Heather Marsh, Cuba, 2016
|Occupation||Author, Software Developer, Human Rights|
|Known for||Technology and philosophy around mass collaboration|
|Notable work||Binding Chaos, Autonomy, Diversity, Society|
Heather Marsh is a human rights and internet activist, programmer and philosopher. She is the author of Binding Chaos, a study of methods of mass collaboration and the founder of Getgee, a project to create a global data commons and trust network.
She gives talks about mass collaboration, democracy, economy and other societal issues. She has spoken about Getgee and the need for a global data commons at various software conferences. She gave a keynote speech on approval economy at the Alternate G8 summit in 2013. She was invited to the 2012 Berlin Biennale as part of their Occupy art exhibition. She represented the Berlin Biennale hackathon at the World Free Media Forum in Rio in June 2012. As a journalist, she has written articles and given many interviews to mainstream media and from 2010 to 2012 she was the sole editor and administrator for the Wikileaks sponsored news site, Wikileaks Central. As an activist, she has started many very successful human rights campaigns.
She has been primarily associated with political theories which relate to horizontal collaboration such as approval economy, stigmergy as a system of mass collaboration, and concentric circles with knowledge bridges for epistemic communities. She has also written a great deal about global power structures and what she sees as the "ponzi schemes" of power, celebrity and wealth, how they are created and upheld and the roles which contribute to oligarchy. She advocates governance by user group and local autonomy supported by international networks and research and information provided by open epistemic communities. She advocates an economy based on societal approval and calls for a rejection of the trade economy. She calls the transition from social approval to currency a form of dissociation which removed societal inter-dependence and discourages collaboration.
She has advocated for both transparency for actions and organizations that affect the public and privacy for individuals. She is against control and ownership of knowledge by copyrights and patents but writes "Privacy and ownership of personal stories are closely related to human dignity" and credit (although not ownership) for ideas and intellectual labour is essential in an approval economy.
Internet and Journalism
Since 2015 she has been working to initiate a global data commons project with Getgee, a universal database and trust network. Getgee seeks to allow global collaboration on research and information without control by a specific platform. This is a continuation of her earlier viral project called the Global Square. and a continuation of years of writing about mass communication including open journalism and scientific and academic research.
Her own journalism has covered investigations of leaked material and individual human rights cases as well as breaking coverage of global events. In one unpublished interview with Guantanamo defence attorney Dennis Edney, the two discuss blackmail attempts of witnesses by the FBI and the possibility that Omar Khadr's plea deal was signed without legal counsel. The interview was subsequently leaked to Cryptome. The interview discusses the delaying of publication until after Edney returns from Guantanamo; when he returned from Guantanamo he was fired from the case and forbidden to speak of it.
As both a journalist and a media critic, she has often combined the two in articles such as The Guardian: Redacting, Censoring or Lying?, (the topic of an interview between Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and Julian Assange in the documentary Mediastan), Toronto Star Coverage of Omar Khadr since his trial week and Zimbabwe election, Reuters and the troll who accidentally won the Internet.
She has been active in freedom of information, anti-poverty, justice related cases and all forms of 'human dignity' as well as advocating for individual rights ahead of all systems of governance. She has been associated with Guantanamo activism, primarily for Canadian POW Omar Khadr, and Anonymous activity, particularly human rights issues. She has reported and campaigned extensively against human trafficking and violations committed by global resource corporations.
She has written extensively on her activism including investigative reports and interviews on Canadian juvenile Omar Khadr, one of the youngest prisoners of Guantanamo Bay. Her popular blog is well-received globally. She is the national spokesperson for the Free Omar Khadr group in Canada, spending her time writing, speaking, advocating for Omar's release. One of her most recent interviews were published in The Diplomat related to her work about Omar Khadr.
She wrote the first English media articles about Abdulelah Haider Shaye, a Yemeni journalist ordered imprisoned by Obama, a year and a half before any report appeared in the US. She brought global awareness to topics such as the Rohingya genocide in Burma and ritual killings in Gabon as well as many other individual and group cases through both activism and journalism.
She began a research project to map connections between the people behind resource corporations, militias, spies and prisons in response to a fracking protest in New Brunswick. This became opCanary which seeks to form alliances between local groups fighting the same multinational resource corporations. She started the OpDeathEaters campaign to inform the public of high level complicity in the human trafficking and 'paedosadism' industries with a goal of independent inquiries to investigate and a change in public discourse around these crimes. Her opGabon and opDeatheaters campaigns were the subject of a book, Crime, Justice and Social Media by Australian criminologist Michael Salter which asked "How is social media changing contemporary understandings of crime and injustice, and what contribution can it make to justice-seeking?" and featured extensive interviews with her.
She started Gaza Rebirth, "a new paradigm for recovery activism" to establish direct aid to Gaza in 2014 and "to start a dialogue about this cycle of destruction and ‘rebuilding’ where corporate empires are feeding off real human torment as a growth industry to enrich themselves." She has frequently called for the decentralization of NGOs which she considers part of the "systems of dissociation" which stand between people and prevent creation of healthy society.
WikiLeaks, Anonymous, Occupy and more
In 2010 she became administrator, editor in chief and domain holder for the Wikileaks sponsored news site Wikileaks Central. As editor/administrator of WL Central, she created a community for 70+ activists around the world to provide a new hard news organization, covering only "the news people require in order to govern themselves". She used WL Central to tie Wikileaks releases to current events and advocate for social change under the slogan "News, analysis, action." The Action section contained protest calendars, petitions, and information for activists. The site published in 16 languages and protests were listed for over one hundred countries.
WL Central rapidly became an internationally very widely read news site, broke several important stories such as the secret CIA prisons in Poland and provided the most in depth coverage of many uprisings. Influential net critic Geert Lovink called WL Central the fourth website he visits every day: "WL Central turned into an alternative news aggregator and a kind of alternative CNN a.k.a. follow-up of Indymedia in the good old days of 2000-2001. it’s gone down a bit but still can up with amazing stories from its own correspondents. WL Central shows what the Web is capable of doing beyond the 140 characters of Twitter and the informal chit-chat on Facebook."
She resigned as editor in chief, administrator and domain holder of Wikileaks Central on March 8, 2012.
She used the media attention on Wikileaks from 2010 to 2012 to shine light on human rights and transparency issues and support activist movements around the world. Some of those groups were the South Korean Hope Riders, the North African Day of Rages, the Chinese Jasmine revolution, the Spanish Indignados/Take the Square/15M movement and the Occupy movement. She wrote the first article referencing what became the US Occupy movement on the day it started, March 10, 2011, and covered many other day of rages within hours of their beginnings. A Canadian activist, she created Take the Square Canada in association with the Spanish movement.
She has received frequent international support from Anonymous for her human rights campaigns since 2010 and she calls them “old friends”. She has referenced them as a method of collaboration, not a movement or group, and says the method they use is stigmergy. She says Anonymous follows ideas and actions instead of personalities, a form of organization she recommends for mass movements.
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