wiredvanity

On the narrative of Berlin and Germany being anti-surveillance

There is this narrative, mostly used by Americans, that Berliners and through them Germans are historically a) more acquainted to being surveilled and b) through that are naturally against it happening again. In some cases, like today, where Bruce Sterling was seemingly het up about the fact that Berliners didn’t seem to embrace the Snowden’s of the world to the German capital and thus doing something about surveillance.

I find that somewhat amusing, because most of the time this narrative is being used as much in front of the people who have been personally effected by the Stasi as Startups of this city hire unemployed Berliners to be part of Silicon Valley 2.0.

The core of what the narrative encompasses doesn’t live inside the Ringbahn. It got pushed aside by Generation Easyjet, who – if it comes down to it – would rename Rosa-Luxembourg Platz in to Acne Platz. It probably wouldn’t help the narrative to walk around in Berlin-Mitte and embrace the full-frontal core of the political movement that this soon-to-be-like SoHo area radiates. This is not self-righteousness, I chose for my office to be there not by pure accident. Truly, I have a hard time believing that anybody takes the effort to go to Marzahn or Hellersdorf to take their message to the address to which it may mostly apply. Than again, they would have to learn how to give speeches in the local tongue instead of expecting that everybody in the room speaks their language.

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Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor

It’s easy to grab my attention by referencing Refused in the title of a post and David Banks did so skillfully in his The Network of Things to Come on The Society Pages Cyberology.

His essay hit so close to home. I have to refuse to quote the whole thing, also I wouldn’t mind, if Dezeen would pay him handsome money to reprint it in their magazine. Just tweeting about it wouldn’t do it justice, so here are some of my favorite passages that will surely make you want to read it all.

In other words, MIT’s Stata Center designed by Frank Gehry made an imperfect transition from bits to atoms: Gehry has made a name for himself by designing buildings that are only possible in a world augmented by computers, but seems to have spent precious few hours considering how social the birth and life of buildings truly are.

What Goderberger is missing is that Silicon Valley as we know it today is a product of a virtual world, not the creator of it. Virtual in the sense that suburbs are meant to be interchangeable, universal substrates upon which we graft our hopes, dreams, and preferred geographic genres. The same sub-development, with a few alterations in color scheme and road signage, can sufficiently represent the natural flora and fauna that its construction displaced; whether it be Prairie Bluffs in the southwest, Flamingo Cove in the South, or Eagle’s Landing in the northeast. It is in this infinitely pliable world that the Internet thrives. The ‘burbs is the social web’s natural habitat. These headquarters aren’t the product of ignoring “what real buildings and real towns should look like” they are a deliberate if not conscious choice to house the work of building networks within the progeny of Le Courbusier’s modern vision of total living machines. The Cold War’s promise of mutually assured nuclear destruction not only spurred the computer network research that eventually turned into the Internet we know today, it also demanded that dense cities be abandoned in favor of sprawling suburbs.

This latest iteration of networks and built environments is earmarked by company campuses sitting atop long term or permanent tax free land operating fleets of private shuttles instead of investing in public infrastructure. It is a classic case of socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor. Just like an iTunes to iPod connection, it’s a closed ecosystem but it “just works.”

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Cracks in the manufactured normalcy

I tweeted this yesterday.

It might just be my filter bubble, but I see more cracks appearing in the manufactured normalcy of technology solutionist.

It was my way of processing Klint Finley’s article on Medium. Prada Revolutionaries ties right into the series of articles that I have been mentioning on this blog in the last few days.

Bright Green has become the left’s version of right-wing transhumanism: an excuse to not solve today’s problems, because tomorrow’s technology will fix them for us.

Klint spends his time pointing out how even the most ambitious movement have been co-opted by commercial forces. This might not sound as a the cracks in the manufactured normalcy in the title, but the fact that we see more of those observations emerge after a long – and retrospectively dark – period of trust into technology solutionism is. I only was reinforced in the statement of my tweet after realizing just today that Klint is a columinist for Techcrunch. At first his writing and his occupation seemed contradictory, an oxymoron. While in fact it is only natural that people exposed to the soulless, PR speak of the startup world would develop this worldview.

Enjoy your weekend and if you are looking for more interesting things to read, check out our weekly reads.

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