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Re: <nettime> So, What Do We Do Now? Living in a Post-Snowden World
Andreas Broeckmann on Fri, 3 Jan 2014 01:39:14 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> So, What Do We Do Now? Living in a Post-Snowden World

dear michael, dear friends,

Am 02.01.14 06:06, schrieb michael gurstein:

Whether we will live in a world where one country and its 5 allies
have access to all worthwhile information which allows them to
control any possibility of dissent (even before it happens), control
the inputs into and outputs from elections or any form of political
campaign, control financial markets and bank accounts, control
the behaviour of individuals and ultimately groups and that's for
starters-those are things we can interpolate based on what we know,
not as would surely be more realistic, interpolating from what else
we can foresee-these guys as we all know, have access to effectively
unlimited financial resources and the brainpower that goes with it.

i am wondering about the "all" in your formulation "all worthwhile information", the two "any"-s and the two "control"-s, and then about the "brainpower that goes with unlimited financial resources". - is this really the issue, and is it such a vision of totalitarian surveillance what we should be most, or ultimately concerned about?

on the one hand, i am thinking about the many situations in which all this so-called "intelligence" was useless, or remained unused, or misinterpreted. i don't follow the progressivist drift of your argument. and on the other hand, i believe it is necessary to reflect on the distributed nature of all this data - for even in the data storages of the NSA it is only ever possible to analyse certain sets of information according to certain criteria. i am fully aware that personally i cannot fathom the complexity of what is computationally possible. yet, my commonsense tells me to not get psyched up when people speak of "all", "any", and "unlimited", when either technology or people are involved.

michael, this of course does not undermine the general drift of your thoughtful text. what i would argue for is to start the exploration tour into answers to your question as a continuation of "critical software studies" (remember, for instance, matthew fuller's analysis of MS Word), and to rigorously apply the questioning of what software actually does in the contemporary big data mines, to study the ethnography of the data miners, etc., and to project the legal and political frameworks for a full democratic response.

regards, and all the best for 2014,


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