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futuribile / curating futures - Issue #31 Blockchains for Social Good Prize

futuribile / curating futures
futuribile / curating futures - Issue #31 Blockchains for Social Good Prize
By Marta Arniani • Issue #31 • View online
You know I am a blockchain-hype skeptic, but last year I had the chance to collaborate with a company active in the energy industry, Prosume, which makes reasonable use of blockchain. Its objective is facilitating the transition to renewables, as well as the prosumers (households that produce renewables) entry in the highly monopolised energy market.
I am glad to announce that our collaboration led them to be among the 6 winners of the prestigious “Blockchains for Social Good Prize” by the European Innovation Council. 🏆🇪🇺🎆🥂 The 6 were selected among almost 200 applications from 43 countries. My role was to help Prosume build the case for energy as a key sector for infrastructuring social innovation. In a “for good” prize energy did not even exist as a category: Prosume won ex aequo with another company.
There are two reasons why this award is highly symbolic:
1) Energy is not an inherently “for good” sector: in the current commodification of social purpose, this award is a very encouraging sign for all the people out there who work in “technical” or “traditional” sectors. Native “For good” ventures are great, but we desperately need change-makers in traditional sectors. Change can’t be understood as a salvific app: it is a complex negotiation.
2) The Prize acknowledges the social justice dimension of energy. The energy infrastructure is mostly monopolised, reliant on fossils and treating citizens as consumers without agency. If our increasingly digital (thus energy-demanding) society wants to transition to renewables without leaving too many people behind, energy governance needs to get to the headlines.
BTW don’t worry, no plot twist: this newsletter #BlockchainTaMère column will stay strong and merciless.
Marta Arniani

Gender swap app back and forth 39 times. #glitch
Gender swap app back and forth 39 times. #glitch
One of the frustrating things about technology built/deployed in capitalist systems is that any technology built in the public interest is called #TechforGood. It's shorthand for technology built focused on good stuff, not on bad stuff.

Using shorthand here is very problematic.
☝️☝️☝️Fantastic thread, another take from a UK perspective on what I was saying about “tech for good” in the intro.
Speaking of infrastructures...
As I write these lines, Ethiopia enters the eighth day of national internet shutdown. Since June 30 the internet is (again) down following the protests in Addis Ababa for the shooting of Oromo singer and activist Haacaaluu Hundeessaa. Despite the UN Human Rights Council named internet access a basic human right back in 2016, concretely, individual countries have sovereign right to restrict it in the “public interest.” Even during the Covid-19 pandemic peak, ongoing shutdowns didn’t stop. Some Myanmar regions just reached a full year without the internet. So what is left to do for citizens? I find quite inspiring what happened in Sudan in 2019 when the military implemented a shutdown. A lawyer, Abdel-Adheem Hassan, managed to get his internet access restored by appealing individually to court, with the motivation that the telecom company was not respecting its terms of service. Meanwhile, the biggest demonstration in the country’s history was being organised offline. Some days after the march, Sudan’s High Court ruled on a class-action suit brought by Hassan. It ordered all the telecom companies to restore the Internet to subscribers, which they complied with the same day. What a time to be alive: is easier to rule in favour of customers’ rights instead of citizens’. 🤦🏻‍♀️
Nearly half a million people tuned in to Wave for the VR concert “John Legend LIVE - A Night For “Bigger Love”. The concert marks a new milestone in the quality, attendance and corporate sponsorship of live VR.
Nearly half a million people tuned in to Wave for the VR concert “John Legend LIVE - A Night For “Bigger Love”. The concert marks a new milestone in the quality, attendance and corporate sponsorship of live VR.
Meet a community-led police accountability database: for the past 30 years, Berkeley Copwatch has been filming police misconduct and serving as a hub for people to gain valuable Know Your Rights information and report abuses by law enforcement. This piece by the MIT Review makes the point about filming the police to end brutality. This 2003 paper called it sousveillance (inverse surveillance) by referring to wearables.
While most people experienced Covid-19 for a couple of weeks, there are thousands of “long haulers”, people experiencing it for months. They are invisible. Body Politic, a queer wellness feminist collective, created an online support group, assembling thousands of long haulers worldwide.
The European Joint Research Centre has a makers in residence programme.
Long story short: on the same day (!) the European Commission opened an antitrust investigation into App Store and Apple Pay, Apple rejected from its store the the new email service Hey. This opened the Pandora’s box of Apple 30% cut on subscriptions and in-app payments. Jason Fried, the CEO of Hey and Bandcamp, said it’s not (only) about the money: it’s lack of choice and Apple being intrusive in the customer/company relationship. What next? 🍿🍿
Oh, dear!
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Marta Arniani

A monthly newsletter at the intersection of technology innovation and social justice. Insights and news about technology impacts on society and how society can strike back.

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