For transmediale 2011, I curated a panel on the topic of exit from the social networks.
In today’s connected reality the elements of online participation – communication, interaction and sharing – are no longer considered possibilities but rather taken as given facts. The digital multitude has learned to be connected at work, at home, on the go. Haunted by a paranoid, untold threat of a need for a continuous online presence, users seem to form their identities and social relationships through a process of accelerating pace. The more the platforms evolve, the more they encourage users’ immediate input and interaction in real time, making life inseparable from work. And although issues like the limitations imposed by the networks and the aggregation and expropriation of content by third parties keep cropping up, going offline is no longer an option.
Has disconnection from the networks then turned into a new contemporary fear? Is there a need for an exit? And what would such an exit mean? Exit, or more appropriately, exodus, is described in contemporary political philosophy as a form of disobedience, resistance and defection that aims to reclaim the new common wealth from the power structures. In the last few years, the notion of exit started becoming apparent in the networked world through tactics planned by creators, positions taken by thinkers and actions taken by users themselves. But can such moves change the rules established by popular social platforms like Wikipedia and Facebook? Is there an 'outside'? This focus discussion on 'the right of exit' will present new opinions and perspectives that claim 'exit' is not about quitting; it is rather about reversing power structures and frames; it is about predicting new possible modes of digital nomadism that move towards a more liberated networked land.