SISP-Conference 2009 and “Condividi la conoscenza 2009”. Two Italian events rich in suggestions about (e)participation.

16. September 2009 – 22:45 by acfgroup

In the next days in Italy there will be some relevant events for researchers, decision makers, activists, ordinary citizens, interested in the state of the public debate about Internet, democracy and participation, particularly in this country, where even freedom of information has recently become an hot issue (see the petition launched by La Repubblica, which has gathered more than 370.000 signature in two weeks, and the demonstration announced for saturday 19th September in the capital.

The annual conference of the Italian Society of Political Science (SISP) will be held 17th-19th September at the LUISS University in Rome. This edition has a very rich program, and many interesting panels are directly or indirectly related to e-participation (for an overview see the conference website ( ). Particularly worth of attention is the panel about Citizenship rights and new digital environment. To acknowledge the centrality of the institutional contexts - too much often neglected in the discourse about e-democracy- is a fruitful way to frame the problem of citizens participation in the Internet era. Among the speakers the panel includes Francesco Amoretti (Professor of International relations, University of Salerno), Carlo Formenti (Professor of Sociology of new media, University of Salento), Claudia Padovani (Professor of International communication, University of Padova) and Stefano Rodotà (Professor of Law, University La Sapienza - Rome, and former National Authority on data and privacy protection). As a leading scholar of the Italian studies about network-society, Rodotà has advanced the proposal of an Internet Bill of rights at the WSIS of Athens (2006), then included in the agenda of the Internet Governance Forum.
The range of issues arisen along the panel is wide and very relevant: privacy and ’securization’ of the cyberspace, human rights and digital exclusion, public policies focusing information society, privatization of the online public sphere, but also opportunity to support emancipatory approaches within digital communities. According to the abstracts, the need of a new affirmation of the fundamental citizens rights (from civil ones to, I would add, social rights) on the Internet emerges as a crucial variable for the development of the democratic potential of the new media. The prevailing pessimistic worry about the current international situation emerging from the panel makes more relevant the (need of) possible role of civil society and citizens in re-addressing the political agenda. In this direction, the diffusion of a more mature awareness of the Internet social, political and economic dimensions is essential.

On the side of the civil society initiatives, it is worth of attention the third edition of the event “Condividi la conoscenza” (“Share the knowledge”), organized by a wide Italian network of activists, practitioners/stakeholders of free/open licensing: ICT professionals and entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists, associations devoted to digital rights, ICT researchers, teachers. Condividi3 will be hosted at the University of Milano on 23 September. The issue of free knowledge is the core-value of this civil society network. The different panels will deal with the benefits of open and free contents and software in fields like public administration, universities, public libraries, small enterprises, associations, etc. This is a very important aspect strictly connected to the pre-conditions of (e)participation, giving evidence to the continuity among the opportunities of social, cultural and political participation.

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