From Pine View Farm

Where Nobody Knows Your Name 1

In The Nation, Adrien Chen skewers Gabriella Coleman’s recent paean to Anonymous (usually referred to as “the hacker collective). She traces it from its roots in 4chan (which is not a nice internet place to be), describes its frat-boy mindset, and derides its “hactivism” as adolescent prankery for the same of prankery. In short, she doesn’t have a very high opinion of Anonymous.

I commend the article to your attention.

Buried within it is this gem, which aptly describes what George Smith commonly refers to “the culture of lickspittle” (emphasis added):

Members of this group (the “drop outs” of the “tune in, turn on, drop out” generation; see the article for more–ed.) endorsed criminal hacking as political resistance. They dropped acid and spoke of online experience in trippy language that echoes Coleman’s. Then they went on to found some of Silicon Valley’s most influential institutions, including Wired, Apple and the Global Business Network. Today, their techno-utopianism is why a tech mogul like Mark Zuckerberg is celebrated as a visionary social engineer. In this context, Anonymous is anything but subversive; it is the most radical advocate of a widespread conflation of technological prowess with political wisdom. Anonymous is Silicon Valley’s unwitting shock troops, a live demo of the Internet’s power to transform our world. When Anons call for revolution, they’re calling for a better world. But the shallowness of their politics and their uncritical embrace of technology means this energy is easily channeled into Silicon Valley’s parody of revolution: a techno-liberation from the doldrums of day jobs with health insurance and steady benefits, in favor of the radical freedom and flexibility to pilot an Uber under contract.


1 comment

  1. George Smith

    November 30, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks for the mention but I had to quit at “Operation Slickpubes,” something I’d somehow managed to previously avoid. My reflection was that the people I knew in the Virus Creation Labs, well, some of them went on to be the nuisances in the NSA, or people writing malicious software and computer services to sell or lease to the US government. I phrased it this year as being a hired stooge for the man. The money, of course, is with US government contracting or being the same while providing services to state operations pitted against each other, not with being a “transgressive” hacker. The media shares a large part of the blame in the misperceptions. Anyone from the Silicon Valley who’s a coder is believed to be a genius and a rebel when the great majority of them are just writing software to empower predatory behavior in corporate America or the innovation of trivial conveniences for wealthy people with smartphones.

    A good example are Uber’s relentless string of publicity stunts, which no longer seem to work as well. A month or so ago there were articles about Uber enabling you to get a flu shot by just using your smartphone. Hit the app and an Uber driver would bring a flu shot and a person to administer it to your door. “Remarkable!” cried one spoiled servant of the 1 percent, not yet fired. “Wonderful, I don’t have time to get a flu shot, otherwise,” gushed another. Uber peddling the idea that flu shots are kinda difficult to track down, this not being the case, since — in the city — where Uber operates, they’re offered at every big chain supermarket (with a pharmacy) and pharmacy. (Flu shot availability being one of the small triumphs of public health working with the private sector not yet ruined.) Plus, you know, impossible to beat flu shot pricing, especially not through Uber.

    And, of course, Zuckerwonder and FB ended the problem of scarcity in organ donation. And a Google employee and FB freed Egypt and most of the rest of the Middle East …