Piracy and Conferences in Istanbul: An Interview with a Turkish Pirate

Piracy and Conferences in Istanbul: An Interview with a Turkish Pirate

Earlier this year Pirate Parties International arranged it’s first conference other than the General Assemblies. The conference was called Think Twice and took place in Frankfurt am Main, Germany on 22th – 23th February 2014. The concept of the conference was to “bridge Pirates, NGO’s and Academics”. The last Think Twice conference attracted mostly pirates but was an important meeting point for increasing international collaboration between pirates.

The next version of Think Twice will be intertwined with the academic world in an immersive way and be held in Turkey 30th – 31th August. This date is strategically set to allow people to also participate in the Internet Governance Forum, also in Istanbul, that takes place a few days later. 

We spoke with Arif Yildirim, one of the main organizers for PPI’s second conference that focuses on mixing academia and Pirates.

Pirate Times: Could you tell us a bit about yourself? Who are you?
Arif: Well I am officially working as an Assistant Professor holding a PhD about Informatics, researching about netieval age. I’m also Head of the Departments of “Journalism” and “Communication Informatics”, above all a computer user since 1991 and also an internet citizen since 1995.

Pirate Times: Why did you become a pirate?
Arif: Mostly I am a scientist, [a sort of] pirate to humankind. Piracy was not invented by the computer age, but rather with the creation of information by the humanity. Piracy is arguably a social insurance through horizontalization of power systems that otherwise enact on information. Seen in this light, piracy is a method to examine the contemporary culture in the digital age where information is co-produced in distributed locales, and where [we] see not only proliferation of information but also the locales that embody it.

Pirate Times: How bad is the censorship in Turkey? Are people complaining or just accepting it?
Arif: It’s bad. Same as, and as wild as, in other Western Countries. Censorship is not just an issue for my country, it’s all our [responsibility] and the reason we are living in a censored world is [because] the authorities still have a 20th century mind and try to keep internet in their hands. We should redefine every ‘construction’ that made us. Censorship in Turkey is always an issue, and of course Turkish people are mostly complaining about it [instead of acting]. We should tell the authorities that internet isn’t a tool for totalitarianism. Now the Turkish authority has a programme called NetClean, made by Sweden.

Pirate Times: When is the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and why is it important?
Arif: The Ninth Annual IGF Meeting will be held in Istanbul, Turkey on 2-5 September 2014. The overarching theme for the meeting is: “Connecting Continents for Enhanced Multistakeholder Internet Governance”. Well it’s important to realize and to define the governance concept. It should not place internet under one authority, it’s a living place for people of the planet and should be authorized by the people.

Pirate Times: Why should pirates attend IGF?
Arif: Why shouldn’t we? The Pirate Party is a political party/movement that wants to have information free from the authorities. Since governance and the concepts of freedom will be discussed during the IGF, pirates should join to avoid hegemonic policies from other political parties being the only answer.

Pirate Times: Tell us more about the Think Twice 2, 2014 Conference (TT214) that takes place just before IGF starts?
Arif: TT214 is a conference by PPI and Istanbul Commerce University and focused on 3 main themes: Creativity, Human Rights and Activism-Hacktivism. TT214 is arranged before IGF and will be held on 30-31 August in Istanbul. This is the second TT but it’s the first TT Conference that have a meritorious international academic board behind it. TT214 is an effort to combine academy (and other NGOs) with Pirates.

Pirate Times: Was it hard to convince the Istanbul Commerce University to arrange TT214 or were they enthusiastic about it?
Arif: Well actually it wasn’t hard to convince them to arrange TT214 in their campus. The themes of TT214 are the study subjects for the university as well and also they support international events such as the TT214. Convincing pirates to connect with academia is really hard and also convincing academics to work with pirates. Both of the groups have some prejudgements.

Pirate Times: How many participants are you expecting?
Arif: I can not give an exact number but we are expecting enough participants. Julia Reda, Member of the European Parliament for the Pirate Party Germany, will have a speech about Copyright Reform on Sunday, August 31. Our call for papers is open until July 28 so anybody can still submit their papers to TT214. We are also going to publish a Proceedings Book titled ‘Proceedings of ThinkTwice2, Istanbul 2014’ with ISSN numbers for both printed and online editions. Printed edition are sponsored by the software company ‘GabarSoft’ in Turkey.

Pirate Times: We previously wrote about TT214 looking for speakers. What should a speaker suggestion and paper contain?
Arif: TT214 is a professional academic conference and has basic guidelines for the submissions. Speakers should even submit their abstracts. The proceedings book will have both abstracts and full papers in different main chapters. The book will be published in 500 copies, that should be sent to PPI, the academic board, speakers, participants, some university libraries and also Pirate Party HQ’s.

Pirate Times: Have you received any papers yet?
Arif: So far we have got 4 submissions:

  • Creating a knowledge architecture for socio-economic policy generation.
  • Commercial threats to financial independence – and what to do with them
  • Security Nightmares for Journalists
  • Julia Reda’s Copyright Reform.

Pirate Times: What are your hopes and expectations for the conference?
Arif: We have got 8 days until the end of our call for papers. Our expectations is to reach pirates, academics and NGO’s to participate at TT214. It will be a good discussion platform before IGF.

Pirate Times: Thanks a lot for the interview and we hope to see many pirates, as well as academia, at the TT214 conference!

Featured image: Copyright Arif Yildirim, used with permission