Jay Allen presents a unified theory of internet assholes (essentially what I was grasping towards, but failed to reach, at the end of my TechCrunch article on neoreaction):
They want you to lift the veil pulled over your eyes by the progressives who secretly control society. Like Neo escaping the Matrix, your choice is to wake up and see how the world really is, discarding religion, subjectivity, and feminist indoctrination. Conspiracy theorists, Men’s Rights Activists, Pick-Up Artists, GamerGate, even the Neoreaction: all of these communities share a common creed, tech-fluent and superficially self-aware. To outsiders, it’s distinctly conservative. But they don’t see themselves as conservatives at all.
Welcome to the Red Pill worldview, where the entire world is a game and the people who are winning are the best players.
Another interesting phenomenon is the way these different but overlapping movements are trying to hijack, or at least capitalize upon, each other. For example, MRA guy Roosh Valizadeh starting a GamerGate themed website called Reaxxion.
The first version of the Technoccult site went live 15 years ago today.
I had thought about putting together some sort of mini-event today to celebrate, but I’ve been a bit too busy with other things. Plus I’m having some trouble deciding what to do next with the site. It’s hard to know exactly what the role of an old fashioned blog in the age of social media. The “link blog” seems like a particularly dated idea today.
Then there’s email newsletters, which as I’ve written have made a comeback. I still like the idea of doing T0 as an “email first” thing with a web archive. But there’s still the question of content and format. Mutation Vectors already feels a bit like a newsletter, and not been posted a lot besides that and links to the podcast lately, so maybe that’s the way to go.
But it’s not a great format for the dossiers, which I’ve not had time to maintain lately, but which I think could be a useful way of actually organizing and sifting through the mountains of links and information buried in a decade and half’s worth of archives here.
For now, I’ll just keep plugging away as I have for the past few years. But it feels like it’s time for a change.
Anyway, thanks for reading everyone! I hope you’re having a swell new year. Here’s to another 15 years.
The second part of our conversation with Willow Brugh of the MIT Media Lab about the Networked Mortality project and their efforts to help you figure out what to do with all your digital stuff when you die.
My tendonitis is flaring up and my stomach is killing me, so instead of writing up something new, here’s part of a Vectors that was originally going to go out November 29th, 2014 but that I didn’t finish due to …
There’s often a sense that women in the tech world make a big deal out of small events. But the myriad ways in which they are told their presence is illegitimate, that tells them that they don’t belong, is a constant pressure pushing them towards leaving technology (and game journalism, and the public sphere). In particular, when women in technology also have public voices, as with Anita Sarkeesian or Brianna Wu or Kathy Sierra, the pressure can be—is often intended to be—crushing.
I don’t think being a woman in technology is worth dying for, but I learned early that some men think it’s worth killing for.
After posting about David Bowie’s Outside, I stumbled across Pushing Ahead of the Dame, a site written by one Chris O’Leary, dedicated to annotating every single Bowie song ever. There I learned about Leon a bootleg that may have been what Bowie originally intended Outside to be. And via O’Leary’s annotations, I’ve come to realize that OrpheanLyricist’s interpretation of Outside‘s story line is, though valid based on what was actually released, certainly not what Bowie had originally intended.
I ended up spending way too much time on this site. Here are the annotations for Leon and Outside.
This week we talk with Willow Brugh of the MIT Media Lab about what happens to all your digital “stuff” when you die. How will your co-workers get the last of your uncompleted work? What will happen to your Facebook page? Who will delete your porn folder? Willow talks about all that and more.
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
-Evelyn Beatrice Hall on Voltaire.
It took me a bit to put my finger on what really bothered me about the response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings this week, but I think this is it:
I feel like we’re all being called to defend what Charlie Hebdo said rather than just their right to say it. All the tribute cartoons, the debate over whether to reprint the paper’s cartoons, the people changing their social media profile pics to cartoons from the paper, and of course, the slogan “je suis charlie” itself, are a reflection of this.
As Fredrik deBoer points out, the idea that no one should be killed over cartooning is pretty uncontroversial. There is no danger of France or the U.S. passing a law forbidding criticism of Islam. The public, in general, are not likely to become less critical of Islam as a result of this attack. Hell, not even a Muslim police officer literally defended the paper to the death. So why the pressure to for everyone to carry the Charlie banner?
I mean, I don’t think Robert Faurisson should go to prison or be killed, but you’re not going to find me on the street corner handing out Holocaust denial literature. Yet there’s this weird sentiment that if you’re not spreading these ridiculous cartoons far and wide, you’re somehow against free speech. I could understand wanting to preserve this stuff for posterity sake if it were in danger of actually disappearing. It’s hard to debate the merits of something you can’t see. But these cartoons are still just a click away. Reproducing them at this point is just posturing. Which is fine, I guess. But free speech works both ways. You have the right to say what you want, and I have the right not to say things I don’t want to say.
As to what I might find bothersome about the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, Arthur Chu has a good column on the topic, where he also digs up a particularly repugnant cover caricaturing Boko Haram’s kidnapping victims. Chu:
Yes, I know that the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo identify as left-libertarian atheists, and that they’re “equal-opportunity offenders” —the exact same background and mindset as Trey Parker and Matt Stone, as Seth MacFarlane, as your typical 4chan troll. I know that, ironically, the last issue printed before the shooting was mocking a self-serious right-wing racist doomsday prophet and his fear of a Muslim takeover, that they’ve mocked Socialist President Francois Hollande and National Front leader Marine La Pen and everyone in between.
So what? There’s no particular merit to being an “equal-opportunity offender”—indeed, it’s lazy and cheap, a way to avoid being held accountable for anything you say because none of it is part of a moral worldview or to be taken seriously.
In an actually-funny use of free speech this week, the Maryland paper Frederick News-Postpublished a hilarious response to local councilman Kirby Delauter’s threat to sue one of its reporters for using his name in a story without permission. It certainly brightened an otherwise dismal week.
Dr. Clement Vidal, who’s a researcher at the Free University of Brussels, along with Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology Stephen Dick, futurist John Smart, and nanotech entrepreneur Robert Freitas are soliciting scientific proposals to seek out star-eating life. Vidal, who coined the term starivore in a paper he wrote in 2013, is the first to admit how bizarre it sounds. Yet he insists that some of the most profound scientific discoveries have come about by examining natural processes through a radically different lens.
“Newton did not discover new gravitational bodies: He took a different perspective on a phenomena and discovered new things exist,” Vidal told me. “It might well be that extraterrestrial intelligence is already somewhere in our data. Re-interpreting certain star systems as macroscopic living things is one example.”
Last Chris Dancy, Sara Watson, and I looked back on 2014. This week we take a look forward to what we expect and hope to see in 2015. Oh: we’re also looking for sponsors. Please get in touch if you’re interested.