First of all I would like to thank Prof. Donatella della Porta, who was more than a supervisor, but a reference for me on the intellectual, organizational, moral and personal levels. I feel great gratitude to her, first for selecting me and my research project to enter the European University Institute (EUI), and then, for her wise and warm company over the years of this Phd research. I thank her for her “trusting supervision”: always being there calm, natural, sunny, and responding promptly to my requests, but at the same time smoothly and respectfully leaving the decisions and the research ultimately to me. I would also like to thank the company and support of the big family around Prof. Donatella della Porta at the EUI. The community of social movement specialists that she has created is of great value. In particular, I want to thank Massimiliano Andretta, Lorenzo Mosca (for his key help and encouragement when applying to the EUI), Alice Mattoni, Stefania Milan, Nicola Doerr, Szabina Kerényi, Manuela Caiani, Daniela Piccio, Javier Alcalde, Andrea Calderaro, Federico Rossi, Grzegorz Piotrowski, Sophie Bossy, Matteo Cernison, Catriona Roberts, Herbert Reiter, Mario Pianta, Davide Calenda, among many others. They have not only been a referential source for this research, but have also become friends, to all of them I feel joy and gratitude.

I also thank my Jury for the company, suggestions and comments for the improvement of this thesis; but also for being special in doing so. I thank Prof. Giovanni Sartor for sharing and transmitting his enthusiasm and passion for the research issue to me. I thank Prof. Bruce Bimber for his attentive and deep sensibility, for his feminism in practice, and for his generous interest in my research. I thank Prof. Joan Subirats, for his long-term support, for treating me with closeness and availability, and for his example of how to be a committed scholar.

I thank Prof. Yochai Benkler (Berkman Center of Internet and Society, Harvard) for being an intellectual inspiration, for surprising me with his political commitment, and for his time and interest in discussing my research.

I thank the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley for hosting me as a visiting researcher (from July to December 2008), and particularly Prof. Coye Cheshire for sponsoring me and welcoming me as a friend, Prof. Paul Duguid for his thoughtful questions and suggestions, and to the Dean AnnaLee Saxenian for her promotion of my research. I thank my colleagues Carol Marie Kiriakos and Primavera di Filippi for sharing the experience of Berkeley with me and for their emotional support. I also thank Howard Rheingold, for many things, but particularly for giving me the opportunity to experiment with him on how to teach in practice what a virtual community is with the privileged resources of the technological classrooms at Stanford University. From Stanford University, I also thank Prof. Fred Turner, for his brilliant work which helped me to understand the cultural roots of the online communities, his generosity and interest in my research. I also thank Prof. Siobhan O’Mahony (University of Boston) for her suggestions; and Mako Benjamin Hill (MIT) for our shared research and action paths and his friendship. I thank Professors Dorothy Kidd and David Silver (University of San Francisco), Lance Benneth (University of Washington), Jerry Feldman (UC Berkeley), Gabriella Coleman (New York University), Charlotte Ryan (University of Boston), Dieter Rucht (Free University of Berlin) and Eva Anduiza (University Autonoma of Barcelona) for their complicity, advice and support.

From the EUI, I also thank Prof. Rikard Stankiewicz and Prof. Michael Keating for supporting my candidature to the EUI, and for their advice. I thank Prof. Alessandro Pizzorno for his interest and his happiness over reactions to my thesis. I thank Clara Portela, Cecilia Tossounian (for the June paper walk & talk therapy!), Xema Lanzarote, Eliot Parra, Andres Delgado, Alessandra Vannini, Joan Balcells, Natalia Maillard, Sergi Pardos, and the whole Spanish-language crew at the EUI, and to the altruistic Horton – trainer, Anna Bara; they have played a great role in giving me emotional support and encouragement in developing this research. I also thank Eva Breivik and Monika Rzemieniecka for their procedural assistance and for organizing the thesis defense.

For their patience I thank the English copy-editors, particularly Nicola Owtram, Joel Hidalgo, Liz Hauck and Louisa Parks; and I thank Lorenzo di Tomassi and Marco Buttarini for their generosity in developing and designing the beautiful research website ( I also thank the community of developers of Ubuntu, Open Office, World Press, Zotero, and Firefox; technological tools that supported this research. Thanks also to Igor Sosa Mayor for the numerous occasions on which he helped me deal with these tools, always great and happy opportunities to enjoy his great humor. I thank Nicola Pensiero for helping me with the statistical analysis in the research.

I thank the members of Networked Politics collaborative research. Our mutual work and collaboration fed this research. I particularly thank Hilary Wainwright for her support and charm, an example of determination; my recognition of her fidelity to optimism and her rebellion against predefined ideas that might limit her will and fantasy. I also thank Christophe Aguiton, for his clever remarks and intuition in the development of this research, but also for our long collaboration in building and networking movements. I thank Felix Stalder, for his intelligent insights, and his interest. I thank Peter Waterman for his persisting enthusiasm over my work, and Luciana Castellina for her humoristic critique of my fascination with the Internet after asking her to explain: what was politics like before the Internet?. I thank Ida Dominiani for her generous sympathy. I thankLawrence Cox for his support and guidance in exploring the field of action research. I thank Carlo Formenti for being a critical referential source to approach the new technologies of information. I thank David Bollier for his guidelines in the commoners land, and David Harris in Silicon Valley.

I thank my colleagues in the techno-political experiments of the Social forum memory project and the Communication Commission of the International Council of the World Social Forum. I thank Simona Levi, for her courageous partnership in building the Free culture and digital rights forum. I specially thank her for her patience while writing up the dissertation. The Fcforum has been a source of hope and of happiness for me, as one of the multiple signs of the emergence of the Free culture movement, and a privileged process to share and put into practice the results of this research.

I also thank the numerous informants of the research (listed in Annex II) for their time and knowledge, and particularly the generosity of Jimmy Wales. I commit to sharing the research results with them.

I thank my big family for their support and love. I thank the sweet love of my grandfather Juan Morell and my grandmother Rosa Gregori, they were my first source of inspiration to come to the EUI, their adventurous lives fed my fantasy about going to Europe. I thank my mother Genoveva Morell for taking care of me, supporting my studies and pointing me towards the happiness behind social (and personally liberating) movements, I thank my father Jose Fuster for his encouragement and his example of self-improvement. With my parents I had the first opportunity to learn the value and richness of finding hybrid solutions. I thank my sister, Alba (I enjoyed creativity for the first time when thinking up surprises for her) for her support and comfort during the more difficult periods of writing this thesis, and for being an example of courage. I thank, with a smile, my amatxu, Marian Marculeta, for her encouragement, care, observations about me and the humor of her continuous surprise that I could keep thinking about the same research question for so long. I thank Luigi Manconi for his understanding and advice, and Letizia Laurenti, her reactions and comments helped me to see this research through the eyes of the second world war political generation. I thank Mariel Vilella for her friendship and care throughout this thesis. I thank Lorena Fuster, for being more than a true cousin, for sharing the experience of doing a Phd, and being a reference of support in the more painful moments. Luckily, those that told me: “Mayo! Don’t study so much that no-one is going to want you” were wrong. Marco Berlinguer, the closest person to me in this project at all levels, an intellectual, activist, adventurer, and life partner. For his encouragement, support, determination and belief in me, and his moral guideline, I thank you Marco for so much.

Finally, I did this research for political reasons. Before starting this research I was focused on movement organizing in the frame of the Global Justice Movement. However, I felt the necessity to question myself, to reflect and understand the strains, but most importantly the limitations of our organizational strategies and perspectives, to approach what could be learned politically from the surprises (and frustrations) that online collective action was toughing out. At that time, I was developing techno-political tools for supporting social movements (with my dear friends Victor Guillamon and Enric Duran) and I couldn’t understand why in some cases a community emerged and why in others (particularly those linked to the Social forums) it did not, and, importantly to me the horizon of political transformation framing our actions was not clear. I thank the EUI for giving me the opportunity to start and develop this research and above all for helping me arrive at its end. I hope I have contributed in throwing light (or at least open some lines of further reflection) on how to improve the strategy of the movements for a more just and solidarity based world: at least, I can say that doing this research has changed my political agenda and strategy.

Mayo Fuster Morell, Il Laghino (Fiesole), 22 August 2010