June 01, 2020

Institute of Network Cultures

Anonymize Your Online Footprint-Info Security for Direct Action

Internet-related tips for protesters (document in development here)

Whether you are protesting in person or working in digital spaces (or both) covering your browsing habits, metadata, and search histories is important. These can be ordered as evidence, or can expose others even months or years later. Even without a court order or direct governmental surveillance, your data history can be bought from aggregate services, both legally and illegally.

On the internet, you are tracked. You are tracked everywhere you go, whether by your ISP, advertisers, cookies, or the site itself. This will be your IP address (a unique identification number per network), where in the world you roughly are, other places you have been on the internet, and often what social media accounts you hold. Even just the browser you use can tell someone who you are because of the ‘headers’ your computer sends, called a Browser Fingerprint. Because there are only so many combinations of hardware and software, you may have a unique “fingerprint” simply because your computer’s particular combination is rare. See: https://webkay.robinlinus.com/ https://panopticlick.eff.org/

Personal privacy on the internet has been eroded from all sides, including advertisement and commerce, weak government protections, hacked databases, products and services which leak your information (via selling it or accidentally and ambiently). But also, the internet was never really made to be anonymous. It takes work anonymize your information.



On phones / other smart devices:
Turn off your phone or leave it at home
Police can track phones through cell towers – this can confirm your presence or identify you later
Messages can also be intercepted by “stingrays”, which pose as cell powers -> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stingray_phone_tracker
If you use Android, leave it at home – they have a history of being hacked by police- > https://money.cnn.com/2016/02/25/technology/android-apple-police-encryption/index.html
If you have an old/spare/burner phone, consider bringing that instead- even without a sim card, having an empty phone that can connect to wifi and bluetooth might be helpful.
If you do bring your phone
Think about what you have stored on it and if it could put you or anyone else at risk. Delete contacts and messages as needed.
Back up your data, in case it is lost.
Set a difficult passcode
NOT face or thumb Id, not a year or all one number in a row
Turn off home screen notifications – don’t let anything show without unlocking your phone.
Set your phone to go to lock screen extremely quickly
Turn on airplane mode, which will keep your phone from broadcasting.
Make sure that Airdrop isn’t on.
If you lose your device or it is confiscated:
Revoke access & log out of applications remotely
Changing your password to accounts can sometimes force a log-out
Or you can do it manually per account- search “<service name> revoke access for devices”
Use Signal or other encrypted messaging systems to communicate
Police can still surveil metadata (when you’re sending messages to, when) but not the actual contents of an encrypted message
TURN OFF LOCATION SERVICES!! This will keep you from attaching GPS coordinates to photos.
iphone -> https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207092
android -> https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3467281?hl=en

On taking photographs:
Photographs can be extremely useful, but:
Take photos without unlocking your phone
Do not take pictures of anyone that could be identifiable
If you capture a person in a photo, BLUR OR BLOCK THEM OUT
After you take pictures, screenshot them to remove exif data
Exif data stores information on the image such as shutter speed, if a flash was used, date and time, and GPS information. See- > http://exifdata.com/
This can be evidence – don’t post something directly, but screenshot the image so that information is overwritten.
After you screenshot the photograph, delete the original.
IF YOU POST PHOTOS/INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET, know that this is saying that you were there. Never tag anyone else without their express consent or discuss private plans in a publicly visible space.

On keeping yourself from being identified:
Wear a bandana/mask, sunglasses, and cover any identifying features, especially tattoos.
Don’t wear clothes that have identifiable logos on them, or that are unique. Stick to solid colors, or all-black.
Don’t buy stuff, and if you do use cash! Credit cards / digital payments are immediately traceable.
Bring a change of clothes for after the protest, or if you have to get away quickly.
Bike or walk if you are able – License plate readers may be in use.
Regarding CV Dazzle (https://cvdazzle.com): this is cute and cyberpunk and folks like to share it, but it is not as effective as just blocking your face. AI gets better every day, and if you’re still identifiable to a human you’re still at risk. If anything, colorful facepaint might might you more identifiable.



If you’re doing research or online activities that shouldn’t be tracked to you, here are some ways to cover yourself, ordered roughly from least to most difficult/serious.

Use Firefox –
Firefox just got a recent upgrade with increased tracking blocking and other data protections, especially over Chrome.
Don’t install plug-ins you don’t trust, but do install plug-ins that help keep your data safe –
UblockOrigin https://getublock.com/
No software without a privacy statement that you believe –
Even stuff you download to your computer that isn’t online can send information
No Dropbox
They are a very anti-privacy company. Use https://onionshare.org/ for filesharing.
No Googling things, use DuckDuckGo
Use Incognito mode
Not honestly a solution, but confuses some tracking.
Burner accounts
Always make a new email with no info for new accounts.
Use a fake name
This is legal and you should do it to avoid having your information data mined across services.
Turn off location sharing on your computer –
Never pay with a credit card, use a third party like Paypal, or cash or bitcoins are better
Delete cookies and browsing history a lot.
Turn off Javascript – this is a bummer but really helpful, https://noscript.net/
Use the Tor Browser
Tor browser – > https://www.torproject.org/
Tor makes your traffic semi-anonymous by routing through nodes around the world.
This is how you access the darkweb but you don’t have to go to darknet sites, just use Tor for regular browsing.
There are also other browsers/systems, like Freenet and I2P.
Use a Proxy or a VPN (or both)
A Proxy hides your IP address makes it look like you’re somewhere else, but don’t encrypt your data. Good for lowstakes things.
A VPN also makes your IP looks like it is coming from somewhere else, but is significantly more secure.
More-> What is the difference between a VPN and a Proxy? https://www.howtogeek.com/247190/whats-the-difference-between-a-vpn-and-a-proxy/
Some Proxys:
You can read more about VPNs and pick one out here: https://ssd.eff.org/en/module/choosing-vpn-thats-right-you
Expect to pay for a good VPN, though some have free versions.
You need to make sure your VPN has had a public audit to ensure that it has no logs, aka no record of what you have used their internet connection for.
Use Proxygambit – http://samy.pl/proxygambit/
Use an anonymizing OS-
A virtual machine that resets on boot, running on (secure) portable media. You want an encrypted key with Tails or ZeusGuard, or even Windows To Go. Assign a random DHCP address on start. Iron key is a good place to start – > https://www.ironkey.com/en-US/ https://youtu.be/3sx41MXPgPg

Once you’re all set up, check against DNS leaks –


And need to button up your online presence in case of identify theft/ hacking/ harassment/ threats/ etc (thanks @somenerdliam from Twitter for some of these links):

Search your old emails
Go through each email you can think of that you’ve used
You’ll need access to them so that you can access other websites you may have signed up to using them.

Delete accounts from forgotten services
Use the search function for each email account and look for “Sign up”, “Welcome”, etc.
Recover and log in to each service.
Purge any content and messages, as the account may be archived even after its ideleted.
Make a note of your username, password, the service, and email used
Delete the account.
If you can’t find where, search “delete account” + “<service>”. You may have to email support.
If you remember being on other sites, go to those sites and enter all your old emails in the recover password box.

Check if your information is already public
Now that you have a list of usernames, emails, and services, see if these are part of a data breach anywhere
Search on Duckduckgo/Google/other search engine for your email and account names.
You will potentially find pastebin links or databases with leaked information. Note what usernames and passwords show up.
Many databases are not indexed by search engines: use https://haveibeenpwned.com to check when and what is public.
If anything shows up, this is the first priority to change or delete!

Remove old information from Google
Even if you delete old accounts, there is cached information about them.
Use the Google Console to request them to delete/update their search engine (which usually takes months organically) to remove those cached results. You have to provide a link to each. https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/removals

Don’t let Google track you
Here is where you can go through each of Google’s services. Turn them off for every account you have. https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols
You can see (and scrub) your old activity here: https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity
You can report content for legal removal here: https://support.google.com/legal/answer/3110420?visit_id=637092788967151292-3839576181&rd=1

For every service you use, strip down privacy settings to the core.
What is possible will change service to service – it is safer to not have an account, but be sure to change your settings where possible.
Facebook is particularly bad, but if you do want to use Facebook make sure all of your information is set to private so people can’t access photos and information about you.

Delete old emails
After you’ve gone through your old emails for signups, etc, you should delete them.
This is not for stuff you will need in the future, but for personal information that could be used against you or embarrass you.
If you think you might need these emails, make sure to change your security questions and password.

Secure account practices
Change all your passwords regularly, at least a few times a year.
New databases are sold or leaks happen daily.
Never use the same password, passwords that are similar to each other, or personal information in your passwords.
Its easy to guess where an underscore or 0 might go to edit a password. There are even programs that run through password permutations automatically.

Delete your old content regularly
Delete tweets and old photos. If you are a personal target, this information might be studied intensely.
Be careful of posting about your social circle and folks who are physically near you. Even if you have tight data practices, your neighbor might not- and if a hacker knows they are your neighbor, they also know where you live.


More links –


I’m not an expert – if you have additions or corrections, @ this thread on twitter: https://twitter.com/everestpipkin/status/1266601091229155328

by Geert Lovink

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the last week of May, 2020.

MacOS Catalina: Slow by Design?
May 22, 2020 (comments)
Apple programs their customers' computers to ask for Apple's permission before following customers' instructions. This fucks up a bunch of shit, so Hackernews whiles away the afternoon writing tools to verify the fuckery or screeds dictating terms under which it is permissible to put programs on your own computer. Later, some Hackernews express concern that their laptops are performing network traffic without being asked to, but it's never clear why this is bad from Apple but okay from every single web browser on the market.

Unable to deal with Chrome Extension Team, Kozmos is shutting down
May 23, 2020 (comments)
A webshit abandons a sandcastle when the tide comes in. Hackernews is frustrated with the arbitrary and impersonal havoc that Google wreaks among people who are dependent on Google, and issues their standard advice: switch to Fastmail and DuckDuckGo. Hackernews isn't going to make this switch, because of extremely tedious reasons, but they recommend that everyone else do so. Along the way we're treated to about six different economic theories explaining why the natural evolution of any market leads directly to browser extension vendors getting vigorously fucked by disinterested webshits.

How the biggest consumer apps got their first 1k users
May 24, 2020 (comments)
A parasite shits out about four thousand words of advice that boil down to "do something useful or burn venture capital for fuel." Hackernews is skeptical of the proffered advice, both because "doing something useful" isn't an inherently meaningful statement to webshits and "burn venture capital" is something they're having a really hard time doing right now. Most of the conversation lands squarely back in Hackernews' home turf: spamming people on the web and hoping some people are dumb enough to follow up.

I wrote Task Manager and I just remembered something
May 25, 2020 (comments)
An Internet reminisces about writing two of the most important activities for Microsoft Windows: killing malfunctioning programs and avoiding work. The author recounts some hidden functionality present in the software. Hackernews is very sad that nobody is compiling such information, which they regard as "folklore," eschewing traditional labels for such information, like "documentation." The rest of the comments are whining that Microsoft painted the bikeshed a color Hackernews doesn't like.

AWS services explained in one line each
May 26, 2020 (comments)
A webshit tries to figure out what the fuck Amazon is selling. Hackernews votes for the article and bookmarks it in case anyone expects them to understand AWS products in the future. Another Hackernews has a similar (but less comprehensive) list of definitions, so the gang spends an afternoon bikeshedding it. Other Hackernews are insufficiently pleased with existing definitions, but don't have much else to say about it.

The Day AppGet Died
May 27, 2020 (comments)
An Internet abandons a sandcastle when the tide comes in. In a major business-process innovation, Microsoft executes all three phases of 'embrace, extend, extinguish' simultaneously. The author then shows up on "Hacker" "News" to complain about not having been awarded a participation trophy. Some Microsofts show up to nod sagely and recommend against pissing into the wind. Hackernews tries to determine the best process for a massive multibillion dollar company to assimilate some rando's code; the conclusion is "money."

Tools for Better Thinking
May 28, 2020 (comments)
A webshit illustrates some buzzwords. Hackernews declares that the best way to think is by typing things into a computer, which explains the infallibility, style, and grace of the author of Webshit Weekly. Hackernews then links to every other buzzword-illustration resource they've come across.

Twitter hides Donald Trump tweet for “glorifying violence”
May 29, 2020 (comments)
The United States government escalates the now-literal war against its own users. Jack Dorsey briefly looks away from Stripe earnings reports to mute a troll post. Because there is nothing productive Hackernews could possibly have to say on the matter, there are almost fifteen hundred comments. Comments range from inventing Twitter's moderation platform from first principles, to debating whether Twitter is allowed to control its own servers or should be held in thrall of whatever asshole currently happens to shit in White House bathrooms, to why it's so damn hard to get people to stop saying dumb shit on the internet.

SpaceX successfully launches two humans into orbit
May 30, 2020 (comments)
Some miscreants violate the living shit out of Florida governor DeSantis' stay-home order. Hackernews is elated that someone is being personally enriched by this, rather than the suspicious and despicable "public-interest" efforts NASA has previously undertaken. This leads to a bout of eager fantasizing about what new products might enrich future muskonauts, then exploring exactly how far away Elon Musk needs to be for a given company to be successful.

A 1/48 scale model of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket
May 31, 2020 (comments)
A toymaker introduces a new model. Toys are fun and this one is topical, since it is tangentially related to yesterday's space launch, so Hackernews votes for the article, but doesn't have anything interesting to say.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2020/05/31/0/

May 29, 2020

Institute of Network Cultures

Pandemic and Subversion-Dialogue with Federico Zappino

The Exception of the Minorities: Pandemic and Subversion

A Dialogue with Federico Zappino by Lorenzo Petrachi

Federico Zappino is philosopher, translator and queer activist. He translated into Italian work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Judith Butler and Monique Wittig. Among his recent works are Il genere tra neoliberismo e neofondamentalismo (Gender Between Neoliberalism and Neofundamentalism, ed. 2016) and Comunismo queer. Note per una sovversione dell’eterosessualità (Queer Communism. Notes toward a Subversion of Heterosexuality, 2019).

Lorenzo Petrachi is co-founder of the research group Dalla Ridda, in Bologna.

The interview appeared first in Italian OperaViva Magazine, April the 2nd 2020 and was translated by Eleonora Stacchiotti.

OHO group (Nasko Kriznar), Red Snow, 1969, 8 mm film, silent, colour film, 2’40”, Marinko Sudac Collection.

Lorenzo Petrachi: Almost two months after the declaration of the state of emergency, the measures that have been taken against the spread of Covid-19 are widening the gap that merges and separates two inherently different sets of signs. On the one hand, there are practices of control and domination that address the problem by holding the individuals responsible, for instance, as with the increasing attitude towards blaming the others, authoritarianism and militarization – which engender forms of slanderous psychosis. On the other hand, the exasperation of inequalities, the healthcare crisis and the fear for the coming bailout of the failing real economy are making tangible the variety of forms of solidarity and struggle, movements that emphasize interdependency over individualism. The pandemic definitely brought about a radical call as regards the question of our existence, especially by doubting the rationalities informing the government of the individuals and, more fundamentally, of the emerging entanglement of people and objects.

These organized practices with their particular subjects have proven to be unable to respond coherently to an adventitious, global problem and are on the verge of an inescapable transformation, although very uncertain in its nature. During one of the most recent mobilizations against neoliberalism in Santiago de Chile, a light installation on a building claimed No volveremos a la normalidad porqué la normalidad era el problema. In these recent days, a growing number of people are sharing this slogan on their social accounts, with a clear reference to the current crisis. Nevertheless, the current crisis is unprecedented for a number of reasons and this is why it is still not clear how this is going to turn out. It is still not clear how the joyful colors of (the more and more realistic) utopia are going to blend with the dull grey of the continuously extended state of exception. Are we then so sure that the “normal”, in these peculiar times, is our enemy?

Federico Zappino: I do not think I can be counted among the defenders of ‘normality’, because this term refers to the white, capitalist, hetero-patriarchal order established on the principles of environmental degradation, of violence and of institutionalized politics of inequality towards women, sexual and gender minorities, poor people, non-white people, people with disabilities and non-human beings. This is what the ‘normal’ actually looks like. Whoever takes part to a politicized minority perfectly knows that the ‘normal’ is the main problem. And those who are still willing to be included – without fighting for the subversion of it – are witnesses of the enormous fascination that the realm of normal has even on those who are oppressed. For this reason, I agree to the spirit of the light installation realized by the Chilean artistic collective Delight Lab, and I completely understand the reason why so many people borrow and make use of such a slogan in these melancholic, uncertain and endless days of collective grief.

However, we can first observe that there is a difference between a crisis induced by a political conflict waged by social movements in the order of “normality”, to which the Chilean slogan refers, and an epidemiological crisis. The current crisis is induced by a pandemic that has plummeted on a global society rather demobilized by the decennial crossfire of neoliberal and neo-fundamentalist policies (institution of the self-entrepreneur subject, dismantling or privatization of public and social services, restoration of the heterosexual family as a form of natural welfare), and which is politically managed through the establishment of a state of exception which – at least from what we can experience in Italy – replaces day by day pieces of ‘normality’ with increasing forms of coercive ‘social distancing’, disciplining, individual blaming, authoritarianism, even with the deployment of military means and practices.

The ‘normal’ that is being replaced by the state of emergency does not correspond with the white, hetero-patriarchal and capitalist order – that is, on the contrary, reinforced by the crisis. The state of exception is replacing ‘the public’. And while the State-Capital-Heterosexual Family tryptic gains centre-stage, the exceptional decrees show us how public space is precisely the precondition for the exercise – albeit unequal, and violently repressed if exercised by minorities – of all those freedoms such as walking, moving, gathering, expressing themselves, protesting, mourning a loss. Of all those freedoms, namely, which have meaning only in their collective and public exercise, and which fail when their condition of possibility fails.

To avoid any misunderstanding, what is at issue here is not whether the state of exception is justified by the need to stop the spread of the virus, whose causes, figures and territorial impact require further detailed analysis. What is a cause of concern now is that even now that health workers and all the workers in the production chains deemed ‘essential’ are denouncing the shortage of protective gear and the lack of the medical resources to face the pandemic, the state shows that it wants to ‘defend society’ by investing in population control devices such as drones, geo-location or monitoring of telephone cells, encouraging the population to relate those who break the rules of what is called ‘social distancing’, and much more. It would be irresponsible to consider these dark sides of the problem as relatively important, because they are evidently interconnected with the less dangerous aspects of this lockdown.

Lorenzo Petrachi: For instance, some argue that we are called to reflect on the traumatic desolation of the present in order to produce the inner feeling of existential crisis that will not be forgotten once the pandemic is over. Others insist that the pandemic is giving us the “chance” to witness first-hand the precariousness and the vulnerability of human life as the other side of the coin of the hegemonic vision of a subjectivity defined by sovereignty, ownership and entrepreneurial attitude.

Federico Zappino: I am not sure if I completely disagree with what you just mentioned. I believe that dwelling on loss, collectively lingering in mourning, rather than indulging the imperative of removal and restart at any cost, as if death had no effect on those who survive, can be not only transformative for the rethinking of the meaning of a community itself, but necessary. The point is that the labor of mourning does not need to suspend political criticism, as many, animated by dangerous forms of compassionate humanitarianism, suggest. On the contrary: if there was one thing that minorities learned from the HIV pandemic between the 1980s and 1990s, it is that the way to honor the many deaths was to politicize their causes, and to ‘ideologize’ in order to subvert them. It was precisely in that context that queer criticism took shape, for example.

I think this has to do with the fact that, as minorities,  we know that life is vulnerable and precarious regardless of the pandemic: the likelihood that our life is taken away prematurely is a consequence of the marginal position we have in society. If we extend this assumption, we can understand that any form of vulnerability, including those induced by the pandemic, have never happened on an abstract level, but usually occur in specific social conditions. Hence, insisting on the vulnerability and precariousness of (non-)human life only makes sense in relation to the fact that an epidemic is such also, and perhaps above all, in relation to the sanitary means and structures that such a situation requires – or on the contrary, the absence of such means and structures. The heavier the cuts in medical resources, the more authoritarian the emergency measures. This must be made clear. If then we can also grasp the eugenic subtext underlying this connection (in Italy there are a only few thousand intensive care beds for a population of sixty million inhabitants), we can easily understand how it makes no sense to understand as two distinct things ‘governmental’ power and ‘sovereign’ power of life and death over the population.

There would be no need to threaten the application of eugenic criteria for access to limited places in intensive care if these places were not limited, and if their number was proportionate in an egalitarian sense to the idea that the population, in its complex, it is vulnerable. What constitutes an insult to vulnerability is the neoliberal brutalization of public health resources and structures. Clearly, this cannot only be reduced to a critique of what has been done so far by the political classes that have facilitated neoliberal measures, but must be turned to a present demand for a radically different future: we must no longer listen, not even by mistake, that some subjects ‘deserve’ more than others access to medical treatments. This ‘value’, I fear, has to do with their productive and reproductive capacity of species and whiteness, and which, therefore, ratifies and consolidates the differential value accorded to people in line with principles like gender, race, age and psychic and physical ability. A materialistic and egalitarian commitment to vulnerability requires us not to accept death – or the need to choose who deserves to live – as a tragic fatality.

Lorenzo Petrachi: The connection that you make between the healthcare crisis – that has to do of course with the public financial cuts – and the growing authoritarianism of the governmental measures is fundamental in various ways. Pointing at this specific interdependence allows us to become aware of the difference between a disciplinary society and ours, by avoiding easy associations between the condemnation of violence of the state and the latter’s irrationality. What we are highlighting here is not the excessive suspension of the exercise of fundamental freedoms, but the modes of operation of a number of governmental rationalities working together. Your analysis also reworks the concept of ‘normal’ that, similarly to ‘power’, results to be less monolithic than what it seems to be at first glance.

Federico Zappino: My idea is that only emphasizing the multiplicity of rationalities of government we can protect ourselves from the risk of channeling our critical and political attention in one-way ways, as it happened too often on the sidelines of the issuing of emergency decrees. This is no time for binary oppositions. No fans needed. We collectively need to keep a watchful eye on a number of elements like the legitimacy of exceptional measures, the pandemic-induced reshaping of the relationship between capital and labor, the instrumental function of authoritarianism to the neoliberal decimation of public health resources, or the eugenic drifts that threaten, in an unacceptable way, to preside over the distribution of these scarce resources.

Moreover, we need to be aware of the strengthening of various forms of nationalism, induced by the fact that health systems are national and that, in the absence of global and common forms of health organization (as Judith Butler seems to suggest), any vaguely cosmopolitan idea fails at the first pandemic, as evidenced by the closure of all borders. We must be aware of the discursive and mediatic invisibilization of homeless, migrant, disabled and queer populations. Finally, it is of vital importance to acknowledge the hegemony of the heterosexual family and the re-naturalization of the exploitation of work and the violence based on gender that are given within it.

At the same time, I believe that it is fundamental to emphasize that there is no reason not to go back to ‘normal’ if we understand the normal as the restoration of the public space. I believe that minorities should not be taught that public space is constituted and torn by power relations: yet it remains the only space for social and political transformation. Therefore, going back to ‘normal’ is necessary. We need to go back to “normal” to enable the meeting of bodies, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, social conflict, forms of solidarity that fall outside the capitalistic monopoly of digital platforms. Having the possibility of gathering with other people in the public space to demonstrate, to protest, to mourn – also in the name of those who cannot do it, so to go against such an impossibility: aren’t these forms of the ‘normal’? The point, if anything, is to start immediately to understand what needs to be done once we have returned, and net of what we will find there, certainly not by our choice. The paradox created by the state of exception is that we must go back to ‘normal’ in order to subvert it. We can subvert it by mean of the political, cultural and social instruments that are part of the public space that we envision as radically democratic.

The state of exception cannot be a condition of social transformation, unless this is done through violence – a perspective that does not look intriguing to me. As I understand them, the claims of minorities are requests of a radical subversion of cultural, political and economic factors causing the social differences at the base of systematic inequalities. But the strength of these instances does not need to double the violence that produces them: the anger and the grief we feel can be turned into a transformative politics rather than a violent one.

Lorenzo Petrachi: As regard as the coaching to keep a daily routine during the lockdown, it is interesting to observe how the political use of certain kinds of normality incites the population to keep a productive rhythm with lines like “Put your makeup on as if you were going to work”, “Set your daily goals”, “Stop wasting time and set a schedule.” It is precisely this efficient lifestyle, this form of entrepreneurial and proprietary freedom that is showing its inconsistency and its being unsustainable during this moment of global crisis. The fact that the exceptional measures  stopping the ‘normal’ are still promoting this mode of existence – by reproducing the ordinary repressive structures that you, in your book Comunismo Queer, put at the intersection between modes of production of the subjectivities, of relational spaces and of social relationship – is even more revealing about the true nature of the ‘normal’. The order to stay-at-home, for example, not only does not take into consideration the homeless, but also does not take into account the limits and the iniquities of the majority of people that are living most of the times with their heterosexual family or on their own. This is what is emphatically supported by the popular banner hanging outside a Spanish house: “La romantización de la cuarentena es un privilegio de clase.” The presumably good sense to prioritize basic necessities on an institutional, economic and individual level is based once again on an established meaning of ‘necessity’, that does not deal with the impact of such measures on different subjectivities. How can we shy away from this evidence?!

Federico Zappino: If we observe the ‘micropolitics’ of this state of exception we can see that it needs to ensure the reproduction of ‘normality’ right in the middle of its suspension. This exhorts us to look at normality in a less dogmatic way, detecting different regimes of competing normalities, so that it is evident that the suspension of a certain kind of normality takes place by means of the corroboration of the modes of production which, historically, come together in its determination.

It was not necessary to wait for a pandemic to find out that the capitalist modes of production operate by transforming ecosystems deeply and irreversibly, to the point where, as some argue, pandemics should be understood as anything but dysfunctional as regards the modes of production themselves. Yet, since the epidemic broke out Xi Jinping has repeatedly (often turning to Trump) asserted that in no way will the virus affect the Chinese economy, which, from his point of view, will restart stronger than before. In Italy too, we are witnessing a precise political will to maintain productive ways and sectors whose ‘essentiality’ is to be proven, and in working conditions often unsuitable for the context of a pandemic. This allows us to highlight in new ways the dependence between a specific mode of production and the form of life it generates, the latter which continue to depend on the former even if the price to pay for this dependence is life itself.

The same goes for all the modes of production of subjectivity which, from my perspective, offer human and symbolic resources by means of which capitalism can assert and reproduce itself. In Italy, the anthropologist Miguel Mellino brought attention to all the racist limits of the governance of the pandemic, insisting that migrants – who often work in agricultural production chains – are made totally invisible by media and institutional discourses. Mellino wonders: “Are there no infections among migrants? Are there no hospitalizations? Or maybe they are not assisted or not even counted? Or are they not even considered as worthy of representation, speech and even less of tampons?” For Mellino, in other words, the state of exception exacerbates a racist rift, reproducing specific white coordinates of social reproduction. In my view, the state of exception is also the product of a heterosexual rift.

While psychologists and pundits urge men and women to dress and put on make-up as if they were going to work – that is, to reproduce the heterosexually regulated ‘society’ even in the times of ‘social distancing’–, the lives of those constituting an exception in the exception remain equally invisible from the public discourse, still obliged to abide by the criminally binding injunction to stay-at-home: the lives of those who do not have a home or an income, and the lives of those who live in situations of mental distress – and we know how many women and queer and trans people live in situations of housing, income and psychic precarity.

Likewise, women trapped in violent heterosexual contexts who, due to the suspension of public space, can only count on incomplete forms of support from anti-violence centers or other supportive and solidarity relationships; women who bare the full domestic brunt of taking care of children, of elderly or of sick or disabled people, in the general suspension of school and social activities; queer, trans, gay, lesbian, bisexual adolescents and pre-adolescents, in contexts of legal and economic dependence on violent or hostile parents (in most cases fathers), and especially in non-urban contexts; sex workers, for whom the alternatives are either risking exposure in the suspended public space or having insufficient financial resources to pay bills and rent. The list could go on: what is relevant here is that public silence on these issues is only one of the effects of the “heterosexual social contract”, as Monique Wittig would call it. Just like the capitalist modes of production and the white domination, what I call “heterosexual mode of production” is inscribed in the material and cultural hierarchies of the exceptional government of the pandemic crisis, and is clearly reinforced by it. Precisely for this reason, we need to present it with its limitations, in a way that cannot be deferred.

Lorenzo Petrachi: I would like to go back to the issue of public space again, which you have defined as a necessary condition for social and political transformation. In the state of exception, on the contrary, it is not possible to protest using the traditional methods of assembly and demonstration, and even the possibility of striking, in its various forms, is precluded to many of us. Furthermore, the only means we have to communicate and to express our dissent – means that for a not negligible part of the population are unfortunately the only ones imaginable – are owned by private companies. Yet, now more than ever, the success of a number of demands seems not only urgent and unpostponable, but also more plausible. If it is true that restrictive measures unfolding before our eyes have definitively re-entered the field of the politically contingent, the same must be said also for the unprecedented horizons opened by the crisis.

Consider, for example, the claims relating to the suspension of rents and bills, the claim for universal income, the visibility of prison conditions, the certainty of the value of public health… To all this we must add not only the elaboration of unheard practices of social solidarity even in times of ‘social distancing’, but also the awareness that comes with each of these instances. In other words, are the suspension of public space and the relative difficulty in organizing the struggles sufficient grounds for postponing the articulation of our claims until later? We must undoubtedly return to normal in order to have the necessary means to transform it completely; but can we miss, in this situation and in its narrow limits, the opportunity to create a precedent? We are encountering an exceptional scenario. It is a matter of understanding what about this exceptionality is destined to become transitory and what, for better or for worse, will establish itself.

Federico Zappino: Hoping to go back to ‘normal’ in order to have the means of public space that allow for its subversion, does not mean postponing this subversion towards an indefinite future. Just as the state of exception induced by the pandemic illuminates problems and contradictions of a social system based on inequality and violence, and aims to preserve it, at the same time it begins to favor the possibility of forms of solidarity and resistance which, for the first time in a very long time, seem to be on the brink of possible. In fact, they can create a ‘precedent’. The demand for an income independent from productive work is perhaps among the most important and the most transformative of social demands. However, its effectiveness, and that of any anti-capitalist practice, will depend largely on the way in which, in the public space, we will manage to thematize and subvert the specific modalities that exploitation and exclusion assume, because each of these modalities refers to specific ways of production that concur in defining what, in generic terms, we then call “exploitation”, ‘exclusion’ and, above all, ‘capitalism’.

When we talk about exploitation, are we sure to include within it also the exploitation of women’s domestic work by men, in the vast majority of heterosexual cohabitative contexts? When we talk about the exclusion of the minorities from the public space, are the material and economic implications of this concept clear for us or do we limit ourselves only to those aspects that we like to define as ‘cultural’? Is it clear for us that the cultural construction of entire social groups as ‘diverse’ means exposing them to the greatest likelihood of poverty, indigence, violence and premature death? Are the links between symbolic and verbal violence and its substantial premises and material consequences clear? If we do not keep all these implications in mind, and if we do not endeavor to subvert them, a highly transformative instrument such as the universal income can easily be turned into its opposite, that is, an instrument to normalize already existing power relations.

The vast majority of women will continue to serve a man inside the house – but with an income; and so on. Any means that aspire to be ‘universal’, however, must deal with the fact that the universal has always been internally torn by power relations, and in the absence of an effort aimed at healing that fracture, every universality will be destined to reproduce as much. This aspect is very difficult to understand if you are not part of a minority group, or if you are not aware of it. My idea is that only by thematizing and keeping together all the forms that exploitation and exclusion assume, we can understand what capitalism needs in order to function – and indirectly, also what needs to be done to subvert its unjust and violent order. This, at least, is what I have attempted to illustrate in Comunismo Queer. Until a few weeks ago, the various currents of queer, feminism, anti-speciesism, decolonial thought could be conceived as utopian, brave, full of hope and anger, certainly ridiculed by those defending, consciously and unconsciously, the sad and criminal heteropatriarchal, white, capitalist and speciesist ‘normal’. The exceptional thing is that they could instead constitute the theoretical framework from which to draw inspiration from now on for the next transformative and instituting practices.

by Geert Lovink

May 28, 2020

The Society for Social Studies of Science

Science and Democracy Reconsidered

To what extent is the normative commitment of STS to the democratization of science a product of the democratic contexts where it is most often produced? STS scholars have historically offered a powerful critical lens through which to understand the social construction of science, and seminal contributions in this area have outlined ways in which citizens have improved both the conduct of science and its outcomes. Yet, with few exceptions, it remains that most STS scholarship has eschewed study of more problematic cases of public engagement of science in rich, supposedly mature Western democracies, as well as examination of science-making in poorer, sometimes non-democratic contexts. How might research on problematic cases and dissimilar political contexts traditionally neglected by STS scholars push the field forward in new ways? This paper responds to themes that came out of papers from two Eastern Sociological Society Presidential Panels on Science and Technology Studies in an Era of Anti-Science. It considers implications of the normative commitment by sociologists working in the STS tradition to the democratization of science.

by Joseph Harris (josephh@bu.edu)

Hidden Injustice and Anti-Science

This essay responds to the five articles on Anti-Science in this journal issue by discussing a significant theme identified across all of them: hidden injustice. Some of the ways that injustice is hidden by organizational forces related to anti-science are identified. In response, the essay points to the need for empirical data on anti-science policies, a symmetric approach to anti-science contexts, and institutional analysis of anti-science power imbalances. Additionally, a reflexive question about whether anti-science analysis in STS leads the field toward racial justice is raised. The essay calls for further organizational level research with a critical STS lens to uncover hidden injustice.

by Laurel Smith-Doerr (lsmithdoerr@soc.umass.edu)

Learning in Crisis: Training Students to Monitor and Address Irresponsible Knowledge Construction by US Federal Agencies under Trump

Immediately after President Trump’s inauguration, US federal science agencies began deleting information about climate change from their websites, triggering alarm among scientists, environmental activists, and journalists about the administration’s attempt to suppress information about climate change and promulgate climate denialism.  The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) was founded in late 2016 to build a multidisciplinary collaboration of scholars and volunteers who could monitor the Trump administration’s dismantling of environmental regulations and science deemed harmful to its industrial and ideological interests.  One of EDGI’s main initiatives has been training activists and volunteers to monitor federal agency websites to identify how the climate-denialist ideology is affecting public debate and science policy.  In this paper, we explain how EDGI’s web-monitoring protocols are being incorporated into college curricula and how, in this way, EDGI’s work aligns with STS work on “critical making” and “making and doing.” EDGI’s work shows how STS scholars can establish new modes of engagement with the state that demand a more transparent and trustworthy relationship with the public, creating spaces where the public can define and demand responsible knowledge practices and participate in the process of creating STS inspired forms of careful, collective, and public knowledge construction.

by Gretchen Gehrke (gehrke.gretchen@gmail.com)

STS Currents against the “Anti-Science” Tide

This essay considers some possible relationships that STS scholars can have with activists who are resisting attacks on environmental science. STS scholars can document the counter-currents to the “anti-science” moment, work in partnership with activists outside of academia, use access to institutional resources to give environmental movements strength, use STS research to help activists better understand the policy process and the history of science funding, and help people to develop a sociological imagination about science and the environment.

by Abby J. Kinchy (Kincha@rpi.edu)

<b>From Sideline to Frontline: STS in the Trump Era</b>

The Trump presidency and its relationship to science and truth have prompted considerable reflection as well as significant action by STS scholars.  Among those thinking, speaking, and acting are the authors of the articles in this thematic collection.  This brief introduction summarizes the major strands in each of the articles, placing them in the context of current political trends.

by Daniel Lee Kleinman (dlkleinman@gmail.com)

Low-Carbon Research: Building a Greener and More Inclusive Academy

This essay examines how the fossil fuel energy regimes that support contemporary academic norms in turn shape and constrain knowledge production. High-carbon research methods and exchanges, particularly those that depend on aviation, produce distinct exclusions and incentives that could be reformed in the transition to a low-carbon academy. Drawing on feminist STS, alternative modes of collective research creation and collaboration are outlined, along with an assessment of their potential challenges and gains. This commentary concludes with several recommendations for incremental and institutional changes, along with a call for scholars of social and technical systems to uniquely contribute to this transition.

by Anne Pasek (apasek@ualberta.ca)

Upgraded to Obsolescence: Age Intervention in the Era of Biohacking

Popularized by DIY scientists and quantified-selfers, the language of “biohacking” has become increasingly prevalent in anti-aging discourse. Presented with speculative futures of superhuman health and longevity, consumers and patients are invited to “hack” the aging process, reducing age to one of the many programs, or rather “bugs” that can be re-written, removed, and rendered obsolete. Drawing on recent examples from popular media and anti-aging promotional materials, I explore how the language of biohacking signals an orientation to the body that denies the acceptability of a body that is anything but optimal. In the endless strive towards the latest and greatest, the language of biohacking renders the old body obsolete, standing as nothing more than a relic of an outdated operating system.

by Kirsten L. Ellison (kellison@trentu.ca)

Du Boisian Propaganda, Foucauldian Genealogy, and Antiracism in STS Research

This essay explores the relationships between the “new” anti-science formation under Trump and the kinds of anti-Black racisms we are experiencing at present. What appears at first glance to be a new anti-science formation, isn’t new at all, but old wine in new cloth, all dressed up to confound and distract our gaze from power. The vast majority of Black and Brown people are not surprised nor fooled by Donald Trump and the danger he represents to truth, to our lives, to our precious Earth. For that matter, how are STS scholars working to produce anti-racist knowledge that directly benefits Black people? In this commentary, I briefly respond to these questions by exploring how wildly contrasting accounts of propaganda, truth, and science by W.E.B. Du Bois and Michel Foucault might help STS scholars make sense of the relationship between anti-Black racism and the current anti-science moment in American society.

by Anthony Ryan Hatch (ahatch@wesleyan.edu)

We Have Never Been Anti-Science: Reflections on Science Wars and Post-Truth

This essay addresses the so-called "post-truth" era in which scientific evidence of, for example, climate change, is given little weight compared to more immediate appeals to emotion and belief, and examines the relationship of alleged anti-science and populist irrationality to left- and right-wing political alignments.  It also addresses charges of anti-science that were once leveled at Science and Technology Studies (STS) itself, and particularly in relation to the “symmetrical” posture taken toward scientific controversies.  Recently, "symmetry" in STS has been linked to the media conventions and argumentative strategies that have sustained controversies over climate change and other health and safety concerns.  This essay argues that "symmetry" was originally set up in a circumscribed way to encourage research on controversies, but that it does not amount to a general conclusion to the effect that science is no different from any other system of belief.  Instead, an effort to pursue "symmetrical" research on scientific controversies can document how, far from being displaced from all relevance, scientific authority and its institutional supports are being duplicated along parallel tracks which sustain disputes and delay concerted action. 

by Michael Lynch (mel27@cornell.edu)

Drought, Hurricane, or Wildfire? Assessing the Trump Administration’s Anti-Science Disaster

We describe the Trump Administration as an “anti-science disaster” and approach study of the phenomenon as other disaster researchers might study the impacts of a drought, hurricane, or wildfire. An important, but rare, element of disaster research is identification of baseline data that allow scientific assessment of changes in social and natural systems. We describe three potential baselines for assessing the nature and impact of Trump’s anti-science rhetoric and (in)action on science, science policy, and politics.

by Christopher M. Rea (rea.115@osu.edu)


Did you miss me? :)

Did you miss me? :)

Hola #mundo mundial, yo sé que me extrañaste ###


Hello #world, how do you feel now that your viral #dystopia is real?

Para continuar, deposite otra moneda coin happy: ####

-> En nuestra normalidad veraniega los eufemismos nuevamente son retroactivos y, como bien recordáis, resuenan a democracia del espíritu ajeno. ¿So what?
-> stay tune

by vlax 0°0

May 26, 2020


HOY #HackiNetIk -en línea- ciclo de cine sobre cultura digital 📽 Re...

HOY #HackiNetIk -en línea- ciclo de cine sobre cultura digital

📽 Reportaje "Vi(5G)ilados"
🗓 Martes 26 de mayo
⏱ 18:00 horas (Hora de México)
🗣 18:45 horas debate por Jitsi

La tecnología 5G multiplicará las posibilidades de conexión y también de vigilancia de la ciudadanía.

¿Tú que opinas?

Atención a los links para la proyección y el posterior debate, una hora los daremos a conocer por redes y por aquí 👇🏾


by sursiendo

May 25, 2020

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 4x34 - Immuni: a che punto stiamo

Giura Arcuri che esce "a cavallo di fine mese". A oggi, non si è vista una riga di codice, niente analisi dei rischi, niente DPIA, niente privacy policy. Niente.<br />E se davvero uscirà, uscirà in un Paese in cui ancora non si fanno abbastanza tamponi, non ci sono tracer umani per sfoltire i falsi positivi che inevitailmente un'app genera, e il solo modo per i sospetti contagiati di isolarsi è a casa propria, con i familiari (chi li ha) o a pane e acqua (chi vive da solo).

by Walter Vannini

May 22, 2020

Institute of Network Cultures

Changes at INC, introducing ‘synthesis’, central INC email list

While we’re publishing a lot, here at the Institute of Network Cultures, trying to facilitate critical reflection on the corona crisis with diaries and essays from around the world, we’re also planning a restart of INC so that we’ll have space and resources for new urgent projects and research networks in this corona period/economic crisis.

As you may have noticed, we’ve just wrapped up our two-year publishing Making Public research project with Here and Now?

Digital publishing research (and output) will continue, as will the MoneyLab network that just got a board. The board can be rearched here: moneylab-board@networkcultures.org. As MoneyLab #8 Ljubjana was cancelled because of the corona crisis it turned into a weekly online lecture series. The program you can find here.

However, with a considerable legacy of projects, networks, publications and a heavy website aka archive, we noticed that we had to spend more and more time just on the maintenance work. It became harder to start new things (also due to changes in the Dutch funding structures). Finally, we’re about to do something about this.

As a start, five mailinglists (MoneyLab, Video Vortex, re-search, Unlike Us and CPOV) have been discontinued and have been replaced by one INC list called synthesis (also responding to the widespread idea of email being a ‘dead medium’).

If you want, please subscribe here: http://listcultures.org/mailman/listinfo/inc-synthesis_listcultures.org.

The synthesis list has three objectives:

1. To inform the wider net community about INC projects and activities.

2. To foster debates about net criticism, tactical media, hacktivism and research into critical network cultures from multiple perspectives such as design and the arts, activism and research.

3. To create links between different INC research fields that were previous running as different projects about online video, crypto currencies, search, social media, future of art criticism etc.

The name ‘synthesis’ expresses a desire to overcome different disciplines, fields and scenes in order to strengthen the critical forces in arts, tech and society.

Soon we will see what other new channels will work to debate, maintain communities, inform and support each other. Please approach us if you have ideas and suggestions, also for common projects, grants, publications, campaigns and other forms of poetry.

Keep on questioning, Geert and the INC team

by Geert Lovink

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the third week of May, 2020.

A small restaurant owner on Google, DoorDash, and Grubhub
May 15, 2020 (comments)
The title of this article is in fact "How Google, DoorDash, & GrubHub Conspire to Screw Local Restaurants," but this language offended the "Hacker" "News" janitors, who then neutered it. A recovering webshit starts a real business, then gets mad about standard webshit business practices. Hackernews senses that placing ads for other companies with your own contact information is somehow wrong, but they can't quite piece together how that might be so. Hackernews wonders if it might be fraud, but surely if you just announce that your business partners can fuck themselves in the Terms of Service of your website, then you can do whatever you want?

If I could bring one thing back to the internet it would be blogs
May 16, 2020 (comments)
Some asshole has forgotten how to use the web, and declares it lost. Hackernews, whose web experience has shrunk to "Hacker" "News," GitHub, and Stack Overflow, demands a return to the web of their youths, just as soon as they figure out how to post blog articles without being held in any way responsible for the content they write. Various Hackernews consider the dream to remain alive on places like Facebook or Reddit, completely missing the point. A handful of Hackernews attempt to name blogs that they like, or explain the inexorability of the death of human communication. Arguments break out about which computer programs are necessary to post text files on the internet.

Doordash and Pizza Arbitrage
May 17, 2020 (comments)
An Internet continues the "fuck DoorDash" song. On the article itself, a Google shows up to insist that Google is not capable of wrongdoing (by definition) and a former GrubHub shows up to denounce what hath been wrought. Meanwhile, a Hackernews reports similarly bending DoorDash over a table, and Hackernews spends the rest of the day trying to ascertain whether DoorDash got defrauded, got what was coming to it, both, or neither.

Google deletes “communist bandits” from comments on Youtube
May 18, 2020 (comments)
Google decides whose side they're on (not yours). Hackernews is either furious that Google has so much control over the internet, or else is employed by Google, and so must mount a frenzied defense of the sanctity of Googlean motivations. It's morally untenable to work for a company as powerful as Google that does not give a shit about human rights, so siding with the 共匪 must be evidence that Google supports human rights, no matter how many unwilling 共产 get killed by the 野蛮匪. Thousands of comments are posted, wherein Hackernews patiently explains that it's crucial to allow anyone on earth to say anything they want at any time, because otherwise Hackernews may one day be personally inconvenienced. This must be balanced, continues Hackernews, by the need of all corporations to obey the wishes of every single government on earth, no matter how oppressive, because corporations are non-political entities that exist outside of human ethical considerations.

New York Times phasing out all 3rd-party advertising data
May 19, 2020 (comments)
The New York Times DIYs it. Hackernews complains about all of the adware they get paid to build, which leads into a confused debate where Hackernews tries to figure out what the exact difference is between an 'app' and a 'website,' which one the New York Times website is (in comparison to Slack, for some reason), and what the right path forward is for user surveillance at the Times. Later, Hackernews spends hours morosely dreaming of a world where targeted advertising worked, and we could be introduced to things we'd like. Sadly, the entire field is a scam, and instead we get garbage.

Why Is This Website Port Scanning Me?
May 20, 2020 (comments)
Some webshits notice that websockets are being abused. Hackernews patiently explains to one another that port scanning is totally normal neighborly behavior and it's a bit selfish to just expect your web browser to do things or your behalf all the time. Let someone else have a turn!

Facebook to shift permanently toward more remote work after coronavirus
May 21, 2020 (comments)
Facebook discovers the internet. Hackernews is still trying to come up with reasons to believe that the latest customer of Structure and Interpretation of Learning You A Rust The Hard Way in 24 Hours in a Nutshell is going to fire up a Packard Bell in Dubuque and torpedo the salary bubble in San Francisco. Hackernews is slightly sad about sitting at home all the time, and would like to return to the office (or any other place where people adhere to a social contract which requires good-faith efforts at being pleasant. This isn't enough reason to rebel against working from home, though, so we're left with the threat of outsourcing and having to compete with someone just as smart as you are, but freed from the crushing weight of paying rent in the Haight.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2020/05/21/0/

May 19, 2020

Institute of Network Cultures

Open Position: Digital Publishing Intern

For the further development of its publication strategy – combining digital and print publications with web-based content and other media – the Institute of Network Cultures is looking for an

intern with production and research skills, for an internship with our digital publishing team

Internship period: August 31st until December 18th, 2020 (0.8 fte/4 days a week).

The Institute of Network Cultures (INC) is a media research center that actively contributes to the field of network cultures through research, events, publications, and online dialogue. The INC was founded in 2004 by media theorist Geert Lovink as part of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool van Amsterdam). The Institute of Network Cultures has a tradition of experiment in digital and hybrid publishing. On the front line of development in publishing, we explore the promises of the digital for the (cultural) publishing industry.

For more information, see: https://networkcultures.org/.
For an overview of all INC publications, go to: https://networkcultures.org/publications.
For previous work on this topic, check out our research programs Making Public, The Art of Criticism, and the Digital Publishing Toolkit, and see the PublishingLab, which INC has previously collaborated closely with: https://networkcultures.org/projects/.

In this internship, you will work on international publications in the field of online media in different formats (print, .pdf, .ePub), as well as blog series, longforms, and other digital-born formats. The internship offers both practical experience and a chance to conduct research in the field of hybrid and digital publishing.

This internship offers you the chance to:

  • produce .PDF- and .ePub-books from scratch, using the INC digital publishing workflow
  • update the website and blog, including the possibility to write contributions for the blog
  • identify possible authors, books, events to write about
  • assist with the production of new titles, both print and electronic, including editing manuscripts
  • learn how and why applied research in the field of digital publishing is conducted
  • think along for future possibilities and strategies for urgent publishing

You will be a part of a small team within a large institution. Other tasks within the team may include:

  • assisting with general office operations
  • attending meetings
  • collecting and reviewing interesting and relevant literature
  • being part of the crew at INC events

We are looking for an enthusiastic, energetic, inquisitive (former) student with knowledge of and a demonstrated interest in digital publishing. As the INC has an international scope, active English skills are required, in speaking and writing. In addition, you have strong writing and communication skills, and experience with social media management and web administration. You balance a desire to learn, take initiative and suggest better practices and take constructive feedback. A background in (graphic or interaction) design, art (history), cultural studies, or media studies is an advantage.

Monthly compensation: € 400 gross (0,8 fte)

For further information, you can contact geert@xs4all.nl or send a CV and motivation letter to the same email address before the 13th of June, 2020.

by Geert Lovink

May 15, 2020

Institute of Network Cultures

Out Now: TOD#36 Listening into Others: An Ethnographic Exploration in Govindpuri


PDF of Listening into OthersePub of Listening into Othersinc_icon_lulu_@2x

By Tripta Chandola.

The essays collected here are based on two decades of engagement with the residents of the slums of Govindpuri in India’s capital, Delhi. The book presents stories of many kinds, from speculative treatises, via the recollection of a thousand everyday conversations, to an account of the making of a radio documentary.

Zig-zagging through the lanes of Govindpuri, Listening into Others explores the vibrant sounds emanating from slum culture. Redefining ethnography as listening in passing, Chandola excels at narrating the stories of the everyday. The ubiquity of smartphones, sonic selfies, wailing, the ethics of wearing jeans, the crossroad rituals of elections, the political agency of slum-dwellers, the war of the sexes through bodily gestures, and conflicts over ownership of both property and sound generated in the slums — these are among the many encounters Chandola opens up to the reader.

Slums are anxious spaces in the materiality, experience, and imagination of a city. They are the by-products of the violent and exploitative mechanisms of urbanization. What becomes of the slum-dwellers, who universally, across centuries, cities and continents, befall similar fates of being discriminated, reckoned to be the scum of the earth, and a burden on society? By listening to identified others and amplifying their voices in their own vocabularies and grammar, Tripta Chandola’s praxis creates a methodological, political, and poetic rupture. Slums, she finds, are not anathema to the city’s past, present, or future. They are an integral component of urbanization and a foundational part of the city.

With Listening into Others, Tripta Chandola poses the question: ‘Who owns the slum, and who determines which voices are heard? From where you are, listen with me.’

Editors: Geert Lovink and Sepp Eckenhaussen

Proofreading of previous versions: Dr. Jo Tacchi and Dr. Christy Collis

Cover design: Katja van Stiphout
Production: Sepp Eckenhaussen

Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam, 2020
ISBN: 978-94-92302-63-2

This publication is licensed under the Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.

Get the book here

Order a print copy here

Download .PDF here

Download .ePub here

by Sepp Eckenhaussen

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the second week of May, 2020.

Write Libraries, Not Frameworks
May 08, 2020 (comments)
A webshit writes a treatise on risk assessment. Hackernews spends half their time agreeing with the article and then defending shitty software practices to each other. The rest of the comments are Hackernews naming various software packages and forcing them into the categories described in the article.

Convincing-looking 90s fonts in modern browsers
May 09, 2020 (comments)
Some webshits throw a nostalgia party, and Hackernews lines up at the door. Lots of hazily-recalled misinformation is presented regarding font rendering, and some Hackernews are so desperate to participate that they have to look shit up on Wikipedia to construct a fantasy narrative for the past -- to include claims of a 1280x1024 CRT. When confronted, the idiot doubles down.

Second-Guessing the Modern Web
May 10, 2020 (comments)
Coming to on the floor of a local Showbiz Pizza, Hackernews shakes off the remnants of a nostalgia hangover and nervously survey the catalog of browser tabs they left open during the previous day's heady exploration of the past. One of the tabs -- this article -- is a screed questioning the accepted webshit doctrine: the right way to build webshittery applications is to shove all the logic into the browser terminal and run it there. So it was in the blit; so shall it be in the browser. But is this the right way? Hackernews, in the clarity of day, has no problem drilling to the core of this question, and the answer is yes. Absolutely yes. Doing it any other way would be slightly more labor intensive, and Hackernews would rather die.

We at $Famous_company switched to $Hyped_technology
May 11, 2020 (comments)
An Internet provides a useful blog template for aspiring thought leaders. Hackernews has some fun trying to determine which webshit companies beta tested the template, but this practice gets dangerously close to introspection, since any given Hackernews either works for, got fired from, or runs all of those companies.

Twitter Will Allow Employees to Work at Home Forever
May 12, 2020 (comments)
Twitter discovers the internet. Hackernews excitedly names all the other companies who have discovered the internet, but the real meat of this topic is twofold: Hackernews has every possible opinion about working from home, all strongly held, and Hackernews is terrified that some bumpkin in eastern Ohio is somehow going to destroy real estate values in the Bay Area, seconds after the Executive Vice President of Talent Confiscation realizes you can hire Stack Overflow users for cornpone wages who are just as capable as the South of Market courtiers demanding options.

Deno 1.0
May 13, 2020 (comments)
Some attention-deficit teenagers cascade. In this meeting of the Everything's A Nail club, a new hammer design is unveiled. Hackernews postulates a nail that this hammer cannot handle, but gets lost in the ensuing debate, since it turns out every single person who has ever touched node.js has learned the hard way not to trust any aspect of any dependency management situation that relies on webshits keeping services online. Having been invaded by the Rust Evangelism Strike Force, the project in question demands that other people's software be rewritten. By someone else.

Security Flaws in Adobe Acrobat Reader Allow Gaining Root on macOS Silently
May 14, 2020 (comments)
The vendor of Flash and Coldfusion somehow manages to fuck up software. In this case, it's a PDF reader for an operating system that can natively read PDFs without it. Hackernews doesn't give a shit about Acrobat Reader, but would dearly love to stop "paying for" Photoshop, so they bandy about and immediately reject several dozen alternatives, usually because they are not Photoshop.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2020/05/14/0/

May 14, 2020

Institute of Network Cultures

Friction and the aesthetics of the smooth: Ethics in times of dataism

Read an excerpt in English from Frictie over at Eurozine:

Seamless design is an important dogma of dataism. Without unpredictable behaviour, however, there’s no data to retrieve. A wholly predictable future is just a continuous present, a tyranny of choices on offer. But returning to our time-honoured language is similarly impossible. What we need is a politics of de-automation.

More on the book can be found here (in Dutch): Out now: Frictie – Ethiek in tijden van dataïsme, Miriam Rasch

Interested to know more? You may always drop me a line on miriam [at] networkcultures.org

by Miriam Rasch

May 11, 2020

Institute of Network Cultures


Throughout the years Hackers & Designers have been exploring and imagining different network concepts and networked practices in many ways. Looking back at some of our activities dealing with ‘Network Imaginaries’ we are getting very excited about the upcoming Summer Academy!

Without rendering the current events as an opportunity we restructured our annual H&D Summer Academy into a distributed workshop program. In earlier editions we worked together with approximately 25 participants during 2 intensive weeks. While we promote the importance of physical encounters for community building, making friends and allies, having discussions and start new initiatives, we think its important to stay safe. Our proposal is to collaborate with smaller groups in different places in the world, help each other with developing and facilitating remote learning formats that will be presented and shared online, with a bigger group of participants. In one week in July we will be all hacking and designing in our own local communities or at home while being connected with the larger H&D network. H&D will support the different initiatives with resources and expertise, and by ensuring a learning infrastructure that is accessible and available to all participants.

We therefore invite creative practitioners whose interest lie in critically and practically engaging with technology, to join us in reflecting and reimagining distributed practices. Whether it be fashion designers, system administrators, or disobedient citizens—we invite the H&D community and the wider public to learn together about network technologies in experimental and hands-on ways. Under the overarching title ‘Network Imaginaries’ we will challenge and activate participants to use and push the boundaries of existing technology and programming platforms (webware, hardware, software), online/offline networks, high and low tech (internet, IPFS, darknet, peer2peer, blockchain, bot networks), and user experience, all in a practical manner—and while addressing the ethical implications of the proposed technologies and processes.

Are you a collective or a group of people interested in workshopping topics, technologies and practices revolving around ‘Network Imaginaries’? This call is for you!

How does the distributed HDSA work?

We will select 6 workshop initiatives.
You will have one month time to develop a ‘workshop script’ that is accessible for anyone to join. This could be a translation of an already existing workshop (developed for a physical space) or an entirely new workshop script developed for this exceptional circumstance. That means a clear outline of the workshop, a video tutorial if needed, or a well documented readme file, and a list of the necessary equipment.
We offer a fee of 500€ for each workshop development including 100€ of material costs.
The 6 scripts will be made available to all participants on the week of the summer academy July 20-25
Workshop facilitators should be available for occasional questions from participants during the workshop week July 20-25.
You will be welcome to also join any of the other proposed workshops during that week, either as a collective or individual!
Submit your proposal here before May 15

Or read more on our website!

The Summer Academy will take place July 20-25, 2020.


by Geert Lovink

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 4x33 - Che scuola riapriamo?

Cose sappiamo: che la scuola sta finendo e che in autunno potrebbe esserci una recrudescenza di CoVid. Cosa non sappiamo: quale scuola vogliamo riaprire a settembre.

by Walter Vannini

Institute of Network Cultures

Out now: Frictie – Ethiek in tijden van dataïsme, Miriam Rasch

Verschenen op 6 mei 2020 bij De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, Frictie: Ethiek in tijden van dataïsme van Miriam Rasch, onderzoeker bij het Instituut voor Netwerkcultuur.

Dataïsme is het geloof dat alles te vertalen is in data. Data leggen de wereld vast en maken haar beheersbaar. Maar voor wie en met welk doel? De onderliggende aannames van het dataïsme staan zelden ter discussie. Is de mens echt als algoritme te begrijpen? Wat gebeurt er met de dingen die niet in data te vatten zijn? En waarom wordt de dataïstische toekomst voorgesteld als onvermijdelijk?

Tegenover het ideaal van een geautomatiseerde wereld stelt Miriam Rasch een herwaardering van frictie: niet alleen als manier om weerstand te bieden aan de eis van transparantie en constante communicatie, maar ook als het startpunt van ethische reflectie. Frictie opent de weg naar ‘de-automatisering’ als mogelijkheid om woorden en dingen weer als nieuw te laten schijnen. Hoe kunnen we in dataïstische tijden ons eigen verhaal blijven vertellen?

Lees het eerste deel van de inleiding bij Athenaeum.

Lees de recensie die op 6 mei verscheen in Trouw.

Bestel het boek bij je lokale boekhandel, zoals Van Gennep in Rotterdam (waar een aantal gesigneerde exemplaren te vinden is), Athenaeum in Amsterdam of Bijleveld in Utrecht.

Luister bovendien hier naar de bijbehorende Spotify-playlist en kijk hieronder naar een korte impressie van het boek:

Frictie: Ethiek in tijden van dataïsme by Miriam Rasch from Institute of Network Cultures on Vimeo.

by Geert Lovink

May 08, 2020

Institute of Network Cultures

Selfies Under Quarantine: Students Report Back to Rome (Final Episode)

Episode 1 with introduction: https://networkcultures.org/blog/2020/04/09/selfies-under-quarantine/

Italian translation: https://not.neroeditions.com/selfie-dalla-quarantena/.

Episode 2: https://networkcultures.org/blog/2020/04/16/selfies-under-quarantine-episode-2/

Episode 3: https://networkcultures.org/blog/2020/04/23/selfies-under-quarantine-students-report-back-to-rome-episode-3/

Episode 4: https://networkcultures.org/blog/2020/05/01/selfies-under-quarantine-students-report-back-to-rome-episode-4/ 

Episode 5 (final episode): DIGITAL IS THE NEW ‘NORMAL’

In collaboration with Danielle, Shaina, Briana, Jackie, Marta, Gabriella, Sydney, Elena, Sophia and Natalia

As this is the ending week of our semester, we go for lighter readings:

Human Contact is Now a Luxury Good

I just called to say…the Phone Call is Back

Zoom Fatigue is Taxing the Brain

The week of May 4th is ‘liberation’ week in Italy. After two months of heavily enforced lockdown, we can finally go out. We can walk around, go to parks, and a few other things. We can, at least, breathe some little more freedom. We can celebrate a break from the technology that has kept us connected yet has also enslaved us during this time.

I proposed my students to read the ‘Zoom fatigue’ article as I want them to understand that their exhaustion, their feeling of being drained, is also my own exhaustion, everybody’s exhaustion.

(Zoom calls according to Saturday Night Live – via Jackie)

When Sophia writes: “I’ve noticed that, as things have transitioned to the virtual space, I have become significantly more anxious and maybe even stressed to communicate via Facetime apps with my friends, family and classmates,” she’s describing a feeling we have all felt.

We have all felt drained after sitting for hours in our apartments, working on our laptops, or maybe just doing nothing, scrolling down for hours.

Why is technology so tiring? What’s in it that sucks all our energy, leaving us worn-out and nothing but numb?

I think of David Cronenberg’s mind-blowing novel, Consumed, exploring the (self) consuming, cannibalistic dimension of technology quite literally and in a super gory style (that I love). Technology is already fused with our body and eating it up from the inside, whether we like it or not.

“Was the iPhone a malevolent protean organism, the stem-cell phone, mocking him who had cameras with real physical shutters whose sound you couldn’t turn off? Promising to replace every other device on earth with its shape-shifting self—garage door openers, solar timers, television remotes, car keys, guitar tuners, GPS modules, light meters, spirit levels, you name it?” 

Technology consumes us, silently, with its apparent lightness, giving us the illusion of having no weight. The illusion of being transparent, fluctuating. It blinds us with the promise of eternal connection and, yet, as Jackie writes:

“The technology that continued to separate us even under the guise of connection has become another blockade between ourselves and the world. It really is hard to consider apps like Zoom and Facetime a means of remaining socially connected when technology is impairing our ability to read and conceive physical social cues. A video call with a friend sheer miles away ends up feeling like we are being pulled further apart …The very social circumstance many of us have built for ourselves is just being torn down again as the devices we’ve once used to desperately connect make us cringe as they are synonymous with work. I can’t even watch videos on my laptop without feeling as though I am still in school, even as I consciously know I am avoiding schoolwork. The entertaining function of my laptop is almost nonexistent no matter what the screen shows me.”

Maybe it’s because the lines are now more blurred than ever between work and leisure, between what we DO for a living and what we ARE in life. These devices trick us with the promise of a smooth, seamless transition from life into work, and the other way around. Reality is, though, that the condition of ‘smart working’, the condition by which we are stuck in our little acquarium from where sometimes we re-surface and visually manifest ourselves in a ‘Brady Bunch style’, is the ‘comfort’ zone where power wants to keep us confined.

Do we really want that? Do our bodies need that, crave for that?

“Video calls seemed an elegant solution to remote work”, the National Geographic article says, “but they wear on the psyche in complicated ways”. After reading about the effects that screen life generates on our brains, Shaina concludes: “We are not designed to multitask the way screen mediated communication requires. So if you find yourself feeling exhausted while doing nothing, you too may be a victim of Zoom fatigue.” And Sophia acknowledges: “mentally, I have felt so exhausted from the transition to online learning and I definitely feel a sense of defeat as a result – so, to hear that there are deeper reasons behind it, was relieving to me.”

Every time we use these platforms, we are drained ‘by design’. The more we go deeper into our screen life, the more we will be consumed and eaten up, in a weird process of self-cannibalism à la Cronenberg.

This is why I look with concern and distress at expressions such as ‘the new normal’, ‘the new normality’. Hardly a day goes by without receiving emails, newsletters, invitations to ‘webinars’ that dub this phase of our lives as the new normal (normality).

For many this phase may not mean much, but we still want to celebrate as we all start our

(From a food delivery service)

This invitation to a “web live conference”says “the dawn of a new normality”:


And this one focuses on “Culture facing the ‘condition of normality’”:

The operation of re-branding an emergency situation, such as the one we are currently in, as if it were an emerging order, a brand new ‘business as usual’, is deeply problematic and very concerning to me. In this ideological ‘new normal’ technology replaces the body as a clean, safe, sanitized space for so-called social (socially distanced) interactions. It suggests that people can still work and have fun from a distance, fusing and confusing labor and leisure, keeping us atomized while providing the illusion that we are all connected.

But there is no global village in ‘a Brady Bunch style’. No connection in connectivity. No possibility whatsoever for sociality in isolation, even if networked.

Social distancing strives to become the new black. We should oppose that, staunchly and fiercely, first at a language level. Becoming used to describe something that is physical distance as ‘social distancing’ and calling an emergency situation the ‘new normal’ bear the risk of reifying abstract concepts and making them part of our daily reality.

“Ideas and opinions are not spontaneously ‘born’ in each individual brain: they have had a centre of formation, or irradiation, of dissemination, of persuasion-a group of men, or a single individual even, which has developed them and presented them in the political form of current reality.” 

Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks


In the desert of the physical where quarantine and our ever-increasing hyper-mediated life have relegated us, something vaguely reminiscent of our bodies, a little remainder of our organic existence is resurfacing and regaining attention. It’s our *voice*.

A year ago, I joked with my students when asking them to ‘separate’ from their networked devices for 24hrs as a part of our auto-ethnography ‘experiments’ for the class: “you can still use the phone as a phone”, I told them. “I mean, to make voice-calls”. They would stare at me in awe, their gazes betraying their inability to even conceive to perform an old-fashioned action such as dialing a number without even texting to check whether possible or not to bug someone out of the blue. How rude. How inappropriate. For them, Stevie Wonder singing “I’ve just called to say I love you, I’ve just called to say how much I care” in “just another ordinary day” was archeology of the past.

But now things might be changing a bit, the New York Times solemnly declares. Because of the quarantine, because of the craving for anything physical, even if as disembodied as a voice. Yet, still human. Still not ‘scripted’ or ‘rehearsed’ as a voice in a voice message. Still spontaneous and not orchestrated or studied in every single detail as a textual conversation.

Natalia speaks of “the glow of the other human being” that can be perceived from an old-fashioned phone call. “After a few seconds or browsing through the lost corners of my mind, I can recall at least a dozen of moments I remember from all of these 3-to-4-hours-long phone calls I shared with my highs chool friend each week for months, yet I can barely recall a similar amount of memories that would relate to texting with a single person.”

Gabriella adds: “ Every time I use my computer I feel that I have to check Moodle, when I wake up I feel I have to check my email, this shift to online learning has made me anxious every time I use one of my devices. I personally don’t enjoy facetime or zoom or any video chat application, I would rather talk on the phone or obviously physically face to face. I just feel lucky that I got to come back home, to Guatemala before everything exploded worldwide. If I was in Rome, alone in my apartment, I am pretty sure I would be calling people 24/7 and would be so eager to see them virtually face to face, but thank God that is not the case and we can stick to the old fashion way, phone calls.”

Conversely, Marta admits her phobia for voice calls: “I never call…. I really do stress my brain a lot because I hate talking on the phone. The only person I call is my mom… Talking on the phone gives me a lot of anxiety. The thing is that I grew up texting whereas the older generation only had the possibility to call. Now, there are so many ways to communicate and talking is only one of them. You can email, use whatssup, Instagram DM’s, Facebook chat, Twitter, Snapchat and much more. Most of the time, my best friend and I only communicate by sending each other random picture on Snapchat. That’s it. There is no text and no voice involved, yet we can perfectly communicate. In 2020 silent communication is possible and sometimes fast and fun, but it can also destroy relationships due to avoidable misunderstandings.”

Danielle talks about those misunderstandings that can be generated through text. “Texting can be dangerous. Loss of tone, keyboard courage, and ‘receipts’ as us millenials refer to proof. Through texting there have been plenty mishaps on my end. The countless amount of times I have screen-shotted a conversation between myself a someone fighting, trying to send it to another person and I by accident send it directly back to that person… awkward. That isn’t a factor with phone calls. Neither is keyboard courage. On text I will find myself typing up condescending texts at times, whereas in person I wouldn’t be as daring. Texting skips over our holistic selves for sure. It creates a new person.”

Shaina admits: “When my phone rings the first thought that comes to my mind is ‘Ugh!’  I, like many others, prefer texting over calling for communication. But I do not think it is the ideal form of communication. When texting you are unable to multitask the way you could if on a phone call. The other night I was making chicken for dinner and my friend kept texting me and every time, I would have to wash my hands and then answer so I didn’t get chicken juice all over my phone. It would have been much easier to just call her and put my phone on speaker and we could have communicated without interrupting my cooking every few minutes. The other part about texting that makes it less efficient than calling is response time is up to you.

On a normal phone call the conversation is back and forth with no hesitation between responses. When texting, sometimes people can take hours to respond. This can be especially frustrating if you’re waiting on important information. In quarantine, I have been off my phone more than normal some days, trying to disconnect for a little. This caused problems between my boyfriend and I. Normally, we text each other when we have time in between class and work and whatever else we are doing. Now that we have nothing going on, there really is no excuse for why we can’t text 24/7. I started to feel that our conversations were getting boring. Every day the same thing. “What are you doing today?” “Nothing really, probably get some homework done, what about you?” “Same.” There is nothing new and exciting to talk about because there is nothing new and exciting happening right now with everyone being on lock down basically. I found it exhausting to drag these dry conversations out all day long. So I stopped answering as frequently.

I didn’t think this was an issue because for me this had become my ‘quarantine normal’, to look at my phone maybe once an hour and respond to any notifications and then put it away again. But my boyfriend overthought the scenario and created a false reasoning in his head why I wasn’t answering him. One night, he came forward and expressed that he felt I didn’t want much to do with him anymore. He said by me not answering and talking to him all day long he felt unwanted. I felt horrible for making him feel that way. He thought that I was just ignoring him while I continued to text my other friends and be active on my phone. I explained to him that that wasn’t the case at all.

Texting leaves so much room for misunderstanding which can become extremely problematic for a relationship or even work related issues. When we text we lose such a huge part of communication as we know it. We no longer have a face to face interaction, we lack tone, mannerisms and expressions, all non verbal communication is eliminated. These are important factors for humans because we are naturally social creatures who rely on these aspects to fully understand a dialogue.”

(via Marta)

Sophia also gives her take on the matter: “I definitely agree that there are important social cues lost through messaging, but I also wanted to point out that with those people whom we are closest too, there are ways in which you might develop a sort of texting language with them. For example, my family is very close and we often message in a group chat when we are apart from each other. In this chat my mom and I are usually on the same page and know exactly what one another means because we know each other so well both in the physical world AND the messaging one. But often my dad and brother don’t understand the exchanges my mom and I share in the chat and I think that’s super interesting how out of a group of people so close, my mom tends to understand my texting language more than they do”.

Gabriella concludes with a smart remark on my own behavior when I send back comments to students.

“Professor Della Ratta tends to capitalize her comments on our reflections, and before understanding that she does it for them to be visible, I would take it personally. However, she also feels the need to clarify why she is doing it since many people can take it as yelling, or as something negative.  This is an example of how most messages online can be misinterpreted. Not only I misunderstand my professor but imagine how I feel when my boyfriend writes something, and it sounds to me mean because it lacks an exclamation mark or it has no emojis, or he is using the wrong emoji, or why did he write a period, is he mad, did I do something to piss him off?? It is soooooo exhausting!!!!”

Well, Gabriella, I hope that at least he does not use CAPS, or yellow highlighters when talking to you


Speaking about disembodiment, and trying to give a name to her lurking anxieties, Briana writes: “What is it that I’m really missing? Every time I’m in bed, ready to go to sleep, for some reason I cannot relax enough to fall into Morpheus’ arms. I start playing with my hair, caressing my cheeks, tapping on my lips, delicately touching my eyelids, brushing my eyebrows; I hug my stuffed animals, rubbing their fur. And I fall asleep. You guessed: I am missing touch. Not whatever touch: the intimate, loving touch that only another human being can provide. Let me tell you, the fact that I caress myself is not only weird to read for you, it’s weird for me to do in the first place. It’s some sort of non-sexual-masturbation. The nurturing act of touching is necessary for the brain to learn to connect human contact with pleasure, and it sets the base for empathy.

(“Since everyone was exercising during quarantine, I decided to do the same. I wore my gym clothes and took pictures. And never exercised”)

What scares me most of all about COVID-19 is not the lack of freedom, but rather the fear of touch that will follow: physical contact, in fact, is the easiest way to get infected. Even though screens have made us feel closer to each other, helped us work online and keep track of time and what was happening in the world, their smooth, anonymous texture cannot replace the touch of another human. Screens can receive our tapping, scrolling, caressing, but they can’t give it back to us.

(“I edited my friends into my pictures to feel closer to them”)

I once read that if we want to have an empathetic culture, we have to learn how to touch and be touched: the thought that this virus might severely affect – and by affect I mean decrease – this kind of human contact, the kind of human contact that can make us empathetic and build strong relationships since birth, makes me sick”.

(via Briana)

Cronenberg is a master in describing a society where physical, organic life has already changed into something else, something tech. “That was life with Naomi”, the male protagonist of Consumed concludes, thinking about his lover. “Disembodied (…) No smells, no sights, no sounds. He had been in his phone, Naomi a voice in his brain. On his laptop”.

This hyper-reliance on tech seems to have become already part of our daily lives. Sydney describes something that could have been thought as a sci-fi like situation just a few years ago, but now happens ‘normally’ IRL.

“My sister lives in Virginia and she’s helping the robots around town!”, Sydney’s aunt told her and her family.   “Our mouths were agape”, Sydney writes. “What robots are you talking about?”

Here is a link  describing what is happening in my aunt’s sister’s hometown of Fairfax, Virginia. Their delivery is now brought via robot. “That’s so cool!” my mom exclaimed.  ‘It’s frightening,’ was all I could manage. According to the article, ‘the robots are outfitted with multiple cameras, two-way audio, and can navigate hurdles like curbs.”

At this rate, traveling to the grocery store seems moot when there are robots that will do it for you. Ordering and deciding which brand is the best for you also seems moot when there are even more roots that will do it for you. Perhaps one day, food delivery will all be electronic.  We once hunted and gathered.  Now we just gather, or rather, purchase.  We are only one step away from getting rid of this method completely.  There will be no human contact in stores…no cashier interaction, no saying hello to familiar people, and no longer contemplating which food to buy.  Human contact will become even more of a luxury in this regard.”

Natalia also reflects on tech-mediated daily life. “Avoiding screens seems barely possible. As most of the world is becoming more and more dependent upon screen-mediated communication, it’s becoming the privilege of a few not to be online. If you’re not Facebook, you do not exist, unless your existence is *rich* enough to speak for itself, with no need for textualization and statistics of hyperlinks to acclaim your status. Avoiding the online is a possibility granted by social standing; it is a matter of having a choice or having no choice: being not able to afford to be online or being able to afford not to be online.”

Elena tries to see the glass as half full: “Human contact is now a luxury good: screens used to be for the elite. Now avoiding them is a status symbol.”

“Elite or not elite? Good or bad? I believe that considering digital devices either good or bad for us is limiting. On one hand digital devices make us waste time, enslave us, even make us less dependent on face-to-face communications and more “human” interactions …but saying that they ruin our life is also wrong. In fact, like wine, if “used with parsimony” they can make our life easier. With the spread of COVID-19 I realized it even more. Without my digital devices, I would not have been able to finish this semester, I would not have kept in touch with my friends, my parents would have had to stop working, I would not have seen all the memes about Salvini and Conte…It hurts only thinking about it. Jokes aside, like a knife can kill or heal, a hand can slap or caress, digital devices can either be a tool or a weapon. Too much use leads us to suffer from technostress*, too little use would lead us to loss.

Obviously, there is no way we can escape from this screen mediated life. The medium is the message, right? This only means that phones are infrastructural and therefore, whether we like it or not, we will forever need them (unless there is an apocalypse…hopefully not). Here comes my question: since we can’t get rid of them, why don’t we learn to appreciate them and use them to our advantage?”

(Picture of me in pajamas, reconciled with my laptop)

(via Elena)


A couple of weeks ago, after reflecting on Eva Illouz’s chapter on net romance, Danielle wrote the following on our Moodle forum:

“This invoked a very broad question within me. I have thought of this question the entire semester with every single material we read and with every conversation we have, yet never wanted to ask because it seems stupid. But why does studying any of this matter? Why does it matter to all of these scholars, to us, to “expose” or view technology as capitalism. Is it to give us the power to be enlightened on what is “truly going on”? Going back to that original idea of a scholar we read whose name is slipping my mind currently, “even though we know what is happening we will do it anyway.” or something along those lines. After this class and during this class we have and will continue to utilize the internet, continue to create dating profiles, to like and share memes, to elevate our online personas.

Is it in effort to understand the world in which we currently live in? To grasp the current human status? Is it an effort to disgust us and get us to limit our use? I think of it and compare it to cigarettes. Smokers know all of the negative effects, the main one causing premature death, yet the addiction keeps the users using and nothing changes. Does knowledge shape action and habits…no, not when addiction is involved. I don’t think any amount of research or ideology will wean billions of people of an interface that is designed to be addicting. Maybe that isn’t the goal… but what is and does it differ from person to person. Although this may seem off topic. This broad question is really the heart and soul of the class- what are everyone’s opinions.”

WOW, I thought. How bright and smart is this young woman who writes such a honest thing challenging her professor and her peers (and even before final grades have been submitted). I saw this question surfacing many times, emerging silently in my students’ gazes. But never was it phrased in such a thought-provoking manner. I was hoping some of the others take advantage of Danielle’s question and say something (e.g. it matters for credit, no?!). Nobody did, though. Maybe for the reasons listed here by Jackie:

“I think a lot of us have had times where we asked ‘why the heck are we doing this’, but some existential things are better left unsaid and thus buried into our subconscious. Nonetheless, I am thrilled to think about it now”

(DISCLAIMER: I’ve re-proposed everyone to think about Danielle’s question as we approach the end of the semester)

“To frame my answer, I offer the scene in which the rest of us have not noticed nor actively responded to Danielles question. Why did we do that? Why don’t we actively read each others when work it’s so accessible to us now, and why don’t we respond with our thoughts immediately? If the internet meant to allow us to connect, why don’t we use it to do so? Studying our identities as formed by the intent is like Alice falling down the rabbit hole—but aren’t we all just so damn curious as to why Alice decided to stick her head too deep knowing no good would come of it?

The complexity of the human mind is something that we can only attempt to comprehend, but by separating it into these little things (ie adolescent behavior, abnormal psych, language acquisition, and of course our new networked identities) we are trudging forward to mapping what makes us human (and for the capitalists its also a step towards making the perfect apocalyptic artificial intelligence with such knowledge). I think searching for reasoning beyond this natural curiosity is futile and has the same impact as me asking why you took this class—so you were interested, okay, but about your interest made you stay unlike the group of our few and fleeting men that left after the first day of class? Why does studying our networked identities matter to you and your degree, and eventually your career?

Personally, though I am clearly a tech obsessed lunatic, I label myself as different than the mass of identities out there, but throughout the class I was able to use critical theory to understand why everyone, including myself, is the way they are. This knowledge certainly not useless as, beyond sheer understanding, I found it to be vital to developing a much needed empathy and considering what it really means to connect”.

(Thank you, Jackie, for mentioning the word “empathy”, something that it is much needed in our daily life as much as in critical theory).

Shaina says: “I am glad Danielle’s question was re-surfaced because this is something I have thought about as well during the course of this class. What is the point of learning anything?

Before this class, I have never taken any communications course and even the liberal arts courses I have taken were limited. My home base school is a research institution and I am a science major studying kinesiology. I learn mainly about how the body works and with that information I try to apply that knowledge to my own lifestyle habits to create a healthier me. I also enjoy sharing that knowledge with others to help them with their own bodies.

The first few weeks of this course, I thought the information was interesting but I did not really care much about it because it has nothing to do with my major or future career. I’ll be honest, I took it for credit. But, with all that we have learned, I have caught myself applying the information in a useful way. I would definitely say this class has changed the way I use apps. I have tried to eliminate the majority of my social media (but Instagram is something I can’t seem to let go of). I was tired of feeling consumed by my phone. This class has laid out why I am so addicted to my phone and social media. With this new understanding, I was able to pinpoint a lot of where my habits stem from. Some are by design of the apps, some are simply human psyche, but regardless I was able to find answers. This class has made a huge impact on how I now view the digital world.

I think that is the purpose of learning, to apply that knowledge to something greater than the classroom (or whatever setting it was learned), however that may be.”

Elena adds: “That would allow us to find an equilibrium, the ‘just right’…this class gave me the opportunity to know better my physical and digital self, making me realize, as a result, that we should truly know our cyborg’s identity to make the best out of it.”

Sydney recalls Euripides’ quote “Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing”, and observes: “How sad that quote is, and it makes sense when you realize that Euripides is one of Greece’s most infamous tragedians. Isn’t this class a tragedy? It is all about taking away the veil of reality, the comfort of real life, and learning how awful the internet can really be and how it can negatively affect us. I don’t think we are necessarily answering something big here. Our professor has never given us a multiple choice question where only one answer is correct. Everything has been about expanding our view on what it means to be an internet user. We question everything we know. We have learned so many things (algorithms, theories, etc.), but we have never really answered huge questions. And I think that’s okay. Euripides didn’t answer anything, but his name is still remembered 2,500 years in the future because he was brave enough to challenge society and ask questions. That’s our job.”

Finally, Danielle goes back to her own question, writing about critical theory: “I think at first the idea pissed me off… why must we make everything about capitalism??? But after all of these classes, it was a lot cooler than I thought it would be. Something I would never come to on my own. The whole point of college for me was to have a pool of people that love thinking as much as I do, and I wouldn’t have made this comparison on my own.”

Natalia has made her own drawing of (how I call him) “Uncle Marx”.

I can only add something from another critical theory giant, Antonio Gramsci:

“The point of modernity is to live a life without illusions while not becoming disillusioned”.

(Gianluca Costantini – image via: gramscitorino.it)

But let’s not forget Neo and Morpheus, who deeply inspired this ‘red pill’ class.



As an ending note, Natalia writes about invisibility and disappearance. She made me think about this Radiohead’s song “How to disappear completely”:

I, we, wish that you disappear from the zone of discomfort and anxiety where you might have been in these past months, and reappear in a place of light and lightness.

“In a little while
I’ll be gone
The moment’s already passed
Yeah it’s gone”

Goodbye, for now, and see you in that lighter place!

From Natalia’s blog:

“A desire to become this thing—in this case an image—is the upshot of the struggle over representation. Senses and things, abstraction and excitement, speculation and power, desire and matter actually converge within images.” 

—————————————– “In fact, it is a misunderstanding that cameras are tools of representation; they are at present tools of disappearance. The more people are represented the less is left of them in reality.”

~ Hito Steyerl

The Invisible …?

I’m the invisible man
I’m the invisible man
Incredible how you can
See right through me

When you hear a sound
That you just can’t place
Feel somethin’ move
That you just can’t trace
When something sits
On the end of your bed
Don’t turn around
When you hear me tread

I’m in your room
And I’m in your bed
And I’m in your life
And I’m in your head
Like the CIA
Or the FBI
You’ll never get close
Never take me alive

Now I’m on your track
And I’m in your mind
And I’m on your back
But don’t look behind
I’m your meanest thought
I’m your darkest fear
But I’ll never get caught
You can’t shake me, shake me dear

I’m the invisible man
It’s criminal how I can
See right through you

Look at me, look at me

by Donatella Della Ratta

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the first week of May, 2020.

Awk in 20 Minutes (2015)
May 01, 2020 (comments)
An Internet describes an experience with some kind of practical extraction and reporting language. Hackernews describes other similar languages, dimly recalled from some kind of electronic bronze age when people used tools to perform work without any git hooks. An Executive Hackernews declares mystification at the existence of such artifacts, confusedly ruminating on the sufficiency of interactive text editors. Other Hackernews note sagely that the language is useful when applied to the tasks for which it was designed, but other tools may be better for other tasks.

Medium-hard SQL interview questions
May 02, 2020 (comments)
An Internet hands you a hammer and lets you practice identifying nails. Hackernews learns a lot about using a query language where a sane person would use a programming language, gets distracted by a minor matter of linguistics, and then gets back to a serious debate: exactly which parts of SQL are worth knowing? Which parts should people be shunned for not knowing? Which parts are good for replicating the tool you actually wanted?

Startup financial models – Templates compared for SaaS
May 03, 2020 (comments)
An Internet reviews some bullshit factories you can use to convince morons that you have a business plan. Hackernews votes for the article because they would like to convince morons they have a business plan, but the content is so utterly devoid of even the slightest interesting qualities that almost nobody has anything to say. Some of the hucksters arrive in the comments to hobnob with the marks. A Hackernews wonders how you're supposed to build a five-year financial model of a business that does not yet exist, and is instructed by everyone in earshot to make shit up until a resulting graph convinces a patron to lavish the mark with debt.

Bye, Amazon
May 04, 2020 (comments)
A webshit leads by example. Hackernews posts one thousand comments, which mostly fall into three buckets: "this person is a hero and Amazon should be ashamed," "unions are scams designed to give power unjustly to non-rich people," and "everyone at Amazon should stop whining because some third-world dirt factory is worse." Along the way, much economic theory is hastily dug out, nebulously understood, and inexpertly applied to the people who actually do the shit that Amazon is famous for doing.

Citing revenue declines, Airbnb cuts 25% of workforce
May 05, 2020 (comments)
AirBnB (business model: "Uber for toilets") cancels nearly two thousand reservations. Hackernews thinks the severance package is quite kind, or possibly inhuman and cruel, or definitely wrong in some direction, because America. Two-thirds of the comments on the article are in a thread bickering about how much money a company should pay someone whilst shitcanning them. The rest of the comments are Hackernews attempting to divine the future progress of the COVID-19 pandemic based on AirBnB's business practices. No technology is discussed.

GitHub Codespaces
May 06, 2020 (comments)
Microsoft ports their webshit text editor ... to the web. Hackernews is ecstatic that they can finally use their favorite text editor without leaving The Only Application. Dozens of Microsofts flood the comments to use Capitalized Brandnames of Important Products. A substantial subthread breaks off where Hackernews enthuses about networked text editing features which have existed in other software since the Reagan administration. Some Gitlabs show up to crow about how they got here first. The rest of the comments are comparing VS Code to other text editors, or comparing Microsoft to other assholes.

Zoom Acquires Keybase
May 07, 2020 (comments)
Some webshits get bored and decide to work on software that anyone actually uses. Hackernews is furious; if only the webshits would have accepted money from Hackernews, says Hackernews, this never would have happened. Instead the webshits accepted a tremendous amount of debt from a high-class loan shark and now are scuttling the whole project to repay that debt. Hackernews discusses alternative software to replace the impending loss of all Keybase functionality, but since Keybase itself is a rambling mess of desultory, incoherent functionality it's impossible to eat just one.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2020/05/07/0/

May 06, 2020

Institute of Network Cultures

Coronavirus and Web 2.0: Philosophical Questions and Answers by Lorenza Saettone

A new INC essay, Coronavirus and Web 2.0: Philosophical Questions and Answers by Lorenza Saettone, now available, in Italian, here as pdf and here as an e-pub file. Thanks a lot to Tommaso Campagna for the design and technical work.

Italian philosopher Lorenza Saettone and I started corresponding at the end of my  ‘Sad by Design’ year, 2019. The collaboration became concrete soon after when Lorenza offered to write an essay about the role of philosophy concerning the internet in the lockdown months of 2020. Saettone majored in epistemology and cognitivism at the University of Genova. Her two BA ‘new media’ theses dealt with the formation of the identity online and offline and the philosophical novelties of Web 2.0. Her current master’s research, also in Genova, focuses on coding and robotics. She describes herself as a theorist and poet who aspires to become a high school teacher, investigating how technology can help teachers with their job. Students need media education. She believes the competences that Europe wants are all linked to digital literacy: learning languages to communicate, maths and science to write algorithms. And to gather a ‘metacognition’, to be able to develop an awareness of others, our own processes and the context—all aspects that are missing in the current educational programs.

In Coronavirus and Web 2.0: Philosophical Questions and Answers Lorenza Saettone talks about the inconsistencies of connections in a period of distancing and the tools with which to read ourselves and the reality around us. As we can read in the abstract, the lockdown measures call for separation such as the digital divide and the metaphysical division between virtual and real, a dualism that does not exist in practice. Art is also distancing in many ways: for example, it allows us to transcend borderline situations, but also to look at reality itself from a more distant, and therefore more lucid, point of view. Through a case study, the author analyses how culture also offers the possibility to approach people authentically, despite the restrictions. All these thanks to the web. Without the internet, how could we now realize our essence as human beings? The web allows us to work, communicate and mirror ourselves: on social networks we produce an infinite amount of selfie and narratives, i.e. biographies. But why do we post? Why are scientists uncertain? Why all the conspiracies? Are we ready to realize, in practice, what science fiction only hypothesized earlier in literary form? What are the risks and virtues of Big Data applied to the pandemic? How would the philosophers of the past guide us? How could art help?

The text we publish today, on May 6, 2020, of Lorenza Saettone is a full seize INC Network Notebook essay that embodies what philosophy in this age of the COVID-19 pandemic could look like, published in Italian, INC’s second language, awaiting translation. Those familiar with Latin languages can read it, for sure. Other too, as the condition described is, sadly, a universal one, and its poetry is there, for all to enjoy.

Below a short interview with Lorenza Saettone, in English, to give a context to the text.

Geert Lovink: Can you tell us something how this text came into being? Where did you write it? How did you experience the lockdown and quarantine? What’s the life of a writer without libraries, book stores, people to meet and discuss ideas? Should we praise the productivity that European romanticism (and its emphasis on solitude) so often seems to suggest? The fact was, most likely, that you were online, all the time.

Lorenza Saettone: I have to admit that my life has changed little. I used not to go out even before the arrival of the virus, avoiding restaurants, appetizers, cafés and business dinners. I’ve never loved the crowd, but at least now I can have a legal, and social justification for being non-social. Regarding solitude, there’s a poem written by Emily Dickinson that comes to mind entitled There is a Solitude of Space. She is the best witness of loneliness. Dickinson says that the only true solitude is the one when the soul is alone, in the presence of itself. Even Death is a social phenomenon in comparison to the loneliness of the self-reflection. The soul is sheepish when it is naked, looking at itself:

There is a solitude of space

A solitude of sea

A solitude of death, but these

Society shall be

Compared with that profounder site

That polar privacy

A soul admitted to itself –

Finite infinity

Indeed, the lockdown hasn’t made us automatically lonely. Actually, we have never been so busy. We have to escape the room, because, as Pascal said, we can’t be firm, deep-rooted, at a certain point, while we think to our Whys. When we are bored, it is more likely that we reflect on our misery (and mystery). This is why we escape, physically, or through our conscience, benefiting from each opportunity to distract ourselves. We escape the room, breaking its restrictions. To do that we invent every sort of reasons for not trusting experts. These reasons are invalidated by our interests.

In my view, the Internet is a wall that distances us from others. We can see people through it like we had the superpowers of Nembo Kid. The sight isn’t a participatory one, and, as far as we can spy through a keyhole, we remain outside, we can’t pass through it, and hug those that live on the other side, virtually. When, like at this moment, the web is added to the other material walls we are closed in, it becomes an opening. The wall isn’t only a ‘dividing peace line’, it is also a shared wall, one you can use to put up advertising posters, or ‘cave arts’ to testify your passage and to build together a tradition. In our rooms, the internet is the last chance, by which realizing the human Entelechia. For sure, the drifts and the side effects of improper use of the instrument are not minor. Conspiracy thinking and cynicism are widespread, and social networks create interest groups around these topics. The number of likes justifies their position.

Virtuality isn’t enough: this is proof that before this quarantine we didn’t live just online. Life was settled in the paradox of the interreality.

During the lockdown, I spent my time ‘poking the old mare’, as Socrates taught us. When it comes to writing I comment and post online. My essay is one of those dialogues. I strongly believe that philosophers must exit their ‘philosophical store’, and start to engage in the real job. Art and philosophy are on the Wittgenstein’s staircase, that’s true, but they are on watch!

I am concerned about the fate of artists. In fact, I don’t know how much longer they are prevented from organizing concerts and performances. To help them, I proposed, already in February, to plan live concerts using Twitch. Donations would have been a virtual hat for sustaining such a project—and our healthcare system at large. My idea has been converted into a Facebook Group with thousands of followers (called Quarantena Tour). Our streaming events, where we share art and high-level debates, are proof that platforms can support the construction of a community of people, linked by their entire Being.

GL: Your text seems to struggle with the extraordinary gap in Italy between theoretical sophistication and the dirty reality of a country that struggles with institutional collapse, incompetence, family dependencies, corruption and bureaucracy. The same contradiction was noted early on between the supposedly high level of Italian health care and the overwhelming amounts of death. Your reflections on digitalization are in sharp contrast with the ‘digital divide’ that has become visible now that everyone and every institution had to switch to online, overnight. Is this a specific Italian problem?

LS: Italy was unlucky to have been the first to manage an unknown virus. People experienced the uncertainty and falsifiability of science, up to the point that they thought these were merely philosophical speculations. Incoherence among virologists has caused political confusion about what measures had to be applied. Italian corruption has not betrayed our expectations. Again, it has given us the proof of what is the major Italian evil, but this time it is not the fault of the South. This mafia is in Lombardy, and it hasn’t got the lupara, the sawed-off shotgun.

I must confess that, aside from initial mistakes incoherence and the lowdown caused by an infinite bureaucracy and by business interference in managing the public healthcare system, Italian people demonstrated with facts to have run the first phase very well, and now lovers can finally come together. The lockdown could have been easier if we had invested more in digital literacy. The E-learning and the smart working would have been less traumatic if we had developed a right digital literacy among the broad population—not limited on being able to post a short video where we lip-sync on Tik-Tok.

GL: There is no English translation (yet). What is your text proposing? Which role can philosophy play? When we look at Agamben, Žižek and others, the ‘philosophy of technology’ is rather absent in the of the first three months of the Corona crisis. Needless to say that all writers, intellectuals and researchers have been intensely using the internet. What do you propose to integrate thinking and the digital? And how do see the role of pre-digital thinkers? Are they merely there to bring salvation?

LS: I have chosen to write the essay in Italian, my mother language. As a philosopher, I needed to dig deeply into questions and answers with my most familiar tool. I will translate the essay in English because it is fair to overpass linguistic borders (damned collapse of Babel!), to be a guide for more people, in particular now that this situation is a pandemic emergency, a global one.

With regards to the role of thinkers dealing with technical issues, we should remember that there is no such thing as a neutral point of view. Perspectives are conditioned by the observer’s conceptual framework. As Albert Einstein said, there is a necessary and fruitful collaboration between philosophy and science. When he examined the world, he employed a certain kind of reasoning, which was a mixture of art, philosophy, religion, ethics. Technology needs philosophers. It must be led, recounted, hence it must be introduced into the social grid. It can’t be accepted without an idea of humanity. This is what leads to the construction of code, apps and devices. Only a founding discipline like philosophy can offer a concept of what men and women are. Ethics is essential for justifying each research. We understand this point now more than ever because we are truly experiencing what risks may involve researches that deal with a virus that can extinct our species.

We cannot exit philosophy. Each justification why we should avoid to philosophize is in itself practising philosophy. Again, we can’t go off-topic when we are doing philosophy, because everything is its object, also what’s supposed to be ‘off-topic’. This is why philosophy can’t save us. It is the slavery of not being able to be slaves: hence it represents the paradox of the Freedom – recently the freedom is too often invoked, and without a vademecum about it.

by Geert Lovink

May 03, 2020

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 4x32 - Ci prendono per fessi

Poche cose mi mandano più in bestia dell'essere preso per fesso. Proprio come sta succedendo con questa cosa della "riapertura".

by Walter Vannini

May 02, 2020


Das neue Blog-projekt JungleOfCalais

Der neue bordermonitoring.eu Blog JungleOfCalais entstand im März 2020 angesichts der beginnenden Corona-Pandemie und der damit verbundenen Restriktionen. Er dient als Informationskanal zur Situation auf der Migrationsroute vom europäischen Festland nach Großbritannien. Aufgrund der vorgelagerten britischen Grenzkontrollen befinden sich Migrant_innen dort seit zwei Jahrzehnten in einer hochgradig prekären Situation. Einige ihrer improvisierten Camps und Hüttensiedlungen wurden … Das neue Blog-projekt JungleOfCalais weiterlesen

by ms

May 01, 2020

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the last week of April, 2020.

Conversations with a six-year-old on functional programming (2018)
April 22, 2020 (comments)
Hackernews revisits some internet lies. Instead of mathematics, Hackernews recounts all the ways they've fucked with kids, or else gets mad about all the ways people fuck with kids. Later, Hackernews tries to ascertain whether kids actually give a shit about math.

Amazon scooped up data from its own sellers to launch competing products
April 23, 2020 (comments)
The Wall Street Journal still thinks anything they have to say is interesting enough to hide behind a paywall. It is not; this week's nonsurprise is that Amazon is fucking everyone in reach. Hackernews wrestles with the idea that trust is a fundamental component of a business relationship. Some Hackernews posit that gargantuan faceless corporations are not trustable entities, but this clearly cannot be true because that would be awful. Accusations of paranoia are much simpler.

Seinfeld Adventure
April 24, 2020 (comments)
Some Internets want to waste other people's money, and hope that internet attention is the first step down that road. Hackernews recognizes the television show and has opinions about it. One Hackernews wants to know if there are any shows similar to Seinfeld, painting a stark, sobering portrait of the dire shortage of ensemble shows about rich people stepping on their own dicks.

In 4 US state prisons, 3,300 inmates test positive, 96% without symptoms
April 25, 2020 (comments)
Slaves make useful test subjects. Hackernews crawls over one another to scream the loudest "insightful takeaway" they were clever enough to glean from the article. All of the armchair epidemiology remains unchanged from previous sessions. About a third of Hackernews has convinced themselves they have already recovered from COVID-19, based entirely on wishing.

Eloquent JavaScript 3rd Edition (2018)
April 26, 2020 (comments)
A webshit writes a book about a hammer. Hackernews works on listing the exact sequence of books to read to become a webshit. Then, Hackernews attempts to decide which programming abstraction is the "right" one, and which programming abstractions are the "wrong" ones. No conclusions are forthcoming.

Disney claims anyone using a Twitter hashtag is agreeing to their terms of use
April 27, 2020 (comments)
A massive corporate conglomerate marks its territory. Hackernews explores what words are, what they do, and how that happens. Eventually, they move on to "who the hell does Disney think they are" and "how can they get away with this shit." Later on, a Hackernews points out that "Hacker" "News" itself has a forced-arbitration clause in its terms of use. This would be concerning if anyone in the IT industry were subject to legal oversight.

“Amazon is holding over 4.2M dollars, suffocating our business”
April 28, 2020 (comments)
Amazon continues the war against its own users. Hackernews tries to invent from first principles a valid reason for Amazon to force its own clients over a table for weeks on end, even though those users are explicitly paying for the privilege of not being ratfucked by an algorithm. Several Hackernews report direct personal experience with similar accounts of highway robbery. Every participant in the comment thread has an Amazon Prime account.

SSH hacks – a little sanity for remote workers
April 29, 2020 (comments)
An Internet posts an annotated copy of the the ssh_config(5) manpage. Hackernews posts their annotated copies of ssh_config files.

Rules of thumb for a 1x developer
April 30, 2020 (comments)
An Internet makes a guide to decisions about programming. Hackernews disagrees with every single one, both singly and in bunches, except for the part where Agile Development is ritualized employee abuse. Some other Amazons show up to play a little inside baseball.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2020/04/30/0/

April 23, 2020

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 4x31 - App? L'è tutto sbagliato, l'è tutto da rifare (o, Tecnopaninari allo sbaraglio)

L'app di tracciamento? Non c'è una sola cosa che sia una che vada bene. Se ogni decisione fosse stata presa tirando una monetina, avremmo avuto il 50% di scelte giuste.

by Walter Vannini

April 22, 2020

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the third week of April, 2020.

New iPhone SE
April 15, 2020 (comments)
Apple cashes in on the retro fad, while making sure this model has enough compute resources to compensate for their software engineers. Hackernews is ecstatic, and manages to post fifteen hundred nearly-identical comments before digging their iPhone 6 sleeves back out of the junk drawer. One Hackernews points out that this model will excel in the only really important metric -- javascript execution -- and takes a break to enjoy some casual racism. The remaining skirmishes are carried out between the Hackernews who think 4.7 inches is a lurid display of ridiculous excess and the Hackernews who think that 4.7 inches is the smartphone equivalent of a Russian bread line.

Stripe raises $600M at nearly $36B valuation
April 16, 2020 (comments)
Stripe (business model: "Uber for PayPal") celebrates another half-billion dollars of debt. Stripe Actual shows up to hobnob with the clients. Hackernews is mad that their stock options must now take a back seat to the half-dozen or more investors who showed up late to the party. Several comment threads are Hackernews comparison-shopping between credit card processors (nobody is happy with any of them). The rest are either trying to figure out how money works or complaining about exchange rates. Stripe Actual wanders around the thread implementing brand engagement.

The Decline of Usability
April 17, 2020 (comments)
An Internet notices that programmers are no longer held accountable for their work. Hackernews agrees this is a problem, and collectively has every possible opinion on when exactly Things Went Wrong. Lots of Hackernews are disgruntled about lock screens. Other Hackernews are mad about websites. Still other Hackernews are mad that programmers keep changing shit from one version to the next. Every single thread results in a reconstruction of user interfaces from first principles, followed by bickering about where the right place is to stop.

It’s Time to Build
April 18, 2020 (comments)
A loan shark has strong opinions on national infrastructure. Hackernews wants desperately the rich person to notice them (noticing them being the first step toward showering them with money), so we're treated to all of the profound thoughts on civilization that Hackernews has grunted out during four to six weeks of plague isolation. Hackernews' assessments of the loan shark's screed turn out to be surprisingly diverse, but they're all centered around the same theme: Hackernews, having mastered economics, medicine, and civil engineering, are the only people on earth qualified to have the correct opinion on nation-building, and they're not afraid to let us know. After all, you can't spell "socially distant" without soi-disant.

OpenCore: Hackintosh Alternative to Clover
April 19, 2020 (comments)
Some Internets have extremely strong commitments to some software. Hackernews likes the idea of making computers do something stupid, but the topic isn't actually interesting so the discussion is sparse and desultory. Technology is discussed, but none of it is interesting.

Shirt Without Stripes
April 20, 2020 (comments)
Webshit machine learning still sucks. Hackernews holds forth on just how hard not sucking is, then attempts to reverse engineer Google's revenue streams in an attempt to understand why they insist on sucking. This is obviously boring and pointless, so Hackernews debates whether Google's image search is racist, then whether it's racist against white people. The rest of the comments are mourning the good old days when Google's search algorithm returned useful, accurate results, instead of the morass of garbage that Google's search algorithm has caused to be.

Stripe records user movements on its customers' websites
April 21, 2020 (comments)
An Internet notices that famed debt-acquirer Stripe is literally watching every (mouse) move their users make. Stripe Actual returns to reassure everyone that tracking this kind of shit is just a perfectly normal way that money handlers keep everyone safe; touchscreen users can apparently fuck themselves. Two thirds of the comments on this story comprise a debate over whether this is bullshit behavior subject to trivial abuse or the only way we can possibly exchange money for goods and services. One Hackernews wants to know what happens if we turn javascript off in the browser, but we are reassured that this is impossible. The author shows up to say hello, and is excoriated by angry webshits.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2020/04/21/0/

April 21, 2020

Mobile Communications for All

5G – una condición terminal

Mientras que la pandemia del COVID-19 causa estragos en el planeta, la tecnología 5G se ha convertido en una especie de “bestia negra” (bête noire), acusada de debilitar los sistemas inmunes, empeorar la propagación y en algunos casos, de ser ella misma la causa del virus. El internet está actualmente inundada de teorías completamente infundadas sobre el 5G, quitando legitimidad a fuentes de información más confiables sobre la pandemia e incluso llevando a que instaladores de infraestructura de telecomunicación se vean impedidos de hacer su trabajo por personas preocupadas al respecto, así como también ha llevado a la destrucción de torres inalámbricas en Inglaterra y otros países.

Extrañamente, al mismo tiempo, otros hacen alarde del rol que tiene el 5G y aventuran que incluso podría ayudar a detener la expansión del coronavirus. Uno de los principales fabricantes de equipamiento 5G, Huawei, ha estado vanagloriándose públicamente del rol que tiene el 5G, tanto en la primera línea médica como en las respuestas epidemiológicas. Incluso voces respetadas de países en desarrollo, y en particular un miembro importante de la Asociación de Computación de Zambia, están pidiendo que se aceleren las instalaciones de 5G en sus países, a pesar de que enormes sectores de su población aún no tienen acceso básico a cobertura celular o acceso a internet (y ni mencionar una vivienda o instalaciones de sanidad apropiadas).

Al ser la generación más reciente de tecnología móvil, el 5G sigue a sus predecesores (2G, 3G y 4G) como objeto de resistencia sustancial en cuanto a sus potenciales efectos sobre la salud. A pesar de ser este un fenómeno familiar para nosotros, el tono e intensidad de la preocupación y acción organizada en cuanto al 5G ha llegado a alturas previamente inalcanzadas. Esto es debido a la sensación de que la tecnología de onda milimétrica es más peligrosa para nuestra salud, dado que usa frecuencias más altas y requiere topologías más densas de red. En otras palabras, las antenas y estaciones base de la red estarán mucho más cerca físicamente de la gente que anteriores tecnologías inalámbricas.

Para entrar apropiadamente a la discusión sobre los efectos de salud de la radiación de la tecnología 5G, es importante aclarar que no hay investigaciones científicas contundentes para respaldar estos dichos. La mayoría, aunque no todos, de los científicos e investigadores que estudian los efectos de los campos de radiofrecuencia electromagnética sobre el cuerpo (que es la radiación emitida por las tecnologías inalámbricas sobre el cuerpo), y en particular la Comisión Internacional de Protección contra la Radiación No Ionizante, han dicho que la tecnología es segura. Como mencioné previamente, no hay un acuerdo unánime al respecto, por ejemplo, hay una entidad organizada de doctores e investigadores llamada “5G Appeal” que ha estado haciendo lobby en los parlamentos europeos para detener el 5G. Aunque el 5G podría suponer un riesgo a la salud, no hay hasta ahora suficiente evidencia para corroborarlo. Cualquiera sea el caso, esta falta de consenso deja mucho espacio para la duda y esa duda ha generado bastante miedo. Este miedo ha generado, a su vez, varias formas de acción.

Hace poco escribí un artículo sobre cómo los gobiernos locales en Estados Unidos, muchas veces por solicitud de sus ciudadanos, han intentado ralentizar o incluso detener la instalación impuesta de tecnología 5G en sus pueblos y ciudades. Aunque ese texto elogió estos esfuerzos, no analizó qué hay detrás de esta resistencia: una política de “no en mi metro cuadrado” propuesta por ciudadanos acomodados económicamente que viven en sectores históricos o de interés turístico, que mezcla argumentos estéticos con preocupaciones de salud. Incluso algunos gobiernos, especialmente en el norte de Europa, han detenido el 5G por completo hasta encontrar una mayor evidencia sobre su seguridad.

Lo que me deja más perplejo del debate sobre la salud y seguridad del 5G es que la mayoría de las vocerías de la resistencia, rara vez levantan lo que, para mí, son preocupaciones más profundas y legítimas. De algún modo, es más fácil (y en esto son una gran ayuda las “burbujas” generadas por las redes sociales), y más eficaz, agitar y organizar alrededor de declaraciones altamente conspirativas e indocumentadas, cuando hay información más completa y confiable al respecto (más sobre esto a continuación). La “psicomaterialización” de los campos electromagnéticos invisibles en sentimientos de malestar y enojo al punto de la destrucción de la propiedad (el ejemplo de Inglaterra) merece ser críticamente yuxtapuesto con la ausencia de conciencia y acción ante los verdaderos peligros materiales presentados por el 5G y sus predecesores.

Dejando a un lado el aspecto de la radiación, la tecnología móvil ha tenido efectos tremendamente nocivos en la salud y la seguridad. En el hemisferio norte, los más obvios son los accidentes de tránsito debido a conductores distraídos mirando sus teléfonos en lugar del camino. También hay evidencia convincente de que, al menos en Estados Unidos, la introducción del smartphone ha llevado a un aumento notorio en el suicidio juvenil ya que los jóvenes interactúan menos entre ellos físicamente y están en una presión constante en las redes sociales, llevándoles a la infelicidad y la depresión.

Sin embargo, gran parte de lo que debería preocuparnos sobre la tecnología 5G ocurre en el Sur global. Sin ningún orden en particular, existe un problema en torno al increíble daño y destrucción del medio ambiente y las comunidades donde se lleva a cabo la extracción de materiales y minerales, en gran parte realizada por mujeres en condiciones peligrosas. La producción de equipos móviles en condiciones de trabajo inseguras, es otro ámbito de preocupación. Luego está la contaminación causada por los desechos electrónicos producidos por todos los equipos cuando se rompen o se consideran demasiado viejos para ser útiles. A partir de ahí, podemos mirar críticamente cómo la tecnología 5G usa dos o tres veces más energía que las tecnologías móviles anteriores y el impacto que eso tiene en el aumento del cambio climático. Una consideración final es la probabilidad bien documentada de que la sociedad adaptada para el 5G se caracterice por importantes pérdidas de empleos a medida que la automatización se introduce en cada vez más sectores de la economía.

Ser pobre y vivir en un ambiente contaminado disminuye la esperanza de vida. Deberíamos enojarnos por eso también. Hasta ahora, los críticos del 5G más activos y organizados son aquellos que viven en el Norte global, preocupados por los “fantasmales” efectos en la salud, pero también son ellos los que están más que felices de ignorar los innumerables peligros expuestos anteriormente, ya que no ven, sienten o entienden cómo les afectaría en última instancia. Desafortunadamente, los grupos de oposición al 5G, hasta ahora, no han podido encontrar una causa común con aquellos en el Sur global, quienes son los que proporcionan los minerales y la mano de obra barata para crear la tecnología y, a cambio, reciben los oxidados buques contenedores de desechos electrónicos.

La pandemia de COVID-19 nos ha obligado a todos a enfrentarnos a muchas duras realidades: el colapso del sistema médico y ningún lugar para guardar todos los cuerpos; cómo se siente vivir en un régimen autoritario con restricciones de movimiento, toques de queda y vigilancia intensificada; y haciendo fila durante horas para comprar pan. Muchas personas en todo el mundo enfrentan estos desafíos todos los días, independientemente de la crisis actual de salud. Afortunadamente, aquellos de nosotros que nunca antes hemos experimentado algo como esto, aprenderemos una lección crucial de aquellos que sí lo hayan hecho: no tenemos más remedio que comprender y enfrentar juntos los principales eventos y problemas globales, ya sea una pandemia viral, el cambio climático o el “avance” tecnológico.

by Peter

April 18, 2020

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 4x30 - L'app è "qualcosa"

Occorre fare qualcosa contro il coronavirus. L'app è qualcosa. Problema risolto! E fosse tutto qui...

by Walter Vannini

April 16, 2020

all things legal blog from UK

Virtual Trials: Stop them now before it is too Late.

There have been many discussions in the past about the viability of remote criminal trials within our criminal justice system both before and during this Coronavirus crisis.

During the technological revolution over the last decade wherein, all Crown Court trials have become paperless and all preliminary business is undertaken on the computer screen the Holy Grail for the converts has always been the remote criminal trial.

Driven by cost saving initiatives and significant court closures, the criminal justice estate has been devastated to such an extent that structurally they are either in breach of Health and Safety standards or a health hazard, or both.

Crown Courts across the country have had their workloads decimated, again in the name of saving money, with court rooms standing empty like mausoleums to what was an open, accessible and fair criminal justice system.

Even if you didn’t want to, you had the right to walk into a courtroom and see justice being done, albeit in the Queen’s name, but most certainly on your behalf.

Open Justice did not depend upon whether you had a laptop, knew how to use it and had sufficient connectivity.

The debate about the new drive to virtual trials seems to have forgotten this.

I was staggered in any event to see that JUSTICE were supporting an experiment into virtual trials, but my concern grew when I read of Jodie Blackstock, their Legal Directors “primary concerns”. It was not so much what they were, which I agreed with, “safe administration of justice, upholding fair-trial rights and effective participation” it was what JUSTICE did not seem to clearly acknowledge, the Open Justice principle and the rights of every citizen to be able to access a criminal trial.

Of course, many people do have computers, but some don’t. They may be part of some of our disadvantaged communities, who are socio economically vulnerable or simply not wanting to be a ‘Silver Surfer’. These people will be deprived of participation in the Open Justice principle.

Well, it could be said that few want to anyway. On many occasions the public gallery is empty. But that misses the point. The fact that some will be denied access is a fundamental encroachment of much that is pivotal to a democratic criminal justice system.

Lord Burnett of Maldon, the Lord Chief Justice is clear that crown courts will not be permitted to hear trials while lockdown is in force because juries could not participate remotely. He told The Times that he does not think it “is realistic to suppose that the jury could be in a different place from the applicants [sic] and the judge”, in short that he is against it, certainly as far as crown court trials go. That is reassuring.

But not all see remote trials as necessarily a threat to the essence of our open, fair and participatory approach to criminal justice. Mark Fenhalls QC an able and experienced prosecutor, leader of the South East Circuit and former chair of the Criminal Bar Association seems, in the view of this writer, dangerously close to accepting that remote trials are a way forward.

In a letter he sent to members of the South East Circuit and rehearsed in a recent Times piece he says “Deep cleaning of the courts to make them safe must be a priority…the next question is: who really needs to be in the courtroom for a jury trial? Having conducted hundreds of trials, and done jury service myself, I believe that the judge and jurors must be in the same room, but everyone else could be in a separate courtroom connected by a video link to facilitate physical distancing”.

Deep breath.

He goes onto say “If effective, Covid-19 antibody testing could form part of jury selection, and may permit judges, staff and lawyers to return to work”, via public transport I presume if, in the case of defence advocates they feel that it is their professional duty to be there and do not share Mr Fennells level of enthusiasm for the process.

“In most cases, witnesses could give evidence remotely, as could defendants, although some will prefer to attend in person” he opines.

I presume, in passing, that the manner of attendance is at the discretion of the witnesses and defendants. What a mess.

Apparently there is a preliminary report about, authored by Linda Mulcahy at Oxford University and Emma Rowden at Oxford Brookes. I left a message with Ms Mulcahy asking for sight of this report, I will let you know when I speak to her.

This report seems to suggest that the virtual courtroom treated defendants with “more dignity than when they are placed in an enclosed dock” and was “more democratic” than face to face trials.

This is an interesting observation as the abolition of the dock has long been a campaign associated with JUSTICE, and one which I have always supported and even raised in court. But it is a separate argument and to be utilised in this presently unseen report as a virtue of virtual courts is somewhat stretching the positives. This is all I have been able to find as to the reports opinions, I am sure there is more to it than that, but if the authors really are majoring on the democratic advantages of virtual trials, then I politely refer them to the earlier part of this blog.

Mark Trafford QC who took the part of the prosecutor in the test trial thinks that it is “capable of providing a fair and transparent jury trial with 20 or more participants”

Lets examine that.

Stanford v United Kingdom guarantees the defendants right to participate effectively in their criminal trial. The court does not identify any characteristics or attributes which meets the test of participation in this context which leaves the matter open to wide interpretation.

This will certainly include the right to be present and to fully hear and follow proceedings. European jurisprudence refers to the “very notion of an adversarial procedure” as entrenching the defendants right to fully participate.

I would not share Mr Trafford’s confidence that the virtual trial is Convention compliant. The defendant in their “democratic” virtual dock will not have immediate access to legal advice during the organic development of the trial, either to seek clarification or to have documents presented during the trial explained before him/her, especially if they are produced by a co defendant during trial, in or out of a cut throat defence.

One wonders in passing what the complexity of evidence was that JUSTICE put together for this test trial to take place within just 8 days of preparation and how many defendants were cosily sitting in their “democratic” virtual dock.

I do not intend to even discuss the unreliability of technology which can impact upon a defendants understanding and participation in their trial or the particular issues raised by the trials of vulnerable people.

Perhaps the single most fear I have in all this is the Trojan Horse point. Like a lot of Coronavirus Act provisions and the anticipated Apps which impact upon rights of privacy which we have jealously argued for over the years, once these things see the light of day, they will be hard to get rid of.

There are already remarks being made that many of the virtual hearing procedures already introduced, with the goodwill of practitioners, are likely to remain after the present crisis and no doubt, generally, that may be for the good.

Virtual Magistrates Court trials seem to be a given and are just around the corner given the Courts Department statement that in the case of Magistrates trials officials are working to introduce fully remote hearings as we speak. Be in no doubt, that once introduced they will not be removed post Covid and yet this seems to be an accepted development, with little or no discussion.

I am in no doubt whatsoever, that any concessions or compromises, as Mark Fennells puts it, in relation to criminal trials will be hard to undo, which is a particular reason why I was so surprised at the involvement of JUSTICE in this pilot. It is much easier to argue the retention of a system than try to change it and there will be no end of judges, lawyers and particularly politicians who will only be too ready to argue that it is perfectly fair to everyone.

I accept that none of those presently arguing for virtual trials are doing it with any degree of professional self interest for themselves or those who are struggling at this difficult time and that everyone is simply trying to come up with the best resolutions possible. They, like all of us are struggling to come to equitable solutions during an unprecedented period of time.

I entirely endorse the approach taken by the Faculty of Advocates in March of this year when they were opposing judge only trials as a way of getting their criminal justice system moving again when they said “Our considered opposition to the measures, especially trials without juries, will come at a personal cost to each of our members. The loss of work that a substantial period without trials will represent has an acute impact on every member of the Criminal Bar, each of whom is self employed. It would no doubt be selfishly convenient for our membership to welcome the early resumption of trials in the manner proposed. Yet we do not, and that should underscore the importance of the matters of principle set out in the preceding paragraphs”.

Finally, as is often the case, it is always the little things which stick in the mind. Jurors in crown courts are usually seen by the public should they go into the court. There was something deeply unsettling about seeing a screenshot of the JUSTICE test trial with the faces of the jury, those who could be deciding our liberty, blanked out. Something very unsettling indeed.


by shadowofthenoose

April 15, 2020

Evgeny Morozov

The tech ‘solutions’ for coronavirus take the surveillance state to the next level | Evgeny Morozov

The role of the digital revolutionaries is to disrupt everything but the central institution of modern life: the market

In a matter of weeks, coronavirus has shuttered the global economy and placed capitalism in intensive care. Many thinkers have expressed hope that it will usher in a more humane economic system; others warn that the pandemic heralds a darker future of techno-totalitarian state surveillance.

The dated cliches from the pages of 1984 are no longer a reliable guide to what is to come. And today’s capitalism is stronger – and weirder – than its critics imagine. Not only do its numerous problems present new avenues for profit-making, they also boost its legitimacy – since the only salvation will be dispensed by the likes of Bill Gates and Elon Musk. The worse its crises, the stronger its defences: this is definitely not how capitalism ends.

We have spent a month debating how tech might threaten our privacy – but that is not the greatest danger to democracy

Related: Has coronavirus opened the door to mass electronic surveillance in the UK? | Gaby Hinsliff

Continue reading...

by Evgeny Morozov

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the second week of April, 2020.

A music discovery site used in over 1M videos and games
April 07, 2020 (comments)
Some musicians upload music to a website. Hackernews likes free shit, but there's nothing to talk about, so they link to other music-related sites instead. Some Hackernews are mad that the musicians decided to upload their music.

New Google SRE book: Building Secure and Reliable Systems
April 08, 2020 (comments)
Some Googles publish an ebook about how smart Googles are. The books are all incorrectly formatted, served with incorrect MIME types from incorrectly-configured web servers, and require extreme feats of imagination to be applicable outside of Google. None of this deters Hackernews' worshipful gratitude, which some Googles arrive to accept.

Why I’m Leaving Elm
April 09, 2020 (comments)
A webshit leaves an abusive relationship, but it's not clear which party was the abuser. Hackernews agrees that someone is an asshole, but can't quite reach consensus regarding who. A Hackernews storms out of the web forum upon encountering the idea that people can behave nicely with bad motivations. Hackernews works around the cognitive dissonance with judicious metonymy-based equivocation: softening the blows of criticism by subtly conflating an author and a work. Various technology-based solutions are proposed as workarounds for assholery, regardless of origin.

Signal threatens to dump US market if EARN IT act passes
April 09, 2020 (comments)
A phone app used only by reporters on Twitter thinks anyone gives a single shit what they do. Hackernews doesn't care about the phone app either, but they are each of them the World's Foremost Authority on both cryptography and the law (any law), so they hold forth with interminably misguided analysis of every argument that has or could have been made in any direction. All of these opinions appeared the last time the United States Government declared war on mathematics, and all of them will appear again next time.

Apple and Google partner on Covid-19 contact tracing technology
April 10, 2020 (comments)
The only two cellular telephone vendors on Earth join forces to write a press release. The press release contains a declaration of intent to construct a massive surveillance framework weeks or months after there could be any medical value, but just in time to kowtow to impending United States federal abuse powers. Hackernews attempts to reverse engineer the promised pandempticon. One Hackernews gets mad that people don't like the privacy implications of this press release, given that the press release is expected to save trillions of lives; this immediately degenerates into Facebook whataboutism. The remainder of the comments are people declaring privacy to have died in the 1980s or otherwise exercising corpophilic tendencies.

John Conway has died
April 11, 2020 (comments)
A mathematician passes away. Hackernews recounts their encounters with, legends about, and influences received from the mathematician.

Colornames.org – A collaborative effort to name all 16.7M colors
April 12, 2020 (comments)
Some webshits collect spam. Hackernews explores the spam, and tries to count how many words would be required to automatically generate nonsense names for the webshit colorspace.

Inkscape 1.0 Release Candidate
April 13, 2020 (comments)
Some programmers release version 1.0 of their program, which is slightly incompatible with the past seventeen years' worth of releases. Hackernews is excited that, at long last, the software will work on their Macbooks. It already did, but now it will work slightly differently than before, and that's wonderful. Other Hackernews don't like the software in question, because it was mean to them once during the Bush administration. One Hackernews is extremely angry that nobody pays attention to rambling 1,500-word bug reports.

GitHub is now free for teams
April 14, 2020 (comments)
Github makes minor modifications to their pricing structure, then the CEO shows up to astroturf. While many Hackernews snuggle into Microsoft's warm, slightly sweaty embrace, some Hackernews are startled to realize that the 55% discount comes with meaningful reductions in services rendered. The rest of the comments are an argument about where, exactly, GitHub currently lies along the embrace-extend-extinguish Microsoft product map, whether embrace-extend-extinguish would even work on a crowd of people as savvy and free-spirited as GitHub users, and whether GitLab is better, worse, or indistinguishable.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2020/04/14/0/

April 13, 2020

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 4x29 - Gli zeloti del dato

"Machine learning, algoritmi e Ai devono essere alla base di qualsiasi decisione politica".<br />Zuckerberg? No, Ferruccio Resta, Rettore del Politecnico di Milano. Se dobbiamo guardare con sospetto i Gran Sacerdoti della Chiesa della Tecnica, sono gli zeloti quelli che dobbiamo temere di più.<br />Più qualche parola sull'inutile Bollettino delle Sei e sul livello di snumeratezza che rivela.

by Walter Vannini

April 08, 2020

Mobile Communications for All

5G – a terminal condition

As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the globe, 5G technology has become something of a bête noire – blamed for weakening immune systems, making the spread worse, and in some cases being the cause of the virus itself. The Internet is currently awash in completely unfounded theories about 5G, taking legitimacy away from more truthful sources of information about the pandemic and even leading to telecom infrastructure installers being prevented from doing their jobs by concerned members of the public as well as the destruction of wireless towers in England and elsewhere.

Bizarrely, at the same time, others are touting the role 5G has and could perhaps play in helping to stop the spread of coronavirus. One of the major 5G equipment manufacturers, Huawei, has been publicly touting the role 5G plays in both front-line medical and epidemiological responses. Even respected voices in developing countries, most starkly a senior member of the Computer Association of Zambia, are urging 5G installations to be fast-tracked in their countries, despite huge swaths of their populations without even basic mobile coverage or access to the Internet (not to mention proper housing or sanitation).

As the most recent generation of mobile technology, 5G follows its predecessors (2G, 3G, 4G) as the object of substantial resistance relating to its potential health impacts. Familiar as this is, the tenor and intensity of worry and organized action with regard to 5G has reached new heights. This is mainly due to the feeling that millimeter-wave technology is more dangerous to our health since it uses higher frequencies and requires denser network toplogies, in other words the base stations and antennas are more plentiful and physically much closer to people, than previous wireless technologies.

To properly enter into the discussion about the health effects of radiation from 5G technology, it is important to state that there is no overwhelming scientific research to back up these claims. Most – but not all – of the scientists and researchers who study the effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (as in the radiation emitted from wireless technologies) on the body, primary among these, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), have said the technology is safe.  As alluded to, there is not total agreement on this, for example there is an organized entity of doctors and researchers called the 5G Appeal who have been lobbying parliaments in Europe to stop 5G. While it may well be that 5G does pose a health risk, there is, as of yet, insufficient corroborating evidence. Whatever the case, this lack of consensus leaves plenty of room for doubt, and that doubt has kindled quite a bit of fear. This fear, in turn, has lead to various kinds of action.

I recently wrote a piece about how local governments in the U.S., many times at the behest of their citizens, have been seeking to slow down, or even prevent, the imposed installation of 5G technology in their towns and cities. While that piece lauded these efforts, it did not analyze what is behind much of this resistance, namely a “not-in-my-backyard” politics espoused by wealthier folks living in historic, or otherwise scenic areas, mixing and matching aesthetics with health concerns. Even some governments, mainly in northern Europe, have halted 5G altogether until they see better evidence of its safety.

What I find most perplexing about the debate around the health and safety of 5G, is that the most vocal resistors very rarely raise what to me are deeper and more legitimate concerns. Somehow it is easier (social media-induced filter bubbles are a big help), and more efficacious, to agitate and organize around largely unsubstantiated health and conspiratorial claims, when grave and better documented issues surround 5G (more on these below). The “psychomaterialization” of invisible electromagnetic fields into feelings of unease and anger to the point of property destruction (UK example) deserves to be critically juxtaposed with an absence of consciousness and action around the actual, material dangers posed by 5G and its predecessors.

Leaving the radiation aspect aside, mobile technology has had tremendous, deleterious effects on health and safety. In the global North, the most obvious are traffic fatalities due to distracted drivers looking at their phones instead of the road. There is also compelling evidence that, at least in the U.S., the introduction of the smartphone has lead to a precipitous increase in teen suicide, as young people interact with one another less in the physical world they are under constant peer pressure on social media, leading to unhappiness and depression.

However, much of what should concern us about 5G technology happens in the global South. In no particular order…there is an issue around the incredible damage and destruction to the environment and communities where the mining of materials and minerals takes place, much of which is done by women in dangerous conditions. The production of mobile equipment in unsafe working conditions, as another realm of concern. Then there is the pollution caused by the e-waste produced by all of equipment when it breaks or is deemed too old to be useful anymore. From there we can take a critical look at how 5G technology uses two to three times more energy than previous mobile technologies and the impact that has on increasing climate change. One final consideration is the well-documented likelihood that 5G-enabled society will be characterized by important job losses as automation is introduced into more and more sectors of the economy.

Being poor and living in a polluted environment lowers life-expectancy. Period. Let’s get pissed off about that, too. For now, the most vocal opponents of 5G are those living in the global North, worried about phantom health impacts yet more than happy to ignore the myriad dangers laid out above since they do not see, feel or understand how they ultimately affect them. Unfortunately, 5G opposition groups have so far failed to find common cause with those in the global South who provide the minerals and cheapened labor to create the technology and in return receive the rusty container ships of electronic detritus.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to confront many harsh realities: the collapse of the medical system and nowhere to put all the bodies; what it feels like to live in an authoritarian regime of restricted movement, curfews and heightened surveillance; and queuing for hours to buy bread. Many people around the world face these challenges every day, independent of the current crisis. Hopefully, those of us who have never experienced anything like this before will learn a crucial lesson from those that have: we have no choice but to understand and confront major, global events and issues together – whether a viral pandemic, climate change, or technological “advancement”.

by Peter

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the first week of April, 2020.

What the Heck Is Pyproject.toml?
April 01, 2020 (comments)
A Python goes on at length to explain the presence of a configuration file. The presence of the file is explained as a necessary and healthy reaction to Python's disgusting habit of shitting all over the environment, making undeclared assumptions about the computers it runs on, and the intents of the people who deign to interact with Python's gross CPAN knockoff. Hackernews bemoans Python's "sovereign city-states in detente" approach to keeping its shit together, and each Hackernews expresses the foundational nature of whatever shitty build tool they espouse, patiently explaining to one another that their disparate habits constitute natural laws, necessitating the canonization of the resulting trash moussaka. Meanwhile, the Python packaging bureaucrats organize a crowdfunding effort, under the assumption that all these problems can be fixed with money, since money is cheaper than self-discipline.

OBS Studio: Open-source software for video recording and live streaming
April 01, 2020 (comments)
Hackernews figures out who wrote the webcam-fuckery software they've been looking for. Posting a link on "Hacker" "News" to a software package devoted entirely to getting people to pay attention to the user is chumming some profoundly shark-infested waters. Every single producer of every single boring-ass webinar about mindfulness shows up to give practical advice regarding the optimal audio processing methodology to deliver the most value to all three of the viewers who do not have Chaturbate open in another window. One of the authors shows up to report that people are using the software. A quarter of the comments comprise a discussion of how Wayland may be able to use this software better once it matures, Real Soon Now.

How to manage HTML DOM with vanilla JavaScript only?
April 02, 2020 (comments)
A webshit manages to question the React/javascript hypostatic union without provoking a Nestorian crisis. Hackernews is enthusiastic about using this approach for the sorts of webshit people actually want to interact with, but find it insufficiently holy to anoint their single-page farming-collective management apps. Some entirely useless didactics emerge regarding the Christlike nature of the Framework, and admonishments abound not to stray from the catechism.

Zoom rolled their own encryption scheme, transmit keys through servers in China
April 03, 2020 (comments)
Some academics morosely sound the same alarm about a new bad program, alluding to espionage-flavored ties to the worst government on the face of the planet. Somehow, they manage to completely elide whether any of their research applies to the FedRAMP-moderate classified "Zoom for Government" platform, or just the half-assed implementation distributed to the plebes. Better investigators have already shone light upon the horrible failures of the company in question, so Hackernews links to those, then links to various open-source alternatives that do not work, does a moderate amount of hand-wringing, and closes the tab because it's time for their performance-review/scrum/happy-hour/layoff-notification on Zoom.

We Made One Gram Of Remdesivir
April 04, 2020 (comments)
An academic explains why doctoral degrees in actual sciences are difficult to acquire, and goes on to extrapolate the difficulty of applying the resulting work. Hackernews has nothing to contribute except an epistle to themselves declaring the majesty of the human body. Other Hackernews are not impressed, and get distracted bashing Wikipedia for not giving them the knowledge easier. The rest of the comments are Hackernews incorrecting each other's programming analogies.

Crafting “Crafting Interpreters”
April 05, 2020 (comments)
An internet shaves yaks out loud. Hackernews bikesheds the yak shaving. The author shows up to help. No technology is discussed.

Coronavirus and Credibility
April 06, 2020 (comments)
Y Combinator's absentee father pontificates, completely devoid of any appropriate sense of irony, and utterly without a shred of self-awareness, on the topic of not listening to people who are wrong a lot. The post's pedigree garners a scad of upvotes, but the real motive for Hackernews is getting daddy's attention, so there are even more comments than vote points on the article. Hackernews jockeys for primacy in the meaningless arguments that erupt, apostates are ostracized, and nearly a thousand comments scroll past, but dad never shows up to tell them they are loved.

Apple Faceshield
April 07, 2020 (comments)
Apple contributes to the fight against COVID-19 by producing a form of personal protection equipment ostensibly targeted toward visual effects crewmembers who work for Lucio Fulci. More effort is put into the instructional animations than the product itself. Hackernews wants one, but since they're not for sale, they decide to argue about one another's third-hand-heresy-based experience in the medical wards. Technology is discussed, but not very well.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2020/04/07/0/

April 01, 2020


How to install and run bots for the Matrix network

Matrix is a fun and exciting federated protocol that we’re using more and more at /tmp/lab.

If you want to join the discussion, head to our riot channel and check it out!

Riot is a well-known web GUI for the Matrix protocol which could be defined as “a chat interface between IRC and Slack”. It’s cooler than IRC to some extend – backlogging is easier- and it is free software, not like Slack 🙂 Still, IRC, Slack and Riot have in common a capacity to use bots, and that’s what we’ll be drilling today: Matrix bots. Onward, my mechanical steed!

Note: Our privacy-aware assistance might interject here with some well founded critics of the Matrix ecosystem, which is not free enough as of now. Find here a list of concerns as a github issue tracker for more information.

Anyway, which bot to choose? There are many available bots for matrix and even a page dedicated to them on the project’s website. We chose maubot.

The maubot homepage on github

Why maubot?

Well, first, it’s python, which we like. Also, it’s actually well coded: Tulir Asokan -the author- did an impressive work at providing his own implementation of the matrix api which he plans to use to provide a number of bridges. It is modular, meaning that you can extend the functionnalities in a clean manner. And that leads us to hackability, writing your own plugins should be easy with maubot, more on that soon hopefuly.

Deploying Maubot on a server

Though maubot proposes a docker install, we were not fans of that for system administration reasons. So we’ve made an install script in bash you can find in this git project.

The maubot installer project

This install script should really simplify your job. Assign in the DNS a subdomain name -say botsinspace.example.com- to your server IP address and the installation should be as simple as

git clone https://git.interhacker.space/alban/maubot-installer.git
cd maubot-installer
bash install.sh

After indicating your chosen subdomain, you can go for default answers, including the matrix.org homeserver, and should be fine for the rest of this tutorial.

Et voilà ! You should have a maubot instance running with Letsencrypt on https://botsinspace.example.com

Creating your first bot

Once the maubot instance is up, understanding the maubot concepts will help you configure it.


Plugins are the bots “brains”. They are python code and configuration files, ran in background by maubot. Ther are stored on the server as mbp files, which are archives using a zip compression.


Clients are the bots “physical presence”. They are in fact user accounts on matrix servers, no more no less.


Instances are associations of a plugin and a client. Once you have an instance, you have a bot!

So let’s start creating our first instance!

Add a plugin

The project page lists a number of plugins based on the maubot framework.

To install a plugin, you have two options.

Option 1. Use the web interface

Log in your maubot instance, click on the plugins “⊕” button. A big UPLOAD button (cf. screenshot) shows up, click on it, select a plugin zip file on your disk, and there you go !

The maubot plugin menu

Easy right?

Well except one thing: where do you get that zip file in the first place? From the github “Get a zip copy of the project” button of a plugin page? Well, nuhuh, nope, that won’t work. Maubot will reject that zip file. Why?
The github zip file contains the file “in a directory” called “$projectname-$branch” and maubot expects files to be at the root of the zip archive.
So, the right way to go is:
٭ Download a zip file from a plugin repository home page
٭ Extract it locally
٭ Enter the newly created directory
٭ Select all its files and sub-directories
٭ Create a new zip archive with these
٭ Upload that zip file to maubot.

Or if you will, plugins might available as “mbp” files in the “release” section of their github page. Sadly, they’re not always up to date, so you might be left with a manual job to do.

Option 2. Use the command line interface

Well seeing this could be a bit complex and annoying to repeat we came up with a script in the “maubot installer” project, called plugin-install.sh

You will need to use a config file or edit the variables at the beginning of the script for it to work though.

Once you’ve done it you just have to
٭ Run the script
٭ Select a plugin in the list
٭ Login (once only) with your maubot user and password
٭ And the script will call the “mbc” executable provided by maubot.

It is worth mentioning that some plugins might require a few additional dependencies. For example the trump plugin required to run an install command in the virtualenv of the project:

cd /opt/maubot
source bin/activate
pip install Pillow

But now, you should have at least one plugin available. Let’s head to the next stop.

Add a client

We won’t cover here the run-your-own-bot-factory approach, which requires running your own synapse server, in other word running your own matrix instance. So we will create an account on an existing server and retrieve its token used for interacting with the API.

We will use the default web interface https://riot.im/app and request a free matrix.org account.

The Riot.im home

You have to pick a username, for example rook_the_bot, which will provide a matrix identifier/address such as “@rook_the_bot:matrix.org” after creation.

The riot account creation interface

One your mail is validated, log in the web interface and head to the settings page to retrieve the token.

A Riot settings menu link

You will find it token at the end of the “Help & About” page: click on the <click to reveal> link, and copy the string that appears.

Riot token finally shows up!

Time to head back to your maubot instance, and click on the Client “⊕” button. Fill the requested informations : the username you created and the access token are mandatory. Validate.

The maubot client menu

And that’s it. You’re ready for the last stage.

Add an instance

Head your maubot instance and client on the Instances “⊕” button.

The maubot instance menu

Just pick a client and a plugin before validating.

And now you should have your first bot ready! Congratulations!

How to use your bot

Now if everything went well, you should be able to invite your bot in a room, using the matrix handle you created earlier, as in our example rook_the_bot@matrix.org.

Let’s say you created an “Instance” associating the dice “Plugin” to the rook_the_bot “Client” .

Once you invited rook_the_bot to your channel, simply type a !dice command. Your bot should after a while reply to you.

Each plugin has its own commands, and you can attach multiple plugins to a single client. But all commands use the front ! mark.

That’s it, have fun. And for questions or anything else… see you on matrix!

by alban

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