Conflict in a digital place


  • Ammar Halabi University of Fribourg
  • Basile Zimmermann
  • Michèle Courant



Conflict, HCI Design, Syria


This paper discusses the issue of conflict over the Internet. It focuses on situations where disagreements between users connect with specific choices in the design of a digital infrastructure, and it argues that engagement in design activities can be used as a tool to analyse and probe such issues. It presents an ethnographic study of VOCI, a community of students based in Syria that witnessed a major conflict between its core members during the early 2010s. This conflict evolved around issues of control and governance, and eventually translated into a shared concern of how access and ownership of digital places are configured. This article introduces the design of Modus, a platform for shared proprietary rights over the Internet, as an alternative way to manage digital ownership.

Author Biographies

Ammar Halabi, University of Fribourg

Ammar Halabi is an associate researcher, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland.

Basile Zimmermann

Director of the Institut Confucius at the University of Geneva (Switzerland)

Michèle Courant

Post-doctoral researcher in the Pervasive and Artificial Intelligence Group of the Department of Informatics at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland)




How to Cite

Halabi, A., Zimmermann, B., & Courant, M. (2017). Conflict in a digital place. First Monday, 22(12).