“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge”.”—Isaac Asimov (via azspot)
Nate Berg asks a valid question — should we have publicly usable space set aside for special purposes in our cities, and which groups could occupy for whatever purpose? — but I think his answer blunts the purpose of protest, like Occupy Wallstreet:
There is no blank slate autonomous public space. But maybe that’s what we need: a space empty, unowned and ungoverned but by the public that chooses to use it as needed or desired. Stripping the governmental public of its stewardship, this public space would exist under the watch of the public of people. Those people – whoever they are and in whatever numbers arise – could decide that this public space should be a place to express disfavor with the financial system, or they could decide that it should be used by homeless people as a campsite. Or it could host a rave or a parade. It could be a gathering place or showcase for the concerns and triumphs of a given city or community or neighborhood, uses which would develop organically, and prosper or be replaced as needed or desired by the public. Petitioning the government would become petitioning ourselves.
Admittedly idealist and utopian, this new form of public space would also be a new form of citymaking, one that embraces the continually changing nature of a city and its people. A space like this would act as a thermometer of the ideological or political fever within a community, flexible and nimble and as open to change as to good ideas. As opposed to a park that’s built for a specific type of interaction with space, this new public space would be able to play host to the variety of desires and intentions the public may have.
This demand for a new type of public space hasn’t been explicitly stated by the occupiers or by their opponents but rather by the entire situation, from 360 degrees. Cities still aren’t sure what to do with the movement’s campsites because they’ve challenged the accepted concept of using public space. It seems we all know they can’t be doing this in parks, but can’t they? Shouldn’t they be able to? For now, within our current system, the answer is no, or sometimes maybe, but not forever. Creating this new sort of truly public space may be just as insurmountable a challenge as dramatically changing the world financial system. But like the Occupy movement’s call to rethink the way that system works, this may be a mechanism to change the way we think about what we as a public want and need from our public spaces, and what exactly public should mean.
Occupy Wall Street and other related groups are protesting our situation, now, in today’s cities. The intention is to cause a disruption of business as usual, and to initiate that constituent moment, as Jason Frank terms it, where the attempt to speak out against injustice becomes a legitimate ground for political authority.
Berg’s proposal is perhaps for a future someday, when our institutions are more bottom-up, or we aren’t confronted with such a stark boundary between the 99% and the 1%. And make no mistake: the use of our shared space in cities is completely controlled by the 1% and their machinery.
Last month, an anonymous blogger popped up on WordPress and Twitter, aiming a giant flamethrower at Mac-friendly writers like John Gruber, Marco Arment and MG Siegler. As he unleashed wave after wave of spittle-flecked rage at “Apple puppets” and “Cupertino douchebags,” I was reminded again of John Gabriel’s theory about the effects of online anonymity.
Out of curiosity, I tried to see who the mystery blogger was.
He was using all the ordinary precautions for hiding his identity — hiding personal info in the domain record, using a different IP address from his other sites, and scrubbing any shared resources from his WordPress install.
Nonetheless, I found his other blog in under a minute — a thoughtful site about technology and local politics, detailing his full name, employer, photo, and family information. He worked for the local government, and if exposed, his anonymous blog could have cost him his job.
The paramilitary bureaucracy and the culture it engenders—a black-and-white world in which police unions serve above all to protect the brotherhood—is worse today than it was in the 1990s. Such agencies inevitably view protesters as the enemy. And young people, poor people and people of color will forever experience the institution as an abusive, militaristic force—not just during demonstrations but every day, in neighborhoods across the country.
Tout a commencé en novembre 2009 lorsque Georges Papandréou, tout juste élu, décida de faire une opération vérité sur la gestion de ses prédécesseurs. Tout était faux, devait-il avouer. Le déficit, expliqua-t-il alors, n’était pas de 5,8% mais de 12% du PIB, l’endettement n’était pas de 90% mais de 120% du PIB. A cette occasion, le gouvernement grec reconnut qu’en fait la Grèce n’avait jamais rempli les critères de convergence exigés dans le cadre du traité de Maastricht. Dès le début, il y avait eu mensonge. Et le truquage avait été organisé par Goldman Sachs.
“Current enforcement mechanisms were designed to avoid the countervailing harms of conscripting intermediaries into being points of control on the Internet and deciding what is and what is not copyright-infringing expression. As drafted, SOPA radically alters digital copyright policy in ways that will be detrimental to online expression, innovation, and security.”—An Explosion of Opposition to the Internet Blacklist Bill (via azspot)