Highlights from the Cyberflâneur (July)

Here are ten pieces picked by Bruce Schneier, Justin McGuirk, James Bradburne, Wendy Liu, and Vincent Bevins. To see all of their selections and more from the Cyberflâneur series.

Cracking the Codes of Black Power Struggles [$]

An article selected by Bruce Schneier

A fascinating dialog that centers on how movements such as BLM have hacked traditional race power dynamics and are acting as a force for change… “with an unapologetic Black queer feminist politic led by women-identified, queer, trans*, gender-conforming, working-class folks calling for an end to anti-Black state-sanctioned violence.”

Superstar Cities and Left-Behind Places

Citizen Hacker

An essay chosen by Bruce Schneier

This essay expands on the notion that people should “hack” democracy as a vehicle for change. Peering beyond the buzzwords, a healthier approach to political transformation through technological means “would involve refraining from fetishizing the tools while taking their intrinsically political nature into account along with the question of their design.”

The Global Financial Resource Curse

Museums, History, and the Public in a Global Age [$]

An article picked by Justin McGuirk

A detailed conversation about decolonising museum collections that predates the recent Black Lives Matter protests.

The Chronopolitics of Racial Time

The Slowdown Papers

A blog post marked by Justin McGuirk

A series of lengthy blog posts in which Dan Hill thinks through all of the potential for change latent in the Covid-19 lockdown.

Genetic Ancestry Testing among White Nationalists

Literary Samizdat and Samizdat Publics

An article selected by James Bradburne

Another article indebted to Anna Komaromi, it addresses the issue of who, exactly, was reading samizdat editions, and how they were constituted in ways that went beyond individual literary enjoyment. It raises the question of whether samizdat literature still exists, or needs to exist, in a digital world being increasingly menaced by all pervasive state censorship.

Racial Categories in Machine Learning

Reading as a Heroic Feat [$]

An article marked by James Bradburne

A profoundly personal reading of the experience of the Soviet Union and of reading banned or dissident literature. One of the most difficult tasks of any historian is to recover the reception of the works in the time they were first read – which does not always mean when they were written – and first integrated into a broader discourse about the limits to political and civil activity.

Art After Money, Money After Art

A Lost Cyber Utopia

An essay chosen by Vincent Bevins

How would the internet be different it it had not taken shape in the era of undisputed US hegemony? If there were competing models, or if even had to merge with different technological visions? As the article notes, Salvador Allende was also experimenting with cyber-socialism before the CIA-backed coup in 1973.

Art After Money, Money After Art

Digital Sovereignty or Digital Colonialism

A paper marked by Vincent Bevins

“The world’s offline populations are the disputed territories of tech empires, because whoever gets them locked into their digital feudalism, holds the key to the future.”

Neoliberalism as Religion

Shifting Capitalist Critiques

An article picked by Wendy Liu

A must-read for anyone interested in labor organizing in the high-tech sector, with anonymous stories that double as practical advice for overcoming anti-union sentiment. I also enjoyed this paper’s from-first-principles explanation of capitalism’s ideological legitimation mechanisms, drawing on the work of Luc Boltanski.

The Everyday Politics of Urban Transformational Adaptation

On Data Rentiership

An article selected by Wendy Liu

The author argues that under contemporary capitalism, innovation has become as much a financial process as it is a technical one. Today’s ‘innovation’ is driven increasingly by the need to provide returns to capital, resulting in a banal, IP-backed rentiership, rather than the creation of socially useful products. Until we manage to disentangle innovation from finance, innovation itself may be the problem.

New Angles on Inequality
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