“If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world”*…
Having a citizenship means that you have a place in the world, an allegiance to a state. That state is supposed to guarantee you certain rights, like freedom from arrest, imprisonment, torture, or surveillance – depending on which state you belong to. Hannah Arendt famously said that “citizenship is the right to have rights”. To tamper with ones citizenship is to endanger ones most fundamental rights. Without citizenship, we have no rights at all.
Algorithmic Citizenship is a form of citizenship which is not assigned at birth, or through complex legal documents, but through data. Like other computerised processes, it can happen at the speed of light, and it can happen over and over again, constantly revising and recalculating. It can split a single citizenship into an infinite number of sub-citizenships, and count and weight them over time to produce combinations of affiliations to different states.
Citizen Ex calculates your Algorithmic Citizenship based on where you go online. Every site you visit is counted as evidence of your affiliation to a particular place, and added to your constantly revised Algorithmic Citizenship. Because the internet is everywhere, you can go anywhere – but because the internet is real, this also has consequences…
Citizen Ex, co-commissioned by The Space and created for Southbank Centre’s Web We Want festival, allows one to explore what citizenship might mean in an ever more wired world. Pledge allegiance at “Algorithmic Citizenship.”
* Francis Bacon
As we hurry home, we might recall that it was on this date in 1801 that the American Company of Booksellers, one of the first trade associations of booksellers in the U.S., was formed. The ACB lasted only four years, before rattling apart amidst members’ accusations of unfair competition against each other. Several other such attempts were similarly stillborn over the 19th century– until 1900, when the American Booksellers Association was founded.