inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #51 of 196: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 9 Jan 14 06:00
    
(Bruce's last couple of posts slipped in while I was writing this
response re currency...)

Some of my colleagues have organized a conference on alternative or
evolutionary economies January 25 here in Austin: http://nextecon.org/
Just yesterday I was in a discussion of virtual currencies, which
included a discussion whether Bitcoin is more aligned with existing
approaches to currency, and how you could create a new form of currency
as an emerging technology that is smarter about building and
leveraging networks of trust and stable exchange. This isn't really my
are of ongoing focus; perhaps Bruce will have more to say about it. I
do know that effective economies are build on trust, and we have little
of that in today's world. An evolution of new economic approaches
seems unavoidable but fraught with difficulty. Global economic
structures carry the substantial weight of history and human
experience, you can't shatter and replace exiting currencies overnight,
however smart a virtual approach might seem. On the other hand, I hear
that our traditional approaches have brought us to the brink of global
economic disaster, and we're precariously balanced there, hoping the
winds of speculation, corruption, and uncertainty won't blow us over. 

Reference on "community currencies":
http://www.appropedia.org/Community_Currencies

Reference on Open Source Currency: http://blog.opensourcecurrency.org/

Tom Brown's Github: https://github.com/herestomwiththeweather (Tom has
done a lot of development in support of open exchange and currency.) 
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #52 of 196: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 9 Jan 14 06:08
    
Bruce, in that post you linked, Cory said "I can’t shake the feeling
that 2014 is the year we lose the Web." Which makes me think he's
resisting the thought. I accepted the death of the Internet here in my
annual "top ten whatever" post:
http://weblogsky.com/2014/01/01/2013-top-ten-socialpoliticaltechnical-culture-
blasts/
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #53 of 196: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 9 Jan 14 06:46
    
Important for geeks: the state of software as we begin 2014, via Tim
Bray of Google (an old hand at net-targeted development):
https://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/201x/2014/01/01/Software-in-2014

"Our tools are good, our server developers are happy, but when it
comes to building client-side software, we really don’t know where
we’re going or how to get there."
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #54 of 196: david gault (dgault) Thu 9 Jan 14 06:57
    

Thanks for the link to the Doctorow piece.  It's dated today,
on my browser.  I hadn't thought that through, about HTML5.  
A simple search on "html5 drm" returns lots of scary stuff.
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #55 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 9 Jan 14 08:11
    
*The shiny new wearable "Wellograph," tragically, doesn't access the
WELL.

http://www.wellograph.com
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #56 of 196: bill braasch (bbraasch) Thu 9 Jan 14 08:15
    
we should not be surprised when we learn there's a backdoor on the
thermostatically warmed toilet seats.  Bitcoin could have been conceived as
a hacker project to discover new prime numbers by paying a reward to those
who succeed, not just a way to sell the mining machines.  who's making the
makers?
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #57 of 196: Paul Raven (jonl) Thu 9 Jan 14 08:49
    
Comment from Paul Raven emailed yesterday:

Hi, Bruce & Jon; always good to watch over your shoulders as you do
the yearly de-dung of the Augean stables.

Re: SMS, emails and similar in novelistic writing: definitely a few
examples (Jeff Noon's _Nymphomation_ leaps out, because a) it was
before workaday email access was common for average Brits, and b)
because he nailed the high-bandwidth potental of acronyms,
double-meanings and personal subtexts... albeit for the sake of a
slightly cheesy plot-point, IIRC). But I think the reason you don't see
much of it is because the audience for novels (mostly) doesn't live
very deeply in the networked world. I suspect this will change, but the
novel will change into something else at the same time. It may already
be. Tim Maughan's _Paintwork_ and his stories for ARC deal well with
the *feel* of networked conversation without going overboard on trying
to replicate the *look* of it; whether that's enough to reach those for
whom the network is mundane remains to be seen, but I don't know many
people who're grappling quite so hard with trying to bring the life of
the networked underclass to life on the page. (Full disclosure: Tim's a
friend. I hang out with him in hope some of his writing mojo rubs
off.)

> I find that, when I avoid social media (which is not often), 
> my focus improves; I feel less fragmented and "smarter."  As 
> someone who has evangelized for the Internet we have today, 
> a proponent of social media and freedom to connect, I'm 
> finding the down side, and others are finding it, too.

The wave looks different if you're surfing the tube to how it looks
from the beach it's rushing toward, or from a patched fishing smack a
few miles out to sea. (Or, one presumes, from the periscope of your
custom-built cartel narco-sub, or the helipad of your secessionist
transhumanist sea-stead enclave.) The knack appears to be working out
where best to see whatever the hell it is you think you need to see.
Though working out what you need to see is no mean feat, either...
where's my minority report?

And please allow me to second (third?) the vote for the appeal of the
Balkans as described; as the UK rushes headlong to embrace its
increasing economic and political irrelevance, it's nice to know
there's maybe somewhere to run to. Our Glorious Leaders are gearing up
to celebrate the glorious noble sacrifice of WW1 while talking about
sealing the borders and demonising anyone unBritish (whatever that
means); meanwhile the Germans, economic handwringing notwithstanding,
actually remember what the wars were fought *for*. So the former home
of the Stasi gets angry abut wiretapping, while the Land of Dopes and
Tories tells its citizens to suck it up and get back to work at their
zero-hour-contract place of employment. Or else.

History's a feast if you like the bitter taste of irony, no?
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #58 of 196: Type A: The only type that counts! (doctorow) Thu 9 Jan 14 08:57
    
@bruces 48: I don't mean "lose the Web" as in "lose it as a fun place to
hang out" or "lose it as a popular medium" -- I mean "lose it because it
will become a trojan horse to smuggle malware into the computers we live
inside of and that live inside of our bodies."
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #59 of 196: david gault (dgault) Thu 9 Jan 14 09:12
    

Funny how 'Balkans' keeps popping up.  I never 
bothered much with learning HTML because there were
so many dev tools, so many competing religions on
which was true. HTML5 was sold to me as the standard 
that was to unite the fractured principalities.  
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #60 of 196: Paulina Borsook (loris) Thu 9 Jan 14 09:31
    
here's alex payne's take on bitcoin

https://al3x.net/2013/12/18/bitcoin.html


(ducking)
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #61 of 196: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 9 Jan 14 10:58
    
Thanks for posting that, Paulina. My summary of my take on Payne's
piece: Bitcoin is an experiment, not a solution.

I liked this: "...in a time of growing inequality, we need technology
that preserves and renews the civilization we already have. The first
step in this direction is for technologists to engage with the
experiences and struggles of those outside their industry and
community. There’s a big, wide, increasingly poor world out there, and
it doesn’t need 99% of what Silicon Valley is selling."
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #62 of 196: Morgan Rowe-Morris (rowemorris) Thu 9 Jan 14 11:17
    
At this point is there even any allegation that Silicon Valley wants
to be part of the solution? I know that in the early days of the
internet there was a belief that the nature of the internet would
eventually lead to radical social change, but at this point it's surely
just another corporate playground. 

That's not to say that there aren't some interesting technological
solutions out there, but they seem to have increasingly little to do
with the internet or the big tech companies. 

One Laptop might be a good solution at some point, and Brazil might
still be able to exert some leverage on the international system. The
Obama administration's first steps on increasing open access to
federally funded research might also be a big deal at some point. 

Can anyone think of a tech story from 2013 where Silicon Valley was
the hero rather than the villain or the accomplice?
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #63 of 196: Emily Gertz (emilyg) Thu 9 Jan 14 12:18
    
Belatedly, happy new year JonL and Bruce. Glad to be present for this
latest State of the World, on--yes--our still-here, iota-sized internet
space not owned by some rich creep.
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #64 of 196: bill braasch (bbraasch) Thu 9 Jan 14 12:26
    
"the Llewin Davis of social networks"

I saw an interview with the Reddit founder this week on Charlie Rose.  He
said the idea was to find something to work on that let him feel like he was
still in college, not some corporate behemoth.  Conde Nast now owns Reddit.
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #65 of 196: A Manic Android (jonl) Thu 9 Jan 14 16:14
    
Via email from "A Manic Android":

Regarding bill braasch (bbraasch) in permalink 56
"Bitcoin could have been conceived as a hacker project to discover new
prime numbers"

One of the altcoins was conceived to do exactly that:
http://primecoin.org/static/primecoin-paper.pdf

Abstract
A new type of proof-of-work based on searching for prime numbers is
introduced in peer-to-peer cryptocurrency designs. Three types of prime
chains known as Cunningham chain of first kind, Cunningham chain of
second kind and bi-twin chain are qualified as proof-of-work...

Basically, Bitcoin is Alt-currency 1.0 and is actually a protocol.
Imagine trying to discuss HTTP in 1985 and that's what discussing
Bitcoin is like currently. There are currently 100s of other protocols
and most are basically Bitcoin clones but with the right mathematical
question, one could harness computers around the world to do research.
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #66 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 10 Jan 14 03:45
    
Cory Doctorow:  I don't mean "lose the Web" as in "lose it as a fun
place to hang out" or "lose it as a popular medium" -- I mean "lose it
because it will become a trojan horse to smuggle malware into the
computers we live inside of and that live inside of our bodies."

*Sure, Cory, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," as they
like to say in New Jersey.

*I don't want to muddy the waters here, when what really worries Cory
is Netflix apparently winning a round in the global
intellectual-property wars. But the Internet has ALWAYS, ALWAYS had a
trojan horse. The horse was a big nuclear submarine with uniformed guys
inside it, dragging up cables from the ocean-floor and tapping them.  

*There was always surreptitious surveillance: really big, fancy,
well-financed wooden horses with  armies of geeks hidden inside.  Not
just one such army, lots; other countries spy too.  Always there.

*The net's crypto standards have always been artificially weak.  Weak
code can't mean the *end* of the Internet world by itself -- because
that situation was present *before* was the Internet was ever thought
up.  

*You can say that the Internet's governance problems are showing some
potentially fatal weaknesses nowadays -- (because of almighty little
Netflix I guess, gosh Netflix must be a hairier outfit than I thought)
--  but the Internet never HAD governance.  It was always a distributed
techno-anarchy for geeks, and also for spooks.  

*You could make a pretty good argument that the *entire Internet* was
a "trojan horse" for geeks to unilaterally assert their social power
through a technical fait accompli.  Whoever voted for the Internet? 
They just wanted the Internet, that's all.

*Even if you've got tight, bulletproof, open-source code with nary a
zero-day exploit, you've still got the "Time for some traffic problems
in Fort Lee" problem.  That's a trojan horse of a sort  It's a almighty
trojan horse when guys with legitimate access to the control room, go
and surreptitiously pull some red lever, just because they know it's
gonna screw somebody else up. 

*No amount of code evangelism is gonna stop the control-room itself
from acting as the trojan horse.  On the contrary: the better the
systems work technically, the easier it is to discover some
mission-creep application that allows a sly operator to put the knife
in, and then act plausibly-deniable.  You're not gonna engineer-away
the human spite and wickedness, any more than you can engineer away
your *own* spite and wickedness.

*Also: you're never going to put some magic cyberdevice inside your
human body that has no human political and economic interests within
its hardware and software.  All human artifacts, below the skin or
above them, are frozen social relationships.  If you're somehow
burningly keen to consume a thing like that, you'd better, as William
Burroughs liked to put it, have a look at the end of the fork.
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #67 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 10 Jan 14 03:45
    


With that said, we kinda are getting orwell-ed right out the huxley
nowadays, so I'd like to talk a bit about what that experience is like
in lived reality, instead of in the science-fiction classics.  

*There have been lots of surveillance societies around, and although
they look kinda like what Orwell portrayed, they're not so clean and
dramatic and lucidly vivid as they are in novels.

*You can have really good spies, like, super-disciplined, crafty,
well-financed, practically omniscient spies, and yet still lack the
executive capacity to do anything about what the spies say.  That's why
the US Congress isn't viscerally afraid of the NSA.  They know that
the spook geeks are just gonna issue some report.  Even if it's a
factual report, cogent and urgent, everybody in Congress is as free to
ignore it as they're free to ignore evolution and global warming.  

*The NSA are wondrous spies, but they lack any executive capacity. 
The NSA are not swaggering around in fascist black uniforms tossing
concrete blocks through the windows of crypto companies.  Normal
politicians who meet people from the NSA think they're shy, math-geek
weak-sisters who would be easy to beat up.  They regard them as
dilberts and poindexters, and it doesn't occur to them that these guys
might be disrupting representative democracy.

*The pols are probably pretty afraid of the vindictive tough-guy
Jersey minions of Chris Christie this week, but they're just not afraid
about the NSA.  They were more afraid of Watergate burglars than the
NSA, because, even though the Watergate crowd were just the President's
tiny private militia, they preyed on political parties, and that's
what matters to Congress.

*As an aside, the NSA's sister, the NRO, has what Orwell was really
afraid about all along -- cameras.  And nobody says a thing about the
NRO and their global surveillance capacities.  There's no NRO Snowden
to come out with some of the NRO's glossy contractor catalogs, but I'd
bet anything that the NRO's spook hardware is the true awesome. 
Really, the long gray hair would rise right off a hippie libertarian's
head.
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #68 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 10 Jan 14 03:46
    
So…  When you're actually LIVING in a totalized surveillance society,
it's not an efficient, tireless, Faceboot kick-machine.  Orwell made
that up.   It's a great slogan, but people don't live in slogans,
there's not enough room. 

*Totalized surveillance societies are rickety and *weak.*  If they
were genuinely strong, they would have won a long time ago.  People
would have flocked to be surveilled, just for the sake of being on the
winner's side.  Everyday people don't mind surveillance all that much. 
They even find it comforting in some ways.  The problem is it doesn't
work out well in practice.

*The real problem is that the guys running the surveillance machinery
start surveilling each other.  Since they've got no sense of human
rights or legal and civic dignity, and they know their ardent comrades
don't either, it dawns on them that they've got to do each other in.  

*To do that, they've got to use the same illicit mechanisms that they
use to control the population, because, well, that's what they're good
at.  That's how they seized power in the first place.  So it means
civil war inside the trojan horse.  There's no law in there.  There is
no justice anywhere else, either -- but inside the trojan horse they've
got all the guns and knives.

*It's not that they fail to do massive, dreadful things against the
everyday people, of course; they may well eliminate entire sectors of
the population, cleanse ethnic areas, all that classic final-solution
stuff.  But they've got severe, irrevocable problems within their own
power-structure.

*Eventually, there will be some Night of the Long Knives purge, and
one guy will survive.  That seems okay for a while, because at least
there's just *one* guy that you have to appease, instead of this
frantic mafia of revolutionaries, gunning for each other while mowing
down crowds.  He's probably pretty competent, this dictator, in terms
of Darwinian survival anyhow.  But, as a head of state, he's got severe
management problems.

*Despite the surveillance -- even because of it -- it's impossible for
him to find out what's really going on, and to judge what matters. 
Everybody's diligently reporting on everybody else, but the
surveillance is like an end-in-itself.  Surveillance is not
opinion-polling, it's not elections, or citizen service; it's just
morally objectionable spying and police-tattling.   Anybody who starts
legitimately complaining, and who might become a healthy reform
movement of some kind, just gets rounded up for being noisy.  
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #69 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 10 Jan 14 03:47
    
*So all the society's legal, social and economic issues go
unredressed, except through the personal beneficence of the dictator. 
He's quickly surrounded by a clique of wily survivor-types who avidly
lie to him all the time.  He's kept very busy, but he's never in direct
face-to-face confrontation with  the genuine social problems.  The
best he can do is to demonize certain enemy groups, crank up the
one-way propaganda machine, and throw largesse at stuff that seems to
him like a grandiose idea, like, say, a moon-flight or something.

*Then -- absent some sudden defeat or regime failure -- the Great and
Powerful Oz there is human, and gets old.  He's tired, and frail, and
so is the bureaucracy around him.  There are no succession plans in
place, because it's never been dreamed that he would let go of absolute
power.  He may have some satraps around that he's decided not to kill,
but they've got all his organizational problems and then some; a
dictator's court is not a good training school for effective
administrators.

*So even though everybody's scared, and there is no freedom, and
treachery is omnipresent and it feels worse in some ways than George
Orwell had the space to describe in his book, an omniscient
surveillance society is a weirdly *numb* society.  It's like it's got
huge, staring, unblinking eyeballs, but no nerves and atrophied limbs. 
It can't yawn, scratch its own itches, party down or make itself a
chicken dinner; it's just bad at the cozy minutiae of daily life.  It
de-motivates creative talent and it stunts most forms of ambition. 
It's a balked and frustrated society, with a palsied,
obsessive-compulsive quality.  

*It's poor, too.  Poverty is at hand when a thing that drastic happens
to you.  You don't possess the necessary money to stamp everybody's
face with a boot forever; you'd like to do it, of course, but the
business model doesn't work.  Basically, you're gonna be living off the
local oil, or selling your women offshore, or maybe invading Albania
because you somehow imagine there's loot there.  

*You'd better not try invading somebody richer than you, despite your
teeming hosts of spies, informants and shock troops, because, well,
they're probably gonna invent something during the course of the war
that will blow you right off the map.

*But that's not the worst of it.  Lots of countries get invaded and
conquered and dominated by richer guys.  It happens; but that's not
what happens to you.  The worst legacy of a totalitarian society is
that, when the defeat comes, the victors freakin' expunge you.  They go
for every statue, all your patriotic schoolbooks, your top guys, your
street-names, flags, and regalia,  your favorite cult icons, cool
super-weapons and concrete megastructures…  They even ritually ban and
forget and shun your favorite curvaceous movie-stars.  

*Everybody involved in your regime swears they had nothing to do with
it and they acted only under duress; they despise and dishonor
everything you built; they don't mention you in their memoirs, they
never celebrate your anniversaries, your grandchildren never speak of
you, they they never sing your marching songs…

*Nobody's ever written a science-fiction novel about that, but I've
seen it with my own eyes.  It's truly very scary.  The thoroughness of
that historical obliteration, the joy of it, the lack of second
thoughts, the utter absence of sentimental nostalgia.  It's a "fate
you'd wish on your worst enemy," but it's truly an awful fate.
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #70 of 196: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 10 Jan 14 06:25
    
Pausing for a deep breath after that great rant Bruce. 

I'm wondering if I'm not alone in finding myself redefining my
relationship(s) with my failed nation-state? It was easy to march in
the streets in the '60's when there was still the feeling that you
could make a change. Not so easy today - take Occupy for example. We're
not going to flash/smart mob our way out of this one. 

I'm not sure what a "reasonable right to privacy" is anymore, but I'm
pretty sure I don't have it. 

And, as Jon points out, there are plenty of digital weapons of 'mass
distraction' to keep us all off base.

Enough angst and ennui to go around for everyone. Maybe we could start
an A&E You Tube channel for angst and ennui posts?

So, my question is, how are you both finding balance in this new
frontier and what courses of action seem promising?
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #71 of 196: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 10 Jan 14 15:04
    
> how are you both finding balance in this new
> frontier and what courses of action seem promising?

You mention that feeling, in the 60's, "that you could make a change."
Martin Luther King changed something back then, but the Civil Rights
movement would have been there, with or without him. He was a catalyst,
he showed courage, we see him as a hero, almost superhuman.

In today's world, MLK would have been outed as a mere mortal. His
affairs and other foibles would have been exposed, his
everyday-human-ness would be obvious. Anti-MLK hate campaigns would
thrive via bulk-email to private email accounts as well as via
thousands of disinformation websites. Who knows if he could've made it
to the mountain given a 21st century orgy of exposure and vilification.


We have no heroes now, just mere mortals, persistently exposed via the
new media panopticon, a hungry ghost starved for sensation and
scandal. We can't even abide fictional heroism; it's telling that the
most potent protagonist of our era so far has been Walter White, an
tragic anti-hero of Shakespearean proportions, representing a very
human and real hubris and evil. 

I do hope that we, mere mortals, puny humans, can become, each in his
own way, what Bucky Fuller talked about, the "trim tab":

"It's a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low
pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all.
So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks
it's going right by you, that it's left you altogether. But if you're
doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your
foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go."

Bucky said "Call me Trim Tab." I think they put that on his grave.

I like to hope that we can find some sort of salvation through smaller
effective acts of ordinary people.

Meanwhile, my own course of action is to turn inward and study my own
machine, watching my thoughts, watching my actions, trying to go
deeper. Trying to understand what's behind the worlds and ideas and
movements of each day.

Here's something interesting by Roger Ebert's wife, about
conversations with him at the end of his life:

"...the day before he passed away, he wrote me a note: 'This is all an
elaborate hoax.' I asked him, 'What's a hoax?' And he was talking
about this world, this place. He said it was all an illusion. I thought
he was just confused. But he was not confused. He wasn't visiting
heaven, not the way we think of heaven. He described it as a vastness
that you can't even imagine. It was a place where the past, present,
and future were happening all at once."
http://www.esquire.com/blogs/news/roger-ebert-final-moments
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #72 of 196: david gault (dgault) Fri 10 Jan 14 16:16
    

California State Senate is feeling their oats,
as described in this link posted to FB by former
well guy...oh wait, this is publicly readable and
I haven't his permission to use his name.
The story speaks for itself:

http://antiwar.com/blog/2014/01/09/the-bipartisan-effort-to-deprive-the-nsa-of
-water-and-electricity/
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #73 of 196: Gary Nolan (gnolan) Fri 10 Jan 14 23:50
    
Bruce's good rant, particularly post <66>, summarizes the ground rules
I have assumed were in place from the outset. I suspect the lack of
sustained outrage towards the NSA by the public is due to some level of
understanding that electronic communication just is not secure. By the
time of the NSA disclosures people have for years been giving up
personal details to Facebook, Google, Amazon and so on. Perhaps the
private sector superiority over public myth makes it OK to surrender
personal life details to big business, often headed by right wing
figures such as Zuckerberg, but not to the damn government.
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #74 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 11 Jan 14 01:46
    
*Studying Turkish politics is of great help in understanding this
"Deep State" business in the USA.  The Turks have had a Shadow State
for absolute ages now.

*Turks take comfort in having the Army and secret services in charge,
because they know the civilian political parties are corrupt and
irresponsible.  A lot of Turkish political parties model themselves on
the military, or are keen on private militias in political guise.

*Civil society in Turkey is very much corroded by endless terror
provocations, too.

*In a US context, when your military-industrial complex gets spooky,
you get an espionage-industrial complex.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/01/an-awkward-question-for-ro
bert-gates-has-the-deep-state-taken-over/
  
inkwell.vue.473 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
permalink #75 of 196: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 11 Jan 14 01:55
    
*Here's a bunch of writers, most of them not Americans, complaining
about what mass surveillance does to the cause of literature.  The USA
didn't seem to notice this petition much, but I find it quite
interesting and symptomatic of our times…  I don't know quite what to
say about it yet, because there are some parts I'm quite keen on, while
others seem to emerge from a la-la-land where it's all about the
primacy of the midnight lamp and the typewriter.

*I can't really untangle it within the Well SOTW, but maybe I'll write
an article about it for MEDIUM soon.  It's one of those MEDIUM-like,
politicized situations where I'm torn between sympathy and dread… And
really, if you needed some cultural evidence for why the year 2014 has
"an extraordinary atmosphere of sullen, baffled evil," this screed
would pretty well do it.


http://www.change.org/petitions/a-stand-for-democracy-in-the-digital-age-3

A STAND FOR DEMOCRACY IN THE DIGITAL AGE
Petition by Writers Against Mass Surveillance

On International Human Rights Day, 562 authors, including 5 Nobel
Prize laureates, from over 80 countries have joined  together to launch
an appeal in defense of civil liberties against surveillance by
corporations and governments. 5 Nobel Prize Winners have signed: 

Orhan Pamuk, J.M. Coetzee, Elfriede Jelinek, Günter Grass and Tomas
Tranströmer. Also among the signatories are Umberto Eco, Margaret
Atwood, Don DeLillo, Daniel Kehlmann, Nawal El Saadawi, Arundhati Roy,
Henning Mankell, Richard Ford, Javier Marias, Björk, David Grossman,
Arnon Grünberg, Angeles Mastretta, Juan Goytisolo, Nuruddin Farah, João
Ribeiro, Victor Erofeyev, Liao Yiwu and David Malouf.

This global pledge was organized by an independent international group
of authors -  Juli Zeh, Ilija Trojanow, Eva Menasse, Janne Teller,
Priya Basil, Isabel Cole, and Josef Haslinger. On Dec 10 it is
published in 30 news papers all around the world:

***************************************************

In recent months, the extent of mass surveillance has become common
knowledge. With a few clicks of the mouse the state can access your
mobile device, your e-mail, your social networking and Internet
searches. 

It can follow your political leanings and activities and, in
partnership with Internet corporations, it collects and stores your
data, and thus can predict your consumption and behaviour. 

The basic pillar of democracy is the inviolable integrity of the
individual. Human integrity extends beyond the physical body. In their
thoughts and in their personal environments and communications, all
humans have the right to remain unobserved and unmolested. 

This fundamental human right has been rendered null and void through
abuse of technological developments by states and corporations for mass
surveillance purposes.

A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under
surveillance is no longer a democracy.

To maintain any validity, our democratic rights must apply in virtual
as in real space.

* Surveillance violates the private sphere and compromises freedom of
thought and opinion. 
* Mass surveillance treats every citizen as a potential suspect. It
overturns one of our historical  triumphs, the presumption of
innocence. 
* Surveillance makes the individual transparent, while the state and
the corporation operate in secret. As we have seen, this power is being
systemically abused.
* Surveillance is theft. This data is not public property: it belongs
to us. When it is used to predict our behaviour, we are robbed of
something else: the principle of free will crucial to democratic
liberty.

WE DEMAND THE RIGHT for all people to determine, as democratic
citizens, to what extent their personal data may be legally collected,
stored and processed, and by whom; to obtain information on where their
data is stored and how it is being used; to obtain the deletion of
their data if it has been illegally collected and stored.

WE CALL ON ALL STATES AND CORPORATIONS to respect these rights.

WE CALL ON ALL CITIZENS to stand up and defend these rights.

WE CALL ON THE UNITED NATIONS to acknowledge the central importance of
protecting civil rights in the digital age, and to create an
International Bill of Digital Rights. 

WE CALL ON GOVERNMENTS to sign and adhere to such a convention.

Initiators:
Juli Zeh Germany
Ilija Trojanow Germany
Eva Menasse Germany
Janne Teller Denmark
Priya Basil UK
Isabel Fargo Cole USA
Josef Haslinger Austria
  

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