Geert Lovink on Tue, 15 Mar 2005 01:44:01 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> icannist & venture capitalist joi ito meets italian squatters (Modified by Geert Lovink)

18:00 JST =BB  Joi's Diary  -  Media and Journalism  -  Sharing Economy

Yesterday, I had a meeting with some of the Italian Indymedia community
at a squat. In most countries squatters are considered criminals and
local law has very little tolerance for them. In Italy, the squat scene
is the center of a lot of the sub-culture and alternative media. After
years of resistance, many of the squats on property which was owned by
the local government have been officially recognized by the government
in various degrees. The squats have events including debates and
parties. They have kitchens, living quarters, and in the case of the
squat I went to last night, a computer lab (called "bugs") that teaches
people how to switch from Microsoft to Linux and allows free Internet
access to anyone who wants to drop by.

After the chat in the bugs computer room, we went to dinner at a
centrosociale. It was similar to a squat in that it was also originally
illegally occupied, but the place we went to was on the upscale end.
The food was excellent and they had lots of posters and pamphlets
describing the organic farming methods they used to grow their produce.

Internet penetration in Italy is quite low and the Berlusconi media
machine controls most of what people see. On the other hand, the left
wing are fighting hand and fist (literally) with the right wing
radicals. Free speech was something that people were fighting for, in
many cases outside of the law. At a tactical level, my discussion about
freedom of expression and our "Infrastructure of Democracy" idea of
fighting bad speech with more good speech sounded a bit idealistic.
What was interesting to me was the power and the energy of the
alternative media movement. It reminds me of my theory on good
alternative music. When there is a huge force pressing down on
freedoms, sub-cultures with more creativity and power are likely to

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