Felix Stalder on Tue, 13 Mar 2018 23:58:08 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> The System Development Corporation

On 2018-03-12 18:27, Morlock Elloi wrote:
> The old-fashioned way, by confronting at the infrastructure level, away
> from keyboards. Messaging through the adversarial infrastructure is like
> drawing graffiti on the enemy tanks - cute but doesn't do s*it.
> This is not something that will be achieved overnight. What is missing
> is the awareness of the power of the infrastructure, and shifting the
> activism from painting graffiti to liberating the infrastructure.

What do you mean by "confronting on an infrastructure level" and
"liberating the infrastructure"? Sure, one thing is to understand the
deeper design patterns and how little they can be influenced by user
intervention, even by a skilled user, aka a hacker.

Yasha Levine's new book, Surveillance Valley, does a very good job at
this, basically relating advertisement as the business model of the
present, to counter-insurgency as defined since the 1960s. They are both
about gathering as much information about your "target population" as
possible, crunching it to detect hidden patterns and then blasting them
with messages designed to hit them at their soft spot. The Internet, to
a significant degree, was built for such purposes, up and including
things like TOR (90% US military financed and Levin explains their
rationale pretty well). So, digging your own fiber and writing your own
software stack?

But then, where does that leave us? What avenue of agency does that
open? In my corner of the world, artsy of course, this leads students to
whip out their analog cameras. In many others, it leads to a shrug.

So, I don't think it's a question of keyboards yes or no, rather to
develop a better understand of when it sit down on the keyboard and when
to leave it. Or, perhaps better, which things should be done on the
keyboard and which should not.

The current silicon valley ideology is, of course, that everything
should be done done through computers and hence everything can be done
better by computers. The Baffler piece you sent along, is a great rip
into this cultish thinking. This, very clearly, needs to be confronted,
if only to delegitimize those who use this ideology to mask their naked
power grab.

But we live in highly compromised systems, online and offline. Yet, they
are not all compromised in the same way and in respect to all uses. To
find ways to connect the least compromised elments (from the point of
view of what you want to achieve), online and offline, and to invent and
connect new ones, seems a much more usefull approach. So, perhaps some
flowers on tanks might be helpful, under the right circumstances.


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