The government has awarded oversight of the UK’s post-Brexit border and customs data to Palantir, an American tech firm notorious for assisting the Trump administration’s drive to deport migrants from the US.
This is awful.
I like this framing of the idea of orthographic media, collapsing distance and relevance. It also makes me think of Ton‘s thoughts on feed reading by ‘distance’, which is an attempt to regain some focus and relevance. https://www.zylstra.org/blog/2019/06/feed-reading-by-social-distance/
There’s a lot to chew on in Future Histories. Thematically it is right up my street, in that it is linking leftist ideas from history to modern issues around digital technology and technology capitalism. It is ultimately about how technology should be liberatory, while warning against techno-utopianism.
As the planet slides further toward a potential future of catastrophic climate change, and as society glorifies billionaires while billions languish in poverty, digital technology could be a tool for arresting capitalism’s death drive and radically transforming the prospects of humanity. But this requires that we politically organize to demand something different.
Fanon and his work on colonialism are used as a frame for digital self-determination. The historial commons is linked to the digital commons. Thomas Paine is a jumping off point for universal basic income and services. And lots of other interesting juxtapositions.
It’s full of ideas and statements that I agree with. It’s so choc full of stuff that I’m not sure that I’ve come away from it with a coherent idea of what is to be done – it’s more of a manifesto than a handbook. Each chapter does have broad strokes of ideas, just more long-term legislative or policy demands than immediate opportunities for praxis. But definitely good jumping off points. For example, decentralisation, libre software and IndieWeb adjacent ideas (e.g. Solid) are mentioned for digital self-determination, although you’ll be left to your own devices as to how you do something practical with those ideas.
Anyway, it’s something I will definitely return to when I circle round to particular ideas again.
Nick Srnicek talks about how imbalanced access to fixed capital and labour are as big issues as access to large datasets when it comes to the big tech monopolies.
economic policy in response to Big Tech must go beyond the fascination with data. If hardware is important too, then opening up data is an ineffective idea at best and a counter-productive idea at worst.
I think the argument being that something like the EU’s data strategy focuses too much on the data itself, and neglects the hardware, capital and labour needed to do useful things with that data.
It could simply mean that the tech giants get access to even more free data – while everyone else trains their open data on Amazon’s servers.
That parallel linkage of these two parts of the system is really interesting to me, interested as I am in both the right to repair and the IndieWeb. In right to repair we try to counter the rampant consumption of devices, and in the IndieWeb we try to counter the pushers of these technologies.
The review highly rates the book for giving an unflinching look at the exploitation rife in the manufacture of modern devices. Not without caveats though – particular the problems of framing these modern practices as slavery in comparison to historic slavery. And also some of the modes of resistance suggested to iSlavery falling under the brackets of simply ethical consumerism, and also perhaps an uncritical assumption that all technology can be liberatory if harnessed right.
I really enjoyed this article.
It gives a bit of back story to Deleuze & Guattari. I find that helps give me a grounding, much like with A Short History of Nearly Everything.
They met during May 68. Sounds like Guattari was the more political of the two. I am fully on-board with a description of their work as “a progressive, Marxist-inspired, anti-capitalist politics of joy”.
It’s quite interesting though. There seems to be an obvious leaning towards a more anarchist than Marxist approach. Very much anti-hierarchy, at least.
Yet, at the same time, anti-individual:
Deleuze and Guattari were both resolutely anti-individualist: whether in the realm of politics, psychotherapy or philosophy, they strived to show that the individual was a deception, summoned up to obscure the nature of reality.
I like how D&G seem to sit somewhere between the horizontal and the vertical.
This article argues that the data that we create should be treated as a commons, and that we should tax the firms harvesting it. Especially at a time when the firms are making even bigger profits from it, and we are most likely going to endure more austerity measures as a result of the pandemic.
I agree with the redistribution of the wealth that big tech is hoovering up, but I’d say we should be working against the enclosure of the data commons, not just letting it happen and then taxing it, no? Counter surveillance capitalism through open protocols and supporting the building of an open web.
Rather than contracting profiteering disaster capitalists to roll out technologies of dubious efficacy and inherent racial biases, it would be better to invest in reforms that build social safety nets and reduce structural inequality.
Pouring funding into technology that can detect COVID infection from vocal signatures, doesn’t provide the social safety nets that allow people to take time off from work when they are ill.
Nice article from Mike Caulfield on blogs, wikis, and whether we could/should try to merge them into one thing.
Wiki and blogs have two different cultures, two different idioms, two different sets of values.
Interestingly, Mike thinks they should be kept distinct. However, it does feel like his analysis of wikis is not thinking of them as personal wikis. Some of the values Mike mentions for wikis (like minimization of personal voice) maybe applied to the original wiki concept, but do not apply to personal wikis.