Aral Balkan

Speaking at Nesta FutureFest in July

I’ll be talking about how we can move beyond surveillance capitalism in Europe to fund and create alternative ethical technological infrastructure that’s not mired in Silicon Valley’s toxic business model.

Smart Citizens, not Smart Cities

Tune in tomorrow at 14:15 CEST for the Eurocities meeting livestream to watch my keynote titled “Smart Citizens, not Smart Cities” and learn about the work we’re doing with The City of Ghent.

(And here are a few slides to whet your appetites…) ;)

Mastodon feature request: Duplicate toot (duplicates your toot into the edit area, along with any attachments and alt text for images, etc.)

Use case: to fix a typo on a toot and reissue it easily.

Smart Citizens not Smart Cities

On Tuesday, I’m presenting a keynote at the Eurocities Knowledge Society Meeting in Ghent on our work with The City of Ghent in Belgium that aims to empower the citizens of Ghent with free and open, federated, and interoperable technology that they own and control.

Whenever you hear the “smart” prefix, ask “who is getting smarter about whom?”

Our work with The City of Ghent aims to enable citizens to become smarter about themselves.

Best part of this article about my talk today at (as far as I can tell from machine translations): “Resumé asked Google and Facebook for a response. Both declined.”

(Worst part: that photo. My goodness!) ;)

Our work with the City of Ghent on our Indienet project ( gets a shout out in this month’s New Scientist, in Jacob Aron’s article titled “Stop being the product.”

“On the face of it, [it] sounds a lot like the old web, where people created simple pages hosted on computers they controlled. The crucial difference is that it used to be difficult to put things online without technical know-how – which is partly why easy-to-use services like Facebook are popular.”

“Today at Facebook [art] works to create the illusion that the public sphere and the firm are one and the same. It is precisely this illusion on which surveillance capitalism depends.” – Fred Turner

This is spot on and an engrossing read on how surveillance capitalism works to legitimise itself via its aesthetics.

Via @charlyblack

Aral Balkan boosted

great #essay on how "surveillance-based for-profit media such as Facebook" are co-opting artistic narratives:

"The arts at Facebook: An aesthetic infrastructure for surveillance
by Fred Turner

The Universal Declaration of Cyborg Rights ( gets a shout out in Cosmos Magazine:

(Although the focus of the article is on the traditional/sci-fi definition of cyborg that’s limited to people with implanted technology whereas I argue that anyone who uses modern technology today is a cyborg. That distinction has important implications for personhood in the digital and networked age. See:

This week, I return to the belly of the beast to present at NextM in Stockholm. Last time, in Helsinki, Google got so pissed off they demanded they not go after me in Sweden. Let’s see if they influence the content of the events they sponsor or not… ;)

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Had a lovely conversation over the weekend on surveillance capitalism (and what we can do about it) with Ed Miliband, Geoff Lloyd, and Mathew Lawrence for Ed and Geoff’s Reasons To Be Cheerful podcast. Shoshana Zuboff was also interviewed for the episode.

You can listen to it from

(Or find it on iTunes, etc.)

This time tomorrow, we will hopefully be in our new home in Ireland.

Goodbye Malmö, hello Cork :)

Design or decoration?

Designers, developers, engineers… are you building tools that just empower people or shiny, addictive traps that farm them? Are you part of the problem or the solution?

(And, more importantly, what kind of world do you want to live in and are you contributing towards that?)

Packing up and moving to Ireland (Cork) next week. Might not be easy to reach in the next couple of days or slow to reply.

Don't waste the Cambridge Analytica scandal: it's a chance to take control of our data

Excellent article by Scott Ludlam in the @guardian that cuts to the heart of the matter:

“What has been exposed here is not some unforceeable aberration, but an ordinary consequence of what Shoshana Zuboff calls ’surveillance capitalism’“

“‘Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have the same business model,’ says Balkan. ‘If Cambridge Analytica can sway elections and referenda with a relatively small subset of Facebook’s data, imagine what Facebook can and does do with the full set.’”

Just turned off boosts and favourites in my notifications column and I can now actually find the posts people who are interacting directly with me :)

(Apologies if I missed some of your messages in the past.)

Was just experimenting with stuff in the fridge for a stir-fry for lunch and I can confirm that olive oil + onions + jalapeños (w some of the water from the bottle) + proper maple syrup + New York deli-style mustard makes a scorching + yummy glaze (in this case for a chickenesque vege protein thingamabob called Mifu and potatoes) :)