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robertogreco : quinnnorton   24

Re:publica Keynote: The System is Broken – That’s the Good News | ... My heart’s in Accra
"…Ivan Krastev, chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies, in Sofia, Bulgaria. He worries that even if protests like the Indignados or Occupy succeed in ousting a government, much of what protesters are asking for is not possible. “Voters can change governments, yet it is nearly impossible for them to change economic policies.” When Indignados grows into Podemos, Krastev predicts that it’s going to be very hard for them to truly reverse policies on austerity – global financial markets are unlikely to let them do so, punish them by making it impossibly expensive to borrow

Krastev offers the example of how Italy finally got rid of Silvio Berlusconi – wasn’t through popular protest, but through the bond market – the bond market priced italian debt at 6.5%, and Berlusconi resigned, leaving Mario Monti to put austerity measures in place. You may have been glad to see Berlusconi go, but don’t mistake this as a popular revolt that kicked him out – it was a revolt by global lenders, and basically set the tone for what the market would allow an Italian leader to do. As Krastev puts it, “Politics has been reduced to the art of adjusting to the imperatives of the market” – we’ve got an interesting test of whether this theory is right with Syriza, a left-wing party rooted in anti-austerity protests now in power, and facing possible default and exit from the Eurozone this month. What Krastev is saying is really chilling – we can oust bad people through protest and elect the right people and put them in power, we can protest to pressure our leaders to do the right things, and they may not be powerful enough to give us the changes we really want."



"These three approaches – building new institutions, becoming engaged critics of the institutions we’ve got, and looking for ways to build a post-institutional world – all have their flaws. We need the new decentralized systems we build to work as well as the institutions we are replacing, and when Mt. Gox disappears with our money, we’re reminded what a hard task this is. Monitorial citizenship can lead to more responsible institutions, but not to structural change. When we build new companies, codebases and movements, we’ve got to be sure these new institutions we’re creating stay closer to our values than those we mistrust now, and that they’re worthy of the trust of generations to come.

What these approaches have in common is this: instead of letting mistrust of the institutions we have leave us sidelined and ineffective, these approaches make us powerful. Because this is the middle path between the ballot box and the brick – it’s taking the dangerous and corrosive mistrust we now face and using it to build the institutions we deserve. This is the challenge of our generation, to build a better world than the one we inherited, one that’s fairer, more just, one that’s worthy of our trust."
ethanzuckerman  ivankrastev  quinnnorton  zeyneptufekci  democracy  politics  institutions  euope  us  protest  occupywallstreet  ows  voting  decentralization  internet  citizenship  civics  monotorialcitizenship  globalization  finance  capitalism  austerity  markets  indignados  government  power  control 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The White Problem — The Message — Medium
"Contained in the struggle between black liberation and white supremacy is almost every issue that concerns us currently —

Surveillance, government control, privacy, security, maintenance of infrastructure — even pollution, environmentalism, and what has become climate change, they’re all there. Add to that tolerance of religion and non-religion, access to healthcare, dominion over one’s own body, the right of self-defense, the right of free expression, the desire for justice and equality. Each one of these issues is there in black liberation, and often explored at length long before this current generation was born.

This is no accident, no coincidence, because the making of black and white was the making of the world we know now."



"I don’t think I was born white. I think white children are manufactured. There is a social process wherein neutral children get assimilated into the white race. I imagine there is something similar that happens to black children, but as I didn’t experience it, I don’t know much about it. This process is not contingent on the pallor of a child’s skin, there are plenty of pale people of color, and swarthy white people. White beauty norms has never been the extent of whiteness. The making of white children has to do with how adults behave towards you, and others around you, on the street, at the playground, and the books you read and the ads you see. The white race is reconstructed, millions and millions of times, in each person’s life, growing up in America. And a defining part of that construction is inevitably a denial that it is happening at all.

When I was a child growing up near the beach in LA I was surrounded by people obsessed with getting a good tan. My first assumption, encountering the fact that black people didn’t talk to the pale people I knew, was that being so much better at tanning, they outclassed paler people in this desirable quality so much that they wouldn’t bother talking to us.

Like many childlike assumptions about the world it is adorably wrong, but it is a more logical interpretation of the facts than the insane truth as I eventually learned it. What is perhaps most interesting is the number of people who have argued with me that I didn’t think that as a child — that I never could have not known about black people and white people.

“It’s not possible,” I’ve been told, “because studies have shown children recognize the racial features of human faces!” These kinds of arguments have been made at me more times than I can count by fellow whites. What often happens next, if I ask what those features are, doesn’t belong in a civil conversation. But what astounds me most isn’t white perceptions of black people, it is that people are arguing *with me* about what *I thought* as a child. They are not even arguing that I’m lying now, they are arguing that my recollection of myself is false. This is an incredible claim to make about someone you just met. It is just these sorts of claims, almost more syntactically bizarre than outright wrong, that white racial identity is based on. My childhood naivity offered me no escape — the world around eventually taught me I was white, and all that means.

This communication about race to children fated to be white is consistently bizarre. Contemporary whiteness in schools and neighborhoods is a collection of incompatible messages. Don’t be prejudiced against black people, we are told, who are poor and criminal. Here is a month we will study black people, and write an essay. We cannot openly criticize black people, that would be racist, but we will violently protect you from them, even in your own schools. This is black music — jazz, maybe even some Motown — and we study and respect it (now that its popularity has passed). This is rap, and we ban it for being violent and about gangs. We will ban red and blue from our school for the safety of our children, but really, we’re banning it from the black and latino children, which is how we protect all of the children.

Slowly white children develop ideas about people of color, and in particular black people, that can accomodate this crazytown of incompatible ideas from adults and authority. Black children — and to a lesser degree latino children — must be protected from themselves for the good of all, as if they contained bombs. Good black and latino people are in books, and usually dead. Good people of color are almost always in the past. Bad black and latino people are right now, and could be around any corner. A good child (of any color) doesn’t act like them. This haphazard taxonomy of race isn’t about color, except white and black. To call people yellow or red would be offensive. So it is about color, sometimes. Don’t get that wrong, and don’t ask questions, it’s rude.

All of this is crazy, and it makes the children trying to assimilate it crazy too. The white race is reinvented again for every person born through a practice that is gaslighting children into a state of constant cognitive dissonance.

Many people understand that this is not ok when it’s done to children who will end up in a category of color. But it’s also not ok when the child will end up in the category of white, because it’s just not ok to ever gaslight children.

It is within this damaged mental framework, this position of self as not the other people you’ve been taught to fearfully respect, fear, and eventually retreat from thinking about altogether, where white people have to start thinking about race.

As for me, I suspect I will struggle with the damaged thinking given to white children until I die."



"People often struggle to talk about the problems the abuser has. Why cruelty is the bully’s problem as well as the bullied — why the chain of violence sucks — even if you’re at the top of it. The problem with unwinding white privilege is the same as all unwindings of power — if someone’s got it good, why should they give it up? This is hardly restricted to white folk. Through human geography and time there are so few examples of the rich and powerful distributing their riches and laying down their power that they often stand as foundational stories for religions when they happen.

A lot of people everywhere like the ideas of equality and justice, and most are even willing to give up some of their wealth to these ideas, but being willing to give up one’s wealth entirely and shift to a lower socio-economic class existence is seen in most societies as a sign of insanity. And so it is with white power — the very quiet truth white power speaks to the world — “You’d do the same if you were where we are now.” Indeed, history is with this part of the white narrative. There is no race, no nationality, no ethnic group I can find anywhere in history that gave up wealth and power over others without struggle just because it was the right thing to do, even though most societies have had a philosophical or religious element that extolled doing just that as the core of rightness.

Even more, I’ve come to believe that at some very deep level, many white people resist racial equality because, knowing what white folk have done to other races in America and beyond, they don’t want to risk it being done to them and theirs. The more people are informed about atrocities that whites have perpetrated against blacks and Native Americans in particular, the more eager they are to make sure no one is in a position to take vengeance. There is a thread of real fear amongst whites, from the jokes of Lenny Bruce to the policies and papers of J. Edgar Hoover, even from the them-vs-us rhetoric of explicit white supremacy, that points to a fear of what white comeuppance would look like. Louis CK again:
We’re not just gonna fall from number 1 to 2. They’re going to hold us down and fuck us in the ass forever and we totally deserve it.

Deciding to fight white racism is terrifying for whites.

But there is something wonderful to be had for all people, even white people, in the two+ centuries of careful, studied, and magnificently conceived work of black liberationists. It’s there in what Hubert Harrison was saying: real democracy, real rights, tested against the touchstone of the black experience. There is something powerful in the reconciliation, and in the hard work of accepting and speaking truth. Maybe something that can help all humanity, here where we live on the brink of biological collapse.

But to get to that place, first we have to understand how white people got where we are now."
quinnnorton  2014  race  education  children  us  society  whiteness  racism 
october 2014 by robertogreco
▶ No Neutral Ground in a Burning World [30c3] - YouTube
"The news of the past few years is one small ripple in what is a great wave of culture and history, a generational clash of civilizations. If you want to understand why governments are acting and reacting the way they are, and as importantly, how to shift their course, you need to understand what they're reacting to, how they see and fail to see the world, and how power, money, and idea of rule of law actually interact.

Our relationships with work and property and with the notion of national identity are changing rapidly. We're becoming more polarized in our political opinions, and even in what we consider to be existential threats. This terrain determines our world, even as we deal with our more individual relationships with authority, the ethics imposed by our positions in the world, and the psychological impact of learning that our paranoia was real. The idea of the Internet and the politics it brings with it have changed the world, but that change is neither unopposed nor detatched from larger currents. From the battles over global surveillance and the culture of government secrecy to the Arab Spring and the winter of its discontent, these things are part of this moment's tapestry and they tell us about the futures we can choose. The world is on fire, and there is nowhere to hide and no way to stay neutral.

Speaker: Quinn Norton Eleanor Saitta"

[Slides: http://dymaxion.org/talks/NoNeutralGroundInABurningWorld.pdf ]

[Reading list: https://gist.github.com/dphiffer/9a583e4a4da169eee436

Seeing Like a State by James C. Scott
Moral Mazes by Robert Jackall
The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer
Debt, The First 5000 Years by David Graeber
Fellow Prisoners by John Berger
Secrecy, Film (2008)
]
via:caseygollan  2013  quinnnorton  eleanorsaitta  capitalism  marxism  anarchism  anarchy  endtimes  geekculture  politics  ethics  communication  hackerculture  internet  web  online  coding  civilization  history  culture  technology  outsiders  seeinglikea  state  jamescscott  legibility  architecture  brasilia  surveillance  authority  power  money  ruleoflaw  control  positionalethics  brasília 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Ello | quinn
"Ello needs to make money, and that means Ello eventually needs to charge someone. So who can it charge? The only way to make the massive returns VCs like is to charge companies or governments. These are the only thing in our society rich enough to consistently feed the VC mouths. (this is why I strongly recommend against taking VC money -- it's much like adopting 15 children at once, it limits your options.) The only thing a social network can sell to companies are its users. It could work, to have Ello sponsored by X corporation for a given day or week or whatever, but in this business environment part of X corporation's demand for its money is going to be user data. So there you're back to tracking your users like everyone else. Ello could charge databrokers and governments for their user data too, but that also drives them towards being Facebook, Twitter, etc.

That leave Ello to charge their users. This is a fine business model and the one that has supported more things for most of human history. I like this model, I even pay for online services now, though not many -- not many are worth it, and they usually track me anyway. Asking users to pay allows Ello to do something no other online company is doing right now -- optimize Ello for users. This is a great advantage for Ello, because it would mean they could actually listen to users and give them an experience that would, given enough time, be so much better than the massive social networks that people would love joining Ello.

But of course this is a problem too... most users can't pay. Some people like to complain, say that we deserve to be surveiled because no one is willing to pay for anything. This is a ridiculous statement, people all over the world are paying for things every day of their lives. But until we do something about the distribution of the world's wealth, the vast majority of people, even those with internet access, will find that paying a high enough amount for it to be worthwhile for Ello to collect it will cause a real decline in their quality of life.

obligatory graph:

hmm, I can't get obligatory graph to load. I less than three you, betas. ;) Anyway.

The only people that can pay Ello right now are in that top wealth quintile, and then probably the top 2/3rds of it at best. But social networks are like languages -- they are only worthwhile when they are broadly adopted. This makes an incredibly compelling case for user tracking and adverts, since success as a broad network makes the most sense by giving network access away and then selling the people to companies. This is a hard model to escape, to be honest, and it always has been. Companies and governments are essentially colonizing the internet, extracting, monetizing, and controlling the humans therein just like they did during the colonial period, only with less physical violences. Facebook is essentially John Company.

There are only two ways I can see that Ello can escape getting crushed by the contemporary versions of John Company (which did a huge amount of crushing in its day). One is to beat them at their own game and become the next John Company/Facebook/etc, which means becoming better at colonial extraction on users -- most likely in the growth arena -- actual former colony nations. If they don't have the stomach for this kind of evil, and and I deeply hope they don't, the other way is to make far less money. To be, compared to the big VC funded players, a small business with hopeful growth over the course of decades, not quarters.

This is going to mean working out something no one has been able to yet -- differential pricing on the net. The best system of payment they could have, with a magic wand and a fairy godmother etc interceding would be to extract something like $.25 a day from users in the top billion, maybe $.05 a day from the next billion, and possibly nothing or money losing from users in the last 3 billion. The problem is that people hate differential pricing, see it as unfair, when they can see it. They can't see income inequality all the time in their houses and neighborhoods and work places, so that doesn't bother them. They can't see massive surveillance and manipulation, so that doesn't bother them. But dear god, when they see a price list with differential pricing, people go purple with rage. So that's a problem.

Nowadays there's a lot you can do with geolocating IPs, and showing people variable content based on where they are. This could mean that Ello could price based on that, and for now, I believe that's their best option. But no VC will ever accept that, and chances are if Ello has or ever will take VC, they are already dead and just don't know it yet. Their chances of beating Facebook are next to none, especially as they would have to betray everything they've said they were about, and there is no other model that could feed the VC mouth.

Introducing variable pricing, pricing on features, and multiple payment systems over time could let Ello developers make a comfortable living. But at no time in the near future would it make them .com millionaires. To make Ello compelling and free of surveillance and extraction means making a service many can use and doesn't cost too much. Eventually, wide enough adoption to be meaningful to the world means opening it up and making it a protocol other people can build businesses on that don't provide much or any revenue for Ello. It means striving to enter that most dreaded of economic states -- becoming a commodity.

Making social networking a common commodity could remake the world, like the world wide web, or vaccination did. But like the world wide web and vaccination, they aren't ever going to let Paul Budnitz become Cornelius Vanderbilt or Mark Zuckerberg. He'd have to settle for the hope that a lifetime of hard work and enough money to live could let him be Tim Berners-lee or Jonas Salk.

So, Ello, what do you want?"

[See also: http://text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com/2014/09/hello-ello.html ]
ello  quinnnorton  2014  jonassalk  markzuckerberg  corneliusvanderbilt  vc  venturecapital  business  monetization  funding  advertising  privacy  socialmedia  variablepricing  pricing 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 6: Accident Blackspot
"AGE OF NON-CONSENT: On my way home from the airport last week, I got into a cab that had a TV screen in the passenger area (as is now common in Boston and other cities). As I always do, I immediately turned it off. A few minutes later, it turned itself on again. That got me thinking about this amazing piece [http://modelviewculture.com/pieces/the-fantasy-and-abuse-of-the-manipulable-user ] by Betsy Haibel at Model View Culture, about ‘when mistreating users becomes competitive advantage’, about technology and consent (seriously, go read it; it’s more important that you read that than you read this). I had started thinking more about how technology is coercive and how it pushes or crosses the boundaries of users a few weeks ago, when I got a new phone. Setting it up was an exercise in defending my limits against a host of apps. No, you can’t access my Contacts. No, you don’t need access to my Photos. No, why the hell would you need access to my Location? I had to install a new version of Google Maps, which has crippled functionality (no memory of previous places) if you don't sign into Google, and it tries to convince you to sign in on every single screen, because what I obviously really want is for Google to track my phone and connect it to the rest of my online identity (bear in mind that the only objects that have have a closer average proximity to me than my phone does are pierced through bits of my body). Per that Haibel article, Google’s nagging feels exactly like the boundary-crossing of an unwanted suitor, continually begging for access to me it has no rights to and that I have no intention of providing.

This week, of course, provided a glorious example of how technology companies have normalized being indifferent to consent: Apple ‘gifting’ each user with a U2 album downloaded into iTunes. At least one of my friends reported that he had wireless synching of his phone disabled; Apple overrode his express preferences in order to add the album to his music collection. The expected 'surprise and delight' was really more like 'surprise and delete'. I suspect that the strong negative response (in some quarters, at least) had less to do with a dislike of U2 and everything to do with the album as a metonym for this widespread culture of nonconsensual behaviour in technology. I've begun to note examples of these behaviours, and here are a few that have come up just in the last week: Being opted in to promo e-mails on registering for a website. Being forced by Adobe Creative Cloud into a trial of the newest version of Acrobat; after the trial period, it refused to either run Acrobat or ‘remember’ that I had a paid-up institutional license for the previous version. A gas pump wouldn't give me a receipt until after it showed me an ad. A librarian’s presentation to one of my classes was repeatedly interrupted by pop-ups telling her she needed to install more software. I booked a flight online and, after I declined travel insurance, a blinking box appeared to 'remind' me that I could still sign up for it. When cutting-and-pasting the Jony Ive quote below, Business Insider added their own text to what I had selected. The Kindle app on my phone won’t let me copy text at all, except through their highlighting interface. When you start looking for examples of nonconsensual culture in technology, you find them absolutely everywhere.

Once upon a time, Apple was on the same side as its users. The very first iMac, back in 1998, had a handle built into the top of it, where it would be visible when the box was opened. In Ive’s words, ‘if there's this handle on it, it makes a relationship possible…It gives a sense of its deference to you.’ Does anyone feel like their iPhone is deferential to them? What changed? Part of it is what Ethan Zuckerman called ‘the original sin’ of the Internet [http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/08/advertising-is-the-internets-original-sin/376041/ ], the widespread advertising-based model that depends on strip-mining user characteristics for ad targeting, coupled with what Maciej Ceglowski describes as ‘investor storytime’ [http://idlewords.com/bt14.htm ], selling investors on the idea that they’ll get rich when you finally do put ads on your site. The other part is the rise of what Bruce Sterling dubbed “the Stacks” [http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/459/State-of-the-World-2013-Bruce-St-page01.html ]: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft. Alexis Madrigal predicted [http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/12/bruce-sterling-on-why-it-stopped-making-sense-to-talk-about-the-internet-in-2012/266674/ ], “Your technology will work perfectly within the silo...But it will be perfectly broken at the interfaces between itself and its competitors”, and that can only be the case if the companies control what you do both inside and outside the silo. And, finally, of course, our willingness to play ball with them—ie why I didn't want to sign into Google from my phone—has eroded in direct proportion to our trust that the data gathered by companies will be handled carefully (not abused, shared, leaked, or turned over). Right now, a large fraction of my interactions with tech companies, especially the Stacks, feel coerced.

One of the reasons why I care so much about issues of consent, besides all the obvious ones (you know, having my time wasted, my attention abused, and my personal behaviours and characteristics sold for profit) is because of the imminent rise of connected objects. It’ll be pretty challenging for designers and users to have a shared mental model of the behaviour of connected objects even if they are doing their damnedest to understand each other; bring in an coercive, nonconsensual technology culture and it doesn't take a lot of imagination to consider how terrible they could be. The day before Apple’s keynote this week, London-based Internet of Things design firm BERG announced that they were closing their doors (although I prefer to think of them as dispersing, like a blown dandelion clock). The confluence of their demise with Apple’s behaviour made me extra-sad, because BERG were one of the few companies that worked in technology that really seemed to think of their users as people. Journalist Quinn Norton recently wrote a fantastic piece on the theory and practice of politeness, "How to Be Polite...for Geeks" [https://medium.com/message/how-to-be-polite-for-geeks-86cb784983b1 ], which could just as easily be "...for Technology Companies". The Google+ 'real name' fiasco and Facebook's myriad privacy scandals could have been averted if the companies had some empathy for their users, and listened to what they said, instead of assuming that we are all Mark Zuckerbergs [http://dashes.com/anil/2010/09/the-facebook-reckoning-1.html ]. As well as laying down some Knowledge about Theory of Mind and Umwelt [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umwelt ], Quinn notes that politeness is catchy--social norms are created and enforced by what everyone does. I commute by car daily in Boston but I spent a year on sabbatical in Seattle. The traffic rules in Boston and Seattle are virtually identical, but a significant chunk of driver behaviours (in particular, the ones that earn Boston drivers the epithet of 'Massholes') are the result of social norms, tacitly condoned by most of the community. And driving is regulated a lot more closely than tech companies are.

I don’t know what it’ll take to change technology culture from one that is nonconsensual and borderline-abusive to one that is about enthusiastic consent, and it might not even be possible at this point. All I really know is that it absolutely won’t happen unless we start applying widespread social pressure to make it happen, and that I want tech companies to get their shit together before they make the leap from just being on screens to being everywhere around us."
coercion  culture  privacy  technology  consent  debchachra  2014  maciejceglowski  anildash  ethanzuckerman  jonyive  berg  berglondon  quinnnorton  google  apple  facebook  data  betsyhaibel  functionality  behavior  alexismadrigal  socialnetworks  socialmedia  mobile  phones  location  socialnorms  socialpressure  ethics  abuse  jonathanive  maciejcegłowski 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Ello | quinn - Ethics of borders
"The tension is around the perceived problems of providing services to people, but the answer there is simple: don't provide services to non-citizens, easily enough done. You already must show ID id obtain services, which is authorized and issued by the state. The state is particularly keen on providing services to as few people as possible. so why not open borders but deny services to non-citizens? It's easy enough to turn away people at hospitals and children from schools, and even sweep up the bodies of the homeless dead, all of whom are likely to even spend what little the have on local products and business before they die or flee. All of these things are in fact done routinely all over the world. The problem is they are also detested as deranged and inhuman by the citizenry of many nations, who would like to take care of children, the sick, and the elderly. So, in order that a government doesn't face the will of its people, those who may need help must be stopped at the border. The question for a nation is simple: if humans are seeking services, is it moral to deny them? The borders make no moral difference to this question. anymore than shutting a door on a request makes the request go away. To only give services to those who then sneak in the window, and call was yourself moral for it, seems insane. If we only want to give service to "our own" we might as well face the dying and pain-ridden hoenstly.

Then there's the foundations of these services and systems of wealth. I'm typing this on an electronic device I took out of a sleeve while wearing clothes all made by people not subject to the services my nation provides, but all this labor is to my and its benefit. I mostly write words, often to criticize my nation -- why on earth am I more eligible for services than the people who make the clothes, electronics, and pick the food that benefits western nations? An accident of birth at best.

(None of this of course applies to migrant labor forces, who both must be imported but given no rights. Hence the industry of illegal immigration, which creates the fully exploitable portion of the labor force every western nation craves.)

When we think about how to better the situations of people from poor nations, we rarely suggest not exploiting them and when we talk about providing services to the poor we never talk of just providing them, where the poor are. In all cases, the governments between people won't let them, as ever, for governments' favorite excuse: their own good.

The obvious problem is that rich states can't provide services to all who need them. This may be the case, which is arguable, but not the subject of this piece. For the sake of argument, let us assume it is. So, how does one choose who to give services to? The accident of location of birth seems an odd criteria, and it is. The real criteria this describes is similarity or genetic relationship to the ruling class, for which location is a reasonably proxy. It's also an obviously amoral criteria: be related to strongmen or apetheir culture, and you may eat and learn and live. Another calculus, a growing one, is extractative: award services to those most likely to generate tax and draftees. But in this phase of history governments are more interest in tax than draftees, and that changes the extractive "in-group" -- fewer soldiers, more elites. Tax is not labor, tax is most likely to come from people who are, on purpose or by accident, the beneficiaries of global slave labor. These are the people governments want in their borders.

Is any of this good? I'd argue no -- it puts extractive lives, be they exploiting labor or destroying the environment -- above all other lives. The extractive class is often just as trapped as everyone else in the situation, in that the majority of them aren't amoral nihilists, only interested in cheap labor and using up the planet as fast as they can, but lack access to political change or even political education."
borders  ethics  geopolitics  2014  quinnnorton  location  genetics  services  labor  exploitation  extraction  extractiveclass  class  society  migration  immigration  rights  illegalimmigration  poverty  wealth  coincidence 
september 2014 by robertogreco
How to be Polite… for Geeks — The Message — Medium
"One more thing: politeness is not surrender. It is a way of carrying dignity through life, and acknowledging the dignity of others. Politeness is a shared sense of humanity. When I was 17 I moved alone into the territory of a Latino gang, some of whose members had marked me for killing when I was 11 (The background of this is very convoluted, and they weren’t high up in the power structure, so the threat was not as bad as it could have been.) About a week into living there, I found myself surrounded by a circle of Latino men, staring at me blank-faced. I hadn’t yet worked out how to turn on a phone line, but this I knew. I stepped forward to a man slightly older than the others and introduced myself, shaking his hand and smiling. I explained that I’d just moved into the neighborhood, indicated my apartment, and said I’d love to learn more about the area. Everyone’s tension broke into smiling faces. I apologized for my lack of Spanish, but most of them knew English. We chatted for a bit, and I went my way. I never had a problem in that neighborhood, and when I was out on my own, or buried in my teenage melodramas, my neighbors kept an eye on me.

For me the best part of these practices is that I believe them. Being willing to listen to people and empathize with them has given me tremendous hope, love, and optimism for humanity. So much so that people can’t believe that I’m so happy and upbeat about our future, despite being realistic about human violence and oppression. We are, one by one, not so bad, and when we treat each other that well, we are not quite so lost in aggregate, either."
quinnnorton  2014  politeness  empathy  listening  tone  kindness 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Seeing Like a Network — The Message — Medium
"Practical privacy and security is just a part of digital literacy. Right now, for most people, learning how their computers work seems hard enough, learning how the network works seems impossible. But it’s not, it’s just learning a new perspective about the world we live in.

A lot of us are scared of computer threats, networks, and the internet, but we don’t have to be. The new tools we use every day should be scary exactly the same way being handed a free Ferrari is scary. Kind of intimidating, but mostly awesome. And you’ll have to learn a thing or two in order to not end up wrapped around a tree.

Digital literacy is getting a sense of your networks. It’s like learning a new city, invisible but beautiful, and baffling when you don’t know how a new city works. But then, as you roam around, it can start to make sense. You get more comfortable, and in time, your rhythms come together with its, and you can feel the city. You can cross the street safely and get what you need from the city. You can make friends there, and find safety, and love, and community. We all live in this common city now, and we just need to learn to see it.

We live in an age of networks, and it’s an amazing age."



"The internet and its constant signals are based on a simple way of passing around information. It’s called packet switching and it’s a lot like passing notes in 8th grade homeroom — it can take a while, and go through a lot of hands. From the moment you start your computer, it’s reporting in with all sorts of things on the net, but instead of one long note, computers pass out many tiny notes called packets. You don’t want to look at all those notes, either on the net or even the ones your own computer is sending and receiving anymore than you want to study whales by looking at their cells. (Which is to say sometimes you do, but you don’t really see the whole whale that way.)"



"The main tool computers have to communicate privately is cryptography. It’s taking things and scrambling them up (encrypting them) with a mathematical key, which only the computer on other side of the net which you’re sending the message to can decrypt.

It’s exactly like writing things in code, but codes you only share with the person or machine you want to be able to read them, or that you want to be able to read yours.

You use encryption all the time, you use it whenever the browser address is given in https instead of http. (We call this SSL, because computer scientists are terrible at naming things.) Just like 8th grade homeroom, on a network where everyone shares the same space, encryption is the only way to ever be private. (Encryption is largely based on something else you discovered in school: some math is really easy to do, but undoing it is really hard. Remember how you got the hang of your multiplication tables, but then along came division and factoring, and it was much harder and just sucked? Turns out computers feel exactly the same way.)

Every message you send out, whether it’s one you see or one you don’t, has your identity tied to it, and every one you get also tells the story of where it’s from and what it’s doing. That’s all before you get to the message you care about — that’s still all metadata. Inside of messages is media, the words and pictures we think of as our information.

What do passwords have to do with cryptography?

Nothing. In fact, if you go back to passing notes in class, passwords can get passed around in the clear text like anything else. Passwords authenticate you, they tell the computer that you are who you say you are, but they don’t encrypt or hide or secure you in any way. That’s why you need your passwords to be encrypted before they go online. Authentication is very important for getting things done on a network, since anyone can say they’re you, and because computers are fast, they can say it 6 million times in a row until they get believed. This is why we talk about multiple factors of authentication. A password is a thing you know, but when you turn on two factor authentication on Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc — which you should do — the other side of the network replies on both something you know and something you have, like your cellphone. That means in order to break your security and privacy, a thief would have to know your password and have your phone. This is a lot harder, and make the majority of attacks go away.

Why do we constantly tell people not to reuse passwords? Because you have to trust the people who save it on the other side of the network to not screw up, and the network not to expose the password in transit. That’s a lot of trust, and your casual gaming site isn’t going to work as hard to protect you as your bank is, so don’t use your bank password to save your Bejeweled scores."



"You are the immensely powerful Master of the genie in your life, your computer. You are a magic person to your computer, which we call the administrator, or sometimes superuser, or root, instead of Supreme Master of the Universe, as it should be. (Again, computer scientists missed the ball on naming things) You have the right to do anything you want on your computer, which is fantastic. You can take pictures and talk with people and record everything you do and tell the world everything you want. You can use it to paint and talk and record your innermost thoughts and even make another computer inside this computer, because you still have infinite wishes. This is one of the most powerful things humans ever created, and you’re currently surrounded by them, and the total master of yours.

But that means that anything that pretends to be you also has the right to do all those things. That’s where problems come in — where things come to your computer and pretend to be you. We have many names for these things, they are viruses, trojans, spyware, malware, etc. They can record everything you do, take pictures, tell the world, and even make another computer inside your computer — but only because you can do those things. They can only steal your power by imitating you."



"Your computer is a powerful genie of copying and calculating that you are the absolute master of, talking to a world full of other genies, connecting you to all the information and people in the world. Our networks are literally awesome — so huge and powerful and inspiring of awe that it’s a bit scary. It’s a cool time to be alive.

The End of the Beginning
The best part of learning to deal with all the scary threats scaring these days isn’t that you learn how to avoid threats, it’s that you learn how to use these amazing, outlandish super powers being part of networks gives you.

It’s the first days of the internet, but the truth is, that this is better for normal people than for the megapowerful. The network is ultimately not doing a favor for those in power, even if they think they’ve mastered it for now. It increases their power a bit, it increases the power of individuals immeasurably. We just have to learn to live in the age of networks."
quinnnorton  2014  networks  networkliteracy  literacies  multiliteracies  infrastrcture  internet  online  privacy  fear  security  learning  digital  copying  phishing  malware  viruses  trojans  passwords  cryptography 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The Internet’s Own Boy — The Message — Medium
"I don’t believe the system can be saved from within, but I’m glad many of my friends do — I might be wrong. In fact, I’d love to be wrong. But I couldn’t look in the face of my beloved and tell him I believed his life’s work in political reform would be effective. I was too damaged, I’d seen too much terrible violence from the American system to believe in it anymore."



"The American people have spent my whole life telling themselves stories that let them off the hook when it comes to being responsible wardens of our country and our world. And you’re still doing it. You’re even using my dead, beloved Aaron to do it, whom you let die. People love to say Aaron was a genius, and prodigy, and there’s no one like him. But he wasn’t. He just cared and believed in things and he let his care and his belief move his life. You could do that any day, any minute. You could be like any of the characters in this movie, all of whom are real people, and let your convictions be more important than your job or your mortgage or your debt or any of the million little things Americans let keep them small and separated and afraid. You could organize your communities. You could help Taren’s efforts to pressure companies into being better actors on the global stage. You could help by contributing to Larry’s superpac attempt to reform our broken democracy. You could listen to Ben’s stories of political reform, and get involved in the issues he talks about. You could even come over to my side of our grand debate and try to work out how to build a society without government as we know it.

But you can’t just sit there and call Aaron a hero and a genius and whatever. He is dead. He is dust. He is now just one more of the millions of victims of this American dream that has only been a nightmare for so many.

Your ass will be in a seat watching a movie. When it is done, get up, and do something."
openaccess  technology  internet  quinnnorton  aaronswartz  2014  activism  convictions  excuses  systemschange 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The Land That Never Has Been Yet — Medium
"America has always had something of a Calvinist bent — the middle class whites as the elect, saved from birth. The poor whites, blacks, Native Americans, and whatever the current outclass of immigrants as her preterites, and sometimes even her damned. She has always talked of growing the elect, rather than serving the preterite, as if this were compassion rather than an insidious form of erasing people.

Like many of America’s preterites, my mom believes in this ordering of things. She doesn’t question her fate, but works hard to make it slightly more comfortable. “It doesn’t have to be easy,” she once told me. “It shouldn’t be easy. But it should not be this hard.”

Here, my mom and I agree.

In 1906 Upton Sinclair published The Jungle, a harrowing story of conditions in the meat packing industry in Chicago, and the employment practices that treated immigrant lives as nothing more than coals to feed to the fire of business profit. The political reaction was swift — inspections were instituted to make sure the meat was healthy. Sinclair lamented that he’d “…aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.” For many, especially in “growth” fields like medical care, labor conditions are only slightly better than they were in Sinclair’s day. For others, like those trapped in America’s prison labor system, they are as bad or worse."
quinnnorton  us  economics  healthcare  socialsafetynet  poverty  work  labor  2014  havesandhavenots  inequality  calvinism  class 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Everything Is Broken — The Message — Medium
"It was my exasperated acknowledgement that looking for good software to count on has been a losing battle. Written by people with either no time or no money, most software gets shipped the moment it works well enough to let someone go home and see their family. What we get is mostly terrible.

Software is so bad because it’s so complex, and because it’s trying to talk to other programs on the same computer, or over connections to other computers. Even your computer is kind of more than one computer, boxes within boxes, and each one of those computers is full of little programs trying to coordinate their actions and talk to each other. Computers have gotten incredibly complex, while people have remained the same gray mud with pretensions of godhood.

Your average piece-of-shit Windows desktop is so complex that no one person on Earth really knows what all of it is doing, or how.

Now imagine billions of little unknowable boxes within boxes constantly trying to talk and coordinate tasks at around the same time, sharing bits of data and passing commands around from the smallest little program to something huge, like a browser — that’s the internet. All of that has to happen nearly simultaneously and smoothly, or you throw a hissy fit because the shopping cart forgot about your movie tickets.

We often point out that the phone you mostly play casual games on and keep dropping in the toilet at bars is more powerful than all the computing we used to go to space for decades.

NASA had a huge staff of geniuses to understand and care for their software. Your phone has you.

Plus a system of automatic updates you keep putting off because you’re in the middle of Candy Crush Saga every time it asks.

Because of all this, security is terrible. Besides being riddled with annoying bugs and impossible dialogs, programs often have a special kind of hackable flaw called 0days by the security scene. No one can protect themselves from 0days. It’s their defining feature — 0 is the number of days you’ve had to deal with this form of attack. There are meh, not-so-terrible 0days, there are very bad 0days, and there are catastrophic 0days that hand the keys to the house to whomever strolls by. I promise that right now you are reading this on a device with all three types of 0days. “But, Quinn,” I can hear you say, “If no one knows about them how do you know I have them?” Because even okay software has to work with terrible software. The number of people whose job it is to make software secure can practically fit in a large bar, and I’ve watched them drink. It’s not comforting. It isn’t a matter of if you get owned, only a matter of when.

Look at it this way — every time you get a security update (seems almost daily on my Linux box), whatever is getting updated has been broken, lying there vulnerable, for who-knows-how-long. Sometimes days, sometimes years. Nobody really advertises that part of updates. People say “You should apply this, it’s a critical patch!” and leave off the “…because the developers fucked up so badly your children’s identities are probably being sold to the Estonian Mafia by smack addicted script kiddies right now.”



Recently an anonymous hacker wrote a script that took over embedded Linux devices. These owned computers scanned the whole rest of the internet and created a survey that told us more than we’d ever known about the shape of the internet. The little hacked boxes reported their data back (a full 10 TBs) and quietly deactivated the hack. It was a sweet and useful example of someone who hacked the planet to shit. If that malware had actually been malicious, we would have been so fucked.

This is because all computers are reliably this bad: the ones in
hospitals and governments and banks, the ones in your phone, the ones that control light switches and smart meters and air traffic control systems. Industrial computers that maintain infrastructure and manufacturing are even worse. I don’t know all the details, but those who do are the most alcoholic and nihilistic people in computer security. Another friend of mine accidentally shut down a factory with a malformed ping at the beginning of a pen test. For those of you who don’t know, a ping is just about the smallest request you can send to another computer on the network. It took them a day to turn everything back on.

Computer experts like to pretend they use a whole different, more awesome class of software that they understand, that is made of shiny mathematical perfection and whose interfaces happen to have been shat out of the business end of choleric donkey. This is a lie. The main form of security this offers is through obscurity — so few people can use this software that there’s no point in building tools to attack it. Unless, like the NSA, you want to take over sysadmins."



"When we tell you to apply updates we are not telling you to mend your ship. We are telling you to keep bailing before the water gets to your neck.

To step back a bit from this scene of horror and mayhem, let me say that things are better than they used to be. We have tools that we didn’t in the 1990s, like sandboxing, that keep the idiotically written programs where they can’t do as much harm. (Sandboxing keeps a program in an artificially small part of the computer, cutting it off from all the other little programs, or cleaning up anything it tries to do before anything else sees it.)

Certain whole classes of terrible bugs have been sent the way of smallpox. Security is taken more seriously than ever before, and there’s a network of people responding to malware around the clock. But they can’t really keep up. The ecosystem of these problems is so much bigger than it was even ten years ago that it’s hard to feel like we’re making progress.

People, as well, are broken.

“I trust you…” was my least favorite thing to hear from my sources in Anonymous. Inevitably it was followed by some piece of information they shouldn’t have been telling me. It is the most natural and human thing to share something personal with someone you are learning to trust. But in exasperation I kept trying to remind Anons they were connecting to a computer, relaying though countless servers, switches, routers, cables, wireless links, and finally to my highly targeted computer, before they were connecting to another human being. All of this was happening in the time it takes one person to draw in a deep, committal breath. It’s obvious to say, but bears repeating: humans were not built to think this way.

Everyone fails to use software correctly. Absolutely everyone, fucks up. OTR doesn’t encrypt until after the first message, a fact that leading security professionals and hackers subject to 20-country manhunts consistently forget. Managing all the encryption and decryption keys you need to keep your data safe across multiple devices, sites, and accounts is theoretically possible, in the same way performing an appendectomy on yourself is theoretically possible. This one guy did it once in Antarctica, why can’t you?

Every malware expert I know has lost track of what some file is, clicked on it to see, and then realized they’d executed some malware they were supposed to be examining. I know this because I did it once with a PDF I knew had something bad in it. My friends laughed at me, then all quietly confessed they’d done the same thing. If some of the best malware reversers around can’t keep track of their malicious files, what hope do your parents have against that e-card that is allegedly from you?"



"Security and privacy experts harangue the public about metadata and networked sharing, but keeping track of these things is about as natural as doing blood panels on yourself every morning, and about as easy. The risks on a societal level from giving up our privacy are terrible. Yet the consequences of not doing so on an individual basis are immediately crippling. The whole thing is a shitty battle of attrition between what we all want for ourselves and our families and the ways we need community to survive as humans — a Mexican stand off monetized by corporations and monitored by governments.

I live in this stuff, and I’m no better. Once when I had to step through a process to verify myself to a secretive source. I had to take a series of pictures showing my location and the date. I uploaded them, and was allowed to proceed with my interview. It turns out none of my verification had come through, because I’d failed to let the upload complete before nervously shutting down my computer. “Why did you let me through?” I asked the source. “Because only you would have been that stupid,” my source told me.

Touché.

But if I can’t do this, as a relatively well trained adult who pays attention to these issues all the damn time, what chance do people with real jobs and real lives have?

In the end, it’s culture that’s broken.

A few years ago, I went to several well respected people who work in privacy and security software and asked them a question.

First, I had to explain something:

“Most of the world does not have install privileges on the computer they are using.”
That is, most people using a computer in the world don’t own the computer they are using. Whether it’s in a cafe, or school, or work, for a huge portion of the world, installing a desktop application isn’t a straightforward option. Every week or two, I was being contacted by people desperate for better security and privacy options, and I would try to help them. I’d start, “Download th…” and then we’d stop. The next thing people would tell me they couldn’t install software on their computers. Usually this was because an IT department somewhere was limiting their rights as a part of managing a network. These people needed tools that worked with what they had access to, mostly a browser.

So the question I put to hackers… [more]
quinnnorton  privacy  security  software  2014  heartbleed  otr  libpurple  malware  computers  computing  networks  nsa  fbi 
may 2014 by robertogreco
May Day — The Message — Medium
"The American May Day comes to us cleaned of its fiery and bloody history, proclaimed by every president including Obama as Loyalty Day, It’s been Loyalty Day, Law Day, Americanization Day, whatever. The point is it’s not May Day. It’s never to be May Day. Even though the eight were vindicated by history, and even eventually honored by the same government that had killed them, it will never, ever, be May Day in America.

***

Five men were set to hang in November of 1887. Louis Lingg committed suicide the night before by eating a blasting cap rather than die on the gallows.

The next day, the four remaining men were dressed in white robes and taken to stand side by side on the platform of the gallows. August Spies shouted to the crowd that had come to watch them die, “There will be a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today.”

And then they all hanged by the neck until they choked to death.

May Day, Labor Day, in truth the sense of the day starts long before 19th century Chicago. It goes back hundreds and maybe thousands of years before its contemporary history of protest and riot. It has existed as Beltane with its bonfires and sex, as Walpurgis Night, full of drunk students and mayhem and pranks. May Day has been the rites of spring and the erecting of the maypole, and observed by latter day pagans with their modern forms of ritual and debauchery. However you see it, it’s a day of fire and hot blood. It may even be Outdoor Fucking day.

It is the spring, and whether at its most violent or most debauched, it is about the coming summer. May Day anticipates a future wholly different from the now.

What it is not, what it never will be, is Loyal."
labor  work  mayday  quinnnorton  2014  losangeles  1992  history  riots  poverty  class  loyalty  barackobama 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Cash Rules Everything Around Me — Medium
"Political protest is a Potemkin village, and everyone knows it. It is pure spectacle, free of real world consequence. It can be safely ignored or marginalized on the edges of real American politics, as long as it doesn't interfere with the kleptocracy. If it does, or even threatens to talk about the kleptocracy, it will be violently put down.

Speech is welcome in America, as long as it doesn’t do anything. There are exceptions to speech, where needed. Criticizing agribusiness comes with special gag laws. The DMCA allows those with the most lawyers to use copyright claims to silence critics and shut down competition. Anti-racketeering laws are increasingly used to criminalize political organizing.

Through all of this, Americans are some of the most hardworking people in the world. Which we have to be, because we labor under the most personal debt, largely rising out of bills for education and medical treatment. We are simply not our own people, living most of our lives under a kind of mild but prevailing indenture that numbs our willingness to speak out of turn. Only the rich can take chances, everyone else faces ruin at risking anything.

There is no place with more personal debt and heavier patterns of obligation than the Land of the Free. We are free to try to get expensive degrees to get jobs that barely exist, we are free to spend most of our lives paying student loans, we are free to lose everything we may have gained the moment we get sick. Along the way we can buy more things and get into more housing debt than almost anyone in the world, making our freedom one of consumption — consuming and being consumed by the systems we are born to.

We are free to vote in gerrymandered districts, and free to vote for two federal parties that are largely identical. We are free to vote on machines and systems that it is often illegal to audit for security purposes. We are all free to talk at once, and listen to no one at all. We are free, ever free, to chase as many dollars as we can, all the way to Hell.

It’s time to call America what it is: a kleptocracy, run by corporations and governments with only cosmetic distinctions. It is full of good people whom the kleptocrats keep fighting against each other, as they have for over 150 years, and will until the good people drown in rising saltwater or epic storms, or simply die, exhausted and used up."
us  quinnnorton  2014  policy  politics  money  power  torture  militaryindustrialcomplex  corruption  democracy  kleptocracy  wealth  inequality  labor  government  speech  business  corporatism 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Schedule 30C3
"The news of the past few years is one small ripple in what is a great wave of culture and history, a generational clash of civilizations. If you want to understand why governments are acting and reacting the way they are, and as importantly, how to shift their course, you need to understand what they're reacting to, how they see and fail to see the world, and how power, money, and idea of rule of law actually interact.

Our relationships with work and property and with the notion of national identity are changing rapidly. We're becoming more polarized in our political opinions, and even in what we consider to be existential threats. This terrain determines our world, even as we deal with our more individual relationships with authority, the ethics imposed by our positions in the world, and the psychological impact of learning that our paranoia was real.

The idea of the Internet and the politics it brings with it have changed the world, but that change is neither unopposed nor detatched from larger currents. From the battles over global surveillance and the culture of government secrecy to the Arab Spring and the winter of its discontent, these things are part of this moment's tapestry and they tell us about the futures we can choose. The world is on fire, and there is nowhere to hide and no way to stay neutral."
2013  quinnnorton  eleanorsaitta  politics  change  government  culture  history  arabspring  futures  identity  geopolitics  economics  labor  property  nationalidentity  authority  psychology  paranoia  surveillance 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Finally, an Art Form That Gets the Internet: Opera - Robinson Meyer - The Atlantic
"The same surveillance video clip plays three times in Two Boys, at the beginning, the middle, and the end. In it, we see Brian meet Jake in an alley. The older boy puts his arm around the younger; they walk outside of the frame. The video clip has a timestamp in the corner; it precisely frames the opera in history. Like Anne’s office, stuffed with papers and filing cabinets, that timestamp bears the brand of the archive.

Muhly has dwelled in an archive before. For his first job in New York, he tended the personal archives of Maira Kalman. His second album, Mothertongue, moved in and out of the stacks. As mentioned, one of its pieces, called “Archive,” asked a singer to remember phone numbers off the top of her head (knowing it to be a meaningful exercise, as cell phones now remember most trivia for us); another recounted a folk song—the recursive “Oh, the wind and the rain”—in the first movement, mangled it with electronic chimes in the second, then put it back together in the third.

The World Wide Web is a big archive, the biggest one we’ve ever created, humanity’s greatest “work of literature,” in the words of London artist James Bridle. What is chatting, even? All an instant message user does is read and supplement a document devised, archived, and accessed in the very, very recent past. Although the actual downloading happens offstage, little wonder that the plot cannot be resolved in Two Boys until the chat logs are downloaded from the server—or that the chat logs stick around long enough to be analyzed and parsed at all. Quinn Norton asks, “How do we make concrete, or at least reconstructable in the minds of our readers, the terrible, true passions that cross telephony lines?” The trouble of Two Boys is making the archive live onstage, making the operagoer see and hear the library.

In the second act, Brian struggles to describe the chatrooms to Strawson. “There is a world,” he tells her, “a real place—better than, because it’s real. You can’t see it, but it’s real.”

In its choruses, in its gliding towers, the opera gives the Internet dimension. Dancers, moving forward and backward on the stage, give it depth; their jagged stops and starts hint that the web has its own time. They are mimicking computers, which are, themselves, mimicking tools."
robinsonmeyer  nicomuhly  2013  opera  internet  art  depiction  aim  instantmessaging  music  chatrooms  quinnnorton  jamesbridle  surveillance  archives  mairakalman 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Next Time, Pay Attention. | Quinn Said
"When the extra-judicial harassment of drug addicts began, in the 80s, or even back in the 60s, no one cared. “Ew, they’re drug addicts.”

We filled our prisons with young blacks and latinos destroyed by the drug trade, sent our Vietnam vets there, our crack addicts and tweekers. We got used to not caring about them. We hired police and taught them it didn’t matter what they did to those people and their communities.

When the extra-judicial harassment of Arabs began, in the 90s and then many times worse after 9/11, it was, we said, to be expected. “Well, they’re Arabs.”

On a few occasions, I stood outside in a protest of Arab registration in America where a still unknown number of men went into DHS offices, and never came home. We all watched the surveillance and intimidation of Muslim and Arab communities in America, the UK and Europe and said to those governments, it’s ok, because those communities have extremists.

Now the extra-judicial harassment of journalists has begun. And a bunch of folks are saying “How could this happen?”

You’ve been letting it happen and grow for 50 years. Congratulations on noticing. Now do something about it, because you’re next."
quinnnorton  2013  nsa  edwardsnowden  warondrugs  society  activism  history  hegemony  politics  us  terrorism  profiling  harassment  rights  abuseofpower  journalism  glenngreenwald  dhs 
august 2013 by robertogreco
The Elastic Self
"Ohai! Welcome to my research blog where I archive material about identity making. I'm still working through my theory, but do take a look at An Xiao's lovely article that uses my theory of the Elastic Self to explain the cultural value of social media, such as Tumblr. I gave a talk about the Elastic Self at the first Tumblr Arts Symposium, scrub to 1:11 for my talk. I do a lot of research on Chinese youth, so you'll find lots of info about that topic. The one minute version of Elastic Self so far: The Elastic Self is both the feeling that one's identity is flexible and the action of trying on different identities that are different from a prescribed self. Individuals enact and manifest the Elastic Self in informal spaces that provide social distance from existing social ties and under conditions of relative anonymity, which minimizes social risks. In the presence of unknown others (strangers), individuals feel liberated to try on different identities without pressure to commit to an identity, to take greater risks in expressing ideas or emotions, and to try on selves that are reversible, easy to abandon, and impermanent."

[Kenyatta makes a link from Quinn Norton to Tricia's blog: http://finalbossform.com/post/49785356426/people-dont-go-online-to-become-someone-else ]
[The related post from Quinn: http://www.quinnnorton.com/said/?p=721 ]
triciawang  tumblr  youth  elasticself  china  identity  flexibility  online  adaptability  codeswitching  strangers  trust  socialrisks  quinnnorton  2013  kenyattacheese 
may 2013 by robertogreco
ACM Web Science talk, as written | Quinn Said
"they are values of an incorporeal world, made corporeal, to the great disruption of accepted political structures."



"this talk is as much about describing new landmarks on the landscape of the semi-consensual hallucination that is our shared reality, as it is about the people doing strange things on the internet."



"For the purposes of this next bit, I dub myself Pope, so that I may canonize a saint for the internet, and that saint shall be Jorge Luis Borges. He gave us the Library of Babel, and we are endeavoring as hard and fast as we can to give it back to him."



"All this is to say that because I study and am part of something largely illegible to 20th century taxonomies, but born of them, I have to use the language of the wrong century to describe my life. My problem is I need a new literature to describe network culture in terms that are true to itself, your problem is you need a new science to do the same."



"People don’t go online to become someone else, they go online and the network makes them into many selves, all as true in the moment as any other, and all changing the world with their tiny ephemeral footprints, making a trillion memories none of us will ever remember to remember, all watched over by machines of loving grace.

Let us consider how all these lies are, in fact, more true than all of our statistics about them."



"There is an aesthetic crisis in writing, which is this: how do we write emotionally of scenes involving computers? How do we make concrete, or at least reconstructable in the minds of our readers, the terrible, true passions that cross telephony lines? Right now my field must tackle describing a world where falling in love, going to war and filling out tax forms looks the same; it looks like typing."

[See also: http://www.cbc.ca/spark/blog/2013/12/01/dramatizing-the-internet/ ]
language  2013  borges  taxonomies  timerifts  literature  internet  thelibraryofbabel  libraries  networks  web  webscience  digitalhumanities  networkculture  writing  storytelling  corporeal  politics  statistics  multiplicity  identity  online  ephemerality  ephemeral  canon  quinnnorton 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Algorithmic Rape Jokes in the Library of Babel | Quiet Babylon
"Jorge Luis Borges’ Library of Babel twisted through the logic of SEO and commerce."

"Part of what tips the algorithmic rape joke t-shirts over from very offensive to shockingly offensive is that they are ostensibly physical products. Intuitions are not yet tuned for spambot clothes sellers."

"Amazon isn’t a store, not really. Not in any sense that we can regularly think about stores. It’s a strange pulsing network of potential goods, global supply chains, and alien associative algorithms with the skin of a store stretched over it, so we don’t lose our minds."
algorithms  amazon  culture  internet  borges  timmaly  2013  jamesbridle  apologies  non-apologies  brianeno  generative  crapjects  georginavoss  rape  peteashton  software  taste  poortaste  deniability  secondlife  solidgoldbomb  t-shirts  keepcalmand  spam  objects  objectspam  quinnnorton  masscustomization  rapidprototyping  shapersubcultures  scale  libraryofbabel  thelibraryofbabel  tshirts 
march 2013 by robertogreco
New Years Day: Things I have learned in the last ten years | Quinn Said
"• Busy is not the same thing as important, but it can sure seem that way
• If you want to see the future, don’t look at how people are using technology. Search out how they’re misusing it
•All people substitute belief for reality sometimes, and waste their time arguing with what is happening to them. Some people do this with business, some politics, some relationships, and some physics. This is how you get speculative bubbles, wars without end, horrendous breakups, and Darwin awards.
•Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean the business world isn’t insane and stupid. It really is.
•Cultures can have nightmares. A Whole society can become sick, It can roil in somatic pain as its own subconscious tortures it. History records these times with confusion. They are disturbing and inexplicable moments that don’t seem to have a real cause. They’re no fun to live through, and living through them gives you no more insight than looking back on them. You just hope to get to the other side.
•Compassion, even for the very worst, costs nothing and opens up possibilities.
•Some technologies will change your whole life for the better without you noticing, like text messaging, GPS, or spellcheck. Some will disrupt your life in ways you have no tools at all for dealing with, like the web vs newspapers or filesharing vs music labels, or when automatic spellcheck likes to correct your typos to say ‘incest’ when you meant to type ‘insect’.
•Most people explain their faults upfront, but it’s very hard to hear them while it will still make a difference.
•Humans have terrible memories. Most of the time, memories are just stories we make up about the past to explain how we see ourselves now. But memory is quite useful this way, and takes on an almost literary truth to make up for its factual error. However, it’s no way to measure or understand how we change over time, and it’s worthless for figuring out what happened.
•Becoming an expert is the delightful process of learning enough to understand far less of your field of endeavor than you did when you started. These days it’s practically my main signal I am getting somewhere- a sense of my grain of knowledge in an ever widening sea of my ignorance.
•Whatever constraints, limits, or rules you come up with for humanity, there’s someone out there breaking them. And there’s a decent chance they’re blogging it.
•Democracy doesn’t work very well anymore, if it ever did. The models I was given for how politics and policy work were completely false.
•The founding fathers were a bickering pack who largely hated each other. They spanned the political and cultural spectrum, and universally agreed on exactly nothing. They were rich, they were poor, they were monarchists, anarchists, aristocrats and demagogues. There were some saints and heros, but there were some downright evil people, and there were a few that were all of the above.
•Most of the easy problems have been solved. The ones that look easy are hiding the most terrible complexities.
•You will likely reach a point when it seems life is not really your own, when it is filled with career, interests, family, obligations, and things. It will be so architected, so set, you will believe you are trapped. You’re not. You can walk out anytime."
quinnnorton  2010  via:kissane  wisdom  business  democracy  human  humans  howweacthowwelive  hope  life  culture  society  future  past  present  technology 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Don’t Vote | Quinn Said [Read the whole thing.]
"It was learning that lead me to voting, and learning that lead me away from it. It was gerrymandering, legalized corruption, the impossibility of campaign finance reform…

…It was watching how people built an internet while the institutions weren’t looking. It was the kindness of strangers that took me in… It was watching my daddy chewed up by the system. […] It was a world that runs red with blood and spirit, a body politic raped and beaten by a ruling class as arbitrary and accidental as the rest of it. …

Instead vote everyday, not just one day in November. Vote with the stuff of your life. Vote like your life, and your opinions matter — because they do.

Vote with every dollar, in every relationship. Vote in how you work and how you speak. Vote in how you treat others and what you will accept from them. Vote your dignity and the dignity of others. Live in the opposite of fear. Bring your morals to work…"

[See also: http://dymaxion.org/essays/dontvotedo.html ]
canon  activism  systemschange  systems  labor  dignity  ethics  politics  cv  actions  freedom  power  democracy  2012  quinnnorton  votes  voting  elections  morality  values  convictions 
november 2012 by robertogreco
A Note on How I Choose My Assignments | Quinn Said
"I see my readers as people picking stuff up right now, but I also see them as people in 100 or 200 years, trying to understand how this period affected the world they live in. I don’t know whether those people will read me specifically, but I do believe I affect a narrative that will come down to them. I feel responsible to them to get stuff right over time, and to tell a insightful and constructive story."

"My answer is to choose stories based on my desire to understand and explain how the technology of this age is changing what it means to be human, not whether or not I think it’s a good story. Whether a particular event/op/tip/etc. fits into the metastory I’m telling is something only I can decide. And if I figure it out late, I’m late to the story, but I’m ok with that. I’m not a news automaton, I’m not even a story telling automaton. I’m a person whose stories are shaped by my values, ethics, and dreams for the future. You have helped build that, but only I can steer it."
purpose  meaning  thewhy  howwewrite  writing  careers  choice  ethics  2012  journalism  quinnnorton  howwework 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Don't Go Back to School: A handbook for learning anything by Kio Stark — Kickstarter
"Don’t Go Back to School  is a handbook for independent learning that shows you how to learn almost anything without school. If you’re thinking about going back to school or about the possibility of self-taught learning, read this book first! Don’t Go Back to School will help you figure out if you can do it on your own—and it’ll show you how. It might just save you a gazillion dollars in tuition fees, and spare you the yoke of student loans for years to come."
kiostark  unschooling  deschooling  learning  books  kickstarter  2011  danielsinker  corydoctorow  quinnnorton  selfeducated  self-directedlearning  autodidactism  autodidacts  brepettis  skillshare  dropouts  education  cv  autodidacticism 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Anonymous 101: Introduction to the Lulz | Threat Level | Wired.com
"The trickster isn’t the good guy or the bad guy, it’s the character that exposes contradictions, initiates change and moves the plot forward. One minute, the loving and heroic trickster is saving civilization. A few minutes later the same trickster is cruel, kicking your ass and eating babies as a snack.

The conversation about Anonymous points to this trickster nature, veering between praise and fear, with the media at a loss for even how to describe them…

The point is Anonymous, despite the false shock of contemporary news reporting, isn’t sui generis. It’s not a surprise, and it didn’t spring fully formed from the forehead of Ceiling Cat.

In this place and time, with the exhaustion of political discourse, the overwhelming pressures of modern life, and rise of the internet, the stochastic network organism of Anonymous was inevitable."

[See also: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/10/quinn-norton-occupy/ ]
lulz  anonymous  quinnnorton  feral  hacktivism  hacking  media  culture  anarchism  4chan  history  ows  occupywallstreet  2011  scientology  trickster 
november 2011 by robertogreco

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