Statement about the publication by Science of the article on "Digital Discrimination"

In response to the many requests by the press to provide statements about the publication by "Science" of the article Digital discrimination: Political bias in Internet service provision across ethnic groups I wanted to share the following information:
  1. The attribution to me of statements by the press will be valid only when the final text was sent to me for approval. In any case, such statements would represent only my own personal perspective, and it does not necessarily represent those of my co-authors or the involved institutions or groups.
  2. The paper on Digital Discrimination published by Science has been written in collaboration with other authors. The correspondent author is Nils B. Weidmann, who is the right person to ask about the research design. The full list of contributors can be found in the authorship attribution, right below the title of the paper.
  3. My main contribution to the article was the estimation of the Internet penetration statistics used in the analysis. That represents the main technical innovation of the article, as those statistics are used for the first time. I have computed those statistics using the Transparent Estimation of Internet Penetration from Network Observations, a method presented in the Passive and Active Measurement Conference at New York University, in February 2015. I am the correspondent author of the method, also developed in collaboration with the listed authors.
  4. My contribution to both the development of the method and the estimation of the statistics took place in the context of my doctoral dissertation "Political Technology: An Empirical Approach on the Causality of Digitalisation", under the direction of Prof. Dr. Ramón Máiz, University of Santiago de Compostela (USC, Galicia), and my participation in the "Internet Penetration and Political Protest" project at the Communications, Networks and Contention (CNC) research project, lead by Prof. Dr. Nils Weidmann at the University of Konstanz (UKN, Germany). The estimation method was developed jointly with the Communication Systems Group of the Department of Electronic Engineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich).
  5. On chronology, I started my inquiry on the causality of technology in 2012 with an experimental device for real time gathering and analysis of Internet data about political protest. Following the advice of Prof. Máiz, I joined a Masters Degree at the University of Konstanz to develop the skills on research methods to enable my empirical inquiry. I joined the CNC group in 2013, and started to work on the Internet penetration method with the ETH by the end of that year. In 2014 my doctoral dissertation project was selected for discussion at the University of Harvard (US). The method was presented in New York University in 2015. I computed the subnational estimates in 2016, when the article was accepted by Science.
  6. On the meaning of the article and its implications, I would suggest to first contact the correspondent author. From my perspective, the article raises concerns about the role of political bias in the allocation of the Internet because that could contribute to the worsening of the already existing economic, political and social inequalities. The results are consistent with the findings of my dissertation, on the causality of technology. Similarly as any other technology, the Internet can be used as a tool or as a weapon, therefore any positive or negative potential for social change is based not in technology itself, but on the political conditions that shape technology. Stating that technology can liberate humankind, is like stating that water can liberate the fish. On ways to improve digital discrimination, I subscribe to those suggested in the article (go directly to the end of the text). On means to avoid the Internet harming liberties, I suggest to use end to end encription communications, easily implemented in smart phones by tools like Telegram for bilateral conversations (not for groups!), or Signal; fostering the development and use of privacy-enabling technologies; and taking part in the policy-making process linked to digitalisation. Joining organizations like European Digital Rights (EDRi), the Electronic Privacy Center (EPIC) or Privacy International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the many consumer associations are only some examples of the many ways to collaborate in those efforts. In my case, I drive my efforts in that sense through the Civil Society Advisory Committee to work of the OECD on the Digital Economy (CSISAC).
  7. For the personal side questions: the difference in love to my mother and my father is not statistically significant; I do not have any preferred color; if I needed to choose one thing only for an isolated island, I would choose a solar powered Star Trek teletransporter. I have born in Germany, and I feel comfortable in Konstanz, but I am Galician. On future projects, I will be looking for opportunities to continue exploring the causality of technology, and also to improve the reliability of the Internet Penetration estimation method to make the statistics available to the scientific community; and I will continue supporting the work of the CSISAC at the OECD.

using docear

I have been using docear for a couple of years now. my document repository is a directory containing more than 20k files, many of them annotated pdfs and other formats like .org files and source code. docear has made a really good job helping me to make sense of that maelstrom. the integration of mind mapping and reference management really helps in keeping a knowledge base accessible and escalable when the personal computer is used as the main tool to search, store and process information towards research and academic publishing. the portability provided by Java, the use of an open source licence and the very good desktop integration -including the provided documentation- turns it into a really solid solution from a technical perspective both for the standard Windows or OSX user to the most demanding Linux one. in terms of sustainability, the future of the tool looks promising, as development looks to be integrated into an academic R&D track. and to my surprise, the project happened to be based in the University of Konstanz, precisely where I am, so I do not plan to look for alternatives. instead, I wanted to encourage the use of this tool. as way to contribute, I have decided to share some tips based on my own experience. perhaps they could be useful for others.
  1. RTFM. before going forward, take a look at the online documentation. it is not exhaustive, and mostly Windows oriented, but it contains useful and important tips. particularly useful is the information about the integration with PDF readers/ editors.
  2. no liability. this comments are based on my own experience, they could not work for your case, you are the only responsible person if anything goes wrong.
  3. my user profile. I am running the Linux Docear 1.2 version on a Debian machine, both stable. I ended up with a very basic workspace configuration made of a single project with a few mind maps under the Library tree in addition to the 'literature and annotations' one, with only one directory. I basically use the mind mapping tools to create an interface to my repository, and also the bibtex manager to keep the references synced. I make very limited use of other options, like the drafting facilities, automatic searching, meta retrieval, etc.
  4. one repository per project. adding more than one directories to the 'Literature repository' can be misleading because each mind map is restricted to one monitoring directory by default, and that includes the 'literature and annotations' mind map itself. despite the similarity of the names, the match between the tree and the monitoring listings do not need to be biyective. while that adds some flexibility, consistency lacks could easily lead to information lose in the long run.
  5. split the contents of your 'literature and annotations' in several mind maps. having all the literature and annotations in the homonimous mind map can make docear unusable. re-reading the monitoring folder can take hours with ~20k documents if all of them are linked in a single mind map. exactly the same database takes just seconds to update when the nodes are splitted across several mind maps. for this to work, the splitted mind maps need to be listed directly under the 'Library' of the project (no sub-directories) and stored in the default directory. placement outside or in sub-directories of the default mind map location, avoids docear to correctly detect already loaded files and annotations, leading to unnecessary re-mapping.
  6. set your literature repository using the 'Monitoring' option, right-click on the literature and repository central node. adding directories under the correspondent entry of the project do not have the same effect and can lead to counter intuitive behavior
  7. if you are trying to move the location (directory) of the project or of the literature repository, and the documented instructions do not work, this is what has worked for me i) close docear, ii) backup, and move the directory to the new place, iii) update the user.settings file's path entry accordingly, iv) update the path and project ID in the mind maps accordingly, v) restart docear. if you move your literature_repository to any directory upper to the project, just add as many '../' as needed to the correspondent mind maps.
  8. the mind maps to be synced with the literature and annotations should be directly listed under the Library tree and stored in the default directory. if they are not there after any move/ update/ port, or if you are having problems when opening them (like empty mind maps or mind maps with errors or warnings): i) backup the originally well functioning mind maps, and make a copy in a temporary place, ii) check the ID and path of the mind maps in the temporary place (do not touch the backups) so they match your new project configuration, iii) remove them from the Library in your docear project using the 'Delete from disk' option, and iv) for each mind map in this order 1) create an empty mind map using the 'Add/ mind map' over the 'Library' tree, 2) open the older and updated mind map in the temporary place, 3) copy the entries of the old mind map in the new one, 4) save the new mind map, 5) close the older one.
  9. annotations. when moving across versions, new installs, etc, you will probably like to prevent unnecesary conflicts with annotations between moves. it is important therefore to check that your configuration is the same in the new version. for example: different line breaks or hyphenation processing options would lead to duplicated annotations. you could need to match hundreds or thousands of annotations if you fail to ensure consistency accross configurations.
  10. bugs. I have no time to set up a test environment to check reproducibility of the following behaviors, so I am not sure whether these are bugs or not. feel free to file a bug report if you also find these as well:
    1. setting the 'Quit' option as a function key (for the 'F-bar') will make docear to stop loading. also take care of not setting duplicate keystrokes. you can check your ribbons/ in case that docear stops loading after re configuring the function bar.
    2. moving directories inside a monitored folder can make docear to freeze during the 'Loading monitored mindmaps' phase. this does not happen always. as I am not sure when this will happen, my workaround to avoid stalling during update is to first save and close the affected mindmap and then re-read it after loading it again. in addition, removed folders/ files inside a monitored folder are not always removed from the mind map, even when confirming the 'remove orphaned links' question.
  11. last but least: thanks docear people for open sourcing such a great idea, and also for such an excellent implementation!

Shellshock XOR.DDoS trojan botnet

detection memory/ behavior: en syslog.log/ auth.log: detection in logs (for the OpenSSH vector):
Jan 26 16:50:51 dorna sshd[10754]: Accepted password for root from port 39601 ssh2
Jan 26 16:50:51 dorna sshd[10754]: pam_unix(sshd:session): session opened for user root by (uid=0)
Jan 26 16:51:01 dorna /usr/sbin/cron[3765]: (*system*) RELOAD (/etc/crontab)
Jan 26 16:51:01 dorna /USR/SBIN/CRON[10800]: (root) CMD (/etc/cron.hourly/
Jan 26 16:51:03 dorna sshd[10754]: Received disconnect from 11: 
Jan 26 16:51:03 dorna sshd[10754]: pam_unix(sshd:session): session closed for user root

Removal procedure

edit /etc/crontab to remove the udev line

pstree -gc | more
kill -s STOP 9969

rm /etc/cron/cron.hourly/
rm /lib/
locate qkfibhcynx

kill -9 -9969
rm /var/run/

useful links:

Esc, sweet home. Defaulting to emacs from vi.

I can't remember the name of the editor of the Spectrum. That was the very first virtual one I ever used to write a program. I say 'virtual' because the first one was the pad installed in the BigTrack, my first programmable robot; but I would not be sure about the accuracy of calling that an 'editor'.

Then came the DOS editors. I used at least two ones. The first one was 'edlin', or something like that. Very limited, that was a line editor, but I can remember it because I needed to solve some problem with some partition table and that was the only way to modify the necessary file. I can't remember how I edited the mythic autoexec.bat; it was probably done with 'edit' or something like that. And I used also some hex editor to localize some .exe files to Galician language, but I can't possibly remember the name. There were others as well, more sophisticated; those included in the emergent IDE, like that of QBasic -wasn't that 'edit', indeed?-, the proto-typic office suites... oh. Of course, WordStar and, hey, WordPerfect!! Wordperfect was really ages away of any other editor.

That was in my 8088; I'm still looking for a replacement hard disk; the hardware is perfectly working otherwise. Windows arrived by that time; version 3.11 to be precise. Never liked that thing, honestly. I preferred my own menu system, similar to today's ncurses, wrote using some Olivetti system. Never payed too much attention to that and continued doing my things in DOS; Notepad was there in any case. Some changes in my life made me disconnect, and when I came back it was the time of the Win95 hysteria, the ritual of inserting the innumerous install CD's, the infamous key and the infamous blue screen of death. WordPerfect still lived for a while, but Word soon turn in the hegemonic editor; probably at the same time that Explorer took the place of Netscape. My friendship with Notepad increased those days: the bubble made people like me desirable for the industry, and I had a strong desire to learn and experiment.

The result of that experimentation with Windows was Linux. First Slackware, then RedHat, a short affaire with SuSE and finally Debian: that Linux thing was like the ocean compared with a pond; even more interesting, it replaced the scarcity of logins at the SVR4 systems of my University with a healthy abundance. That was when I met 'vi'. Ten years? Perhaps more, I can't remember how many time was I using that fabulous piece of software. I programmed, wrote poetry, science, journalistic pieces, notes, projects, blog posts... perhaps the 90% of my textual production was done with vi.

This file instead was not edited with vi, but with emacs. I tried emacs for the first time during the millennium turn. I had some time, I used it to find out how to improve the usability of my system, and I found that having bigger font sizes and concurrent file editing capabilities could make a difference. So I performed some research and found that emacs thing. I found the concept interesting so I made a try. I followed the tutorial, I translated it to Galician language using emacs itself, I configured the fonts, the sizes the colors... but soon I realized that (a) it was too big to cover my needs (b) it was not universally available. And you need universality to configure systems, specially when you are dealing with installations, hardware problems, remote servers and that kind of things that a system administrator needs in its every day (night) life. Initially I decided to reserve emacs for literary purposes, but progressively it was reducing its utility until I didn't included it in my new installs. I discovered 'screen', which allowed me a very useful multi-window environment, the :e command, then the tabs... vi worked all the time, everywhere, in any situation.

More than ten year later I'm reconsidering emacs again. The font size problem is still there, and increasingly gaining relevance as long as my physical capabilities are diminished by age. My professional use of English increasingly requires ubiquitous 'on the fly' check spelling; and the need to integrate LaTeX, R and other tools exacerbates the need of a flexible multi-windowed environment. While I could simply move my screen environment to a kconsole, that would imply adding graphical widgets that I try to get rid of: I'm a Window Maker user for that exact reason. Added to that, some interactions between vim and screen introduces extra configuration needs. So. When I was thinking about a possible solution, then a lecture about Org-mode catched my attention; and when I saw the way org-mode manages the integration with R and LaTeX, I decided that the time to make another try had arrived. Yes, I might recognize that I considered the org-mode implementation to vim as an alternative to entirely migrate to emacs; but as a new user to org-mode, I will only be able to evaluate that option as soon as I gain enough experience with the original one.

Therefore, here I am. I configured the font size, the colors scheme; removed the menus, toolbars and all that crap; I have integrated my screen to be run inside emacs, to have some backwards compatibility until I don't feel safe enough; I told mutt and blog to use emacs by default. So, now I'm ready to perform the Ctrl-x, Ctrl-s; and say yes; then Ctrl-x k to kill the buffer; then confirm, and then confirm once again since there are some childs that say to be using this file. Well, yes, you are right: I'm beginning to miss my effective and immediate :wq! and this is my first session without.

I don't know what I will do outside of my Esc home. It's cold out there. Big mountains over there.

Let's see what happens.

From the post-franquist regime to the III (con)federal Spanish Republic

Demonstration in commemoration of the Republic

The problems of evictions and corruption dominates the public agenda in Spain. While contestation to evictments do not forecast a cognitive change with regard to the legitimacy of debt, they are being very effective in questioning the legitimacy of the institutions of representative democracy, mainly the political parties. New scandals add themselves to the ongoing ones deepening the lose of legitimacy and trust, fostering the constituent movements where the republican alternative began to be sketched as a framework shared by the left-right spectrum. The replication of that process in the inner nations -Galicia, Basque Country and Catalonia- would favor a federal or even confederal republican solution to allow continuation of the Spanish State.

In February, the anti-eviction platform began with the escraches, protests in front of the houses of the members of the Parliament involved in their demand to modify the current law. The decision of the European Court remarking the incompatibility of the Spanish eviction law with the EU regulation reinforced the legitimacy of the protest. A campaign criminalizing the leader of the movement deployed in the media reached its cenit when the governmental responsible of the Police in the capital city linked the movement with ETA, the Basque Country terrorist group. All along made the spread of the protest to be broadened, having the people questioning whether escraches are a legitimate form of protest or not in front of the perceived injustice behind evictments.

But the questioning of escraches indeed turned into a questioning of the political parties; even when the resources deployed to criminalize escraches are relevant, the critical perception of the society with regard to politicians seems to avoid framing politicians as the victims. Indeed, the scandal produced by the photos showing the current President of Galicia in holidays with a drug dealer when he was a responsible of the Health System do not only harms the credibility of the institutions but also limits the alternatives to replace the current President of Spain; both Galicians, Feijoo was seen with good eyes to inherit the position. Even worst, the political party traditionally seen as the alternative to the PP, the PSOE, continues suffering from a massive case of corruption illegally allowing subsidies. As a result, latest inquiries shows a collapse of the bipartisan system in Spain, with extreme poles of right and left scaling positions.

Added to the party system, also the judicial system seems to be suffering, perhaps in a not so intensive and public way, the effects of the regime break down. This was seen in some conflicts related with the most relevant cases of corruption: that of the political party in the government, and that of the royal family. With regard to the former, two judges battled for the right to lead the investigation of the corruption in the Popular Party, allegedly in an attempt to gain political control to manage the possible results and the process. The later was the rejection of the General Fiscal to include a sister of the king in the cause against his nephew. Both struggles transmitted the idea of a partial justice contaminated by political interests and impunity to those wealthy in the society.

The royal family is probably the most affected institution by corruption. Added the dark business of his nephew, the king was found to have a hidden account in Switzerland; to made things even worst, a journalistic investigation showed how the diplomatic cables released by wikileaks prove the king collaborated with the Kissinger administration providing confidential information during the transition from the dictatorship to the current regime.

The new institution which entered the delegitimation process was one of the very few well valuated in sociological statistics: the scientist. And indeed it was the well acknowledged institute of sociological investigations, which provides those statistics, who is involved, when it was discovered that they stopped to report about the opinion of Spaniards about their monarquie since the king failed to be approved in the inquiry made in October 2011. While this fact did not entered the public agenda in a visible way, this kind of behaviors talks nothing good about the most accredited statistic institution in Spain.

As a result, the process of institutional delegitimation continues to deepen the process described in this track. The lack of trust in the governmental institutions was worsened by the message broadcasted during the Cyprus rescue: no even the savings of little economies are warranted in the EU; the banks accounts can be closed and the savings, lost. The fraud of preferential bonus provide empirical evidences about how the abuses of banks are not addressed by public institutions. This lack of trust on the economic system, this lose of legitimacy of democratic institutions, and the inclusion of the symbolic institutions in the same bag of corruption gives credit to the social movements denouncing those problems. Their alternative: the notion of 'constituent process' which is gaining increasing relevance. The historic precedents and the existence of inner nations, would forecast a future of a federal or confederal reconfiguration of the state, most probably in the direction of a III republic.

As I have already noted, the important date is the aniversary of the 15M movement, in the surroundings of the 15th of May. What the constituent movements does, specially with regard to the convergence between left and rigth approaches, will be critical for the resolution of this stage. Meanwhile, the call to besiege the Congress on the 25A is ongoing and gaining relevance.

From corruption to debt: beware the ides of March (and May).

Time to take stock of the situation and to reappraise my own position. The demonstration of the 23rd, anniversary of the last attempt of a coup d'etat in Spain, marks the end of the wave of social protest which begun with the public anger against the scandals of corruption. From corruption the focus of protest moved to dation in payment: while the intensity of institutional questioning have lowered, the extension was increased, now affecting the building block of the economic institutions: debt. The emergent constituent movement has not been damaged during this wave, but no major developments have been registered. Instead, socio-political dynamics have been driven against economic injustice. The next junction point can be located in the ides of March, when the sentence of the European Court of Justice about the legality of the mortgage clause that allows eviction without cancellation of debt in case of non-payment. That will decide the orientation of the social dynamics towards the ides of May, the anniversary of the indignados movement. Please find the details on this rationale and supporting evidences below. Firefighter adhering the anti-eviction movement

The process of institutional delegitimation begun with an expressive moment when a demonstration held the 15.5.2012 became into a social phenomenon supported by the 90% of the population and resonance overseas. Beyond the traditional ideological partitioning, the phenomenon showed a questioning of the validity of the entire institutional set of the Spanish representative democracy. The initial phase as the expression of a consensual perception through a massive collective therapy where individual indignation flowed into the public becoming collective. The intensity of the phenomenon and the electoral debacle of the leftist side of the bipartisan coalition forced to add the frame of transparency and reinforced the attention to civil society. The neoliberal reform of public services fostered by the new conservative government reinforced the activity of the latter, and the scandals of corruption in the royal house and in the governmental party brought the former to the public agenda. The inclusion of political parties in the ongoing law on transparency, and the consideration to introduce dation in payment in the reform of the mortgage law are the visible outcomes of that expressive phenomenon of institutional delegitimation. Is there anything beyond that expression? The answer can be found in the potentialities of those two reforms.

From the perspective of institutional politics, the reform involving transparency is clearly the most relevant one. Including the accountability of all the relevant institutions of representative democracy under the scrutiny of compulsory transparency does allows not just institutional accountability but also citizenship scrutiny. In the case of political parties this is crucial, since a working framework of accountability based on transparency will greatly difficult economic corruption linked to the financing of the political party activity; adding transparency for those in positions of public representation would made a great obstacle for politicians to benefit from its position of prevalence in public procurement -the so called bribery. Having a basis of transparency, the problem of institutionalized corruption could be solved adding a reform of the law that regulates parties introducing internal and external political accountability, perhaps in the direction developed in Germany which fosters scrutiny by those competing in the same party for the same positions: partisan comrades would be the most interested ones in knowing about any possible bribery case involving their comrades, a useful way to gain prevalence over them. Once the problem of corruption were solved that way, representative legitimacy could be restored with a reform of the electoral system oriented to solve the deficits introduced by the modified D'Hont system and also adding direct political accountability by the electorate through unipersonal circumscriptions, open lists or any other combination.

But that institutional track has two main conditions. The first one is time: including political parties in the transparency law, regulating their internal dynamics and improving the electoral system cannot be done without a lot of effort in terms of time and intellectual commitment. The second one is social pressure: provided the tendency of Spanish political elites to avoid change, only enough sustained social pressure could allow the necessary reforms to be performed.

That is the reason why the economic track -the reform of mortgage law- becomes the most relevant of both with regard to the social and political dynamics. First, this reform has direct resonance in the street. The economic recession defined an scenario of 25% of unemployment, having more than 50% of people under 25 unemployed. Even with the existence of a strong social network based on the family, and even considering the high dark-market rate (25% of GDP, compared with 10% in countries like France) that means problems to pay the bill. And the most important bill to pay for Spaniards is those linked to housing, mainly rent and mortgages. Non payment of housing bills involves eviction under the current law, which is specially true in the case of mortgages: non payment of mortgage bills involves eviction with a particular circumstance: eviction does not involve the mortgage debt cancellation. Consequently, everyday papers are filled with cases of unemployed families, with ill and elderly people, being evicted from their houses, but not from their debt. The mediatic echo of those cases was reinforced by people committing suicide for that reason.

The introduction of dation in payment as a way to cancel the debt was the result of 'Stop Deshaucios' (Stop Evictions) as state wide campaign which avoided evictions by civil disobedience and forced bankers to negotiate and find human acceptable solutions. The mediatic repercussion of this campaign reached its cenit when the public voice of the organization qualified as criminals those supporting evictions in the parliamentary house. The video became viral right before the decision to admit the consideration of dation in payment was to be discussed, gathering enough public pressure to force the conservatives to allow it to enter the legislative procedure by urgent procedure. In the mean time, the European Court delivered a critical report telling the clause allowing eviction without debt cancellation to violate directive 93/13 on consumer protection. Indeed, those suffering that clause do only have the right of juri protection once the eviction was performed, but not before. Initially, the motion on dation of payment was to be voted on 7.3.2013; but since the final decision of the European Court was expected to arrive on 14th, the governmental party proposed to postpone that vote after the European court has decided on that. In the same way as Julius Cesar, the conservatives decided to wait until the ides of March to participate in the public representation.

The prevalence on public opinion of mortgage law seems to be clear. Added to the issue of the popular initiative, empirical evidences of that relevance can be found in the most recents protests, that I have already referred. The first one on 16th was monographic on the dation in payment topic, and very successful. The second one was on 23rd, 'against the market coup d'etat'. I have suggested two criteria to evaluate the impact of that demonstration: first, its capacity to introduce a constituent agenda; and, second, its capacity to foster convergence through an electoral front for the forthcoming local elections. With regard to the first one, it was clearly unsuccessful, despite some rreferences made by the president of the government and the criminalizing reference made by the responsible of police, who mobilized 1600 units. Regarding to second one, I didn't saw any significant step forward neither, even when the fact that all the 'color waves' converged could act as successful precedent to facilitate the electoral convergence: this could be specially true considering the fact that the demonstration was the result of the coordination of more than 300 organizations who managed to mobilize tens to hundreds of protesters in about 80 demonstrations all around the country.

My evaluation of the protest shows a greater saliency of the electoral track instead of the constituent one. But the main outcome of this protest cycle cannot be found to be that. The main outcome is visualized by that image of the firefighters in Galicia disobeying the order to proceed with the eviction of an 85 years needlewoman who was going to be evicted because of nonpayment of two months of rent. The lack of proportionality between the fault and the penalty, added to the economic driven interests of a historical rent -very low rent- in the city center, raised indignation on the people who participated in the action against the eviction. The police decided to force the eviction, causing the people to resist; among them, once again, politicians from the nationalist left were injured and the photos became viral, increasing the support against eviction through another instance of pro-systemic protest. The virality of this failed eviction reached the rest of the state, and then firefighters from Catalonia and Madrid and other cities decided to second the galicians in disobeying orders of evictions and announcing their participation in the demonstration of the 23rd to protect the people against police brutality. Right after the case of the Galician eviction, a women decided to burn in bonzo style in an bank office: Look at me! You have took everithing!.

In my opinion, the decision of firefighters to disobey evictions and their involvement in the demonstration protecting the people is the most significant outcome of the wave of protests which started to protest corruption. From corruption, the protest moved to debt, now entering the realm of the building block of the contemporary economic paradigm. The position of the government with regard to the dation in payment will be the next relevant issue in the political agenda, since they will need to decide over that issue on the ides of March. Looking at the corruption cycle, Julius Caesar could be thinking that the ides of March had come, and nothing happened. Let's observe the evolution of the social protest until that moment; and then let's look at the evolution through the ides of May, the anniversary of the indignados phenomenon. Indeed, the constituent movement has expressed their will to make their process to converge to that date. As the seer told him: Aye, Caesar; but not gone.

Regarding my own position, while the social track is clearly the most important one provided to introduce enough pressure to foster the necessary measures, I understand that my involvement might focus on the institutional one. Should the social pressure to be enough to introduce the necessary changes, then a defined solution might be ready to be applied. Identifying that solution implies the need to evaluate the possible alternatives with some objectivity, which is very difficult to be achieved when involved in the street work. Therefore, I find that my role might be that one from the political science. Not so much in the sense of the marxian theses on Feurbach, but neither in the weberian distinction between the political and scientific. Perhaps the way fostered by Kant, distinguishing between the public and the private use of reason. I will try to perform some role in the institutional track by assuming my responsabilities in the public use of reason.

Tracking the Politics of Cyberspace: defining the semantic field

So. During these decades I was tracking the political evolution of cyberspace; first, in an intuitive, participative way deploying my own understanding of cyberspace; second, from an academic perspective limiting involvement to the kantian 'public use of reason' to gain some objectivity and focusing on making sense of its evolution through bookmarks and standard bibliographic references. The experience covering the Spanish political process proved to be really effective to make sense of a very complex and rapidly changing reality, so I'm going to do the same in trying to make sense of the political process of cyberspace.

Initially I was to aggregate all those issues on a track under #cyberwar. That could allowed me to keep track of cases like the attack against the networks of Estonia or the industrial facilities of Iran, and surely it would allowed me to follow the evolution of interstatal confrontions like that one between the US and China as well. But the complexity of the associated phenomena required a more refined cathegorization; a need to go up in the scale of abstraction following the italian politologist. This is a fist attempt to deal with that complexity through my reflective journal.

Just some acronyms to start. CISPA in the US, the data protection reform in the EU shows the prevalence of privacy as political matter in cyberspace. But the interesting point is how privacy is connected with the intellectual property framework, where the case of US lobby over Spanish government could be significant. I see two tracks there: #privacy, data retention/ protection (I will take benefit to the German capacity to one-word complex things tagging that as #datenschutz) and #ipr, referring to intellectual property rights. Interestingly enough the Court of Human Rights found that convictions for file sharing violates human rights, so #humanrights will be another tag to use.

In that sense, it is the realm of war where human rights are more frequently violated. I have mentioned the tag of cyberwar, but in this field, there is a specific development which is the case of #drones. Those flying robots are being used as well to perform 'selective assasinations', raising a multidimensional matter of concern which includes military doctrine, international law, sovereignty of states, personal safety, freedom of expression among many others. Another expectable use of drones, probably the primary one, is effects on political process by those techniques, as it was evidenced by the complains filed by human rights organizations with the OECD due the repressive use of electronic surveillance. Those techniques made extensive use of social network analysis, which I will add as a track (using the common acronym #sna) because those are the same tecniques that I'm using for my own research work (not surveillance in my case, just to be sure! ;-).

privacy, ipr, humanrights, datenschutz, drones, cyberwar, sna, surveillance: that is the semantic set that I will use to start my attempt to make sense of cyberspace politics. But let me insist on this: I'm not intending to provide any regular, detailed or complete account of the evolution of those aspects. I don't even consider the identified items to be able to fully provide a sense of cyberspace politics. I'm simply allowing access to my reflective journal while the research evolves. Perhaps that could inspire others to improve my work, and surely it will help to early detect (and hopefully solve) any possible methodological problem. Probably I will find new tracks and perhaps some of the identified ones will be discontinued. My only aim is to facilitate making sense of the reality by letting me 'think out loud'. Let's try to deduce the gramatic of that new language.

Grotesque Carnival of Institutional Delegitimation

This week in Spain can be described by the evolution of two speeches which became viral. The first one was a video of the plenary meeting of the International Socialist in Cascais (Portugal), where the representative of the Youth reproached its seniors leaders for their 5 star hotel, luxury car approach to revolution and asking for the views of the new generation to be taken into account. The second one was recorderd during a hearing at the Spanish Parliament about the reform of the mortgage law, where the representative of a civil society organization emotionally qualified those supporting evictions due mortgage nonpayment as 'criminals' and warned them to be publicly liable for the deaths of people committing suicide for that reason. Both vids became viral, and both speakers gained considerable relevance, joining distinct high share TV sets and becoming to be known to the overall public. While initially unrelated, they ended up to converge in an unexpected way.

Revolucao dos Cravos - Portugal

The case of the young party politician entered the public realm visualizing the posibility of a new generation capable to replace the directorate of the Spanish social-democratic party. Added to the problem of delegitimation of the political party institution, this organization is trying to recover from the electoral downfall calling for a process of renovation; both the party and the young politician took the opportunity to visualize the feasibility of that renewal. In parallel, the anti-eviction activist took the opportunity to spread the existance of a popular legislative initiative fostered by her organization to modify the current mortgage law in order to allow dation in payment for the debt and to avoid bank evictions. The popular initiative was ready to enter the legislative procedure that same week at the Parliament after having obtained the support of more than 1.400.000 official signatures; but the refusal of the party in the government to admit it to tramit threatened the initiative to be dropped out. The spread of the viral helped the activist to introduce the issue in the political agenda dennouncing the governmental refusal and gathering support from public opinion. Dramatically, during the parliamentary discussion a couple of elders committed suicide due an eviction. Finally the governmental party released their objections and allowed the initiative to be accepted for the legislative consideration. On the other hand, the representative of the socialist Youth managed to boost her mediatic relevance building the image of a critical militancy which could allow a replacement for the delegitimized seniority of his political party. As part of that critical compromise she decided to join the last stretch of a demonstration; once recognized by the participants she begun to be told off by the demonstrators and ended up to be expelled from the demonstration. Interestingly, and perhaps sarcastically enough, the demostration was an expression of support to the anti-eviction organization.

The above narrated facts were just two elements of a very dense week, which started with the expulsion of a member of the Galician Parliament from the chamber by speaking ironically about the scandal of generalized corruption of the party in the Government, taking the coincidence of the Plenary session with the most important day of Galician Carnival. Right after that scandal, a councillor of the capital city of Galicia got imprissoned because of his involvement in a case of economic corruption; this councillor was previously found drunk in his car, while being the responsible of the traffic safety in the city. The erosion of the parliamentary credibility was found as well in the statal level, where telecommunications were stopped in order to avoid the intervention of the president of the European Central Bank ot be published. Interestingly, the collaboration between some minority parties and the hacktivist scene managed to leak the contents, forcing the speaker to release the content of his discourse. The credibility of the economic institutions was not benefitted from that event; but even worse was the recognition, by the former president of the Spanish Central Bank, of the government interference to avoid the control with regard to the biggest bankrupcy in Spain -the Bankia case. The discredit of the economic leadership reached another cenit when the vice-president of the Spanish trade association was accussed of using illegal methods to pay his employees. The former president of the trade union needed to resign after a case of economic corruption. That kind of economic corruption, visible in the form of irregular laboral contracts, affected once again to the political party in the Government, when it was discovered that the treasurer responsible for the mediatic case of generalized corruption was enjoying benefits from the party, who was paying his security social taxes even after his imputation for economic corruption was known. The cherry on the top of the carnival cake was put once it was denounced the involvement of one of the King's daughters in the case of corruption involving the Royal Family. The grotesque brush-stroke was added by the discovery of massive espionage within the political parties including sexual details and confidences about the usage of botox.

The carnivalesque shape of the situation is greatly influenced by the reluctance of the party in the Government to perform exemplary measures against corruption, since that would imply the recognition of the involvement of the governmental political party in those cases. Instead of that, the strategy to modulate public reprobation seems to be performed in the form of some concessions: the cancellation of the indult previously conceded to a corrupted banker, the imputation of the policemen involved in the injuries causing the loss of an eye by a demonstrator due the impact of a rubber bullet, the acceptance to include the parties' accountability in the scrutiny of a new bill of transparency, the tendency to enforce public disclosure of the salary of those in public positions and, finally, the acceptance of the popular initiative to enforce dation in payment in case of mortgage debt nonpayment, are some examples of that strategy. Unfortunately, in a context defined by a mediatic epidemy of people committing suicide as a consequence of banking evictions, with a perception of generalized corruption of the political party system and deep institutional delegitimation, and with an increasing feeling of outrage in the population, little or nothing can be expected from that. It seems that the institutional agency fits outside the scope of the population and, when its action reaches the public -like the acceptance to talk about dation in payment- the effect goes only in the sense of deepening the delegitimation process. Just to exemplify this, according to a survey published while writing this note, 90% of the population agrees with the demand to accept dation in payment to cancel a mortgage debt.

The indignation of the public opinion is turning into a feeling of outrage which can be visualized in the sprout of spontaneous protest against the presence of politicians in the public space. The already described expulsion of that young politician from a demonstration can be added to the case of the general-secretary of the party in the government told off in the street while shopping. This rejection of the party politician to participate in the public space is a novelty in the performance of the population; some attempts to institutionalize this behavior can be registered as well in the form of 'escraches' and 'political debt collectors'. The notion of escraches comes from Argentina, where it was used to point at responsible people in the crimes of the dictatorship; interestingly, it directly connects with the framing of neoliberal reform as 'crime' and projects the notion of a moral debt. The postmodern 'political debt collectors' is even more interesting, because building on the previous notion, it proposes a technique to collect that debt through the moral restoration produced by the rejection of the participation of the institutionalized politician in the public space, which introduces both the notion of public political accountability and -more important- a new responsability in the repertoire of individual citizen behaviour. The spread of this kind of activism does have a very high potentiality. First, because it empowers the individuals as citizens; second, because it blocks the agency of the party. With regard to the former, it improves the capability of the Spanish civil society to deploy an effective collective action, either in a destitutive, restitutive or constitutive sense. With regard to the latter, it could increase the current tendence to paralisis of the political elite due a mix of paranoia because of their possible involvement in cases of economic corruption, the framing of support to neoliberal reform as 'criminal' action, and the inhabilitation to participate in the public space by being liable for economic and moral debt.

In summary, this grotesque carnival of institutional delegitimation ended up to consolidate the frame of neoliberal reform as criminal action, to question the prevalence of debt over fundamental rights, and to turn party politicians to be publicly liable by expelling them from the public space. It is really interesting to see how the delegitimation of the institutions of representative democracy, which is part of the neoliberal program, is now becoming into a delegitimation of the very building-block of western culture: debt. Should that be true, then no relevant performance might be expected from the current institutional set: no reprobation of corrupted politicians, no resignment from the President, no abdication from the King could be expected to produce a significant effect on the current process of delegitimation. Therefore, the relevant element to be observed with regard to Spain remains to be the same: the potential emergence of a process of alternative institutionalization. The next step is the already commented demonstration of the 23rd of February. Let's see if that event manages to introduce a constituent/ restituent frame in the political agenda. In this sense, the interruption of the speech of the Portuguese Prime Minister Passos Coelho by the public singing 'Grândola Vila Morena' in the Parliament, the hymn of the 1974 revolution against the dictatorship, could be a meaningful -and beautiful- metaphor of the situation.

Towards a 'Street Coup'? An institutionalist evaluation of the Spanish new constituent process

The process of institutional de-legitimation in Spain continues in the described direction. New empirical evidences about corruption have been provided by the press, showing connections with the major cases involving the party in the government. The president of the involved party -and Spanish premier- rejected to take any measure against corruption other than just a broadcasted denial of the facts. Parties in the opposition asked for his resignment reflecting the demands of a social protest which is now preparing two massive mobilizations on the 16th and 23rd of this month.

Tejero performing a military coup in Spain

The call for the 23rd, «against the financial coup d'etat» has a lot of symbolism, since that was the date of the last attempt of a military coup during the current democratic period. That 'destitutive' symbolism can be indeed connected with the current socio-political process following the traces of a set of initiatives which are fostering the assembleary enactment of a new constitution as a way to solve the current crisis of legitimation. Those initiatives have traceable links both with the indignados phenomenon and also with those organizing this new protest. That would go directly in the direction of the «constituent scenario» that I have appointed in the post describing the possible outcomes of this crisis. Interestingly enough, it shares a common understanding about some of the provisions on a possible revolution shared by Manuel Castells in the mainstream press today. Could such a street coup be performed?

All could happen in Spain these days. While predicting the future is outside the scope of Social Science, some of their tools could give some insight on the possible outcomes. That is the case of the historic brand of neo-institutionalism, remarkably with regard to the notion of path dependency. That analytic tool could be used to show how the power elite was able to keep their privileges through the regime changes at least from the XIII century -which could forecast their capability to neutralize the effects of any social uprising. But it could also show how civil society managed to moderate that perpetuation in some relevant moments: the revolutions of the XV century, the insurgency against liberalism in the early XIX and the democratic instauration of republicanism in the early XX. Those three cases have a common structural characteristic: the involvement of the local, municipal statuency. In light of those findings, the assessment of the potential outcomes might consider the effects on the performance of the local constituency.

The institutional configuration of the local constituency in Spain is defined through the municipal elections. The previous electoral process was performed early 2011, resulting in a solid position for the political party now in the Government. Under normal conditions, the next municipal ballot would not be casted before 2015, so the present configuration would still be current at least for the next two years. Should the municipal constituency play a role in the direction of the crisis, then the referred protest might not be expected to perform any inminent destitutive outcome on the current institutional set. But even when the inminency of such an outcome could be dismissed, the protest could still be effective when considering a broader time frame. Indeed, those pending two years could be a very appropriate slot to develop the socio-political dynamics that might support a succesful constituent process. In this sense, those protests could be identified as a very propicious chance to introduce in the political agenda the notion of a constituent process as feasible alternative to exit the crisis by setting up an interface capable to connect the social protest with the institutional work. The case of the recent adjournment in the Parliament of Galicia showed how those two realms of the social agency can be effectively connected, causing institutional effects in response to the demands comming from the street. I have framed that mode of political participation under the notion of pro-systemic protest and it has been referred as an example of how to effectively drive social uprising in the neighbourhoods of the social movements in Madrid.

As a result, the effective impact of the referred callings might be valuated with regard to their capacity to 1) introduce the constituent scenario in the political agenda and 2) start a convergence process capable to produce a constitutent electoral coalition. The need of such a coalition comes from the constitutional process itself: first, to configure a technical government capable to support the constitutional assembly and the required referendum and, second, to win the subsequent election to form a new government capable to deploy the new institutional infrastructure.

Should the forthcoming municipal election be identified as an institutionalist critical junction point, it might not be ommitted the fact that the Spanish Civil War started with a military coup d'etat against the II Spanish Republic, which was enacted exactly in that same way -winning a municipal electoral process. Connecting with the first path dependency finding -the hability of the power elite to overcome regime changes-, and finding the national-catholic ethos in both the 1930s and the curren elites, perhaps driving the attention of the new constitutionalists to the influence of the Catholic Church in the Spanish society could be a useful conclusion to contribute to such a process.

Turning anger into radical change: boosting institutional insurgency on a pro-systemic ethos

The week started with the media coverage of the adjournment of a plenary session in the Parliament of Galicia due the protest of the entire governmental opposition against a new rule enacted to change the requirements for the citizenship to access the chamber. The government framed it as «we need to keep the order inside the house» while the opposition framed it as «the government is expelling the people from the Parliament». Empirical evidence about the success of the later can be found first in the adjournment and second, the subsequent call from the government to sign the peace. That outcome was produced by a novel combination of standard protest outside the house (organized by the radical nationalist left) with pacific resistance and civil disobedience inside (performed by the members of the Parliament).

The interesting point was the notion of radical nationalist left protesting to keep (recover, improve) the institution, instead of delegitimate it. In that sense it was a «pro-systemic protest» which connects with the ethos of the #15m phenomenon but with a significant innovation: political parties driving the protest -instead of being their object. Even more interestingly, it showed to be an effective strategy, having the government asking political parties to «sign the peace». The causal link seems to be evident for me.

Meanwhile, another wave of corruption have arrived to the shores of mediatic scandal. The most distributed journal El País unveiled the existence of a parallel accounting of the party in the government reflecting donations from the construction industry and payments made to the leaders of the party between 1990 and 2009. Among the involved leaders are the current President of the Government, who would have allegedly cashed up to 25.000 eur yearly. While the handwritten nature of this accounting seems to provide some veracity to the information, both the party and the involved treasurers denied the existence of any hidden accounting. The close coverage made by the international press is increasing the relevance of the issue. The judicial sentence declaring impunity for the police involved in brutality practices during the last wave of protest could boost indignation and outrage.

Media from the left started to announce a call to protest in front of the involved Political Party's main office -in a similar way as it happened when this scandal arouse. Having that precedent and the limitations of the classic protest repertoire, I would not expect too much from a protest driven to denounce corruption. Such a kind of protest would not add anything more than greater pressure against the current cabinet. Calling for elections is simply out of any rational calculation provided that the party in the government has an absolute majority. Calling for resignment of the president or for replacement of the government without elections would simply reinforce the process of institutional delegitimation, weakening the executive capacity to enforce the -barely implemented- neoliberal reform. Replacing the office by a technocratic one could be even worst, potentially adding a boost of social conflict against the enforcement of economic refor to to a deepening of the current de-legimitation process. Protest driven to pursue any of those objectives would be basically useless, since no socio-political transformation might be expected from any of them. The only outcome would be a deepening of the current delegitimition process, and a boost of social protest: both easily manageable through the monopoly of violence and the governmental agenda-setting capabilities.

But the protest could take a very different sense if the Galician pro-systemic ethos were used. A protest not against corruption but in favor of a clean (transparent? open? democratic?) political system, using corruption just as the empirical evidence of the current mal-functioning and need to update. Some kind of citizenship politically-driven tangentopolis (instead of judicially-driven one, as it was in the Italian case). That turn could facilitate the massification of a social movement and the introduction of enough socio-political pressure into the representative system in order to improve its current weak articulation; under my perspective: a more inclusive electoral system, accountable political parties and territorial federalization -at least for the inner nations: Galicia, Basque Country and Catalonia. Provided the proved uncapability of the current elite to introduce the necessary innovations into the socio-political and economic structure, only an effective interaction between the street and the institutions of the representative democracy -namely political parties and labor unions- could introduce the necessary knowledge and pressure to proceed with the necessary update.