inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #151 of 221: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 11 Jan 18 07:39
Ted asked about platform cooperativism. There are all sorts of
digital platforms emerging, some of which are for organizing work or
matching service providers to customers. Think Uber or Freelancer,
for that sort of targeted platform. Larger, more generalized
platforms are those like Amazon (for shopping) and Facebook (for
socializing). These examples are all owned and operated by
hierarchical (and some would say oligarchical) corporations: the
people who do the work are "managed" by a few at the top who make
the governance decisions and take the profits.

In co-operative business, the people who do the work participate in
governance and profits. It's a fair way to organize a business
democratically. "Rooted in democratic ownership,co-op members,
technologists, unionists, and freelancers create a concrete
near-future alternative to the extractive sharing economy."

Platform co-ops are new and buzzworthy. A friend of mine who
attended the annual platform co-op conference this year told me many
of the people there seemed to be more into the sexiness of the idea
and the platform capitalism aspect of it, than the co-operative

Democratic governance is not easy, and I suspect that this movement
will have failures along the way in confronting the inherent
difficulty of building and scaling. I'm part of a worker
co-operative digital agency, where we build website and web apps,
and we've done very well so far, partly because we're small and had
good consensus when we formed. A subset of our members are working
on building a platform co-op which will inherently have a larger
member base, and will be multi-stakeholder. I suspect that will be
more difficult to coordinate, but we're off to a good start.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #152 of 221: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 11 Jan 18 11:47

The winter holidays are  well over now,  The Christmas season is not
a big deal here in Ibiza, but there was commercial activity.
Families of snowbirds, mostly.

Now the town is radically de-populated.  There’s no tourist traffic
to speak of.  All the tourist retailers, the night clubs, the
fashion joints, the sellers of sunglasses and fridge magnets, they
just locked up shop and left.  I assume that they’re “on vacation,”
but I have to wonder — when you work to manage other people’s
vacations, where do you yourself go on vacation?  

Do you really want to subject yourself, as a tourist, to the dismal
racket that you run yourself?  Makes no sense, right?  When other
people’s fun is your business, where do you yourself go for some
rest and relaxation?  

Well, they’re gone now.  They’ll back around mid, late February, as
most of their closure signs say.   Maybe they’re writing novels.

You can still eat in Ibiza.  The groceries are open, the busses are
running.  It’s pretty, if a bit windy.   But you can walk around the
old-town tourist district, which in summer is just a throng of the
24hr Party People, and there’s maybe one human being per block. 
Sometimes you see some laundry on an upstairs flat.  

Other than that, Ibiza is handsome and quite empty.  Nothing but
architecture.  It’s NIMBY of a different sort: Nobody In My Back

I guess I have to become my own DJ now.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #153 of 221: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 11 Jan 18 12:11
What if the Ibizan retailers never came back?  A lot of them aren’t
Ibizans at all, they’re foreigners, emigres, because, after all,
they’re selling stuff to foreigners.  So you can walk into a Spanish
design shop, and the clothes are Spanish, but the owner is Dutch and
the staffers are comely German girls, ex-go-go dancers with day-jobs
in retail.

If they all just left, and never returned,  they would board up the
town.  Ibiza would look like some abandoned silver-mining boom town
in the Rocky Mountains.  Everybody would tell the just-so story that
“they left through lack of economic opportunity.” But the Party
People ARE the ”economic opportunity.”  So it’s a tautology.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #154 of 221: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 11 Jan 18 12:11

I’m okay with tourism generally.  I tend to live in
tourist-attractive places.  Austin is a tourist center, Turin gets a
lot of cultural foot traffic, even Belgrade has a big music scene
and has had its happier decades as a part-time Paris for Communists.

But then there’s Venice, the fatal counter-example, which was
assassinated by tourists.  Maybe 60,000 tourist-serving staffers
left in Venice, a grumpy skeleton crew in what was once one of the
world’s lively and most culturally influential cities.   You can go
to Venice and buy the costumes, but there’s nothing much left BUT
costumes.  A simulacrum.  A museum of itself.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #155 of 221: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 11 Jan 18 12:12

When you talk about this problem, you immediately wander into areas
that the alt-right is staking out.  It’s Brexitania — the
foreigners, there’s too many of ‘em, I’m sick of the very sight of
‘em.  Away with ‘em by whatever means necessary — I’ll saw my own
arm off to get it out of their friendly grip.

But once they’re well and truly gone, and the “economic opportunity”
with ‘em, that’s when you realize that you’re living an abandoned
beach-side town from some Morrissey dirge.  “Every day is like
Sunday, every day is quiet and gray.”

And instead of everybody congratulating one another on their renewed
spiritual authenticity — “Hey look, we’re all Latvians again, let’s
celebrate!”  — they look around for a while, brows wrinkling, and
then vote with their feet.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #156 of 221: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 11 Jan 18 12:15

Had a pretty good day today working on the novel — and I put myself
in that situation for a reason, and it was a good idea, too — but
man, when the party’s over and they turn out the lights, the scene
gets melancholy.  When you're a bartender for a living, you come to
realize that every night finishes sad.  And the last to leave are
the least happy ones.

Those foreign exploiters, you can’t live with ‘em and you can’t live
without ‘em.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #157 of 221: Gerhard Stoltz (gstoltz) Thu 11 Jan 18 12:46
I was going to say something intelligent about the situation in
Norway. Then it sort of dawned on me that it wasn't in my ken to do
So let me say something from the perspective of the slightly stupid
Hey, we're doing great. We've digitized most of our interactions
with the government and our private sector companies. We're still
having a bit of a ruffle about the whole "should the govt. compete
with private enterprise or should private enterprise be allowed to
siphon off money as best as they can"-thing, but we're still
financially independent so we're not really Greece yet. 

We might have grown a bit decadent over the past 25 years or so, but
oil money does weird things to people and apparently most other
nations with it has done worse, so we must be doing something right.
Watching the UAE and other with horrid track records relating to
what we consider to be ethical behaviour take the forefront in
futurism feels kinda bad, but what is there to do about it? We are
the beneficiaries of a global environment that gives little to no
regard for cost as long as that cost can be externalized anyways, so
its not for us to throw stones now, is it? Its not as if my iPhone
was made by people with strong labor union representations, so what
to do?
I mean, personally i want to do the Tea Party thing in its original
intent to the extent that it is not detrimental to our ability to
compete locally and globally. Which basically means that it can't be

So yay. From where the slightly stupid norwegian sits the future
belongs to the rich, as it always has. And if you're not stupid you
can probably ride that current into a place where you're globally
competitive and disconnected from the needs of any one place meaning
you can disregard the need of the local. Though for how long can you
sell people on the disconnect from the local? If Greece is any
indication (yes its a slightly eurocentric indication) you can sell
them on it for five minutes longer than needed to dismantle it
beyond short term repair.

But yeah. I get to sit here on top of the working class world for
now. Entry level non-skilled labor is still approximately 40K USD a
year. Thats what oil does to you when you're integrated into the
western world and the social democratic way of thinking from the
outset. Also we paid off the US military machines with our
investment in F35's so we should be good, right?
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #158 of 221: Administrivia (jonl) Thu 11 Jan 18 13:55
Just a reminder - if you're reading this and you're not a member of
the WELL, you can still post a comment or question by sending it to
inkwell at

If you want to post this link to this conversation, use

If you're looking for Donald Trump, he's not here.

Keep coming back, this conversation has a two week run through next
Monday, January 15, Martin Luther King Day in the USA.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #159 of 221: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 12 Jan 18 00:03
*Norwegian?  If you're American, you can emigrate over there pronto!
Look, here's a Norwegian town whose mayors would be delighted to
have you!
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #160 of 221: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 12 Jan 18 00:04
The Prime Minister of Japan is in Estonia today.  He's engaging in
some kind of trade-with-Europe economic offensive.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #161 of 221: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 12 Jan 18 00:10

*Here's some German robotics guys being technical and boring about
the prospects of robots in the methodical way that only German guys
can be.  You can see that they don't mention the robots dancing,
singing, answering deep moral questions, pretending to be sex
partners, tracking and killing people, almost none of that standard
cool sci-fi robot hype stuff.

*This is WHY I'm bullish on robotics for 2018; it's those numerous
humming, clicking areas where you realize the people involved just
aren't kidding.  They're not even bothering to hype themselves as
robot-guru thought leaders.  They're just trying to make the numbers
for the quarter.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #162 of 221: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 12 Jan 18 00:25
*This isn't exactly a "FemmeCoin," but it is a new all-girl, masked
Japanese pop group who sing "crypto pop" about virtual currencies.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #163 of 221: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 13 Jan 18 07:32
*Here goes Scotland, trying some small scale Universal Basic Income
experiments. This is probably the right way to go about it.  You
might want to try a neighborhood with a bunch of trust-fund kids in
it, because they're already on the private-capitalist version of UBI
and nobody complains about that.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #164 of 221: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 13 Jan 18 07:50

*Foreign Policy” and their top ten simmering warfare areas for
Americans to fret about in 2018.

1. North Korea
2. Saudi-Arabia/Iran
3.  Myanmar, Bangladesh, Rohingya ethnic cleansing
4. Yemen
5. Afghanistan
6. Syria
7. “The Sahel” (((That’s a bargain, since it’s such a huge area)))
8. Congo
9. Ukraine
10. Venezuela

*I don’t remember anybody fretting about a war in Ukraine before it
happened.  Now it seems that bored Ukraine veterans are showing up
in Bosnia.  Nobody’s been expecting any trouble in Bosnia, either. 
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #165 of 221: John Papola (jonl) Sun 14 Jan 18 06:14
John Papola responds to John Spears' post <65>:

I’ll take time to address each point. Thanks for the questions.

“Examples of competitive business systematically check bad behavior”

1) It was short-sellers that uncovered Enron’s malfeasance, not

2) Increased trade between countries strongly correlates with a
reduction in military action. France and England are at war for
centuries. The fall of the corn laws opens trade between them.
They’ve been allies ever since. The US is nowhere remotely close to
war with China and the likelihood has declined steadily with our
trade. We don’t want to bomb our suppliers or our customers.

3) Jackie Robinson broke into all-white Baseball with the Brooklyn
Dodgers because the incentive to gain a competitive advantage
overpowered individual and racial prejudice, leading to small damn
break in African American baseball hires. No legislation. 

4) Gay marriage support flipped in corporate America before it
gained legal status and has never reached legislative success.

5) Apple launched the iPhone at $699 in 2007, at a time when they
were already a financial GIANT and had to immediately cut the price
by $200 due to weak demand. Even the mighty apple is not a
price-maker in a competitive market.

6) Opec couldn’t keep the price of gas from collapsing. Cartels are
not naturally eternal unless enforced by a single government/ agency
(like the SEC and credit rating agencies). The individual members
face STRONG incentives to undercut each other, dissolving the
cartel. Hence we have sub- $2.50 gas nearly 10 years AFTER the
“we’ve hit peak oil” hysterics of 2008.

These are a few examples off the top of my head, but they’re
countless and continual. “Customer service” is a term of art for a
reason. It’s because competitive firms MUST be of service to their
customers or they’ll walk out the door. This is really broad,
experiential stuff. Competition drives down prices, checking greed.
Competition encourages hiring of talent regardless of race, gender
or creed. Global trade puts us in touch with people who, under
politics, we are tribally encouraged to hate. Borders and national
identities are a political construct, not a business one.


"Well, while the military/prison budget has certainly grown in scale
and scope, public education and the social safety net have been
eviscerated. It's kind of a mixed bag, wouldn't you say?”

I have no idea where you’re getting this from. Safety net spending
is at or near all time highs, as is aggregate public education
spending. There were some small dips at the state level (under 2%)
following the Great Recession, but I believe those have returned to
trend growth. In education there are individual schools and cities
that are facing budget crises but they aren’t the result of spending
cuts, they’re the result of unsustainably structured public pensions
that induce super-early retirement with guaranteed benefits even as
the politicians spent all the money instead of investing it… and
when they did invest it, lied to everyone by assuming an 8% rate of

Meanwhile, If you were dollar-cost-averaging your payroll taxes into
an index fund over the past 30 years, even given two stock market
crashes, you’d be WAY ahead of the empty social security system with
its empty public obfuscating lie called the “trust fund”.

I have no idea where you’ve gotten the idea that either entitlements
or education spending have been “eviscerated”, but it certainly is a
widely repeated fiction. This seems to be an ideological “what we
know that isn’t so” problem.


"How about the inequality, itself? Is that the fault of "big
gov'ment", too?”

I’ll set aside the snark and explain in broad strokes. First, the US
has the most progressive taxation in the OECD. So “the rich” are
already paying more of the government freight than in any other
country including Scandinavia, even accounting for the fact that our
richest people are richer than theirs. So tax policy is already
trying it’s darnedest to flatten the after-tax picture. (For better
or worse)

There has been a massive collection of bad government policies that
have regressive effects. Occupational licenses have exploded since
the 1950s, reducing opportunities for millions of Americans while
protecting incomes for incumbents. These are concentrated precisely
in the kinds of fields that sub-college educated working class
people, especially minorities, seek out. Healthcare and education
have grown in scale relative to other sectors of the economy and
both are highly regulated and cartelized by government policy.
Intellectual property law has for decades been a net drain,
empowering large firms and patent trolls with teams of lawyers and
deep pockets while strangling upstarts and smaller players who can’t
afford the legal fight. Lastly, government regulation and systematic
bailouts in finance have concentrated the industry, producing
outsized incomes and an oversized financial sector relative to a
freer, more competitive market. 

These forces don’t account for all of income inequality. But they’re
a big deal and a big blind spot for most people on the political
left who treat government like some college blackboard abstraction
that swoops in to magically fix “market failures” yet isn’t composed
of actual humans or government by actual politics itself.

Income inequality in and of itself is morally neutral. The fact that
Steve Jobs made more money than me doesn’t take anything away from
me. In fact, he did it by enriching my life and the lives of
millions around the globe. Being focused on inequality for its own
sake as opposed to specific unjust causes (which I am concerned
about) has a simple word: envy. And it’s a sin for a reason. The
world is not a zero-sum game. There are more people living better on
the planet today than every before. That’s people wealth is first
and foremost CREATED, not “distributed”.


"I would observe that reduction in government lead directly to the
Great Recession of 2008."

This is a much longer story, but this sentence is hogwash. Finance
is and was one of the most highly regulated sectors of the economy.
It also has the most systematic explicit and implicit government
bailout guarantees of any sector. The Fed. FDIC. The GSEs. A history
of creditor bailouts going back to Continental Illinois. Government
protects finances from losses, than induces it to take excessive
risks in an effort to buy votes, then it blames the free market for
the failures it induced.

Consider this: Canada had a dramatically freer banking system during
the 1930s (no deposit insurance, no central bank, no restrictions on
branch banking) and had ZERO bank failures during the Great
Depression. ZERO.

The notion that the 2008 financial crises was a result of
“deregulation” is yet another ideological “what we know that isn’t
so”. For example, the under-informed LOVE to point to the repeal of
Glass-Steagall as their primary cause. Only… ehem… most of the banks
that got into deep trouble were NOT actually subject to
Glass-Steagall because they were pure investment banks (Bear
Stearns, Lehman Bros, etc).

And then we have to contend with the Fed’s excessively easy monetary
policy in the 2000s that inflated a global bubble and then their
excessively tight policy in 2008/09 that may be the single biggest
reason for the downturn being so deep. The Fed isn’t a free market

The “we deregulated finance and got a financial crisis” is simply


"Who has the most motivation to promote perpetual conflict? I would
say arms merchants and war profiteers, which are businesses, are
they not, seeking blind growth, while forsaking all other values?
Yet you place all the blame on the politicians, as opposed to those
who buy the politicians. Something is missing.”

Are you suggesting that lying to the public about the Lusitania, or
Gulf of Tonkin, or South American CIA ops, or WMD in Iraq is a crime
that should be primarily born by the profiteers rather than the
actual decision makers in political power? I’m not saying that
private actors don’t benefit from government action including war.
I’m saying the OPPOSITE. That the presence of a government ability
to deliver monopoly profits is the problem. What you’re saying is
that the shareholders of Enron should have gone to jail as being
more guilty than the executives. That’s incredible flip-flopped,
selective and sloppy accountability.

Can you give me any major examples of companies starting wars or
even engaging large scale military operations in the absence of
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #166 of 221: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 14 Jan 18 06:25
    <scribbled by jonl Sun 14 Jan 18 07:36>
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #167 of 221: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 14 Jan 18 06:26
From the P2P Foundation Wiki, an analysis by John Ringland of
Generative Adversarial Networks vs Generative Cooperative Networks:

"A GAN (generative adversarial network) generates more sophisticated
means of coercing and exploiting each other; based on the capacity
to control. E.g. a nationalist arms race generating advanced
military-industrial-media complexes, and all that comes with these.

"A GCN (generative cooperative network) generates more sophisticated
means of understanding and supporting each other; based on the
capacity to nurture. E.g. a peaceful society generating harmonious
networks of unified groups aligned around common needs and goals,
and all that comes with these.

"GAN --> power over, held together by competitive interactions.

"GCN --> power with, held together by common needs and goals.

"Real world systems are a complex mixture of these two principles.
For instance, in a forest each multi-cellular organism is a highly
refined GCN comprised of trillions of cells. Advanced organisms also
live in complex family or social groups which are also GCNs but less
tightly integrated. There may also be weak inter-species cooperative
networks. Aside from these, all organisms and species are engaged in
a competition to satisfy their basic needs; resulting in a wider
context GAN within which the many GCNs are embedded.

"Throughout biological evolution the primary integrating principle
was GCNs. It was cooperative networks that gave rise to higher
levels of organisation, eventually resulting in tightly integrated
collectives such as multi-cellular organisms.

"However in a human cultural context a new integrative principle has
emerged, which is primarily GAN with a veneer of GCN. I will call
these GHNs (generative hierarchical networks). These were famously
described by Machiavelli but had been evolving for aeons before him.
This principle creates organisations based on internal competition
rather than cooperation. It is a structure formed from interlocking
fear and distrust, leading to coerced conformity to ‘authority’.
There need be no shared goal, in fact the collective may act against
the interests of most of its members because lower levels of the
hierarchy are controlled by the upper levels."

* You should read the whole piece, which ultimately asks "how can we
enable and encourage the formation of GCNs within the existing GAN?
How could these bubbles form, grow, merge and eventually shift the
whole civilisation towards a more cooperative generative process."
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #168 of 221: Rip Van Winkle (keta) Sun 14 Jan 18 07:09
Fixing the link above:

Fascinating way to address the exchange above.  That whole site and
organization looks really interesting.  Do you know any more about
who and what they are?

>Can you give me any major examples of companies starting wars or
even engaging large scale military operations in the absence of

Any extractive industry entering new territory.  Wars against the
indigenous population.  Broadening the definition of war, wars
against the fabric and integrity of the ecosystem present at the
time of arrival.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #169 of 221: Bradley Westervelt (jonl) Sun 14 Jan 18 07:37
Via email from Bradley Westervelt

If atemporality had expired, it's seemingly now flexed back to life
from it's sour, decaying, blockchain free label, as some sort of
metaphor for the better inherent moral value of net neutrality. 

 And now I wonder, Bruce, were you ever not bullish on Robot and

"Virtually Disappeared" Karankawa 1840's, via 1966
encampment/gravesite marker:

Also a fan of the architecture discussion.  In the past, some of
this group were into studying disaster shelter improv's of various
kinds.  Despite mass exodus and refugee encampments continued
growth, I wonder where the UBI formulae goes, when factored in to
add humane shelter for the seemingly growing numbers of indigent. 
This guy seems to be advocating for a kind of indigenous support
angle to housing, relying more on participation from the hands of
the needy to custom construct from raw materials at hand.  And he
has an interesting blog on contemporary attempts on this age old

Puerto Rico also struck me as a prototypical harbinger.  Here on the
island of Hawaii there are frequent large acreage wildfires, often
attributed to be excessive due to a few decades of drought.  This
year rains from 'extra' tropical storms were welcomed.  But in our
4000 sq miles there's not 2 or 3 million like Jamaica or P.R., but
200,000 and one very large active volcano.  What we lack is soil,
and are 90% dependent on Jones Act cargo food via California ports. 

It's pretty damn tenuous.  Statehood and enormous military training
ranges all around provide a kind of nominal supply line security. 
But it feels like if tourism were to vanish, many would quickly turn
to the land and sea to provide.  Or leave: far more people born in
Hawaii have migrated to other states, than who still reside in the

Bonus: this morning every mobile phone lit up with the urgent notice
to take shelter "this is not a drill" from an incoming NK Ballistic
Missile.  There are no Civil Defense shelters.  Politics have
precluded approval for many decades.  Anyway, turned out it was
nothing to interupt a round of golf over, thank goodness.  The first
all clear came to me via a retweet of Congresswoman Gabbard notice,
sent by Warren Ellis in England, Twitterati to the rescue!  The
perpetrators (EMA) didn't send an all clear until quite some time

Particularly liked the nod to ageing versus getting hung up on the
details in creative expression. Thanks Jon, Bruce, et al. SOTW is
always a good annual mediation.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #170 of 221: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sun 14 Jan 18 07:47
Yeah, both Alaska and Hawaii rely on complex and expensive supply
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #171 of 221: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 14 Jan 18 08:35
Here's a look underneath the hood of Ethereum: mining is complicated
and "miners aren't your friends."
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #172 of 221: Virtual Sea Monkey (karish) Sun 14 Jan 18 09:18
> Can you give me any major examples of companies starting wars
> or even engaging large scale military operations in the absence
> of government?

That's a trick question. We reserve the word "war" for conflicts
between nations. Companies supported the growth of government power
because they wanted government to fight wars on their behalf.

The wars of conquest in the Americas in the 15th through 17th
Centuries were conducted by entrepreneurs. The British East India
Company used its private army and navy to rule India and to protect
it from colonial competitors. Cecil Rhodes built private colonies
and used private police to control the pre-existing tribal
governments. Leopold II did the same in the Congo.

In the 20th Century imperialism changed character toward economic
exploitation that didn't require the overhead of running colonial
governments. Governments used military force on behalf of companies
that wanted economic concessions in places like Haiti, Nicaragua,
Iran, Guatemala, Cuba, and Chile. It makes no sense to say
"government bad, companies good" because companies succeeded in
getting government to do their dirty work for them and they
succeeded in getting others to pay for this work.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #173 of 221: Rip Van Winkle (keta) Sun 14 Jan 18 10:23
That's exactly the details of what I meant.
inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #174 of 221: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 14 Jan 18 13:59
*I'm pleased to semi-pirate this recent Jan 2018 cry of the heart
from the Nettime mailing list.  These Nettime guys have been at it
even longer than the WELL State of the World has.

*I used to post a lot of nettime commentary on the WELL, back in the
day when email lists were a hot, state of the art medium.  There
were even some YOYOW style arguments about whether this was a proper
thing to do, given that nettime are European media theory people,
tech art people and fringe academics, while WELLbeings were, like,
Californians, and therefore sinister tools of Silicon Valley, or
WIRED, or MONDO 2000, or at least Coevolution Quarterl.  Nettime
people, by stark contrast, were  into "critique."

So here we've got a screed from one of the nettime early guiding
spirits, Geert Lovink, and he's pointing out (with some useful
links)that now even Silicon Valley is upset about Silicon Valley,
too, so, like, what next?

I'm thinking the what is next is pretty obvious if you're European. 
This isn't the 1990s, and Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and
Microsoft aren't bulletin board systems or websites.  So yes, you do
in fact have to "start all over again," or at least start with an
understanding that you're confronting the richest and most popular
companies on the planet.  They have to be regulated, taxed and

A refusenik approach, "oh well I simply don't use Facebook," is like
some rural communard response in the 1960s, when some few among the
virtuous refused to watch television, drive cars and went to attempt
to live on farms.  

I'm thinking that the only genuine "radical" approach in the GAFAM
era is to bust trusts and put rich people in jail.  Probably
starting with the sinister likes of Travis Kalanick, but really, you
can't call yourself "radical" if you're willing to let moguls and
oligarchs control the means of digital production through
surveillance marketing.  And retiring to an off-the-grid houseboat
in Amsterdam, well, that's not gonna do it.

This means that, if you're a critic, "what's next" ought to be some
conceptual blueprint for a post GAFAM world.  What is it you want? 
If you just want an email list and maybe a bulletin board system,
nobody will stop you, but you're like a 16-mm film maker confronting
the vast hordes of YouTube and bragging that you did it all already.

And no, Facebook isn't the "ultimate dystopia," first because we
don't get any ultimates, and also because the BATs, Baidu Alibaba
Tencent, are waiting in the wings and they make American computer
companies in the era of Trump look as delusional as Fox News. 
Lively times!

From: Geert Lovink

Dear all,

social media criticism is clearly reaching a new stage. In the past
months voices from deep inside the industry have made themselves
heard, in particular in response to the fakenews/Russia media drama
and the sneaky ‘behaviour science’ manipulations of social media

None of these statements directly referred to the ‘classic’ critique
of the past years, let’s say from the nettime circle, Unlike Us, to
established voices such as Nicolas Carr, Andrew Keen and Sherry
Turkle. It’s as if we always have to start all over again. 

Most academic research on social media seems to have virtually no
impact on the current debate-at-large. Or am I wrong? Why do Silicon
Valley geeks and investors have so much authority in this case?
Insider-experts are not often seen as neutral observers. We all know
this. These individuals kept their mouth shut for years and years,
and are still deeply involved as investors, employees, consultants
etc. Now that they worry the world should suddenly pay attention?

What should be the radical next steps? Finally the social media
debate is heating up and becoming mainstream. What do we have on
offer from the perspective of old-school community informatics (RIP
Michael Gurstein), German (!) media theory, NL tactical media
activism and or ISEA-type of digital arts? Was this a topic in
Leipzig at 24C3? It seems pointless to say: “We told you so.” 

How can we scale up and democratize all the debates and proposals of
the past 5-7 years of those that worked on alternative network
architectures? Is the reasonable, noble and moral appeal a la Tim
Berners-Lee the only one on offer? Going offline is one thing, (and
in fact an option only elites can afford). Self-mastering a la
Sloterdijk is a marginal reform effort from a hyper-individualistic

I still believe in vital methods to mass delete Facebook accounts.
This is in the end what Silicon Valley tries to prevent at all cost:
resistance and exodus. How can such a momentum be unleashed?

Best, Geert

Antisocial media: why I decided to cut back on Facebook and

John Battelle on Lost Context: How Did We End Up Here?

Doc Searl: The human solution to Facebook’s machine-produced
problems also won’t work

Roger McHamee (early FB investor): How to Fix Facebook—Before It
Fixes Us

Chris Taylor: Facebook just became the ultimate dystopia

Joshua Benton: If Facebook stops putting news in front of readers,
will readers bother to go looking for it?

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inkwell.vue.503 : State of the World 2018: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #175 of 221: Jane Hirshfield (jh) Sun 14 Jan 18 15:55
Thanks to Geert Lovink for this extraordinarily rich set of pointers.


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