
Denick’s talk drew an audience from the Politics, History, Business, Geography and Information Security departments here at Royal Holloway. You can follow the discussion on Twitter under the hashtag #RethinkingPoliticsData.
The next Rethinking Politics in Data Times talk is on Thursday 23 November. The NewPolCom unit will be collaborating with our colleagues in the Centre for Politics in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East (AMME) to invite Maria Repnikova to discuss China as a media player.
President Trump’s attack on Puerto Rican Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz is not only cruel. It’s politically suicidal.
Written by: Stephanie Stark
When Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico two weeks ago, devastating homes and buildings, wiping out power and flooding streets, the mayor of the island’s biggest city, Carmen Yulín Cruz, pleaded for help. Crying on live television, she begged for more attention and aid from the federal government, citing that Puerto Ricans were drinking from creeks and lacking food.
“We’re dying here. We truly are dying here.” she said.
Her statements echoed that of Lt. General Jeffrey Buchanan, who was appointed to head the response effort, and had called the damage “the worst he’s ever seen.”
President Trump, from his golf course in New Jersey, reacted to her pleas by accusing her of partisanship, poor leadership, laziness, and nastiness—and he did it in the third person.
The reaction is not only inappropriate because it is so cruel to attack someone during a time of need, nor because it is different than how other Presidents have reacted to natural disasters. It is revealing as to how the Trump Administration operates: by Mr. Trump’s whims alone. If his response was indeed planned, it could be assumed that Mr. Trump has no strategists that have his best interests in mind, or that they are grossly ill-informed of basic political strategy. The latter of course, could be true considering many of his staff are his family and people who transferred from his luxury hotel business.
Mr. Trump’s brutish response may be inspired by the fact that Puerto Rico is not entitled to electoral votes for President. But his elevation of the problem, via his targeted tweets, allows for more than just Puerto Ricans to react. And with the background of hurricanes in Louisiana and Texas just the week before, it is likely more Americans with voting rights empathize and understand the importance of a strong disaster response.
Republican or Democrat, natural disasters are ripe situations for politicians, and ones that can define an administration. President Bush’s lack of response after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina was so roundly disapproved of, it has been called “the beginning of the end” of his Presidency, and it remains the deadliest and costliest hurricane in U.S. history. In contrast, in response to 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie was catapulted into a national spotlight because of his quick and sustained action in dealing with the aftermath of the storm. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Boston University found that public opinion reacts favorably when Governors ask for federal help, and when Presidents react quickly, and reward money in wake of a disaster.
Natural disasters can be an easy win: decked in khakis and baseball caps, politicians show up for photo opportunities, press conferences, meetings with local officials and distribution of support and services. It’s a chance to look like a “regular person,” in tune with constituents’ problems, and one that is willing to do the dirty work. It is a perfect opportunity to show that the official is capable of solving problems under pressure and cares about their constituents. And for Mr. Trump, someone who has built thousands of luxury buildings all over the world, his ability to rebuild cities should come as muscle memory.
We have yet to see what will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back when it comes to the inevitable downfall of the reckless Trump Administration. But if we were to learn from the past, perhaps the straw that could be the deciding factor of this Presidency could be the territory that doesn’t even have an electoral vote.
This week the University of Trento in Italy will host a workshop exploring the role of narratives in international relations. Narrating Crisis: Mapping the Terrain of Normative Meaning is held on October 13-14 and organised by Vincenzo Della Salla, Maren Hofius and Antje Weiner. NPC's Ben O'Loughlin will present research examining how young people in Israel-Palestine and Ukraine narrate the role of the European Union in the conflicts their societies face. This is part of the Jean Monnet-funded project Crisis, Conflict and Critical Diplomacy of the EU (C3EU). Ben will present findings with Alister Miskimmon that utilize Q-sort methods that elicit narratives rather than the usual surveys of attitudes and beliefs in public opinion research. In light of Joe Nye's statement that 'whose story wins' will define world affairs in the 21st century, there is a need for methods that bring to light the stories people hold about their experiences, their country and its role in the world. This presentation is a first step towards realising that goal.
Friday, 13 October 2017
13.30-14.00 Welcome and Introduction
14.00-15.00 Chiara de Franco - The Logic of Narratives: Theatre, narratives and international norms
15.00-16.00 Mark Gilbert - The Eurocentrism of Narratives of European Integration
16.30-17.30 Kai Oppermann and Alexander Spencer – Contesting success and failure: US narratives on the ‘Iran nuclear deal
Saturday, 14 October 2017
Time: Topic and Presenter:
9.00-10.00 Katja Freistein and Frank Gadinger – Competing Narratives and the Crisis of Europe
10.00-11.00 Maren Hofius – European Integration (Theory) in Crisis? Reconstructing ‘Crisis’ as Narrative
11.30-12.30 Alister Miskimmon and Ben O'Loughlin – Anticipating Projection Effects and Receptivity to EU Narratives in Ukraine and Israel/Palestine
13.30-14.30 Vincent Della Sala – The Elusive “New Narrative” for Europe
14.30-15.00 Discussion of future plans
Written by Ellen Simpson.
When Colin Kaepernick chose to sit during the playing of the national anthem in August 2016 he did so in protest. “I’m not going to stand and show pride in a flag and for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour…There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder” he said. He spoke in reference to the approximately 309 black people killed by police in the United States in 2016. His protest, first sitting, and then kneeling, during the national anthem was soon joined by others across professional sport. This quiet protest was allowed despite public and internal outcry. To be a person of colour and a professional athlete in the United States means occupying an inherently political space.
Donald Trump’s comments last week in Alabama brought the kneeling protest of NFL players into the forefront of media debate. The language Trump used to describe an unnamed player who knelt during the national anthem as a “son of a b*tch” who should be “fired” for being unpatriotic and disrespecting the flag was at the centre of the debate.
Soon, #takeaknee and #standfortheflag were trending on Twitter. Few things are as American as football, and the idea that the president would urge for a boycott of the entire NFL over what he framed was an ‘unpatriotic’ act by a few players was divisive. Trump’s strawman dismissal of the racial aspect of the kneeling protest in favour of the ‘unpatriotic’ narrative is the same rhetorical device used in comment section arguments online.
In his book about blogging, Cass Sunstein speaks of cybercascades. They are, he states, a process by which information encourages a certain point of view to become widespread, simply because so many people believe it (Sunstein, 44). Twitter is blogging on a micro scale, but Sunstein is right; belief in the validity of an idea comes in volume on Twitter. Donald Trump has 39.5 million Twitter followers; and if one uses the free service Twitter Audit, one can determine that approximately 63% of those users are real. Trump’s ability to cascade information reaches approximately 24.8 million “real” users on Twitter alone.
The office of the American president has historically been viewed as trustworthy, and what Donald Trump says – and tweets – is news. It contributes to the cacophonous echo of the 24-hour news cycle. The work of Neil Postman has returned to the conversation following Donald Trump’s election, with commentators wondering about Postman’s hypothesis about the American capacity to think, given the American penchant for distraction. Trump, and his informational cybercascade on Twitter, has served as a noisy media distraction from the central issue of Kaepernick’s protest.
Following Trump’s lead, utilizing the opposing #takeaknee and #standfortheflag hashtags, Twitter users engaged in debate about what kneeling meant in relationship to patriotism and respect for the American flag, proving Sunstein’s point that if enough people blog (tweet) about something, it becomes believed. With that reinvention of truth, Kaepernick’s original reason for kneeling, police brutality, was lost in the chatter of hashtags associated with the protest.
#Resist and #TheXFiles are most closely associated with #takeaknee, as well as #saturdaymorning. The disorganized nature of the associated hashtags shows a lack of narrative unity in response to Trump’s cascade. Sunstein points out that at a certain point during a cybercascade, people stop relying on their own thoughts and simply act on the “basis of the signals conveyed by others” (Sunstein, 84). David Duchovny’s tweet demonstrates this with its lack of commentary or engagement with the protest.
The counter #standfortheflag hashtag organises far more closely with the reframed debate. With #GodBlessAmerica and #BoycottNFL (and their variants), as well as the ever-present #MAGA, most closely associated with #standfortheflag it is easy to see how Trump can cause his Twitter follower base to mobilise and repeat his message. Helped along, as @commondefense points out, by Russian propaganda bots.
The presence of third-party actors “trolling harder” behaviour due to encountered resistance from the #takeaknee camp further assists in this fragmentation (Philips, 24-26). The troll is the repeating element, the looping hook used in the overplayed iPhone commercial, in Trump’s cybercascade. It furthers the concern that many of those who engage with Trump, his hashtags, and the #MAGA network on Twitter are not real at all, but rather bots adding to the background chatter to ensure that the original cascade becomes truth.
In his work Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam expands on this debate further, speaking to the dependence on relationships of trust and reciprocity (Putnam, 27) in order to create a civil society. Twitter, one could argue, erodes those trusting, reciprocal relationships by engaging in what Sunstein warned was a tendency towards like-minded individuals to contribute toward fragmentation in online spaces (Sunstein, 145). The Atlantic recently asked why Americans are post-truth. “The short answer is because we’re Americans—because being American means we can believe anything we want; that our beliefs are equal or superior to anyone else’s, experts be damned” (Andersen). Donald Trump’s believes his views are superior to everyone else’s. He cascaded his version of the truth, reframing protest about police violence into a debate about patriotism. And, in reaction to his doing so, the NFL and media response sanitized the kneeling protest, silencing Kaepernick’s original protest into something clean and all-inclusive.
Andersen, K., 2007. How America Lost Its Mind. The Atlantic. September 2017. Accessed 29 September 2017.
Phillips, W., 2015. This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship Between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
Putnam, R., 2000. Bowling Alone. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Sunstein, C., 2009. Republic.com 2.0. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Alister Miskimmon and Ben O'Loughlin have published a new article in the journal Politics & Governance entitled, Russia's Narratives of Global Order: Great Power Legacies in a Polycentric World. It is part of a special issue on strategic narratives, drawing on Miskimmon, O'Loughlin and Roselle's book Strategic Narratives. In the new article, Miskimmon and O'Loughlin argue that while Russia projects a consistent narrative about global order and Russia's role within it, its vision of Great Power politics is not fit for the more fluid polycentric world order that has emerged in the 21st Century. A summary is below, and read the full article for free here.
This article takes a strategic narrative approach to explaining the current and likely future contestation between Russia and the West. We argue that Russia projects a strategic narrative that seeks to reinforce Russia’s global prestige and authority, whilst promoting multilateral legal and institutional constraints on the other more powerful actors, as a means to ensure Russia stays among the top ranking great powers. To illustrate this we analyze Russia’s identity narratives, international system narratives and issue narratives present in policy documents and speeches by key players since 2000. This enables the identification of remarkably consistency in Russia’s narratives and potential points of convergence with Western powers around commitment to international law and systemic shifts to an increasingly multipolar order. However, we explain why the different meanings attributed to these phenomena generate contestation rather than alignment about past, present and future global power relations. We argue that Russia’s historical-facing narratives and weakened material circumstances have the potential to hamper its adaptation to rapid systemic change, and to make attempts to forge closer cooperation with third parties challenging.
Do join to hear Declan McDowell-Naylor talk about his research at the first of the Department of Politics and International Relations' PhD seminar series this term.
Time: Wednesday 4 October, 12-1pm
This paper explores various forms of ‘public-making’ practice observed during an eighteen-month ethnographic study of the development of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) in the United Kingdom (UK). The term public-making practices refers to ways of “assembling publics and of gauging their will or opinion” (Barry, 2013, 98) which in turn generates “empirical knowledge about publics, their opinions and concerns (ibid., 99). I argue that there is a pressing need to understand the observable role of public-making in the development of CAVs, under the normative and analytic terms of a politics of technology that speaks to both power-relations and democracy. In this area, Philip Howard (2015) has, for example, argued for purposeful civic engagement with the governments and businesses developing the Internet of Things (IoT), to help build what he terms a ‘democracy of our own devices’. However, despite an enormous range of popular debate about connected and autonomous vehicles in recent years, often focusing on the headline-friendly misnomer “driverless cars”, academic research focusing on political and social understandings of CAV development remains forthcoming. In response to this, I argue that CAV development can be located within the fields of science and technology studies (STS), political communication, and political theory. The conceptual themes and devices, empirical focuses applied to CAV development, and the research methods used in this analysis are derived from approaches jointly adopted from these fields. Ultimately, in terms of both democratic politics and power-relations, the analysis provides an overall picture that has some normative grounds for optimism. However, uncertainties persist about its viability into the future, due to evolving organizational structures, media effects, and the broader, macro-political consequences of issues such as Britain’s exit from the European Union. This paper contributes empirical findings about public engagement with the development of digital and automated technologies at a key time for internet research, as the technical advancements brought about developments such as the IoT pose complex political questions, including those raised by Howard (2015). In response, this paper sheds light on key political and social processes and highlights how standardized digital and automated technology applications are emerging in relation to the role of the public.
Show me your business model and I’ll tell you who you are. This is true for almost every company but it is especially crucial when it comes to technology, or in this case - the web. So it might be good question to ask who pays for your free access to different types of services and content? As the web moved from subscription to the ‘free’ access business model in early 2000s, the digital advertising industry started to become one of its main economical sources. Mostly it was done with a little known technology called cookies. This technology, which the advertising industry likes to call ‘just plain text’, is automatically sent from a website you visit to your computer. But as I have argued, cookies have revolutionised the web by creating a past to your actions; it started to remember everything you do online. Cookies communicate the things you do online with either the specific website you typed on the address bar (aka, first party cookies), or with other companies which are usually facilitated by advertising networks (aka, third party cookies). Such advertising organisations, whether ‘first’ or ‘third’, decide the types of topics the cookies will communicate on you. In other words - You become the message, the product, the currency to be traded. You pay for your ‘free’ online experience with yourself, with your data, in a default automatic way, usually without your knowledge or consent.
Since the very beginning of cookies, people objected their opaque operation. In fact, David Kristol and Lou Montulli (an employee at Netscape Communication who developed cookies technology in the mid 1990s) who were drafting the cookie standard for the internet standard organisation - The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) - recommended the rejection of third party cookies and that people will have a visual display of what happens in the ‘back-end’. The digital advertising industry along with the two dominant browsers of that time - Netscape and Internet Explorer - however, thought otherwise and did not implement these recommendations in their browser default settings. Their ability to reject and ignore standards while applying their own, emphasises their powerful position in internet governance.
This was part of a larger campaign led by the advertising industry who lobbied both internet standards organisations, such as the IETF, and governments to promote cookies as a necessary way to fund the web. But this ‘free’ business model, where people are the product, is being challenged these days. It highlights the battle between different actors on deciding how the internet can and should function. A battle where Western countries have little power since they promoted privatisation and deregulation to govern the telecommunication sector.
The politics of default settings
Apple’s move to block third party cookies with its new iOS 11 last week is another step towards a discussion that few want to have, mainly because it will shake the current status quo - Who funds the internet? Who decides and applies internet standards? What choice(s) do people have when using the internet? And how do we govern all of this? So far, many of these decisions were made in the default settings of technologies such as browsers. This is exactly what Apple is doing with its new technology it integrated in its iOS11 called Intelligent Tracking Prevention. This machine learning model is supposed to identify which cookies are not desired by users and block them accordingly. Does that mean that Apple finally cares about how people want to use its technologies? Not quite. In fact, it is a direct continuation of the famous quote of their former founder and CEO Steve Jobs who said that “people don't know what they want until you show it to them”. And Apple has been showing people what they want with their notorious closed design, which does not allow people to tinker or modify it according to what they desire.
Whether Apple will have agreements with specific companies to bypass this blocking system, like AdBlock Plus' 'acceptable ads' or 'whitelists', is not yet clear. What is clear is that Apple sets a new standard to the way the internet functions to people who use its technology. It operates as a gatekeeper to access content and services on the web, and uses Silicon Valley’s argument of design through 'intelligent automated' machines to make decisions for people. As we have seen with Facebook and Google, machine learning and algorithms are instructed and operated by humans in various ways and parts of the decision making process. But presenting them as merely automated procedures, their rationale becomes opaque and unaccountable.
The digital advertising industry is furious about Apple’s move, as it argues that "machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choice; they represent browser-manufacturer choice". As they argue in their open letter responding to Apple's iOS11, such a move goes against the way the web infrastructure operates today. The web mainly functions by cookies which remember your previous behaviour to tailor specific ads and content to the profile they created on you. As they argue, Apple’s blocking technology “breaks those standards and replaces them with an amorphous set of shifting rules that will hurt the user experience and sabotage the economic model for the Internet”. It seems like everyone is talking about the users’ choice, but all the options that are provided in practice are automated or presented as a default. The advertising industry had no problem with this until it hurt its business model. What the advertising industry also neglects to mention is that, as I show in my latest article, they have been lobbying both the European Commission as well as internet standards organisations such as the IETF to favor their problematic practice and turn cookies into the (necessary) standard. The ‘choice’ was always between one default setting and another.
Importantly, the advertising industry tries to narrow the discussion about how the internet can and should function into one narrative - Mandatory cookies and personalisation. But if people were able to see what happens at the back end, for example by examining Share Lab project of mapping the invisible infrastructure of online trackers (mostly cookies) - Their understanding and therefore opinions of online experience might change. In fact, as the Eurobarometer has been showing for years, people do want privacy settings by design, they do want to be regularly informed by updates about how their information is used, and they do want their information to be encrypted. But why listen to people when you can use machine learning ‘intelligence’ to tell you what you really want?
Regulators, especially in the European Union, want to circumvent such practices by trying to force companies to have a ‘privacy by design’ default setting, instead of the current one which spies and exploits people without their knowledge. The e-Privacy Regulation tries to put forward a law to tackle this issue. In the draft published on 10 January 2017, the European Commission suggests that “[u]pon installation, the software shall inform the end-user about the privacy settings options and, to continue with the installation, require the end-user to consent to a setting” (Article 10). On 8 September 2017, the European Union Council’s published their draft of the proposed e-Privacy Regulation suggesting even further clarification in relation to Article 10 (commonly called 'privacy by design' Article). They suggest that third party will not only mean third-party cookies but 'any other parties than the end-user', and that people would be able to change easily the settings selected in the default settings. As digital rights NGOs, such as EDRi and La Quadrature try to show, there are other ways for the web to functions.
Technology default design and standards are ways to construct power relations; they shape our minds and actions. We might call such deceptive practices dark patterns which are interface designs meant to trick people into actions they did not necessarily want or were not aware they were doing. The problem is, when most of the websites, services and apps are designed in such patterns, the standard becomes very dark. So although each tech company is designing in different shades of darkness, it is still hard to see the light - can we experience the web differently? There is more than one answer to this, and to break the single narrative, the single business model that has been dominating the web so far, we have to start using our imagination. We have to imagine different futures for the web in order to offer choices where we are not the product.