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Announcing Standing – an app for playful activism

Standing

Today we are making Standing available for iPhone. Standing is an app for playful activism, which we have been working on intermittently since we first announced it back in August 2013. We are pleased to have it out there and are excited to see what people will do with it.

With Standing, you can stand still for a cause of your choosing in whatever place you feel is suitable. The app records how long and where you are standing and shares it live on the accompanying website. Once you have finished, it is turned into a lasting record, which you can share as proof of your commitment to the cause.

Standing

The project was inspired by the standing wo/man protests, which were initiated by Erdem Gündüz on 17 June 2013 by standing in Taksim Square in Turkey. The topic of ludic resistance has been a long-lasting interest of ours and after much speaking and writing on the subject we felt the need to make something that directly contributed to it. Seeing the act of standing being used as an effective way of civil disobedience delighted us and we felt it served as a perfect starting point.

Hashtags, posts and photos of the people standing in Turkey easily found their way online. It had a very meme-like quality. We wanted to extend the act of standing even further by creating an app that would track the location and duration in real time.

Standing

Nonviolent civil disobedience can contribute to change and has done so in the past. A well-known example would be the 1960 Nashville sit-ins. Today, the relationship of contemporary tech culture with activism is many-faced. Websites and apps have become the forefront of government and corporate persuasion. We are interested in using this vernacular for playful resistance.

More practically, and perhaps more importantly, we think Standing sits in between the frictionless, and therefore almost meaningless act of signing an online petition and participating in a physical protest which can be intimidating, challenging or even dangerous. Standing is a distributed, asynchronous way to playfully and nonviolently express that you really do care about a cause.

Although earnestly intended as a thing people can actually use to express themselves, the irony of using an app to “solve” the “problem” of activism is not lost on us. We are fully aware of and sympathetic towards the arguments against “solutionism” as articulated by Morozov and others. This project is a way for us to comment on the same phenomenon, by playfully appropriating the “medium” of the app for non-instrumental purposes.

Get Standing in the Apple App Store. Meanwhile, we intend to develop both the app and the website further. They are both still in an early, experimental stage. Regardless, we do hope you enjoy using it to stand for a cause, and look forward to hearing any feedback you may have.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted May 22, 2014 at 11:26 | Permalink

    I like it. Reminds me of the saying ‘Don’t just do something, stand there!’ Wish I could stand on Android…

  2. Kars
    Posted May 22, 2014 at 12:56 | Permalink

    Thanks Sylvan. Great minds think alike!

  3. Kars
    Posted May 22, 2014 at 12:57 | Permalink

    We would love to support Android, but doing things with motion on it is kind of a challenge.

  4. Posted May 30, 2014 at 18:30 | Permalink

    Looks good, but it does seem vulnerable to accusations of both solutionism and net delusion (Morozov’s previous book on cyber-utopianism). How does the app escape this, or comment on it? What if duration were in hours instead of seconds? Isn’t activism defined by friction?

  5. Alper
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 17:14 | Permalink

    @bernard: Activism isn’t necessarily defined by friction but Standing does generate more friction than your standard clicktivism.

    Other than that, we mention Morozov above for exactly that reason and we think this approach is not instrumentalized exactly because it is playful.