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Re: <nettime> The 'Jake' Appelbaum case, or the rise and fall of celebri
Frank Rieger on Fri, 10 Jun 2016 18:55:48 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> The 'Jake' Appelbaum case, or the rise and fall of celebrities


On 10 Jun 2016, at 13:07, Patrice Riemens <patrice {AT} xs4all.nl> wrote:

> It has a lot to do with numbers. These, surprisingly, looked to be in
> our favor. Gatherings were ever bigger, the amount of people and
> resources mobilized were ever larger. It was probably a delusion. Just
> as the numbers increased, so decreased actual, personal participation.
> Larger groups foster 'strong personalities' - and Jake is surely one,
> for better or worse - and transform the rest, by sheer inertia, into
> mostly passive followers.

I do not agree that this is a feature of the hacking community in 
general. We had strong worries about a decreasing number of volunteers 
when the CCC congress grew 3x. To the contrary, the percentage share of 
people volunteering to work hard and still pay for their ticket actually 
grew, both at Camp and Congress.

I do see a large difference between the US and the European scene 
though. The "celebrity" problem you diagnosed is most prevalent in the 
US. The idea of "rockstar" hackers, programmers etc. has never taken so 
much hold in Europe or Germany. There was of course some of it at the 
events, but mostly because so many US hackers came over and brought 
their fandom and propensity for hax0r-divas and drama with them. But: 
the more "celebrity" someone is, the more critical scrutiny talk 
submissions receive in the CCC event content selection process. We take 
the "distrust authorities" thing quite serious, and even more so now. 
And "media-whoring" is generally frowned upon, at least in CCC circles. 


However, there are clearly problems tied to more people in our groups 
and at our events. The wider the "cultural space" that our community 
inhabits becomes, the more people come to our events and share our 
general ideas, the more important a shared understanding of values in 
interpersonal relations become. It is long known that smaller groups of 
people can self-police. Larger groups have a larger numeric likelihood 
of assholes being present combined with a reduced sense of individual 
responsibility (which is different from the general willingness to put 
in work), so security and safety need more thought and innovation. Not 
just at the events.

The question for me is not how we could shrink or splinter the 
community, as you seem to suggest. It is rather how we can develop an 
shared equivalent of what is known as "due process" for conflicts and 
violations of our values that are (by nature or choice) not subject to 
the realm of normal law enforcement. I don´t have concrete ideas, but 
I see the need to research and develop this field. The "court of social 
media opinion" has certainly demonstrated now its inherent unsuitability 
often enough.

Thanks & Greetings from Berlin,

Frank Rieger

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