“I’m my personal revolution.” Web 2.0, subjectivity and activism of the Purple Movement in Italy. Emanuele Toscano (emanuele.toscano@uniroma1.it) Researcher, University of Rome “La Sapienza” Raffaele Pizzari (raffaele.pizzari@gmail.com) University of Rome “LUMSA” Abstract
The “purple” movement was born on the day after the failure of the Lodo Alfano1 law in the Constitutional Court, at the beginning of October 2009. An anonymous citizen – hidden behind the pseudonym of San Precario – interpreting the rising sentiment of indignation of people against the arrogant reaction of the Prime Minister when the law was declared inconstitutional, decided to promote a big demonstration to ask for the dismissal of Silvio Berlusconi. The contacts on the Facebook page that was created to organize the demonstration rose relentlessly. Local groups were created all over, where people shared their competences and their time to create flyers, to sponsor the demonstration with information points, to create forums, to share the travel with people coming by car or to fill the coaches that would head towards Rome on the day of the demonstration. This was the genesis of the first web auto-promoted demonstration, that brought one million people to Rome, without the mediation of political parties, trade unions or associations. Simple citizens met in San Giovanni square, autonomously organizing transport, logistics of the square and speeches from the stage. A “connective intelligence” (De Kerckhove 1997) that connected through the web to affirm rights “from below” and those who are more and more negated, above all. The paper aims to analyse the purple movement, as it definitely sanctions the crisis of representation that’s been hitting political parties and trade unions during the last decades. These public subjects look completely unable to respond to the challenges caused by the complex political, social and cultural changes brought about by the third millennium. The crisis of representation resides and is shown in the way this movement was born: through the Internet. The net is – with all the limitations connected to this definition – an open, fluid, space, where the rules are self-determined from the community willing to represent itself (i.e. the global community feeding Wikipedia, the free and opened encyclopaedia).

Le mouvement "violet" en Italie est né au lendemain de l'échec de la loi Lodo Alfano devant la Cour constitutionnelle, au début d'Octobre 2009. Un citoyen anonyme - caché derrière le pseudonyme de San Precario – en interprétant la montée de l'indignation contre la réaction



arrogante du Première Ministre lorsque la loi a été déclarée inconstitutionnelle, a décidé de promouvoir une manifestation pour demander le renvoi de Silvio Berlusconi. La première manifestation auto-promue par le web a porté un million de personnes à Rome, sans la médiation des partis politiques, syndicats ou associations. Des simples citoyens se sont réunis à San Giovanni en organisant de manière autonome les transports, la logistique de la place et les discours de la scène. Une "intelligence connective" (De Kerckhove 1997) qui s’est relié par le web pour affirmer les droits qui sont de plus en plus nié. La communication présentée vise à analyser le mouvement « violet » comme expression de la crise de la représentation qui a frappé les partis politiques et les syndicats au cours des dernières décennies. La crise de la représentation politique classique réside et est représenté dans la façon dont ce mouvement est né: à travers le web 2.0. Les social networks sont un espace ouvert et fluide, où les règles sont auto-déterminé par les communautés qui vent se auto-représenter à niveau politique et culturel.

--------------------------------------------Introduction On December the 5th 2009 a million people, ordinary citizens of all ages and from different social backgrounds, have demonstrated in Rome asking the resignation of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The particularity of the event lies in its being convened and organized entirely through the tools available to the Web 2.0, and through the social network site, Facebook above all. In order to characterize the event, the organizers have chosen a color to represent them, a color that did not pertain to any political party or pre-existing political movement: the purple. Traditional media made the rest, following with interest the mount of the event and defining the social and cultural reality emerged from the network, the web, as the "purple people". The latter, in addition to the demonstration called "No Berlusconi Day" of December 5, 2009, was involved in an intense political season, continuing to organize both major national events and smaller local initiatives, continuing to be present - albeit in much smaller terms- in the Italian cultural and political landscape. It’s clear that the No Berlusconi Day had a huge importance as it confirmed a new way to conceive demonstration in Italy. More than one million person spontaneously organized - both online and offline - even tought the lack of any party leadership. Places of interaction provided by the Internet such as social networks, blogs and wikis have brought the technological support that allowed each user to be part of the purple wave, and this very peculiarity did not just create a clear border with the past, but even wrote the first page of a new way to think at protest in Italy. The main character of this new chapter is an italian society described by the 44° Censis Report (Censis 2010: 235) as follows: “Italian society seems pervaded by widespread inertia – an anthropology without history, without a positive outlook on the future. We are looking at a society that is turning more and more into a mass pulp, a chaotic hodgepodge of drives, emotions and experiences. A society as unable to identify its goals as it is skeptical or indifferent vis-à-vis the future. Thus, Italians are dangerously poised to experience the worst, in politics as well as in domestic abuse; in urban micro-crime as in organized crime; in the spread of substance abuse as in the weak integration of immigrants; in the inefficiency of bureaucracies as in waste management; in the crossfire of vetoes that hinders the development of

infrastructures as in the low quality of TV programs. So much so that the phrase ‘mass pulp’ could be replaced by the more scathing term ‘mush’– an ineffectual set of ‘individual elements and personal bits’ held together by some superficial social dimension”. A drawing, that shown by the Censis, where the opportunities of participation provided by the Web assume value beyond any price. The paper aims to analyze origins, discourses, practices and composition of the purple movement, considering it as an example of movement born in the new millennium in Italy. The paper also aims to show how these movements attest the crisis of classical representation expressed by political parties and trade unions, historical actors of social conflict of the twentieth century. Crisis mainly due to the standing out of individuals and subjects' centrality and their needs for affirmation and self construction, supported by new communication technologies and in particular social networks of Web 2.0, able to influence the forms of representation and mobilization. Wieviorka (2007a, 2007b) stresses that the political representation crisis is due to four main aspects. We hereby focus on three of them, which better reflect the situation in Italy during the Berlusconi’s governements. The first is a social crisis: the politicians fail to provide satisfactory responses and increased social inequality, social exclusion and insecurity; collective problems are not the most debated and addressed in the interests of social solidarity, and political parties and intermediate institutions (such as trade unions) lose reliability. The second is an institutional crisis: the institutions seem to be inadequate to answer questions raised by the social contexts in which the individual dimension is more and more crucial, since they are expected not only a response to collective needs, but also answers that go facing the subjectivity of individuals. This, according to Wieviorka (2007a) explains - in part - the growing importance of institutions like the Constitutional Court, and, more generally, the shift of power from political to judicial institutions, which take advantage in terms of credibility and representation. Judicial institutions which, because of it, are being targeted by the polical actions of the Prime Minister Berlusconi, with the specific aims to reduce their influence and, above all, their independence. The third is a crisis linked to the raise of the centrality of individuals' autonomy and their choices, that are difficult to be intercepted and represented by political parties, due to their nature and genesis to represent large aggregates of people. Cultural issues such as living wills, euthanasia, freedom of worship, civil rights, imply a difficulty by the political parties in formulating responses and solutions. The solutions proposed remain collective and don't go in the direction of an increasing autonomy for the individuals, that are more and more aware of their freedom of choice. To these various manifestations of the crisis of political representation it has to been added another element, particularly important in Italy: the very high average

age of the ruling class and politics2, often unable to grasp the dynamics of changes across the country and incapable of dealing with them. From a methodological point of view, the article here presented is based on a process of analysis of statistical data from the different Facebook pages used by the purple movement, as well as participant observation carried out during the organization of the “No Berlusconi Day” event. In addiction, many formal and informal interviews were made with participants and organizers. The Facebook pages analyzed are essentially two: the first, used until December 5, to coordinate and collect subscriptions in the event of No Berlusconi Day, and the other one created a couple of days after the huge demonstration3, “the purple mouvement”, that is still active and has reached 415,000 subscriptions. The period of observation and collection of statistics relating on two Facebook pages is between October 9th, 2009 and December 6th, 2009 for the first ("a national demonstration to demand the resignation of Berlusconi…") and from 7 December 2009 to February 27 2010 for the second (the "purple people"). We chose this dates because on the 27th of February the purple movement organised another national demonstration, which registered the participation of more than eighty thousand people. Finally, due to the peculiar nature of the purple movement, it has been attempted to use methods and observation techniques on on-line cultures4, therefore conducting an online netnography. Pierre Levy (2001: xvi) defines cyberculture as "the set of technologies (material and intellectual), practices, attitudes, thought patterns and values that have developed with the growth of cyberspace. The cyberculture can be defined, taking the four-repartition proposed by Malek (2005), through a futuristic utopian and technocratic perspective; as a symbolic code of the new society (informational perspective); as a set of cultural practices and lifestyles associated advent of information technologies of the Web (anthropological perspective); or as the term that reflects the social changes made by access to new media (epistemological perspective). With the word netnography Kozinets (2010: 8) shows an approach to online research that examines the interactions of individuals derived from the interaction on the Web or through computer-mediated communication; an approach based on an adaptation of the classic ethnography of participant observation (Kozintes 2006: 135). In the particular case of this research a blended approach has been used: we therefore combined participant observation and interviews based on face to face

The average age of the XVI parliamentary term is 53.3 years, and the Council of Presidents of the past fifteen years has been equal to 62 years. Out of a total of 630 members only one person has less than thirty years and only forty-seven less than forty (8% of the total). Since the minimum age for election to the Senate is just 40 years, this means that in both Houses of Parliament MPs under the age of 40 - 46% of the Italian population - are less than 5%. (Rosina, Balduzzi 2008). 3 https://www.facebook.com/popviola 4 The social science literature regarding the definitions and interpretations of the concept of online culture or cyberculture is now immense, and it is impossible to bring it back here.

interaction together with the observation of virtual communities. The main fieldwork was Facebook fanpages, but we also analyzed forums, YouTube channels, blogs and mailing lists. We tried to integrate the two research fields, the virtual and the real one, in order to consider netnography (the study and the development of qualitative and quantitative data collected online) only as a part - albeit important - of the research. We considered the purple movement also as a virtual community, as defined by Rheingold (1993: 3), as a social aggregation that emerges from the network involving a sufficiently large number of individuals with an adequate number of stable correlations in cyberspace. Berlusconi resigns! The purple movement in Italy is an unusual case in the landscape of social, political and cultural mobilisations5, for its constitutional traits: 1) the organization through the Internet and social network platform, Facebook in particular, 2) absence of organized collective structures (associations, political parties, trade unions) in convening and managing the event, which have been replaced by ordinary citizens motivated by individual thrust of opposition and resistance to a domain (Touraine 2005) identified with the policies of Berlusconi Government and the Prime Minister figure, 3) the insistence on the cultural dimension of the action, represented by the demand for more rights and protection of those rights who are under attack, and proposition of a political, social and cultural model focused on freedom, solidarity, recognition of the others, on the ethical dimension of respect and of affection. Not surprisingly, interventions that have followed from the stage, completely organized by the demonstrators themselves, were based on five main thematic axes, which represented those aspects most challenged by the cultural model "Berlusconi": legality and justice, information, labor policies, rights of citizenship, education and research, 4) a massive presence of young people, partially due to the instrument used, the social network. These traits will be present in the mobilization of the Maghreb countries (Tunisia and Egypt) and in those of Spanish indignados that - with some differences - were characterized by the presence of many young people, by the organization across social network platforms (facebook, twitter, blogs, online radio), the demand for greater democracy, the absence of classics organized structures such as political parties, associations and unions. The history of the purple movement begins in October the 9th, 2009, the day the Constitutional Court rejected - considering it unconstitutional - the Lodo Alfano, law

Some sporadic cases of events organized through social networks had already occurred. For example, in Colombia, in 2008, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets against the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia), organized through the Facebook page "One Million Voices Against FARC".

124/2008 (the "Provisions on the suspension of criminal proceedings against senior state"). The law provided for the suspension of any penal measure against the four highest offices of state6, and then found to violate article 3 (principle of equality of all citizens before the law) and 138 (procedure for review for approval of the Constitution and constitutional laws) of the Italian Constitution. The same day an anonymous user, hiding himself behind the pseudonym of San Precario7, created a Facebook fanpage that launched a "national demonstration to demand the resignation of Berlusconi". The growth of virtual membership was exponential, and within a few weeks the fanpage reached more than 350,000 members.

Fig. 1 – Fanpage subscription “A national mobilisation…”

(Source: Facebook Insight, our elaboration)

The Facebook page was transformed into a "Digital Agora," in which many people talked about how to organize the event: the cooperative work brought in a short time to create an identity logo, flyers, posters. Local groups were formed in many cities, both in Italy and abroad8, organizing banquets information, distributing


The President of the Republic, the President of the Senat, the President of the Chamber of Deputies and the Prime Minister. 7 San Precario is a collective icon that appears for the first time in 2004 during the MayDay in Milan. MayDay is a demonstration that parades the First of May through the streets of many European cities to claim the rights of precarious workers. The collective soul of this icon is very rooted in the circuits of social centers and Italian and European globalization movement, and starred in the course of many years of protest action against precarious (Farro, Toscano 2006). While declaring from the beginning of the event outside the organization, the collective has not opposed the use of the icon of San Precario "by this anonimous user, because it was judged in tune with the spirit underlying the collective figure of the icon. 8 Over one hundred local groups in Italy and thirty-eight groups abroad are founded: Italian immigrants citizens organized events in Monaco, Paris, New York, London, San Francisco, Barcelona, with a participation, as in the case of London and Paris, of over a thousand people.

leaflets, information about how to lead the event. Flash mobs9 were organised, money collections were made and adhesions to fill buses to Rome were collected (they were, in the end, more than 300). Only in Rome, in a month, a dozen tents information were organized and over 30,000 flyers10 were printed and distributed through networks of contacts that each participant provided. The strength and spread of this widespread popular participation throughout the country is evidenced by this consideration made by a purple activist a few days before the event: ... We were distributing leaflets in Frascati, (small town near Rome) and a tourist told me that the same flyer was given to him a few days before, when he was on a visit to Trento (over 600 km away, nda). The fact that people that didn't know eachother distributed the same leaflet in distant places of the country, and the fact that the same leaflet was collectively created and downloaded from a Facebook page, shows the novelty of the purple movement. The practices of movement itself were characterized by a speed and immediacy of communication that resided in the popular initiative. It is possible to bring these practices to anthropologist Pierre Levy's concept of collective intelligence (1996:34-38). The latter is defined as a universally diffused intelligence, and therefore it is not held by a utopian omniscient power center, but constantly enhanced and coordinated in real time using information technology and communication. This collective intelligence leads to effective mobilization of skills, recognized and valued in their diversity and specificity. The realization of the demonstration on the 5th of December and the awakening of civil society participation around the respect for and defense of democratic principles of freedom, equality and solidarity was possible through the enhancement of knowledge and skills of each individual who joined the movement. What happened on the 5th of december, as Levy argues (1996), was the activation of a collective intelligence that was based on a subjective involvement, based itself on the recognition and enrichment of individuals rather than a merely fetishized communitarian worship in the opposition to Berlusconi. The purple movement: its genesis, its reasons. The analysis of the data that Facebook has provided for the pages created on the platform, returns a picture of the movement consisting mainly of young people of thirty-five years (as we shall see they are also part of the user population of social networks in Italy). Fig. 2 and Fig. 3 show how both the page "A national demonstration to demand the resignation of Berlusconi" and "The Purple People" are

The flash mob is an impromptu and speedy action, organized through the network, which brings together a number of people at a predefined location to conduct individual action - often unusual - and repeated coordinated among the participants. 10 Not to mention the unknown number of flyers printed at home by people and distributed to letterboxes in their building or neighborhood.

popular among 70% of young men and women - equally distributed - under the age of 35 years.

Fig.2 – Age and gender distribution fanpage subscribers "A national demonstration..."

(Source: Facebook Insight, our elaboration)

Fig.3 - Age and gender distribution fanpage subscribers "the purple people"

(Source: Facebook Insight, our elaboration)

The majority of people who participated in the purple movement, young people under thirty-five, are also those who perceived, to a greater extent, the domain of the

cultural and political model imposed by Berlusconi for over sixteen years now. The choice of voting - for the thirty-year-old of today - has always been between Berlusconi and, on the other side, a large and confused mixture of those who opposed him. The political scenario for twenty-year-old of today, by contrast, was dominated by the figure of our Prime Minister since their teens. The criticism moved to Berlusconi, who have pushed many young people to demonstrate in the streets and personally engage in the purple movement, are about to have its roots as a model of a specific cultural and social fabric, made of carelessness, mediocrity, cunning, contempt for the other, which he then helped to fuel with his government and his political and personal choises. Berlusconi is acknowledged to have done just that feeling of the performer of late modernity, in which the individual dimension has fully established itself on the collective systems, declining, however, in a vulgar and unrestrained individualism, which, according to the model proposed by Dubet (1994), the strategic logic of self-assertion had the better of the subjectivizing. An exaggerated individualism which triumphs conformism itself based on a breakthrough that produces nothing, since it rests on nothing (Bauman 2006). Berlusconi is accused by the young activists of the movement purple having dug deeply in his heart and bowels of the Italian people, highlighting the darker aspects and narrow-minded, customs clearance, and riding the success of this operation. A kind of upside-down Liberation: while in the past an idea of social redemption, of respect and recognition, of a more fair society triumphed, in the Berlusconian Italy what rules, almost unchallenged, is the greed of television programming of his TV networks. These networks are used as weapon of mass distraction while the Welfare State is dismantled, the assertion of individual rights is obstacled and the expression of dissent is either cancelled if not severely repressed, while the political discourse is denigred. These considerations can be found in the call to participate to the No Berlusconi Day demonstration: We don’t know what will happen if Berlusconi finally resigns. And we believe that the false “fair play” of some of our opponents simply demonstrates a coward’s attitude to our democracy and they’ll have to in any case, answer for it to the voters. What we know for sure, is that Berlusconi is a very serious and dangerous anomaly in the framework of western democracy – as reinforced of late by the the international press that defines our government “a dictatorship”. We also know that he understands his political situation so well, that he constantly works to change laws and the Constitution for is own personal benefit. We can no longer aquiesce when confronted by the actions of a man who has taken our Country hostage fro more than 15 years and whose conception of the State and his position in it makes him hostile to every freedom of expression, as demonstrated by his recent attacks against the free press, satirists and the internet. We can no longer stay quiet when faced with theunscrupulousness of a man for whom the shadows of his recent past weigh heavily: his connections to the Mafia; his relations with members of the Mafia

like Vittorio Mangano11 or Marcello Dell’ Utri12, who has been found guilty of tax fraud, false accounting, and complicity in conspiracy with the Sicilian Mafia. He must resign and defend himself, just like every other citizen, in front of the Law. Berlusconi's Italy is perceived by activists of the purple movement as a country locked in an eternal present (Toscano 2010), in the here and now that crystallized the figure of Berlusconi and his political model and cultural turning as the only possible alternative, investing the role of prophet master everything works out, who watches over the Italians and that doing so would cure the collective interests as he does with his own. Berlusconi’s recipes proposed/imposed meet the social expectations of lower classes, the political expectations of conservative post-middle-class, and the economical expectations of large financial groups. Moreover, the critique directed to Berlusconi concerns his imposition of an idea of eternal present, that is embodied in the narcissistic self-worship, built on the negation of aging and its idea of eternal youth. Lasch, in his famous text of 1979 which anticipates the analysis of the phenomena that Italy is facing today- defines the narcissist as someone who hides in the cult of the Self, manipulating the emotions of other people as instruments of their own gratification and - at the same time – he constantly needs their approval and adoration. The born of a new 2.0 public opinion The purple movement is an expression of public opinion 2.0, able to find on the web and social networking tools through a public space for discussion and debate, skilled in increasing its potential and place it in the real world. The strength of the movement purple on the web has been to overcome the danger of perfect filtering (Sunstein 2002) that self-selection to your network with like-minded people, excluding the discordant voices. Many people, who had previously been Berlusconi’s elector – disappointed by his politics – decided to attend the demonstration, and in some cases ecen actively participating to its organisation. It is possible to identify two axes of purple movement in connection with the use of the Web. The first axis is part of the trend toward political popularization, cultural codes and the use of imaginary pop to convey political messages, according to the idea of politainment, i.e. the inclusion of political issues in the products of pop culture (Van Zoonen 2005; Mazzoleni, Sfardini 2009). For example, many videos were produced by activists and distributed through YouTube, which encouraged people to

Vittorio Mangano, horseman in the Berlusconi Manor House in Arcore, has been a criminal killer considered by the judge Salvatore Borsellino (killed by the mafia in 1992) the “bridge” between the Mafia in Sicily and the North of Italy. 12 Member of the Senat of the Republic and close friend of Silvio Berlusconi since the Seventies. Cofounder with Berlusconi of Forza Italia Party, he has been judged guilty of “external paticipation in mafia association”.

participate in the demonstration of the 5th of December. These videos used the imagery of "V for Vendetta"13, or several musical parodies made by a Sicilian precarious guy, who opened a successful YouTube channel 14 (over 3,800,000 views). The second axis is related to the use of new communication tools provided by the Web and the new technology, which allow to act directly on the message conveyed, and on the audience reducing interference and distortions, common for traditional media. More than talking about audience - in fact - the Web 2.0 (social networks in particular) enables processes of disintermediation in order for us to to speak about parlance. Parlance emphasizes the active role of social actors in building the sense that they have within the network (Maistrello 2007). The shift from audience to parlance is showed by the number and type of interactions that have developed, for example, on the Facebook page of "The Purple People", as shown in Table 1. Each post placed on the page, in the observation period (7 December 2009 - February 27, 2010) has recorded an average of 1198 interactions per day (likes, comments and views), and users have posted on the page bulletin board an average of 692 posts per day, for a total of 57456 messages in the observation period.
Tab.1 – Fanpage interaction "the purple people"
Total Comments 51494 Likes 470730 Dashboard messages 57456 Total interactions 579680 (Source: Facebook Insight, our elaboration) Media 620 5671 692 6984 Min. 122 1421 0 1682 Max. 3102 20437 5100 25362

In more specific terms this participation has been possible also by the changes made by developers of social network site Facebook in the management of fanpages, which become dynamic since March 2009. This means that radically change their structure, moving from being similar to a web page (with contents unidirectional top-down, so each user to get information he had to log in to), to resemble more to a mailing list, which changes and news posted by the operators of the page come directly on the notice boards of subscribers. This greatly increases the dynamism of communication and interaction between the page and users and between users themselves. This technical amendment by the developers of Facebook has allowed, over time, the emergence of many genuine online newsrooms, with specific editorial policies that act as aggregators of news and multipliers.

The graphic novel by the English illustrator Alan Moore, which later became a movie in 2005, rewrote in a modern way (it's set in a futuristic London run by an authoritarian and oppressive government) the adventures of Guy Fawkes and the failed assault to the English Parliament in 1605, remembered as the Gunpowder Plot. The video-inspired appeal to the main character of the film can be visited here: http://youtu.be/2TRXuIttX0g 14 http://www.youtube.com/user/tonytroja?blend=1&ob=5

Manuel Castells (2009) says as the recent innovations in the web called Web 2.0 and Web 3.0, thanks to devices and applications that fostered the expansion of social spaces on the Internet, are fundamental to the radical transformation of society in its network (Castells 1996) of communication mechanisms. The Internet has allowed the affirmation of what the same Castells (2009: 60) defines mass selfcommunication: a communication that has the potential to reach a global audience, and therefore mass, but at the same time as auto-communication self-generated, whose recipients are self-identified with a self-selection of content to be conveyed. By endorsing this new form of communication, the Internet users build personal systems of mass communication that rely on blogs, websites, audio and video information flows, social spaces on the web, wiki, by processing the content based on their orientation individual and at the same time fit in with a many-to-many. These new tools of mass self-communication to provide social and cultural movements of the third millennium and organizational forms of communication far more effective and decisive, scoring a final tear with their own forms of organization of political parties, trade unions, traditional associations. Although, as we are reminded Castells (2007), even these social actors are still moving towards a kind of communication more and more online. The Web offers the potential for circulation of information related to the creation of virtual social spaces15 where debate and discussion, to reach an increasing number of people 16 . Besides the self-mass communication, it is important to remember the concept of networked individualism, which Castells recovers from Barry Wellman (1979), and which describes the individualized report from the company as a specific form of contemporary social. In this process of individualisation of social relations is read the deployment of communication network technologies support and nurture. The possibility of a "personal mass" connection is the technological response to the contemporary management, and autonomous individual, the social network chosen, even spatially dispersed (Marinelli 2004). The theme of the use of media by the social and cultural movements of the third millennium is discussed and debated in an extensive literature, especially with respect to the alterglobalization movement (Downing, 2001; Koopmans 2004; Farro, Toscano 2006; Pasquinelli 2002; Bennet, Lance 2003, Bennet et al. 2004; Pickard
Boccia Artieri parla, in riferimento alle interazioni sugli ambienti digitali, ed in particolar modo riguardo ai Social Network, di “semantica curata”: le conversazioni sui SNS (persistenti, ricercabili, duplicabili, scalabili) sono “potenzialmente pronte a diventare una semantica curata, ad innovare dal basso le dinamiche della sfera pubblica”, più delle conversazioni orali nei caffé novecenteschi, che si trasformavano in semantica curata solo attraverso la mediazione dei quotidiani e dei libri (Boccia Artieri 2009). 16 An article reported by Castells (2009) refers to a survey conducted by Technorati (www.technorati.com) on the number of blogs on the Internet globally. As of November 2008 were 112.8 million blogs surveyed, with more than 250 million items of social media. The extent of this phenomenon is given by comparison with 2004 data, in which there were only 4 million blogs. On average are about 120,000 blogs created every day, 1.5 million articles published and updated some 60 million blogs (Baker 2008).

2006) or more generally the use of social networks as a platform for political action (Baumgartner and Morris 2010; Iannelli 2011; McClurg 2003, Moscow 2009). Towards the Social Media The new way of conceiving the Net, as a tool and an instrument of collective and democratic participation to one’s country life, is based upon an increasingly consciousness that “the future of human society is inextricably bound to the future of the Web” (Hendler et al. 2008: 69). Internet radically changed people’s daily lfie: it not only introduced a new way of doing things but also brought an entire univers of things to do, and it’s this very element creating discontinuity with the past. Each innovation of the Web will cause a reaction in the userc and viceversa, and that’s why the traces of cyber-activism have to be researched both in the technological innovation and in the multitude ot the way to use them; in other words both in the instruments availabla and in the maturity of the users. Taken in account this observations, we try to answer the question “Who where the Web users of NBD? using the data obdained from a market survey done in 2009 by the “Permanent Observatory on Digital Content”17. Digital Divide • The survey divides users in three main categories based on their skill levels and usage of the Internet: “heavy”, “light” and “no” users. Users are divided as follows: • “No-users": mainly individuals over 55 years old, low education and salary. Housewives and pensioners, South of Italy residents. • “Light-users”: mainly individuals up to 54 years old, medium-low education and salary. Employees, workers, traders. • “Heavy-users”: mainly individuals up to 44 years old, medium-high education and salary. Officers, managers, directors or students. The reading of the first two charts, suggests several considerations: 1. light users are decreasing in favor of heavy user, creating a clear division between the two extremes: “heavy” and “no users”; 2. Internet’s users are very reluctant to be turned into “no-user” and vice versa; then, a big slice of people is cut off from that culture exclusively conveyed through the Internet; 3. “students” is an high-risk category considering labour market, future and social security, but they have access to a very powerful resource; 4. users distribution by age and sex is quite similar for men and women, 20 to 45 years old;



Fig.4 – Digital Divide in Italy

(Source: Osservatorio Permanente sui Contenuti Digitali )

Fig.5 – Internet Access, socio-demo trend 2007-2009 by sex-age

(Source: Osservatorio Permanente sui Contenuti Digitali )

By crossing the data we see that, roughly, the web user has a medium-high salary/education, from 20 to 44 years old, man or woman with the same opportunity, just like an average NBD cyberactivist. Interests and activities Analyzing the graph in figure 6 we are allowed to focus the objective more clearly: what is the most popupar content for the users? What do they do online? Clearly search engines, online newspapers and instant messaging play a significant role, but in 2009 the big news is about social network. The increase from 3% to 41% in 2 years corresponds to a small revolution.

Fig.6 – Content and communication on the net, trend 2007-2009

(Source: Osservatorio Permanente sui Contenuti Digitali )

Filesharing Websites (e.g. Youtube), Wikis and Chats too are growing significantly. Therefore, we can say that 2009 was the year of sharing, of collective knowledge and social-news flow (e.g. Facebook wall). Meanwhile, Online Newspapers had setback, although they equally cover an important role. The chart n. 4 shows the sharing trend: 32% of the users interacts with the others via the Web. 4% more than previous year, where “interaction” means “actively participating into discussions, adding content like comments, musical or audio-visual files, pictures”.

Fig.7 – Who interacts on the Internet, trend 2008-2009

(Source: Osservatorio Permanente sui Contenuti Digitali )

In the light of this chart, we can deduce the nature of many users before “No Berlusconi Day”: • they use social networks to communicate with a circle of virtual friends and probably out of curiosity, since it is a growing phenomenon; • they are informed by the newspapers on the net but for further details also use Wiki-based website; • they use filesharing websites like Youtube for several reasons (entertainment, knowledge, ecc.); • they make extensive use of search engines; • they have an increasing interest in blogs and forums; • more than 3 out of 10 users actively interact with the Internet; These seems to be ideal conditions for the humus that generated the purple movement. Culture and Technology In a Cartesian graph which has “Technology” on the horizontal axis and “Culture” on the vertical axis, are described: o TV People: TV mass consumption and low cultural fruition;

o o o


traditionalist: moderate cultural fruition and use of traditional technologies; sophisticated: strong cultural consumption and moderate traditional technology; eclectics: strong disposition towards new technologies and firm inclination towards consumption of cultural and entertainment content, PC and Web oriented; technofan: highly technological, devoted primarily to an exclusive playful use of new technologies.

Fig.8 – Cluster 2009

(Source: Osservatorio Permanente sui Contenuti Digitali )

First we can see a barycentre shift: less culture and more technology from 2007 to 2009. The traditional matrix (sophisticated, traditionalist and TV people) is gradually losing points instead of technological avant-guarde, which remains outnumbered. An efficient influence model The NBD Facebook page’s main goal has been the organization of a national demonstration to demand the Mr. Berlusconi’s resignation, and it was

immediately clear to everyone. To participate, a user must become a “fan” and share the page as possible: simple target, clear procedure, little effort, return of extreme emotional involvement. But above all, it responded to a collective need: Mr. Berlusconi out of government. Every initiative – to achieve the goal – it was left to the users’ resourcefulness and earned credit by public acclamation on the Wall, that received and offered food for thought, action opportunities and aggregation tools. The Wall became the “daily agenda”, also for the media. Major influencers and activists often required very simple tasks: clicks, flyers, text messages, flash mobs, showing avatar, and things like that. Anyone could be an activist without a radical change of lifestyle. To claim that these are the only ingredients that made the NBD such a large scale success is very hard, because the amount of interactions and actions made on the Web is huge ed not totally verifiable; even tought we may affirm with relative certainty that the spontaneity, the condivision, the simplicity, the relatively small material effort, the clarity of intent, the popular acclamation and the daily presence have been distinctive elements. Is to be noted that, in fact, the influence model spontaneously created in the purple movement is in armony with what proposed by Heiderich (Influence on The Internet 2009)18, who propose a series of suggestions for the development of a strategy to use the web to convey a specific idea about a given argument as: controlling the agenda, calling in, attracting people’s attention, summerizing, legitimazing, infering, giving some credit, facilitating, let it go. Each one of these activities, as we have seen, were very present in the months before the NBD. The heterogeneous, chaotic and fluid structure of the Web may let someone to believe of the inefficacy of any attempt to influence it. But “[..] reality however seems to demonstrate the opposite and to have confirmation of that it’s enought to see where, in the awful (of awesome) chaos of the Internet, strange phenomenon of attraction have happened, as in the Google case, appeared when the game seemd to be mostly about search engines. Or in the Facebook case. Or, again, in the case of the frenzy around the web 2.0 concept. Thus it’s possible to use the Internet to exert influence and this happens trought different steps associated to specific principle.” (Heiderich 2009). La politica contro la rete The regulatory framework that rules the usage of the Internet in Italy is a controversial matter and object of debate. The maturity of the Web during the last ten years grew up considerably and the same timeframe war basically caracterized by Berlusconi governments, namely governments of the owner of Mediaset television group and the most influent politician over the managment of the public television (RAI).

D. Heiderich, 2009, Influence on The Internet, l’Observatoire Publié par l’Observatoire International des Crises.

In this context it’s clear that the development of the Internet undermines the mediatic hegemony characterized by the televisions and the press, and this issue is also related to the polemics about the conflict of interests, very harsh in Italy. Berlusconi’s government credibility about the logic used to legislate on the Internet received a violent hit when Wikileaks19 published the cablegram20 about the Romani decree21: given what reported, the USA embassador considered the decree a system to favor Mediaset over his competitor and a dangerous record for countries like China that could justify their attacks towards the freedom of expression. Apart from these considerations, in Italy the last ten years of parliamentary work didn’t promote the spread of the Web. It’s enough to think about the attempt to equalize websites to national newspaper (DDL Intercettazioni22) and Web streaming to traditional television channels (Decreto Romani);23 it’s also possible to think about the obstacles created by the Pisanu decree and by ddl Carlucci that in practice force who sullies a public hot spot to whithstand expensive practice to gather and conserve personal and traffic data of the users. A hallmark of the Internet is its ability to comactly respond to repressions or simply to external obstacles that can stop the development. This is demonstrated by the initiative promoted by "Diritto alla Rete"24 (July 14, 2009), or a bloggers’ strike against: “the every day political will to crush the Net as a free sharing tool of information and knowledge”. 25


WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organization that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources, news leaks, and whistleblowers. Its website, launched in 2006 under The Sunshine Press organization, claimed a database of more than 1.2 million documents within a year of its launch. WikiLeaks describes its founders as a mix of Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the United States, Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist, is generally described as its director. The site was originally launched as a user-editable wiki (hence its name), but has progressively moved towards a more traditional publication model and no longer accepts either user comments or edits. (Source: Wikipedia) 20 Wikileaks’ cablegram published by Repubblica.it, http://racconta.repubblica.it/wikileakscablegate/dettaglio.php?id=10ROME125&ref=HRER1-1 21 Implements   an   EU   directive   that   looks   toward   the   harmony   of   the   digital   content   market,   affecting   the   production   of   online   audio   and   video,   the   copyright,   the   defamation   and   the   ISP’s   role.  In  a  first  draft  it  seemed  to  introduce  a  compulsory  registration  for  producers  of  video  and   live  video  on  the  web  even  if  amateur.  The  final  text,  even  not  being  clear  about  the  difference   between   internet   and   tv   content,   excludes   from   this   formal   obbligations   blogs   and   online   newspaper  that  public  video  for  an  informative  purpose.  (fonte  Apogeonline) 22 Disegno di legge C.1415 (Ddl intercettazioni)

Schema di decreto legislativo recante attuazione della direttiva 2007/65/CE

http://dirittoallarete.ning.com/ 25 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV15Mgg6t7Q  

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