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Building a new Net in the Shell of the Old

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the arch and the and the and here he
alone but if I were to build not the thank
hello how's everybody daisy chain doing OK right I honestly feel people would be cheerier I just so you can tell that i British armor and I'm actually based in the United States and the international director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation although I hasten to add that this is a personal story that you're about to hear it is the official opinion of the Electronic Frontier Foundation also I know your lawyer this isn't an attorney-client privilege from what we say here and it has no legal bearing whatsoever so I have to say when I came here I was kind of hopeful of great we've got so we go Michel let's kick up the title of so I have a rather hopes after having spent time in what people referring to is Drexel and with my parents and then from planned UML with my work colleagues that everyone here would be happy because you know basically a
standing democracy and you've got this also superstate even the French managed to pull it out of the bag last week I I figured that this will be the place where I would be able to have a bit of fun with my with my digital colleagues and a considerably here is equally as depressed as everywhere else I basically spend
my time meeting out with farmer my old done veterans in the digital revolution and everybody sigma going after me I don't know what's going on what we can do a good got some ideas may be will be and do something with that but you know really it's a like news and we got a few corporate sponsors which is nice but what are we going to do so at my talk is going to be an attempt to sort of pull back a little bit are not coming to Canada is this annoying at this point maybe I'll go back to my normal so mine washer here we go and that's to can a foster don't the integrity of so uh I am very interested in history even the micro histories of that the
current digital age you know histories the last 15 minutes max because that's roughly our attention span on and I'm particularly interested in the bits that get missed out in histories the lacuna this sort of gaps in the archaeological record and I often feel that given the we seem to make the same mistakes again and again maybe the
answer in the response to those mistakes or in those hidden parts of history from assigned you I'm all to see you know and I I'm constantly trying to work out ways of engaging with young people and what ways I talked talk about this I took about a particular form of lacuna that I see which is the that moment just before or you enter the political sphere before you enter into your life you come into the world and the world is built and stable around you and everything is new to you but it's clear that it's all to everyone else and when you do that it's like walking into a room at a party is already going on but you don't know what's just happened in that party 5 minutes ago 10 minutes ago 5 years ago 10 years ago this is the historical record right you can read it in books you probably tall in school that you've just left what what happened in the past and I'm and it's that that sort of receding edge that that that hasn't been documented in hasn't been written down it is clearly on the minds of everybody else in the room that you've just entered and
I was talking to a friend of mine and saying yeah like like do you ever get that feeling that there's something on said about the world that you just entered into and out on uh she thought about this for a little bit and said yeah sponge bob square pants rules a tricky due due have sponge bob square pants and it is it's Scrooge
box Schwartz pop yeah OK good so she explained to me that as a child growing up the like most things were friendly understandable you go to school you learn you do all of these things you have cheese sandwiches it's all comprehensible they're trying to bring new offerings will work but only really explained why anyone thought sponge bob square pants was was was education all my y was it and marine biology
thing was it attempt what will and like if you mulch around you as as to be a seven-year-old critical theorists she you know you would you would be able to moral material such as like 20 years of the simpsons and social but no 1 explained what's called 1 sponge bob square pants was was reacting to a mean was it was it was finding nemo was at a reaction to that was it like Marine was explanatory elect I'm not going to talk about central weapons for the rest of the talk but I thought it was a good example the might engage that the but the young people anyway OK so so I think there's something similar not to sponge well but but to alignment the can idea happening now in that if you imagine someone turning up the 1st time to and Republika very excited they had was good last year but this is the 1st time and they turn up here I don't know I feel that they they they they might feel that they've stumbled in on the way perhaps because because you're all sitting there we're going OK thanks for coming in and I know that like the books that you read were about how the internet was going to reform everybody would have known he erarchical perfectly distributed decentralized network and something happened we don't wanna talk about it but this is where we are now and on the other end and you know I think that that that's a very hard thing to explain to someone coming in excited and wishing to take part in the digital revolution because we've got kind of like only Ben Kenobi levels of denial going on right so so you know it'll be
regularly in the original good stuff it's almost like a is like just making it up as he goes along as is saying so what happened in the pr equals the late be like the rest of us this really wanna think about the free calls and the sort of going all there was this guy he was your dad title is about your dad sides visual to maybe and I need to look like a daddy have a half I don't know who he was he was like you should recognize them is just like with air and and anyway bad things happen in a bad person did a bad thing and has nothing to do with me and that's kind of the situation that we are in with the internet right now there's a lot of us sitting around and was sort of going yeah of of we were trying to build a revolution it was going to like to distribute everything was going to work in the incredibly decentralized way and then I had a bad man happens present a bad man what ability he came in he did a bad thing and now it's all ruined and has nothing to do with us so
this is me trying to understand that recent unpleasantness in terms of of a lacuna of unspoken things that is said in the past history of and I
apologize for this is a fellow European well fellow x European right I am going to talk about America because it's sort of st still exotic although I've just been Checkpoint Charlie Adam always fascinated with America about how it can be simulates simultaneously incredibly popular an incredibly unfashionable at the same time even in Europe and then I'm going to do that so I'm gonna talk about American history because of course is the only history there is an so uh and and my my my title for today building in net in the shell of the old is actually a phrase from the Industrial Workers of the World that you seen people who might have been brought up in the mountains tradition to you know as a new hands up who knows of the
Industrial Workers of the World War Oblast put right excellent to you and not go apologized is you obviously really into it and now I can tell everybody else about how great what is well so long as we are in the early 20th century the radical wing of the Unionists Sinterklaas movement in the United States yes the United States did have unions on what's again they're
kind of in that strange lacuna in that people can't quite remember whether America doesn't have a Mayday celebration because that's evil communism or because they invented it and then everyone stole a right so some of in the early days unions the unions were trying to work out what kind of revolution they work wanted and the wobble is with the radicals the wobbly is with so radical that if other unions agreed to terms that they felt were insufficiently radical they would go and take it the other unions right the unions would like come to an agreement that would go to go back to work and there would be the wobbly is waiting outside the factory going on afraid compost line in the going on our ill I want you to think the what the latest was so
radical that they wanted to take down their own management Iraqi and have it replaced by a single type text so that that the wobble is were the um single union on group of uh of but they also had great songs I should say this the wobbly songbook is something you should absolutely this is how the 3 people know about warblers know about it they will know the songs and perhaps later we can consider them and so on so that the the want is it had hundreds of thousands incredibly effective as a political force in the in the 19 hundreds and twenties the
disappeared from American history and it's not like you know the trams in Los Angeles they kind of and destroyed themselves what happened was that there was a massive rift in the arm uh and what is in a roundabout 1924 and is described as a fight between the centralists and the decentralist and now you beginning to see how this links to the right so um uh the centralists wanted to pursue a standard Social Democratic policy right well basically the unions would collect funds that former socialist party in the United States and they would go on to achieve ends through the existing political system through reform and the slow expansion of our democratic institutions in the social democratic institutions the rest of the world is to really not what do that right the rest of the world is had the position that they wanted to implement the resolution right now right they wanted to create the social structures and that radical and participate 3 democracy out within the Union and then expand it to the rest of the world until eventually the world was 1
whole wide a union that's why they were the Industrial Workers of the World that's what the guy W standard for they would World Wide wobble it's the see there is another link it's all coming together of the so this is described in the literature as um of prefigurative politics versus strategic politics right strategic politics is the normal everyday politics and we go we lobbying we tend to reform we tend to regulate prefigurative politics is the idea that my revolution will be dollar value or it will be bullshit I will create here is there um at the world and that was 1st the build it I will build a new world in the shell of the old and what happens if you have 2 different segments of society all part of uh a progressive or revolutionary movement 1 of which thinks is would you should take a prefigurative mode on a few things you should take a strategic mode is you end up with nothing
particularly union environment because there's no solidarity both sides think the other side is is is this is due and in fact it turned out in the twenties that both sides were absolutely correct there and it's the strategic and policy people thought that the radical and prefigurative while would fail and they did of course otherwise we we will be wearing overalls I am and on the radical Peru fricative of wobble is felt the other side would succeed they would succeed in extending capitalism and they read it can succeed in breaking the pacifist principles of the wobble it and take the workers supporting a capitalist system into a new a new era of college and you know credit you they were both absolutely correct and because they lost the solidarity and without Solidarity union is nothing we don't know about the world is now alright so what's my gap what my lacuna I'm I'm I'm I'm
47 but which means I'm 1 of the lost people alive who was born when there wasn't someone on the moon or bits of stuff on the moon I'm 1 of the last people will be alive hopefully touch wood we and negative Unix birthday became a bone before January the 1st nineties and good you're going to get the rest the Unix jokes excellent and glad that for the very funny that's why he likes them and so uh he has his his mind his might sort of debt and actually I can probably explain this
best by showing you so I showed you on I said you this is sort of the platonic ideal of what we think of when we started shall right it's like this in a beautiful scrolling matrix kind of world as when I entered and computing in 1977 so something like that but at this this this is my shelf so this lower apologize might take up there and you know it's kind of yes it's a bit so so that you know what obviously I'm a techno-utopian you can tell by my going laser beam Eyes on but I have to concede that back then the Internet was not not only the internet what I was saying bulletin board systems far like mechanisms on own but wasn't very good and I was very amused about why this was as a 7 or 8 old growing up in the 19 seventies I love computers but I wanted them to be like Star Trek I wanted them to be you know the
wanted them to be like 9 fridges wide and not just some sort of like strange box and built by some some pictures and of I think this is an important thing to emphasize right like that that if you are entering into the world this is annoying to write at a limit of how you the and get this that is just going on a cake and so on that most of the seventies was kind of bad particularly TV and so uh and area yeah this year yeah this model is linear songs so the well this will be covering that later on there's Moschitti terminal I and there the hippies right so this is Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak you gotta remember as a child growing up in the seventies there on that think it is 1 but they were like the thing that people didn't talk about in the seventies right for me like hippies with these creepy people came and went there was a high risk than putting face paint on me as a 7 I like no 1 would explain why they were around and might what they've done that made everybody else kind of a shame that they was still present and no one's particularly explain to me why they had all the cool computers so here's the Laguna what was happening when I was our you know just of that that tiny doctor in my mother died when I just missed the chair of and that OK so this is community he knows that community memory assume we can wiggle spent all evening talking about this 2 Community memory was found of a system set up in Berkeley arm of reggae collected to the but the free speech movement and and the Students for a
Democratic Society which were the core of the new left in the United States at the time i and somehow someone who managed to donate them a mainframe and they took this mainframe and they created an early Internet they put on these terminals is public libraries around the San Francisco area record stores and other sort of like being nitpicky be kind of places and this will be connected together and people talk and and leave messages and this is the connection between the the new left the STS on the on free speech movement uh and um the microcomputer revolution I have is wild fantasy that instead of donating the computer to the of free speech movement people they
donated it to the black panthers who were also operating at the same time I think would have had a very different from computer revolution possibly a slightly better once again it's like all which run without right I think of any right so um the that and I'm not I am but a picture of him but that that the person might take as a real inspiration for this particular moment in silicon valley uh this history is Felsenstein's of the Felsenstein was simultaneously the person who is a key figure in the free speech movement at Berkeley and he was 1 the designers of the software and hardware that operator community memory and
he became the and 1 of the founders of the leaders in a non here archical way of the Homebrew Computer Club which led to the apple 2 and some of the the 1st popular computer so yeah the Free Speech Movement classically in fact this is what the books written about the books there's a great book by Winnie Brian's about the prefigurative politics of the STS and the Berkeley political movement in that they actually refused to sort of organize and it took a seat at political power because they had the same spirit as as they wanted to create an environment in their own on way of relating to 1 another that reflected the idealized society that they wanted to be they didn't want to create a here Optical Society community memory has these
great principles of the nonzero local decentralized technology and and that reflected the values of people who wanted to live in their values rather than compromise by interacting with the politics of the day and the unspoken thing of course when I was growing up was is that that project was perceived to have failed the revolutions of the 19 sixties arm ended I'm in a factionalism army in burnout and what we were left with was sort of the Bay City rollers and evil people so uh the the other interesting thing of course is the weighting of the political movement who decided to walk away from prefigurative politics of also did not really succeed in the terms of the 19 sixties the New Left became on the time it's a simple translational mapping right became the neoliberals of the Clinton period and even the neoconservatives came out of the New Left and they became the the Bush-era part of American politics so this was a situation where both sides of this thing that I'm trying to explain to you the prefigurative and that strategic failed in achieving their aims so except of course for these people so they talk about these ideas of the prefigurative politics and almost by accident implemented something that actually had within those terms some kinds of success and this is why so much of the the description of that period is freighted in this all kind of like the success of the the the radicals rather than sort of a a product of the military industrial complex or product of of of
Silicon Valley venture capitalism it has these of other story that we also know very well over the success of of of a politics that aims to be non here article aims to be decentralized aims to be an implementation of the future rather than attempt to negotiate and in those terms it
was an amazing success because it was an existence proof that you could get something out of this the wasn't just the songbook and some happy memories of sitting smoking dope and in an upstairs character of so that's come back into the room right we've we've we've covered all of this history and now we get walk into on 20 17 and it doesn't look good for the prefigurative on success of the of the politics that you see here and seeing perhaps we just trying to secure because the VA and this
tweet there we go so little to now and
what you can see this since as me 20 16 but the system the fucking ground me 2017 no not like that it and that's where we are
right where the situation where the bad things are happening no 1 really wants to take responsibility no 1 everyone feels that they tried to do their best I
bet on but it didn't work out and in particular the classic failure of prefigurative politics the reason why it was found that taken onto this term originally was um a really great set of essays by and uh diÆcult smokin who's actually been helping a lot of the political movements in the United States now I'm combat the threats to civil liberties liberties and uh and basic justice opposed by the new administration and on 1 of the things that he writes about a lot is the importance of shifting away from this prefigurative frame of mind to strategic politics and in particular the critique that he uses is that of occupied occupy is the thing that you'll notice no 1 talks about In this context right this is the thing where if you would come in at this point no 1 mentions occupied you sort of go well why what while you talking about that those only 5 years ago surely there's some lessons to be drawn there and the lessons that many people have taken as we shall talk about that anymore and we need to move to a non prefigurative way that there isn't a chance of building a new world in the shell of the old without engaging which the old around and you
see this to bring this back in in the area that many of us are involved in in digital rights in understanding how the Internet should play a role in this and so there is an understandable shift between throwing up our hands in horror that the decentralized non here erarchical that somehow magically become a world of Iraq is of harassment and of last sort of centralized but uh surveillance driven of business models so the natural tendency to go OK let's move into a new uh a stance that isn't about prefigurative miss prefiguration it's about negotiating with these new giants of but not of steel but of of its so a lot of and he just dropping
into you know my day-to-day work and a lot of what I do is spending sort of thinking and talking about regulators in in Europe who wanted understandably control the power of these these from centralizing forces on and often and again the same thing's true everybody in the data was community at negotiating with those new powers as well the perhaps we can get them to eliminate fake news a little bit better all and so reduce hate speech or change their terms of service would deign to like reform their their practice through but negotiations with with the rest of us this is not what the prefigurative politics is about prefigurative politics would be know about betting system down and then building a new net mass along decentralized systems creating networks that could compete or challenge what the network it has become so as promised that I would come up with with a solution orally something which you up it on and and I
think the conclusion that I come from looking at all of these things goes back to that that that moment in 1924 and where the wobbly split and because actually you kind of me but I mean to be clear just so you understand everything I told you was complete nonsense right that that the narrative that I drew there was a spiraling set of things the probably unusual factually true but in the same as any other kind of a fake news is just a narrative that I've we've kind of lead you to this conclusion right and it's this I mean you could imagine Adam Curtis taking the same facts and coming up with exactly the opposite right and in fact he it and that should make you think a little bit more carefully when you listen to and believe Adam Curtis right because you know maybe it's just the English accent that's convincing you so so but in narrative this like this interesting thing right which is that I am implied that there are these waves and cycles there's a a period where the prefigurative viewpoint crests and then there's another point where strategic politics is is the moment of the day and I I meant obviously untrue
like generations true the seeds of the all of new world already existing in the old 1 so my kind of lesson if a dying 3 minutes of this is to say that if you feel yourself in 1 of these 2 camps on rather than from reveal the you can probably guess which side I'm on but in this sort of the audience I imagine that some of those a very tempted to go walk the prefigurative way to build new tools and to walk away from the negotiations rate to 2 and step into the sort of Silicon Valley or whatever you want to describe a model of like building rockets and going off to create a new world but of as a draw on magnetically to Brussels right this this far more realistic model of like no that's doomed to failure we have to build something in the existing political systems because everything's just gonna burn then if we don't do that we don't hold on to attempting a pragmatic solution with the tools that we find ourselves surrounded with now I think the honest truth is the both of those things contain the seeds of the future like both of them
at the escape pods for the other 1 if this 1 fails if if the negotiations stumble then we're gonna need the prefigurative politics ability to build these new weapons of liberation and if this crumbles and falls like it always did we're going to need people in the room negotiating and and saving of but more importantly these 2 groups have to show solidarity these regulating these sort of negotiations have to keep some room for the prefigurative politicians and the prefigured people have to start looking we've abject contempt of the cell outside of the strategists and if we can keep that together I think there's a there's a chance that we might be able to write that that that that cycle 1 more time and maybe just happily have an incremental digital revolution all over again the of procurement pH
thank you thank you Danny unfortunately we don't have time for it you in a but ensure that people can find you
next to the stage after the talk if you have questions arise in many porous on you a lot so you want to do is yeah OK I I I think this is actually this will go on and on on what the 16 verses social so so we're gonna do this because matter Chikofsky is going to be speaking in on stage 1 and he's going to be talking about the new unionization of Silicon Valley and I just thought it would be we convince him that like basically Europe is like ready in revolutionary firm that he could hear like warble singing in the room next the so I opened the door of the ultimate goal of the parent OK so what do you do you guys know the Battle Hymn of the Republic no you don't write that you do know it because American history is wired into our brains by hollywood terrace right so this that's the 1 that goes story glory how the mind up without but uh but so these are the lyrics oligomycin array so of 270 actually know how to you said you were a wobbly right that you read about them you would you wanna leaders in this so it goes 1 2 3 full when the unions inspiration through the workers bloods around there can be no power to where the where the those on your hands on weaker than the the most right the 1 that the you need to make a strong I did get help solidarity over here the solvent there already so long and all the I also thank you very much in the whole
world so are pruned hey you
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Metadaten

Formale Metadaten

Titel Building a new Net in the Shell of the Old
Serientitel re:publica 2017
Autor O'Brien, Danny
Lizenz CC-Namensnennung - Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen 3.0 Deutschland:
Sie dürfen das Werk bzw. den Inhalt zu jedem legalen Zweck nutzen, verändern und in unveränderter oder veränderter Form vervielfältigen, verbreiten und öffentlich zugänglich machen, sofern Sie den Namen des Autors/Rechteinhabers in der von ihm festgelegten Weise nennen und das Werk bzw. diesen Inhalt auch in veränderter Form nur unter den Bedingungen dieser Lizenz weitergeben.
DOI 10.5446/33105
Herausgeber re:publica
Erscheinungsjahr 2017
Sprache Englisch

Inhaltliche Metadaten

Fachgebiet Informatik
Abstract Is the Net supposed to reflect society, or transform it? Are we supposed to work with corporations and the state, or replace them? Danny O'Brien goes on a whistle-stop ride around the early Net activism, Occupy and Silicon Valley to find out whether we've learned the right lessons from our recent past.

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