I watched The Social Dilemma last night. If anyone is curious why STS scholars could be so upset with a documentary that at its core espouses an agreeable and important critique of social media, here's a thread. 1/11— Lisa Messeri (@lmesseri) September 18, 2020
The California Ideology is a mix of cybernetics, free market economics, and counter-culture libertarianism and is promulgated by magazines such as WIRED and MONDO 2000 and preached in the books of Stewart Brand, Kevin Kelly and others.
Lacking the free time of the hippies, work itself ho become the main route to self-fulfilment for much of the,virtual class’. ❧
They’re right that overwork and identification with work has become all too prevalent over the past several decades.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:11AM
Community activists will increasingly use hypermedia to replace corporate capitalism and big government with a hi-tech ‘gift economy’ in which information is freely exchanged between participants. ❧
I know the idea “gift economy” was around in the late 2000’s and even more prevalent in the teens, but not sure where it originated. This is one of the earliest sitings I’ve seen.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:15AM
In this version of the Californian Ideology, each member of the ‘virtual class’ is promised the opportunity to become a successful hi-tech entrepreneur. ❧
In retrospect, it’s really only made a much higher disparity between the top and the bottom.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:19AM
Almost every major technological advance of the last two hundred years has taken place with the aid of large amounts of public money and under a good deal of government influence. The technologies of the computer and the Net were invented with the aid of massive state subsidies. ❧
examples of government (public) funding for research and it’s effects
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:23AM
Americans have always had state planning, but they prefer to call it the defence budget. ❧
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:24AM
Entrepreneurs often have an inflated sense of their own ‘creative act of will’ in developing new ideas and give little recognition to the contributions made by either the state or their own labour force. ❧
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:25AM
When Japanese companies threatened to take over the American microchip market, the libertarian computer capitalists of California had no ideological qualms about joining a state-sponsored cartel organised by the state to fight off the invaders from the East! ❧
A good example of so-called capitalists playing the do as we say and not as we do game.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:27AM
In American folklore, the nation was built out of a wilderness by free-booting individuals – the trappers, cowboys, preachers, and settlers of the frontier. Yet this primary myth of the American republic ignores the contradiction at the heart of the American dream: that some individuals can prosper only through the suffering of others. The life of Thomas Jefferson – the man behind the ideal of `Jeffersonian democracy’ – clearly demonstrates the double nature of liberal individualism. The man who wrote the inspiring call for democracy and liberty in the American declaration of independence was at the same time one of the largest slave-owners in the country. ❧
Some profound ideas here about the “American Dream” and the dark underbelly of what it may take to achieve not only for individuals, but to do so at scale.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:29AM
Working for hi-tech and new media corporations, many members of the ‘virtual class’ would like to believe that new technology will somehow solve America’s social, racial and economic problems without any sacrifices on their part. ❧
In retrospect, this has turned out to be all-too-true.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:31AM
Slave labour cannot be obtained without somebody being enslaved. At his estate at Monticello, Jefferson invented many ingenious gadgets – including a ‘dumb waiter’ to mediate contact with his slaves. In the late twentieth century, it is not surprising that this liberal slave-owner is the hero of those who proclaim freedom while denying their brown-skinned fellow citizens those democratic rights said to be inalienable. ❧
This is a powerful example
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:33AM
Abandoning democracy and social solidarity, the Californian Ideology dreams of a digital nirvana inhabited solely by liberal psychopaths. ❧
And nearly twenty years later, isn’t that roughly what we’ve got? (aside from the digital nirvana, which didn’t work out so well.)
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:35AM
A 6,600-word internal memo from a fired Facebook data scientist details how the social network knew about specific examples of global political manipulation — and failed to act.
“In the office, I realized that my viewpoints weren’t respected unless I acted like an arrogant asshole,” Zhang said. ❧
Sad that one would have to act like a techbro to have their message at work be heard.
Annotated on September 14, 2020 at 09:40PM
Prodigal tech bro stories skip straight from the past, when they were part of something that—surprise!—turned out to be bad, to the present, where they are now a moral authority on how to do good, but without the transitional moments of revelation and remorse.
I also wish that the many, exhausted activists who didn’t take money from Google or Facebook could have even a quarter of the attention, status and authority the Prodigal Techbro assumes is his birth-right. ❧
Annotated on September 14, 2020 at 11:12AM
Nighat Dad runs the Digital Rights Foundation in Pakistan, defending online freedom of expression and privacy for women, minorities and dissidents. That’s real courage. Gus Hosein has worked in tech and human rights for over 20 years, runs Privacy International, the UK-based non-profit, and is the most visionary thinker I know on how to shake up our assumptions about why things are as they are. Bianca Wylie founded the volunteer-run Open Data Institute Toronto, and works on open data, citizen privacy and civic engagement. The “Jane Jacobs of the Smart Cities Age,” she’s been a key figure in opening up and slowing down Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs juggernaut in Toronto. Aral Balkan runs Small Technology Foundation and works on both the tools and the policies to resist surveillance capitalism. Unafraid of being unpopular, even with other activists, Balkan freely hammers rights organizations or conferences for taking big tech’s sponsorship money while criticizing the companies’ practices. In the western Balkans, hvale vale works tirelessly and cheerfully on women’s rights, sexual rights and the political and practical path to a feminist internet. Robin Gross, a Californian intellectual property lawyer, could have put her persistence and sheer pizazz to work defending big entertainment companies, but instead she’s worked for decades against the copyright maximalism that strangles artists’ creativity and does nothing to increase their incomes. I would love to hear their voices amplified, not (just) the voices of those who took a decade and more to work out the rottenness at the core of big tech. ❧
An interesting list of anti-big tech evangelists and activists. I’ve got some issues with Aral being included here–as a prior professional iOS app developer, he’s more likely a counterexample of just the thing she’s talking about here.
Annotated on September 14, 2020 at 11:16AM
I’m re-assessing how often I help out well-established men suddenly interested in my insights and contact book. It’s ridiculous how many ‘and I truly mean them well’s I cut out of this piece, but I really do, while also realizing I help them because they ask, or because other people ask for them. And that coffee, those introductions, that talk I gave and so much more of my attention and care—it needs to go instead to activists I know and care about but who would never presume to ask. Sometimes the prodigal daughter has her regrets, too. ❧
We all need to do a better job of amplifying the voices that have been marginalized for too long.
Annotated on September 14, 2020 at 11:23AM