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In the academic world, the conflict between research institutions and publishers about the latter’s reluctance to embrace open access strategies has been looming for years. While the Internet makes distribution of research much cheaper and easier, subscription fees for the most important journals kept rising. Already in 2009, the MIT Faculty had unanimously adopted a university-wide Open Access rule (“Universities as Copyright Regulators: Power and Example“). In 2012, we can finally observe open battles on the issue.

Reading Room at Harvard (Faolin42, CC-BY)

After earlier this year more than 10.000 researchers had joined the boycott of Elsevier (see also “Elsevier Withdraws Support for Research Works Act, Continues Fight Against Open Access“), last week Harvard University issued an official “Memorandum on Journal Pricing“. After criticizing the “untenable situation” that “many large journal publishers have made the scholarly communication environment fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive”, the memorandum suggests the following 9 points to faculty and students (F) and the Library (L): Read the rest of this entry »

This is the third and final part of a small series of blog posts presenting the empirical findings of a study about the Pirate Party movement, which Leonhard and I carried out in January 2012. In particular, we aimed at exploring the transnational context of the German pirate party.  Previous posts dealt with the State of the Pirate Party Movement and Issues and Campaigning. This time we are dealing with local organizational ties of Pirate Parties.

Local embeddedness of Pirate Parties is not only important in terms of issues and campaigning but also with respect to (inter-)organizational relations. In our brief survey, almost every registered Pirate Party (13 of 14) reported ties to partner organizations at the local or regional level. Together with lower barriers to entry in local representative bodies, this localization strategy also tends to result in better election results at lower political levels (see Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1: Average election result in % of registered Pirate Parties by level (2006 – 2011)

Sources: http://www.kommunalpiraten.de/ ; http://wiki.pp-international.net/Main_Page [retrieved Feb. 10, 2012]

Figure 2: Number of elected officials by level (2006 – 2011)

Sources: http://www.kommunalpiraten.de/ ; http://wiki.pp-international.net/Main_Page [retrieved Feb. 10, 2012]

In addition to the development of local branches, the sampled parties mostly operate within a local network of organizational supporters and partners. The majority of registered parties named local branches of active NGOs, including organizations operating transnationally such as Wikimedia and the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as local activist groups as well as think tanks (see Figure 3). Read the rest of this entry »

Last week we started a small series of blog posts presenting our empirical findings of a study about the Pirate Party movement which Leonhard and I carried out in January 2012 (see “Transnational Pirates #1“). In particular we aimed at exploring the transnational context of the German pirate party. We understand transnationality as the combination of practices of actors who are simultaneously engaged in a global context and local network.

We operationalized the local context of Pirate Parties in three dimensions: the local roots of issues, the (inter-)organizational embeddedness in the local, and related to the latter the participation in elections (we will come back to that in Part 3 of the series). We intended to reveal how the parties build on various local opportunity structures and adapt to different local conditions. The following analysis focuses on our sample of 14 officially registered Pirate Parties.

The integration into both a global and a specific local network can be shown in terms of themes and issues pursued by the respective Pirate Parties. Asking for the rationale for establishing a national Pirate Party in the first place paints a rather consistent picture. While this was an open question, all 14 registered parties only refered to four main objectives:

  1. Pursuit of themes of the global Pirate Party movement in their respective countries (8)
  2. Transformation of political structures, towards more transparency and participation (8)
  3. To live up to earlier success and attention of Pirate Parties (7)
  4. To tie on concrete political issues in their respective countries (6)

Read the rest of this entry »

As Leonhard has written on this blog some days ago, the recent success of the Pirate Party in the Saarland state election in Germany is remarkable. The Pirates received 7,4 percent of the votes right from the start. Just days after the election, the party has even raised its acceptance on the federal level. Current opinion polls count them at 12 percent among German voters.

In addtion to its success in regional elections, the German Pirate Party also consciously operates within a transnational context. The transnational perspective of the German pirates can be illustrated with a recent statement of Bernd Schlömer, vice chair of Pirate Party Germany, who points out that his party is part of a global movement. This movement, Schlömer added, might help to develop international positions, for example, on Foreign Affairs and Security Policies issues, which then could be brought back into national politics.

This recent example illustrates the two perspectives of the transnational context of the Pirate Party movement, which Leonhard and I aimed to further examine in a study pursued in January 2012, which will appear as a book chapter in the German edited volume “Unter Piraten“.

We would like to present our empirical findings in three short posts, starting with a general description of the project, the data collection and first results concerning the state of the global Pirate Party movement. We will then move on to post #2 on Issues and Campaigning and post #3 on Global Movement and Local Networks. Read the rest of this entry »

Last weekend the board of the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization behind the free onlince encyclopedia Wikipedia, met in Berlin to decide on recommendations for restructuring (see “Wikimedia Governance: Showdown on the Board” and “Redrawing the Borders of Wikimedia Governance“). Three important things happened at and around the board meeting.

First, Wikimedia executive director Sue Gardner’s recommendation to centralize fundraising and funds dissemination was largely followed. Only four local Wikimedia chapter organizations – Germany, France, UK and Switzerland – will be allowed to process donations on their own when received via the main Wikimedia project pages such as Wikipedia language versions. A new funds dissemination committee (FDC) will decide on how the funds will be distributed and the whole process will be evaluated in 2015.

Second and probably more importantly, the Wikimedia foundation increases the diversity of potential models of affiliation, previously discussed under the label “movement roles”: Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
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