Bruce Sterling on the US election: the net is great at tearing down, terrible at building


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/11/14/bruce-sterling-on-the-us-elect.html


#2

The internet sees um something as um damage and um something something routes around it.


#3

The Internet sees common sense as damage and routes around it?


#4

This phenomenon reminds me of one Ronson’s themes in “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”; the Internet is fantastic for focusing hatred with laser-like precision and intensity. I imagine that’s part of why everything has gotten worse with Trump’s win; now we have a stationary target for our anger.


#5

President Two-Feathers declares war on the Dutch!

They almost never develop into organized political parties, and almost never have the aim of promulgating rational programs for legislative action.

That has been part of my criticism of so-called social media. It is great for stating approval or disapproval, and that is all it was designed for, because it is essentially a marketing tool for consumerism rather than a creative platform for ideas. A true “social media” facilitates the creation of actual organized social structures. It needs to be a way to get things done, not a popularity contest.


#6

People unfriended their government and you’ll never guess what happened next…


#7

Um… you don’t say! No, I don’t suppose I will guess.


#8

Overthrow your government using this one weird trick that elites don’t want you to know!


#9

Yeah, it was a nice and appropriate thought during the Cold War era and immediately after that. But now that self-censorship has become a more useful tool than state censorship for Putin and his fellow authoritarians, and now that people in Western democracies have chosen to isolate themselves in like-thinking bubbles the old slogan may, for all practical purposes, be past its sell-by date.


#10

The net was never meant to route around things like censorship. It was meant to route around things like the spontaneous non-existence of Cincinnati. It still does that pretty well, which is why the balkanization of the internet should never come as a surprise to anyone.


#11

It wasn’t meant to route around censorship as well as nuclear strikes, but it did as a side benefit from approx. 1992-2001. In the years since state actors abroad and ISPs at home have been working actively to remove that feature.


#12

“Fool me once. . . .”


#13

disagree. the bernie movement, jon stewarts twitter war, not to mention the fantastic rise of video sharing police which led to BLM! and liberal net expansion., e.g, huffpost; trump lost the most votes. right wingers fled pop-media since creating their own production groups.


#14

There are a number of well organised online communities. For example the Debian project and the BSD projects.


#15

The trouble is that after achieving your common goal of tearing down the current system, you realize that the movement doesn’t necessarily have all that much in common and different factions have very different ideas of what should come next. I hate it when I ask people what they expect after the revolution, and the answer is only “Something better” or “It can’t get any worse”. Well it can, easily.

Syria is the perfect example. Throw Assad in jail for life, fine, I get that. But which of the 500 rebel groups will take over afterwards, and how will they work with the others? It’s been years, and it’s still a mess. Egypt. We got rid of a rusty old dictator, yay. But now we got hardcore islamists instead. Aaand back to good old military rule. Ukraine. The orange revolution seemed like a big step forward at the time, just for it to fall prey to factional conflicts immediately. Then the old boss came back. Now - this. The russian revolution - despite what the USSR liked to say afterwards, the tsar wasn’t overthrown just by the bolshewiks, they just won the powerstruggle afterwards. The list goes on forever, as Sterling says.

The internet certainly made this easier, but it’s a problem as old as mankind.

edit: Hah, I even forgot about the french revolution, the best example of things turning into a complete clusterfuck after you chop the kings head off.


#16

Open source distros have the advantage that you can always start your own fork though. In a country… that’s gonna be tricky.

Having said that, Debian is really a rather impressive project. Don’t know the BSD world very well.


#17

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