Oh, no, you printed out internet comments? You’re never going to be happy again.
—Girlboss, “Long-Ass Pants”
Oh, no, you printed out internet comments? You’re never going to be happy again.
—Girlboss, “Long-Ass Pants”
Yet focusing solely on Section 230’s role in enabling abuse on the internet misses other ways it affects women and other marginalized groups. Despite the provision’s role in making it harder to hold platforms accountable for revenge porn, it also allows companies to moderate the content on their platforms without fear of legal reprisal should they fall short — which they inevitably do. Some fear that repealing or amending it might actually make things worse for women, queer people, and other marginalized folks who rely on the internet for promotion, organization, and community.
From No One Knows if the Internet’s Most Controversial Law Helps or Hurts Women by Lux Alptraum
Paul Bausch: “My alternate headline for this: Twitter CEO makes the case that Mastodon has a superior architecture for social media; forms group to invent it.” Bausch also links to Eugen Rochko’s full comments on the matter, which didn’t make the Verge piece about Bluesky: “Twitter adopting ActivityPub would also be incredible validation of everything we’ve been working towards and lead to more platforms joining the decentralized social web.”
Eisenstein described much of this in her writings. Her larger point is that the world was never the same again. As she explained to me, we no longer register the impact of the printing press because we have no easy way to retrieve the ambient sensation of “before,” just as we can’t retrieve, and can barely imagine, what life was like when only scattered licks of flame could pierce the darkness of night. At first glance, printing seems like just a more efficient way of doing what people were doing anyway: making words and images available to others. But it was a revolution—many revolutions, really, most of them unforeseeable. Consider what it meant to own books personally and read them silently, rather than having to hear words read aloud: No one knew what you were up to in the privacy of your home. Writers and publishers wanted some degree of ownership—hence the new concepts of copyright and intellectual property. More books and rising literacy created an eyeglass industry, which in turn brought advances in lens-making, which ultimately made possible the telescope and spelled the end of biblical cosmology. The printing press transformed religion, science, politics; it put information, misinformation, and power in the hands of more people than ever before; it created a celebrity culture as poets and polemicists vied for fame; and it loosened the restraints of authority and hierarchy, setting groups against one another. This shattered the status quo in ways that proved liberating but also lethal: If the printing press deserves some of the credit for democracy and the Enlightenment, it also deserves some of the blame for chaos and slaughter. As Edward Snowden observes in his new book, Permanent Record: “Technology doesn’t have a Hippocratic oath.”
From Our Predictions About the Internet Are Probably Wrong by Cullen Murphy
Your experience of the internet and the language therein is shaped by who you were and who else was around at the time you joined. How much tech savvy was required to participate in conversations? Were you going online because your friends were already there, or to meet new people? Were you entering a community with established norms, or one where things were still in flux? And did you learn these norms implicitly, through immersion, or through an explicit rulebook? Your answers to these and similar questions have a big effect on what your variety of internet language looks like. In a world where, to use the expression of technologist Jenny Sundén, you’re writing yourself into existence, how you write is who you are.
From Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch
With the morning’s unformed thoughts, I’m trying to get at the transition from multiple communities with their own cultures and norms to monolithic platforms with terms of service legalese, in a sense, I guess. While, for example, any given Mastodon instance has its own codes of conduct, you can’t form cohesive communities across, between, and amongst Mastodon instances. (Not to focus on Mastodon, because that’s not my point; it’s just an easy illustration because it’s both singular and plural: one platform but multiple, separate servers.) I want to see the marriage of social and/or blogging platforms to Usenet-style distributed communities. More than that, I want people to be able to participate in (meaning not just read but post) whatever, say, the modern equivalent might be to alt.tv.twin-peaks whether they are doing it from mastodon.social, friend.camp, micro.blog, or purely from a feed-reader.
Stray unformed thought: the cultural distinction between eras of conversant media (e.g., Usenet and BBS vs. social networks) is the passing of “read the FAQ” communities.
ETA: Unformed followup: distributed or federated uses won’t truly mature until in essence people can form communities across platforms, not merely communicate across them.
I’ve reached the point in Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch where I’m going to just start highlighting everything, apparently.
The tech investor Marc Andreessen once said that in the future, there will be two types of people: “people who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what to do.” It was a prescient prediction, but not in the way Andreessen meant it. He imagined a society in which computer programmers would rule over the analog masses. What’s happening instead is something much less revolutionary: The programmers simply built the machines that let big corporations, powerful politicians and savvy media manipulators tell other people what to do, and they are letting rich people pay to turn those machines off.
From Online Cesspool Got You Down? by Kevin Roose
I’ve officially decided that I’m going to deliberately spoil myself on The Rise of Skywalker because it seems like my best bet for sanely surviving the online shipping shitstorm that’s inevitable no matter what happens or doesn’t. Do I even really care about the movie anymore?
“I can only hope, reader, that you have that somewhere in your life,” writes Ioana Finichiu. “Being able to share that emotional burden with others, not putting on a brave façade only to crumble alone.” My where is the internet. Your mileage may vary.
People have been talking about Max Read’s look at the internet turning us into medieval peasants, and at least among people I read everyone from Delia Cal to Drew Austin seemingly has been quoting or referencing the same passage.
In my own daily life, I already engage constantly with magical forces both sinister and benevolent. I scry through crystal my enemies’ movements from afar. (That is, I hate-follow people on Instagram.) I read stories about cursed symbols so powerful they render incommunicative anyone who gazes upon them. (That is, Unicode glyphs that crash your iPhone.) I refuse to write the names of mythical foes for fear of bidding them to my presence, the way proto-Germanic tribespeople used the euphemistic term brown for “bear” to avoid summoning one. (That is, I intentionally obfuscate words like Gamergate when writing them on Twitter.) I perform superstitious rituals to win the approval of demons. (That is, well, daemons, the autonomous background programs on which modern computing is built.)
Earlier in the piece Read says that lately he’s “reminded less often of Gibson’s cyberpunk future than of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical past, less of technology and cybernetics than of magic and apocalypse”, and I’m compelled to point something out.
Gibson himself in his seminal Neuromancer trilogy didn’t evoke just “ultramodern, hyper-capitalist visions” but specifically utilized (appropriated?) the imagery of the loa and overtly compared these ghosts in the machine and our technological invocations to “magic and apocalypse”.
I haven’t really read other works from other authors out of that same early-Gibson era, but my recollection from just generally being around at the time, Read’s suggestion notwithstanding, is that the cybernetics of it almost always was looked at as a kind of magic.
“Online community predates the web,” says Andy McIlwain. “It was built on open protocols and platforms of the early internet.” Except it existed outside the open protocols and platforms of the early internet, too, be they dial-up BBSes or PLATO.
“I am not advocating that we should return to an Internet 1.0 or pre-internet world. I do not wish that the internet’s capabilities had stalled,” writes J. E. LaCaze. “I just want to recapture the sense of community that I fell in love with 20+ years ago.” My community 20+ years ago was kind of fucked up, and I made any number of ridiculously bad decisions as part of it. That said, just the other day I was noticing that one aspect of those internet BBS days I’ve never quite replaced is having a singular, and, yes, more insular group of people to “hang out with” online, rather than absolutely everything occurring either out in public on social media or in the “privacy of home” on one’s blog.
DNS nerds: how could a bar’s internet be resolving some domains but not others, even if they resolve via
nslookup? I can access, say, Apple, Facebook, Google, Micro.blog, YouTube, but known IPs yield a Safari message that I’m not even connected to the internet.
Happy anniversary to me, apparently. According to email from the Universal Life Church, I was ordained-via-internet eight years ago today. Thing is, I’m fairly certain that was my second, later ULC ordination, but the first is lost to the ether.
As you’d expect, the volunteer team of rogue archivists known as Archive Team are working hard to preserve as much of Yahoo! Groups as possible before its shutdown.
Their initial crawl discovered nearly 1.5 million groups with public message archives that could be saved, with an estimated 2.1 billion messages between them. As of October 28, they’ve archived an astounding 1.8 billion of those public messages.
From The Deletion of Yahoo! Groups and Archive Team’s Rescue Effort by Andy Baio
Saying Silicon Valley doesn’t have a political ideology — which in America is a bit like saying Silicon Valley hasn’t nailed its flag to either the blue party or the red party — is so demonstrably false. Thompson acknowledges that the Valley has a “strain of libertarianism and optimism”, as if Wired doesn’t have a history of supporting Barlow’s manifesto and declaration of independence for Cyberspace. I mean, is a manifesto not a political ideology? The Valley - that amorphous, stereotypical collection of companies largely funded by venture capital and now capable of buying entire supply chains out and behaving as if they’d like to remake the financial markets in their own image - demonstrably does have a political ideology and it’s clearly one that’s quite tied to “making lots of money” and things like believing in meritocracies and technocracies. A political ideology is not whether you say you support the blue party or the red party, it is something that can be discerned, at the very least, from both the daily actions and the actions in aggregate of any particular actor.
From s07e19: Snow Crash Ch13, Part 2; Everything Is Political by Dan Hon
A meandering: Dino Bansigan linked a post by Alex Danco about how “everything is amazing, but nothing is ours”, in the process citing Scott Hanselman’s advice to “own your own words”, which made me think of YOYOW and The WELL.