Emiliano Treré on digital activism, democracy and disconnection

The Editors

Activists use digital technologies in a variety of ways while pursuing their goals. For instance by creating online petitions, by sharing specific ideas via social media, or by inviting their friends and family to come to a protest. Though some of these acts might be considered 'small' and might appear insignificant, according to Dr. Emiliano Treré from Cardiff University, they are all acts of 'digital activism', and their combined impact might be huge.

Treré has been investigating digital activism and social movements for many years and believes that activists have often been pioneers — and might still be pioneering — when it comes to digital technologies. Studying protest movements like #YoSoy132 and Movimiento 15-M have helped him to analyse, for instance, the link between live streaming, transparency and democracy, or the relation between (in)equality and the act of disconnecting. In this sense, the topic of 'digital activism' deals with much more than merely the activities of activists, it has the potential to demonstrate how society's use of digital technologies might evolve in the near future.

Treré's reflections on digital activism are based on his award-winning book Hybrid Media Activism: Ecologies, Imaginaries, Algorithms. His reflections on data from the margins are based on the book COVID-19 from the Margins: Pandemic Invisibilities, Policies and Resistance in the Datafied Society, which he edited with Stefania Milan and Silvia Masiero for the Theory on Demand Series of the Institute of Network Cultures. This book amplifies the marginalized voices of 75 authors from 25 countries in 5 languages during the first pandemic of the datafied society. Treré is currently writing two books: one with Tiziano Bonini for MIT Press on everyday forms of algorithmic resistance, and one with the Data Justice Lab on Data Justice for SAGE Publications. 

Dr. Emiliano Treré on digital activism, democracy and disconnection