#BlackLivesMatter

There’s a lot to chew on in . Thematically it is right up my street, in that it is linking leftist ideas from history to modern issues around digital technology and . It is ultimately about how , while warning against .

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.

future-histories.jpg

and his work on are used as a frame for . The historial commons is linked to the . is a jumping off point for and . 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, , and adjacent ideas (e.g. ) 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.

Read Data, Compute, Labour

The monopolisation of AI is not just – or even primarily – a data issue. Monopolisation is driven as much by the barriers to entry posed by fixed capital, and the ‘virtuous cycles’ that compute and labour are generating for the AI providers.

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.

Data, Compute, Labour | Ada Lovelace Institute

Read Shackles of Digital Freedom (Review of Qiu, Goodbye iSlave) by Zachary Loeb (boundary 2)

a review of Jack Linchuan Qiu, Goodbye iSlave: a Manifesto for Digital Abolition.

Really good review of Goodbye iSlave. iSlavery is Jack Qiu’s framing of the manufacture and demand for modern devices as akin to a modern international slave trade. With exploitation in the material manufacture of these devices, as well as exploitation in the deliberate addiction of people to these devices to drive their sales. With parallels between the pushing of sugar and other commodities to drive their production, all done through the exploitation in the slave trade.

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.

www.boundary2.org/2018/03/zachary-loeb-shackles-of-digital-freedom-review-of-qiu-goodbye-islave/

Read A creative multiplicity: the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari (Aeon)

Zany and earnest, political yet puckish, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari were philosophy’s most improbable duo.

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.

aeon.co/essays/a-creative-multiplicity-the-philosophy-of-deleuze-and-guattari

Read It’s Time to Tax Big Tech’s Data (tribunemag.co.uk)

Big Tech is the big winner from the coronavirus crisis, raking in record profits. But their revenue comes from data we create collectively – and we should tax it for the public good.

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.

Read Big Tech Won’t Save Us: The Case for Social Transformation over Coronavirus Surveillance by Movement for Anti-Oppressive Computing Practices

Surveillance technology such as contact tracing is being rolled out to track coronavirus, by delightful companies such as Palantir.

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.

Read Can Blogs and Wiki Be Merged? (Hapgood)

I’ve been thinking lately about the architecture underlying blogs and wiki, how different these architectural choices are (RSS, revision histories, title-as-slug, etc), and whether it’s…

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.

Read From Blog to Blocks (CJ Eller)

Crossposting augments my writing to not only exist as something else (blocks) but to interact with more types of media (not just other words but images and video) in a different way (connecting blocks to other blocks).

This is really interesting from CJ Eller on the potential of crossposting. Interesting to think about how it fits in with the IndieWeb ideas of owning your own content and POSSEing (publishing on your own site, syndicating elsewhere).

I’ve thought of POSSE before more as a means of transitioning away from the big platforms (the bit tyrants) while they still have the network effects. But this is more about your stuff existing in various locations as a means to enable new creative uses of it.

Read Mannequins

I turned in my book manuscript a few weeks ago. It took 18 months to complete, if I start counting from the moment when the idea first wormed into my brain. It’s by far the biggest writing project I’ve ever tackled.

Nadia Eghbal, someone who obviously loves writing, writes about writing a book. It sounds less… enjoyable than you might think.

What I hated most about this past year was feeling unable to seriously think about anything besides this one thing. Everything I read or talked about was in service to the thing. There was nothing but the thing.

Afterwards, I expected to feel a satisfying sense of completion, but mostly I just felt relieved. I didn’t think of it as having finished a manuscript so much as having expelled a virus from my body.

Read Your Website Is Your Castle by Desmond RivetDesmond Rivet

In which I zoom in slightly on the

Some nice quotes on what the IndieWeb is about, from Desmond’s article Your Website Is Your Castle.

In a nutshell:

At the heart of the IndieWeb is an attempt to unify the ideas behind personal websites, blogs and social networks, but in a manner consistent with how the world wide web operates.

Your website acts much like your wall on Facebook or your timeline on Twitter – it’s your personal soapbox, your castle on the web.

[…]one recreates, in a decentralized manner, the kinds of online interactions one has come to expect from private social networks.