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FREEPORT 0: Trespassing the Data Factory

TRESPASSING THE DATA FACTORY is a 5-day program led by Vladan Joler and the Share Lab, held at the CCCB Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona from Sunday June 24 (evening only) through Friday 29 (Mon-Fri all day). Together we will perform a data-driven investigation, a process based on collecting, analyzing and visualizing large data sets for the purpose of creating a story.

The Program (topics and schedule)
More on Vladan Joler and Share Lab

In a networked society data and infrastructures are sources of power, both material and immaterial, and yet they are hard to track down, materialize, understand, or even perceive in their magnitude. In particular, the opacity with which most of the contemporary internet is constructed and described provokes uncertainty and, as it has become apparent in the last couple of years, it builds up new forms of inequality.

And yet, in such an opaque and complex scenario paths can be found. Patterns and traces can turn into stories. Single specimens may become samples for new ways of representing this world, and possibly contribute to change it.

Should I apply?

FREEPORT is especially aimed at artists, designers, technologists, hacktivists, graduate and post-graduate students, visual storytellers, writers. We warmly encourage anyone with strong motivations and ideas to apply no matter what your background may be, as long as you think that you can make a valuable contribution to the proposed field of work. We will welcome experienced professionals as well as future professionals, new experts and creative students: the length of your CV won’t matter, your skills and ideas will!

About the faculty

Share Lab, a research team based in Yugoslavia, is a research and data investigation lab whose mission is exploring the technical aspects at the intersections between technology and society. In fact, the “highways” of the electronic frontier are rather the invisible roads and the deep waters of information flows. Share Labs set out to understand the new, emerging forms of threats to privacy, network neutrality and ultimately democracy itself.

Here's a brief introduction of Share's work by Vladan Joler at The Influencers 2017

The program: topics and schedule

This program will start on Sunday June 24th in the evening with some informal presentation and introductions. From Monday to Friday sessions will start at 10am and will end approximately at 7pm. We will have lunch together.

Learning and making
The aim of this camp-lab is two-fold: on one side, providing relevant information about tools, strategies, observation tactics and -why not- revealing anecdotes. On the other side, developing new or existing ideas through an active exchange between participants, including the faculty and facilitators.

Daily schedule
The program for each session will follow a similar basic schedule: the day will begin with an introduction of topics and tools, followed by a debate and conversation about them, their use and context. The afternoon will be devoted to active work, practicing with the tools. Participants will be able to introduce new ideas or use their projects as background. At the end of the day, after the working sessions are over, there will be some free time to refresh our imagination, that is talking about things or watching images, or listening to some guest's ideas (or just sharing pigeon memes on the internetz).

DAY ONE : Network Topology and Tracking Forensics

In this segment, which is crucial for further understanding of the rest of the workshop, the emphasis is on the process of network topologies and data flow mapping. With the help of various methodologies and tools for mapping we will learn how to map and visualize structure of different Internet service providers (ISP) and their interconnections, that allow us to create a visual view of the invisible infrastructure hidden within the global network. By reading and interpreting these maps we will be able to detect the structure, forms of centralization, monitoring points and power relations within these technological systems.

Through the tracerouting of individual Internet packages, we will discover step by step the story of physical infrastructure embodied in millions of kilometers of cables, huge impersonal and dehumanized facilities for data storage and analysis and various parasitic systems of the surveillance economy. The shapes and topographies of communication networks - which we will explore in this whole program - represent a reflection of complex geopolitical and economic relations, colonial and neocolonial practices, and one of the modern metrics of power.

DAY TWO : Email Metadata Analysis (Do-It-Yourself NSA)

The metadata represent one of the basic resources in the processes of exploitation, monitoring and control in the digital environment. What are the opportunities and risks in the context of individual privacy and what is revealed by the meta-data analysis are the questions raised in this segment of the workshop. We will play with a sample of over 100,000 once private now public emails of one of the most notorious cyber-weapon manufacturing companies in the World.

Through the unique Do-It-Yourself NSA style of data analysis, we will investigate their organizational structure, the main actors in communication, create their network communication graphs, investigate the locations of the individual actors and their patterns and behavioral anomalies. The results of this analysis process will be presented in a series of visualizations that represent a specific meta-portrait of this murky organisation.

DAY THREE : Browsing Surveillance

In his 2005 study, the industry analyst John Battelle describes Google as a ‘database of intentions’, ‘a massive clickstream database of desires, needs, wants, and preferences that can be discovered, subpoenaed, archived, tracked, and exploited for all sorts of ends’. Exploring search queries from someone’s browsing history can give us some clues about this common relationship, probably the most personal one, between a person’s mind and this giant company.

We are creatures of habit, and we tend to create repetitions and patterns in our everyday behaviour. We tend to go to bed and wake up at similar times, to create our morning routines and create rituals of our social interactions. Since many segments of our lives are mediated by technology, those patterns are replicated and visible through the different digital footprints. In this session we will explore, analyse and visualize browsing history sample of one journalist. We will try to deep dive into his thoughts and patterns of behaviour. This part of the program is about the power of ISPs, companies such as Google and various governments that can have access to our browsing history data.

DAY FOUR : Mapping Information Warfare

Technical infrastructure, processes of analysis and exploitation of data explored in the previous segments form an environment and architecture that is used for different forms of information and disinformation production as well as different forms of information warfare. Based on collected data and monitoring reports about various forms of technical attacks on online media and journalists in the past four years, we will try to visualize and quantify various forms and methods of information and psychological warfare in the context of modern information technologies.

This series of visualizations and maps will cover various forms of interventions, attacks, tools and methodologies used in this process. Data collected during analysis of DDOS attacks on technical infrastructure, data traces of systematic manipulation of public discourse in the comments on media sites, activities of human and artificial groups and systems for manipulation and the role of mediators in communication, such as social networks and content browsers, are visualized here.

DAY FIVE : Investigating Corporate Black Boxes

Systems based on artificial intelligence and big data analysis are increasingly used to replace human decision making. Therefore, questions about algorithmic ethics, accountability and transparency are becoming more and more important. One of the largest global systems based on the algorithmic process of production and moderation is the Facebook social network with about 2 billion users in 2018.

What is happening inside the invisible walls of this complex algorithmic machine? This question will be posed in this part of the program. We will explore a unique map that describes the process of exploiting user data, storage and algorithmic data processing. This map represents the visualization of a process in which the behavior and activities of the individual, their immaterial work, is transformed with the help of algorithms in the product and the mechanism of control.

We will then learn how to investigate thousands of publicly available patents of the internet giants in order to have a clue about architecture of their surveillance economy factories.