I knew things were bad -- but they could get worse.
At Personal Democracy Forum, Dave Winer, that old hippie control freak, first demanded that a separate meeting be held "for the techs". He was very irritated that this general audience of people who were NOT coders for the most part was getting involved in these issues. TERRIBLY irrated. He even asked for a show of hands as to who in the audience was a programmer, and there were a significant number, but I'd say no more than about 30 percent. He then pretended like it would be "boring" for everyone else to sit in on "boring discussions of the technicalities of Net Neutrality". Um, no Dave. Not boring at all. You bear watching, and you can explain yourself to people and not pretend "technicalities" require creating more secret factions.
He was trying the usual geek gambit of pretending that tech was not political; but of course it was VERY political.
Before he spoke, Rebecca McKinnon had spoken enthusiastically about the need to make an Internet free of corporations that "place a chill on freedom of expression" and are "coercive" ostensibly (although it's Anon that is coercive, taking down their websites). She spoke enthusiastically of "darknets" and "peer-to-peer networks" -- and it was like the reprisal of Second Life and its educators of the "edupunk" type who are maliciously hateful of "walled gardens" and demand that they be able to export not only their own but anyone else's content to "free" servers -- reverse-engineered Open Sims. All of this is known and the arguments for choice to have EITHER walled gardens OR open sims are all legitimate.
But the cyberutoipans are never happy; they always want to force the "open," which is really, as we have seen particularly graphically with Anon in this last week, forcing the closed. Open source=closed society. Does it get better than this new darknet fanatacism to prove my point!
Yeah, I've heard Lindens talk about darknets and p2p and all that "good stuff" any number of times so I have a rough picture of it. I don't have to be some technically proficient coder to understand what the basic premise is: building an architecture of the Internet that is outside the commercial Internet as it is now, which these Leninist purists chafe at terribly the way Malevich used to chafe at the oiliness of the "grub world" and long for endlessly perfect symmetrical lines disappearing into white infinity.
In fact, if you read about Darknet, you come to an awareness that what happened is that the original Internet was a darknet, or there was a darknet that grew up around the Arpanet that had the copyability built into it as a thesis and a coded exigency and an entire philosophy, then that darknet become web 1.0 but then got overtaken by the commercialized Internet, that began to grow hierarchies and domains and structures that roughly accorded to real-life countries with governments and sovreignty -- yes, at a flick of a switch, you can be removed from a domain, and yes, it's like being PNG'd from a country.
Then with first Napster then all the other p2p stuff like Kazaa and such and then all the social media hype with all its "sharing" and "liking" it seemed like Darknet might be prevailing again, having succeeded in destroying the music and news businesses (it's kinda of like Midas, at first, everything it touches is gold, seemingly, and then it is stuck with not being able to eat because it turned its food into a metal, and then even its daughter) -- and is now heading like a rapacious Pacman to destroy government.
Darknet was getting pushed back and made obsolete by Facebook (I think) and even Twitter (less so) but then WikiLeaks got booted and b& by Amazon. And so Dave started talking up Darknet again -- which he wants first and foremost to save his own stuff for ever, etched like words in the Parthenon.
So, keep that in mind, all ye who venture here. Dave's Darknet (and crypto-anarchism lurking nearby) is about him first of all being able to save his own stuff. He's terribly pissed off at Amazon for not hosting stolen government property and is dramatically -- hysterically! -- claiming that "journalism is not possible" and "saving all his back blog files" is not possible because of Amazon's action and that we can "no longer trust" the Amazon cloud. (There were other reasons not to trust the cloud; this would not be one of them).
That's just so entirely stupid that you hope the Internet will just keep routing around it. In case you didn't notice, WikiLeaks isn't censored, and went to other servers and is still visible all over the place with more cables coming out, more's the pity. Yes, maybe all the server companies in the world might be silenced, but then, that's because it's a crime to steal government documents -- that they are stolen from the most open government in the world and not the most closed is one of those ironies of fate.
But...The world isn't interested in the Panopticon; in fact, the sad thing is that 6 weeks from now, because of the way the news cycle and the society of the spectacle works, it will be almost impossible to interest anybody in anything related to this cables story, which is already losing its legs.
That Dave can't make a distinction between journalism and crime is, of course, highly troubling. But he can go on receding into history with his "Steal This Book!" approach and Amazon, which does make the distinction between journalism and crime, will likely go on making it possible for authors to get paid instead of forcing communist sharing in the "Creative Commons". Thank you!
The Dave Darknet thing of course will go on for awhile. There will be meetings, secret and semi-open. There will be posturing and manifestos and bills of rights.
As much as I vehemently oppose the "bill of rights" of Jeff Jarvis, at a human level, I feel a spasm of pity for this man. I keep thinking about my encounter with him yesterday, and I do feel sad. He's not getting any younger, and he has been ill. He seems to be sincere in his beliefs, and I appreciate that. In another setting, say, if he were a neighbour, he might be a pleasant acquaintance to chat with now and then. But his ideas are really deadly to freedom, and they have to be opposed. Since he seems to be a thoughtful and idealistic fellow, I still hold out hope that he might be reached and reason might prevail. I'm not going to hold my breath, however, because the vehemence with which I opposed him is explained by a simple thing: I could see from his blog, his video talks, etc. that he was ruthless. Cheerfully ruthless, but ruthless nonetheless.
With Dave Winer and Mark Pesce, apparently another Australian pro-WikiLeaks ideologu -- I know there is no hope of that sort, even. These men are total ideologues and total fanatics -- Doug Rushkoff, too. You won't be getting them to reason or compromise or -- most important -- curb their own power. They are absolutely convinced of their own rectitude and basing it on "technology" and "science" that they are unimpeachable. To be sure, Winer is such a thin-skinned sulking sourpuss on some of his ventures that his own peers with his own perspective push him out at times but he keeps reappearing because he's a zealot. God save us when Steve Gillmor gets at all this crap. Our only hope is that Scoble may cheerfully come bumbling in and actually sit on the sekrit darknet server and break it or something. Keep eating those tacos, Scobe!
I hope Amazon as a company and as a proposition will be short, sharp, abrupt and firm with people like Dave Winer saying crap like this, and not start building bridges and "reaching out" and all that other tech bullshit that happens in Silicon Valley. Yep, the road needs to fork, and fork here. Crime doesn't pay, so go away to your commune, Dave, if you don't like our server rules. This is like the Emerald Viewer. Go make your darknet and see it...get about 42 people. Or maybe 42 million? But then Esther Dyson won't be able to keep paying for it.
My answer to Mark's manifesto below.
Thanks for neatly laying out the theses of technocommunism, but they are to be repudiated.
They're to be resisted with every ounce of our being not because we are the old guard but because we already went through the Age of Enlightenment and won't go back to your tribes and your darkness. You're the reaction to the modern age, hiding in your IRC channels and plotting your darknets.
WikiLeaks is not "the press" or "journalism" but robotic functions and human vandalism. That's all.
Let's not glorify it any more than we'd glorify a train accident.
There is no hyperconnectivity, there is only the Wired State which is you tech elites and various anarchist cooperatives and thuggish gangs using the DDOS to enforce "code as law". Don't confuse that with a state of any benign sort; it's a conspiracy. Don't confuse that with a community of people who are served by technology, instead of being crushed by it.
The 21st century isn't about being connected -- not only because we are already connected by our common humanity and don't need you to artifically social-graph us as coders. No, your connected century is only about those tech elites like yourself who are wired up and arrogant with a false superiority of a rote knowlege, putting over a certain technocommunist agenda to attempt to destroy media, music, and now government which was once democratic and participatory.
When coders make the systems for "hyperdemocracy," it may be "hyper" but it sure ain't democracy. We see the results. The results are that WikiLeaks dog whistles, and Anon thugs take down commercial sites, in the name of "Freedom of Expression". No thank you.
In fact, the states will be fighting back, and some of them won't be as pretty as you imagine, like China and Russia.
And if this could work out better -- that is, not the way you like it, and if we can indeed not stop the future of the Internet as Zittrain demands with *his* variant of technocommunism, we might have an Internet of private and public organizations with communities of content and commerce where people make a living (*waves to cube3*), not by copying and sharing endlessly like Leninists in a commune where "we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us," but by attaching content to payment. The net tends to route around not only censorship, thank God, but tends to route around Marxist solutions, like yours, too -- that's why ebay, Amazon, Paypal, Facebook all emerged to take the net out of its commune phase. The inevitable FUD and reaction against progress is taking place now -- um, that would be you, not me.
But we'll be definitely seeing a backlash, and it will be first Gov 2.0 's fault, for their arrogance, then your fault, for your utopian "hyperdemocracy" concoctions.
Darknets are not the future of governance, but the future of totalitarianism, an archipelago of egos like Dave Winer who will rule supreme over their collectivized fiefdoms and where destructive 4chan-style meme-spreading will be ridiculously simple because the InternInternet will be brittle and Balkanized. A few "thought influences" will arrange it -- but fortunately as we saw from Personal Democracy Forum a few people will resist this idiocy and Tim Berners Lee will have to retreat back into history, and that will be a good thing.
There's a name for people who tell you they and their revolutions are "inevitable" or "cannot be wished out of existence", etc. It's Bolshevism. Thanks for at least being honest about it.
Fork away, you nerds. Patch and GTFO. The net will route around you. There is no "we" building "systems of human relations" because humans are free, and don't require you to code their relations.