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Why the internet is a reflection of our humanity

Features

Published by:

26 April 2018

Author: Daniela Walker

Image: LaTurbo Avedon

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We spoke with Andrés Colmenares, co-founder of Internet Age Media, about what to look forward to at the forthcoming IAM Weekend 18.

 

What is IAM Weekend and how has it changed over the past couple of years?

IAM Weekend is an annual meeting point for curious minds designed to explore, understand and experiment collectively with ‘the futures of everything’, connecting topics from work, automation and identity to fashion, food and sex. Every year we define a conceptual research theme that frames the curation of emerging perspectives that shape talks, panels, workshops and creative collaborations.

Beyond the three-day experience in Barcelona, year after year we have cultivated an eclectic family around it, the manifestation of how we like to understand the internet, as a network of networks of people. Between each event we launch creative partnerships with institutions, publications and companies where members collaborate, transforming the key insights from the event into projects, initiatives and content.

Since the first edition in 2015, IAM Weekend has evolved from a celebration of the randomness of internet cultures to an inclusive think/do tank addressing topics such as power, privacy and reality, with a strong philosophical framework to cultivate more critical, planetary and long-term thinking, saying and doing

Why did you choose the theme Subversion of Paradoxes? What does that mean?

Every year we define the next annual theme around the dates of the event. We just defined the theme for 2019, which will be announced next weekend, above all as a provocation rather than a prediction. When we decided to explore more deeply the juxtaposition of these concepts, Subversion and Paradoxes, we were interested in the contradictions emerging from big issues such as the climate change crisis or political nightmares such as Trump or Brexit, and found in paradoxes a powerful tool to deal with such complicated realities. Month after month, as the events unfolded, the idea of subverting paradoxes became clearer and more relevant. We started to identify fascinating paradoxes embedded in media narratives, and discovered individual and collective subversions, mostly from artists. Another key aspect of the conceptual theme is to leave it open and provocative. Rather than aiming to reach conclusions and predictions, we are trying to create tools for better understanding and framing questions that allow us to navigate complex realities.

IAM Weekend 18: The Subversion of Paradoxes
If more people start thinking of the internet as cultures, as a reflection of what we are as humans, for better or worse, we’ll gain collective empowerment and balance better how power is concentrated in a few corporations and people.

Can you explain IAM’s manifesto and why it is important to think of the internet as culture?

Our manifesto is a tool to define and share the key principles and values of IAM. We published it some months after doing the first IAM Weekend in 2015, and embedded key ideas that emerge from gathering diverse perspectives in the same time and space to reflect on a big question: WTF is the internet? In a way it is a collective output from that first conference, but also a declaration of intentions and the materialisation of the purpose of IAM as a platform. It has seven simple yet ample principles designed to understand and embrace the internet as something that goes beyond technology or social media or memes.

We believe that if more people start thinking of the internet as cultures, as a reflection of what we are as humans, for better or worse, we’ll gain collective empowerment and balance better how power is concentrated in a few corporations and people. Just as humans invented the printing press and literature became a universal tool of expression and shared knowledge, we believe that this relatively young set of networks, devices and behaviour we now call the internet can become a universal meta-tool, where better tools of understanding, expression and reflection can emerge. We need to understand the internet as cultures, in plural – always in plural.

What talks and speakers are you most excited about this year?

As curators, this is a very difficult question to answer. Personally, I am mostly excited about the 300 or more attendees coming from around the globe, different professional backgrounds and overall curious minds. The speaker line-up is a reflection of that. We will have LaTurbo Avedon, an avatar artist and curator; Audrey Tang, a digital minister; Ingrid LaFleur, a former candidate for mayor of Detroit; the Feminist Internet collective, and 20 more perspectives. At the end what excites me is what will happen when all of us share the same time and space for three days, because in randomness we trust.

What do you hope people take away from IAM weekend?

A deep, strong and timeless desire to be yourself, to become a critical optimist, being hopeful about futures while actively aware of our privileges and with a better understanding of realities. People will take away better questions, but overall, more than what they take away, they will join a family. The IAM Weekend is just a starting point, where the journey begins and a healthy randomness is cultivated and celebrated, and where we can subvert the idea of being alone, together.

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