This week's editor

Heather McRobie

Heather McRobie is an editor at 5050.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Stand in solidarity with the struggle of the Greek people

I ask you to stand in solidarity with the just struggle of the Greek people, which is also the struggle of every citizen. Our people have been asked to go hungry to bail out debts created by a wealthy minority, not just in the country but internationally.

Cuba + internet = democracia (?)

Muchos piensan que internet es la clave para establecer una democracia liberal capitalista en Cuba. Pero ésta es una visión simplista y determinista. English.

Cuba + internet = democracy (?)

Many people think the internet holds the key to establishing a liberal capitalist democracy in Cuba. But this view is simplistic and deterministic. Español

The BBC, the licence fee and the digital public space

The Controller of the BBC’s archive strategy maintains the institution’s fundamental role within the media ecology and argues that the Licence Fee should safeguard a new democratic digital public space.

Defending human rights in a digital age

Public Debate: Defending human rights in a digital age is being livestreamed from Goldsmiths media and communications department, University of London at 5.30.pm GMT this evening. Read more.

Mass surveillance: wrong in practice as well as principle

The paradox of mass state surveillance, as the answer to non-state violence, is that it can overlook the intelligence targeted law enforcement finds and render critical infrastructures vulnerable—never mind threatening fundamental freedoms.

Will the democratic debate over counterrorism gain the edge in battle?

It is our role, as citizens, to scrutinise measures taken in the name of our security and ask, once and for all, for evidenced-based policies: there are no such things as depoliticised and neutral counter-terrorism strategies.

Please mind the datachasm

They began to interpret things like him leaving the house without his mobile phone as indications that their suspicions were correct. Welcome to one half of the datachasm. Sleep safe.

Charlie Hebdo: stop pointing fingers and drop the reductive approach

It is time everyone stopped intentionally misinforming audiences with uninformed rudimentary analyses.

‘Prevent’ in education within Hampshire

Prevent, a counter-terrorism programme, is a success in Portsmouth, where delivery took the significance of identity for young people into account. It can’t deal with events which can’t be prevented.

Charlie Hebdo: Free speech, but not as an absolute value

Debates over what limits to free speech are acceptable are entirely valid – whether or not we approve of Charlie Hebdo images, or their mass republication on numerous websites this week. 

Russians resisting war and repression

There are segments of the Russian population that, even in a politically inclement environment, bravely voice their open opposition to Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine.

Can Facebook damage your mental health?

Studies are starting to reveal how social media are changing our lives—for better and for worse.

Consciousness in the age of digital dystopia

Now we are still in the honeymoon phase of the internet, but we must ensure that we do not let the internet become another arm of tyranny. 

Brazil doubles down on cyber security



The out-sized military response risks compromising citizens’ fundamental rights. If Brazil is to build a cyber security system fit for purpose, an informed debate is imperative.

Physical space and ‘Occupy’ tactics: a new trend in civil resistance?

Does the term ‘occupation’ delegitimize movements by casting participants as short-term guests, instead of representatives communicating grievances held by a wider society within a public forum that is theirs?

Beyond clicktivism

Gary Alexander’s new book eGaia examines how digital technology could be used to create much deeper changes in society.

Cyber conflict and psychological IR perspectives

As cyber attacks and cyber terrorism become more prevalent, overreaction and conflict escalation must be avoided. But these things are harder to prevent through computers.

Thoughts on autonomous weapons systems and meaningful human control of cyber

In cyber, borders, states, agencies – the traditional ways of organising international cooperation and communication no longer count. In cyber, everybody is a potential adversary.

The cooling wars of cyber space in a remote era

Hyperbolic language used to describe the potential consequences of cyber attacks has contributed to the ‘securitisation’ of the debate around cyber security issues. Increased transparency and accurate information is essential.

From the few to the many: swarm economics

With 3D printing, the distributed production economy can alleviate structural imbalances, injustices and diseconomies, if we manage with foresight.

Let’s get real about the transformation of society: can you email me directions?

Following activists on twitter is easier than following them to jail. Why can’t we do both?

Social networks in Syria: between mediation and mobilisation

We still misunderstand the roles Facebook and Twitter play in how the uprisings across the Arab world began and continue to develop.

The most important thing you‘ve never heard of

Introducing a secret trade deal which could affect everything from healthcare to banks to the air we breathe. Plus: find out what we're not being told about Ebola.

The Islamic State and radicalisation: the need for informed opinion and proportion

Tough grandstanding, as when London Mayor Boris Johnson called for the reversal of the legal presumption of innocence when Britons are caught travelling to Iraq and Syria, is dangerous and counter-productive.

The Snowden reboot

On working with Edward Snowden, and how he changed the way we view our world. Interview.

A lesson for the Dalai Lama

There is undeniably a great difference in cultural values between Tibetan Buddhists who grew up within their community in India and the western converts who were raised with liberal western values. But this is no longer the end of the story.

Open protocols and open people: preserving the transformational potential of social media

People are the most valuable thing on the internet, so the power to connect, share and work together shouldn’t be curbed by companies who exploit us for monetary value while limiting the flow of information.

Six ways to bring more empathy to the internet

How can web users promote more empathetic interaction online? This is the fifth installment in our series on social media and social transformation. 

Small steps, big changes: how social media contribute to social transformation

Social media facilitate differing degrees of involvement in political action, helping more people to take small steps as part of a larger movement: the fourth piece in our series on social media and the transformation of society.

The war with images

Social and political militants have all now transformed into marketing activists as they struggle to find ways to convince the public that the Palestinian cause is righteous.

Democratic dreams and political reality in Europe

A report on European attitudes to democracy, backed up by data from the European Social Survey, is launched today to mark the UN day for democracy. The main message for the political class is that an increasingly qualified and demanding public opinion does not deserve to be administered from above.

Why we can’t trust current analysis of the Islamic State

The rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq has taken everyone in the west by surprise, resulting in a frenzy of speculation as we try to piece together a number of complicated factors and events. We first have to recognise how our understanding is shaped by a sensationalist, alarmist and sound-bite obsessed media.

What I learned from going cold turkey on technology

After I developed RSI, the use of social media led to crippling pain which forced me to confront my compulsion to react. What would life be like if everyone thought twice? 

News credibility in an age of stakeholder media

Are reporters mere adjuncts of power and spies? That is how ISIS treated the martyred journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. To this day, the failure of the American news industry to expose the Bush administration’s WMD myths before the invasion of Iraq is thrown in our faces.

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