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Weiye Loh

Our Greatest Political Novelist? : The New Yorker - 0 views

  • Science fiction is an inherently political genre, in that any future or alternate history it imagines is a wish about How Things Should Be (even if it’s reflected darkly in a warning about how they might turn out). And How Things Should Be is the central question and struggle of politics. It is also, I’d argue, an inherently liberal genre (its many conservative practitioners notwithstanding), in that it sees the status quo as contingent, a historical accident, whereas conservatism holds it to be inevitable, natural, and therefore just. The meta-premise of all science fiction is that nothing can be taken for granted. That it’s still anybody’s ballgame.
  • Robinson argues that, now that climate change has become a matter of life and death for the species, it’s time for scientists to abandon their scrupulous neutrality and enter into the messy arena of politics. Essentially, Robinson attempts to apply scientific thinking to politics, approaching it less like pure physics, in which one infallible equation / ideology explains and answers everything, than like engineering—a process of what F.D.R. once called “bold, persistent experimentation,” finding out what works and combining successful elements to synthesize something new.
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    "When we call literary writers "political" today, we're usually talking about identity politics. If historians or critics fifty years from now were to read most of our contemporary literary fiction, they might well infer that our main societal problems were issues with our parents, bad relationships, and death. If they were looking for any indication that we were even dimly aware of the burgeoning global conflict between democracy and capitalism, or of the abyssal catastrophe our civilization was just beginning to spill over the brink of, they might need to turn to books that have that embarrassing little Saturn-and-spaceship sticker on the spine. That is, to science fiction.2"
Sam McGrath

Crowdsourcing Politics - A Bite Of... - 1 views

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    The author imagines the future role of the crowd in politics. Not very imaginative but it's something I've been thinking about.
Ben Wagner

The Washington Monthly - 0 views

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    A really interesting article about a NYT feature that allowed readers to come up with plans to balance the budget. The Wisdom of Crowds concept came through as the crowd overwhelmingly came up with balanced non-partisan plans. 
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    Here's the actual NYT article for anyone who's interested http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/weekinreview/14leonhardt.html?ref=davidleonhardt
Audrey B

Electronic Civil Disobedience and the World Wide Web of Hacktivism: - 1 views

  • In the spring of 1998, a young British hacker known as "JF" accessed about 300 web sites and placed anti-nuclear text and imagery. He entered, changed and added HTML code. At that point it was the biggest political hack of its kind. Since then, and increasingly over the course of the year, there were numerous reports of web sites being accessed and altered with political content.
  • By no means was 1998 the first year of the browser wars, but it was the year when electronic civil disobedience and hacktivism came to the fore, evidenced by a front page New York Times article on the subject by the end of October. Since then the subject has continued to move through the media sphere.
  • computerized activism, grassroots infowar, electronic civil disobedience, politicized hacking, and resistance to future war
  • ...47 more annotations...
  • these five portals seem to provide a useful starting point for a more in-depth, yet to come, examination of the convergence of activism, art, and computer-based communication and media.
  • PeaceNet enabled - really for the first time - political activists to communicate with one another across international borders with relative ease and speed.
  • The international role of email communication, coupled to varying degrees with the use of the Fax machine, was highlighted in both the struggles of pro-democracy Chinese students and in broader trans-national movements that lead to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
  • the role of international email communication in linking together the world.
  • an overarching dominant paradigm that privileges discourse, dialogue, discussion and open and free access.
  • So the first portal of Computerized Activism is important for understanding the roots of today’s extraparliamentarian,
  • Computerized activism, defined more purely as the use of the Internet infrastructure as a means for activists to communicate with one another, across international borders or not, is less threatening to power than the other types of uses we see emerging in which the Internet infrastructure is not only a means toward or a site for communication, but the Internet infrastructure itself becomes an object or site for action.
    • Audrey B
       
      Twitter, YouTube, other forms of social networking that provide communication within the Internet infrastructure to become an "object or site for action"...
  • Infowar here refers to a war of words, a propaganda war. Grassroots infowar is the first step, the first move away from the Internet as just a site for communication and the beginning of the transformation from word to deed.
  • emerge fully cognizant they are on a global stage, telepresent across borders, in many locations simultaneously.
  • a desire to push words towards action. Internet media forms become vehicles for inciting action as opposed to simply describing or reporting.
  • war of words
  • war of words
  • war of words
  • lists, newsgroups, discussion lists, and web sites
  • A primary distinction, then, between earlier forms of computerized activism and forms of grassroots infowar is in the degree of intensity. Coupled with that is the degree to which the participants are noticed and seen as a force.
  • in grassroots infowar comes the desire to incite action and the ability to do so at a global scale.
  • Within a matter of days there were protests and actions at Mexican consulates and embassies all over the world
  • At the end of 1997, news of the Acteal massacre in Chiapas, in which 45 indigenous people were killed, quickly spread through global pro-Zapatista Internet networks.
  • following there has been a shift, the beginning of the move toward accepting the Internet infrastructure as both a channel for communication and a site for action.
    • Audrey B
       
      channel for communication=computerized activism. a Site for action= grassroots infowar...Combining the two leads to Electronic Civil Disobedience
  • tactics of trespass and blockade from these earlier social movements and are experimentally applying them to the Internet.
  • A typical civil disobedience tactic has been for a group of people to physically blockade, with their bodies, the entranceways of an opponent's office or building or to physically occupy an opponent's office -- to have a sit-in.
  • utilizes virtual blockades and virtual sit-ins
  • an ECD actor can participate in virtual blockades and sit-ins from home, from work, from the university, or from other points of access to the Net.
  • a theoretical exploration of how to move protests from the streets onto the Internet.
  • street protest, on-the-ground disruptions and disturbance of urban infrastructure and they hypothesize how such practices can be applied to the Internet infrastructure
  • after the 1997 Acteal Massacre in Chiapas, there was a shift toward a more hybrid position that views the Internet infrastructure as both a means for communication and a site for direct action.
  • Electronic Civil Disobedience is the first transgression, making Politicized Hacking the second transgression and Resistance to Future War the third.
  • The realization and legitimization of the Internet infrastructure as a site for word and deed opens up new possibilities for Net politics, especially for those already predisposed to extraparliamentarian and direct action social movement tactics.
  • In early 1998 a small group calling themselves the Electronic Disturbance Theater had been watching other people experimenting with early forms of virtual sit-ins. The group then created software called FloodNet and on a number of occasions has invited mass participation in its virtual sit-ins against the Mexican government.
  • FloodNet to direct a "symbolic gesture" against an opponent's web site.
  • it launched a three-pronged FloodNet disturbance against web sites of the Mexican presidency, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, and the Pentagon, to demonstrate international support for the Zapatistas, against the Mexican government, against the U.S. military, and against a symbol of international capital.
  • hacks into Mexican government web sites where political messages have been added to those sites.
  • the young British hacker named "JF" who hacked into around 300 web sites world wide and placed anti-nuclear imagery and text. This method has been tried by a number of groups.
  • while ECD actors don’t hide their names, operating freely and above board, most political hacks are done by people who wish to remain anonymous. It is also likely political hacks are done by individuals rather than by specific groups.
  • As already stated there are critiques aimed at the effectiveness and the appropriateness of cyber-protests. In terms of effectiveness, three closely related types of questions have appeared regarding political, tactical, and technical effectiveness. Concerning appropriateness there are ethical questions, that may be also considered as political questions, and of course there are legal questions. Some of the legal concerns raise issues of enforceability and prosecuteability.
  • Are these methods of computerized activism effective?
  • If the desired goal of hacktivism is to draw attention to particular issues by engaging in actions that are unusual and will attract some degree of media coverage, then effectiveness can be seen as being high.
  • Rather hacktivism appears to be a means to augment or supplement existing organizing efforts, a way to make some noise and focus attention.
  • a period of expansion, rather than contraction.
  • To judge blocking a web site, or clogging the pipelines leading up to a web site, is to take an ethical position. If the judgement goes against such activity, such an ethical position is likely to be derived from an ethical code that values free and open access to information.
  • While it is true that some forms of hacktivity are fairly easy to see as being outside the bounds of law - such as entering into systems to destroy data - there are other forms that are more ambiguous and hover much closer to the boundary between the legal and the illegal. Coupled with this ambiguity are other factors that tend to cloud the enforceability or prosecuteability of particular hacktivist offenses. Jurisdictional factors are key here. The nature of cyberspace is extraterritorial. People can easily act across geographic political borders, as those borders do not show themselves in the terrain. Law enforcement is still bound to particular geographic zones. So there is a conflict between the new capabilities of political actors and the old system to which the law is still attached. This is already beginning to change and legal frameworks, at the international level, will be mapped on to cyberspace.
  • It seems that hacktivity has met and will meet resistance from many quarters. It doesn't seem as if opposition to hacktivist ideas and practices falls along particular ideological lines either.
  • hacktivism represents a spectrum of possibilities that exists in some combination of word and deed.
  • What remains unclear about hacktivism emerges when we start to ask questions like: what does this mean and where is this going?
    • Audrey B
       
      Twitter. At 3:30 people log/hack on to Twitter and form blockades so that Iranians can voice their beliefs and feelings towards the government in 140 characters. People are also hacking and creating proxy sites that allow Iranians to get online.
  • Theorizing about grassroots or bottom-up Information Warfare doesn't nearly get as much attention as the dominant models and as a consequence there is not much written on the subject. 11 The case of the global pro-Zapatista networks of solidarity and resistance offers a point of departure for further examination of grassroots infowar. One feature of Zapatista experience over the course of the last 5 years is that it has been a war of words, as opposed to a prolonged military conflict. This is not to say there isn't a strong Mexican military presence in the state of Chiapas. Quite the contrary is true. But fighting technically ended on January 12, 1994 and since then there has been a ceasefire and numerous attempts at negotiation.12 What scholars, activists, and journalists, on both the left and the right, have said is that the Zapatistas owe their survival at this point largely to a war of words. This war of words, in part, is the propaganda war that has been successfully unleashed by Zapatista leaders like Subcommandante Marcos as well as non-Zapatista supporters throughout Mexico and the world. Such propaganda and rhetoric has, of course, been transmitted through more traditional mass communication means, like through the newspaper La Jornada. 13 But quite a substantial component of this war of words has taken place on the Internet. Since January 1, 1994 there has been an explosion of the Zapatista Internet presence in the forms of email Cc:
  • Because of the more secret, private, low key, and anonymous nature of the politicized hacks, this type of activity expresses a different kind of politics. It is not the politics of mobilization, nor the politics that requires mass participation. This is said not to pass judgement, but to illuminate that there are several important forms of direct action Net politics already being shaped.
  • hackers' desires to make information free.
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    Concrete article for paper
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