While people long ago slept soundly knowing that the night watch was guarding the city gate, modern security measures fail to do the same. In fact, they intentionally lead to more insecurity (to legitimate themselves) and rapidly merge with a 24/7 flow of information which does more to disturb than ensure a sound sleep. In today’s society, the goal is to reap the benefits from monitoring people and their actions around the clock: wakefulness prevails, while sleep is regarded as a hindrance. If the social contract, which guarantees citizens protection and care in exchange for freedom, has to be renegotiated today, the politics of sleep also has to reassess the social and political dimension of this condition and use it as the basis for a new contract. From this perspective, the conference not only regards sleep as the final residuum of the pre-modern era, but also the last refuge in a transparent society, and shifts it to the centre of a social, political and philosophical
debate. Could sleep serve as a platform for social change due to its ability to interrupt the 24/7 continuum? Or is sleep in danger of succumbing to it like everything else?
In our discussion, sleep is regarded as a state of consciousness which is almost completely disconnected from the regime of digital wakefulness and offers a space for wishes, visions and possibilities. In other words, sleep is an activity which not only offers freedom, but also enables people to imagine freedom in new ways, so that when awake, they can craft it through their actions under politically effective conditions. The discussion on sleep offers a starting point for debates about spaces of protection and de-networking, and about which strategies and policies would promote these. Last but not least, it opens up new critical perspectives on the ideologies of digital society.