In recent years, internet censorship has been the most urgent concern for the practitioners of digital culture in Turkey. Copyright issues are one of the reasons for censorship. Digital labor and internet economy are other trendy topics as are Social gaming and Urban informatics.
critique on internet censorship
In recent years, internet censorship has been the most urgent concern for the practitioners of digital culture in Turkey. Turkish government’s blunt censorship of the web services raised the concern since it not only limits the freedom of speech and access to information, but also slows down the everyday productivity. In fact, many tech savvy people are using DNS proxies to access the censored services. Also, there is most likely interest in alternative services for online video and collaboration tools. Independent political groups Sansüre Sansür, Netdaş, and Pirate Party Turkey organize protests and do advocacy against internet censorship. Artists and academicians Ali Miharbi and Orton Akıncı create critique on internet censorship. Miharbi created a self-censoring web browser plugin and Akıncı developed a participatory open source / free video art project with his students at Yildiz Technical University.
In fact, copyright issues are one of the reasons for censorship. MÜYAP, the association for neighboring rights of phonogram producers, is one of the top lobbyists of copyright. They are trying to protect the music industry and particularly the distributers, without even understanding the new realities of digital production and consumption trends. The reality of today is that, as elsewhere in the world, digitalization and the internet makes the cost of distribution close to free. Artists in Turkey raise new questions about it, activists organize campaigns and street protests to affect the policy and academicians give advice to the government, but it will keep being a tough battle between the traditional media moguls and the rising new media industry.
Digital labor and economy
‘Digital labor’ and ‘internet economy’ are trendy topics that seem less urgent, but have interesting participants from the academy and the contemporary art world. The idea of user labor and immaterial labor in the digital times have been explored in art projects and discussed in panels and interviews. The ‘User Labor’ project (2008) by Burak Arıkan and Engin Erdoğan proposed an open data structure, ‘User Labor Markup Language’ (ULML), to outline the metrics of user participation in social web services. The aim was to construct criteria and context for determining the value of user labor, which is currently a monetized asset for the service provider but not for the users themselves. Along with Burak Arikans’ ‘Meta-Markets’ (2007-2009) project, an online stock market for social web profiles, the ‘User Labor’ project influenced an international discussion on the value of user labor in the digital economy.
Social gaming generates fascination in digitally literate art and design schools as well as in the advertising sector. High engagement rates, sales of digital goods, and embedded branding possibilities drive the advertising sector to demand more social gaming applications. In fact, the term “advergaming” is getting popular among the new media production houses elsewhere in the world.
Urban informatics is getting traction from architects who use digital techniques in urban planning. Super Pool, an architecture studio based in Istanbul Karaköy, created a map of privately run dolmus & minibus transportation routes, which was never completely mapped in the public transportation system. The ‘Mapping Istanbul’ book, initiated by Garanti Gallery, edited by Pelin Derviş and Meriç Öner, with maps by Super Pool, presents multiple layers of urban information on Istanbul. The maps, infographics, together with articles, make a comparative analysis of urban issues from housing to transportation, to economic activity to water and energy infrastructure. The municipality of Istanbul developed a real-time traffic monitoring service, which shows the traffic congestion on a dynamic map and through cameras available to the citizens via mobile phones. Akın İdil of Valensas Technologies developed the Turkcell Pusula iPhone application, which is a mobile augmented reality tool for searching urban content. İdil’s application is one of the signs that we experience a new type of hybrid public space.