Watch the full talks from this session below.

One of the foundational values of the Internet was being a space for the different – a place of rich cultural diversity where the whimsical and obscure were celebrated and you could experiment with your identity without fear of being stigmatised. It may seem that the web is no longer what it used to be – that social media and centralisation brought along with it cultural homogeneity, online bullying and prejudice. But in the heart of the Internet, the weird and wonderful is still pulsating – and we want to celebrate it.

Hosted by researcher Farida Vis, this session looks at the weird and wonderful narratives of technology, where artists are provoking reactions to the hidden structures around us, and how to make a meme into an international festival.

What do we want from the internet? Writer Joanne McNeil talks on creating, and allowing for necessary space in which to find a community online. Showing where the internet has allowed a means of self-expression, Joanne interrogates the ability for it to allow people to disappear, to remain anonymous, and find space online where they can find safety. Where do current power structures online seek to destroy this, and where do we risk losing culture by ignoring the communities some seek to suppress?

Where do magical analogies do more harm than good, and where can they be helpful? Artist Matthew Plummer-Fernandez discusses where the way we talk about technology isn’t so black and white, existing somewhere between fantasy, fiction, and reality. Warning us against the role that the practitioner could take as the alarmist, Matthew shows where his work has sought to play with the weird and the uncanny parts of technology to realise new narratives.

As a conceptual digital artist, Paolo Cirio’s work seeks to provoke reactions that unveil the hidden systems and struggles in information society, challenging existing online power structures consisting of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and many others. By initiating projects such as Daily Paywall – lifting thousands of pay-to-read articles from international news outlets – Paolo discusses the need for democratic access to information, challenging the current model of media publishing and consumption.

Following their talks, Farida Vis led a discussion with Joanne McNeil, Paolo Cirio and Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, asking how do we translate algorithmic mediation into something that makes sense, what does this exposing do, what language can we use if not metaphor?

Our final destination was the weirdest and most wonderful film festival that has its roots placed firmly in the Internet. It is, of course, The Internet Cat Video Festival. Scott Stulen, who founded it in 2012, will bring us the jewels of their collection, and talk on turning online memes into a means to bring thousands together.