Digital Re:publicans, Are They Still Dreaming ?! #rp17


#rp17 / #LOVEoutLOUD / #endofthenet

We’re heading into another one of those Re:publica thingees…  a digital cult conference which began as a friendly little bloggers media niche convention and metasticized to become ” one of the largest and most exciting conferences about digital culture in the world.” … That means hosts to a wide range of unsavory corporate sponsors + partners … like Daimler Benz, IBM, Google, Microsoft, Deutsche Telekom, etc…

But Re-publica brings in alot of cool and respectable players – activists, hackers, orgs – as well, and thus we like to call it: the progressive belly of the technotopian beast !

To prepare, we wanted to revisit Boris Beaude’s fantastic analysis of how mangled the internet + digital culture have become … From Institute of Network Cultures , June 2016, and free for download ( and even print can be ordered for FREE ) …

And we recommend this as a necessary primer for any digital culture convergence you plan on attending this year… In the hopes that – one day – we might all be closer to the same page: that the internet is way more than broken !

Broken, that’s already old hat ! But have no fear, the net evangelists are constantly being born again… And they now say “Yes of course we knew it was broken all along. And we’re fixing it. And we must reclaim the net! ” Then they will giddily whisk you down into another labyrinth which promises a broad assortment of first-aid-like emergency kits to plug ( or plug into ) the gaping wound that is the predatory + surveilled shopping mall abyss of virtual accessories and blinky screentime-du-jour.

The thing that’s now important to know is: WHY the shit’s so broken, and while Beaude never really gets his teeth fully into a corporate krapitalist crtitique, nor the military industrial complex that turns everything into a colonial-scale weapon … He has given a very concise map of how we got taken for a ride on the corporate mother-f-ship…. ( the fathership, would probably be more accurate ).

Just to grab a couple short concluding snippets from The End of The Internets:

” The Internet was supposed to abolish distances, advance freedom of expression, enhance collective intelligence, foster the potential for gratis, decentralize power and resist any attempt at taking control of the Internet itself. Regrettably, we must come to the conclusion that these ideals are rapidly fading away. Seemingly abolished barriers are being re-erected again. Freedom of speech is subject to a number of restrictions. Engagements and capabilities are still unequally distributed. Power has never been so centralized. We are clearly witnessing the end of the Internet as we formerly knew it. By altering the nature of space, the Internet has changed humanity’s social configuration; but humanity is so diverse that it will not allow the Internet to remain unaltered. “

Earlier in the essay lays out in much detail about why all this is occurring… and here at the finale, he’s pointing to where technology conferences + citizens in general – really need to change our conversations to meet the change of the game…

” What the world really needs is a major political debate centering on the future of the only place that the whole of humanity shares in common. There is no doubt that a choice will have to be made, between a globalization of politics or the end of the Internet as we know it. We will have to make the Internet the central issue of a debate which given the environmental crisis, the threat of global terrorism and the state of the world economy, obliges us to realize that what unites us is more important than what divides us. In the absence of such a radical shift in politics, we will not only witness a much more drastic partitioning of the Internet but even more worrying, a further fragmentation of our world. We will risk the collapse of globalization and nationalist insurgencies everywhere, which will render nation-states more powerless and vulnerable. “

All an eloquent attempt for framing of our challenges  … AND YET … in the final appeal he states:

” The Internet is the perfect public place to rise to this challenge; it is an ideal but also fragile space that we must never cease to cherish, share and protect together. “

Well, this seemingly innocuous and hopeful turn is quite similar to all our experiences of industry-supported convergences like Re:publica… And this is the point where the XLterrestrials feel it is appropriate to intervene w/ other angles for analysis and action, and call for a bit of “walking back” here…

The real PLACE that humanity shares – for required living – is an embodied position/existence on the earth !  And perhaps we should be asking: Is the continuing attempts to find our commonality in the NON-PLACE of the internet a large part of what sets the stage for further accelerating and exacerbating such divisive, abstract and globalization realities/irrealities on the ground ?!!

In a world plagued with inequalities, technological plunderings, a lack of tangible and nourishing commons here on earth, freedom of mobility for all, etc. …  Putting our hopes in a liberated NON-PLACE, is like WISHING WE COULD ALL TRANSFORM OURSELVES INTO ORGANIC FARMERS OVERNIGHT ON A NON-OXYGENATED MARS !

Of course, we will need to continue the fight for regulating and/or reeling-in the internet…  this spectre of technospheres… or it will continue to run amok regardless of our desires.

More importantly, the real Hacking for the 21st century  might be about reclaiming ( and assuring ) access and the means to share equitably the planet’s natural resources : earth, water, sky, fire (energy)…  with the vast majority of global bodies, which will include all the other species with whom we co-inhabit. We must return to a non-anthropocentric world !

… Communication tools will be necessary, but they certainly won’t be central to that end. And in fact, given the predatory infrastructures as they currently operate, will must be honest about that fact that this is a territory which perpetuates the borders and enclosures which ensure those places of privlege – wealthy + elite access only, while throwing the rest of us ( and other species ) under the bus !

Not surprisingly Re:publica will be more focused on the Digital Industries, and selling lots of virtual ad-space… as usual… 3% will be some good critique ( though probably not as precise as Beaude’s )  and self-defense strategies… and a whole lotta ongoing cyber-pipe-dreaming !

Nothing wrong with dreaming….  except when it’s at the expense of liberty, sovereignty, privacy, the indigenous, environment, the commons, social well-being, the whole of the earth’s living bio-systems, and the list goes on and on !  Essentially technotopia+Krapitalism + the machines remain a very self-serving ( alien ) entity that’s selling us and our habitats downstream ! Digital culture does not bode well as our primary tools for liberation and sustainability, surely not until those ( organic + humane ) practices are the center of our social organization and can then lead the way for any further ( democratic ) technological progress.

One cannot have tech al a carte before the dead horse.


ok, we’re going in…
wish us luck !

Note: btw, you can follow Boris Beaude’s work – tho mostly in French – here :  and at @nofluxin

to be cont.

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