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Re: <nettime> Renewed Tyranny of Structurelessness
Gabriella "Biella" Coleman on Mon, 13 Jun 2016 08:25:46 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Renewed Tyranny of Structurelessness

> I think it is important to talk about what could have been done
> differently but I don't buy into this argument. There are plenty of
> institutions and organizations in hackerdom that are structured from
> many free software projects (including Tor) to the Pirate Parties to the
> CCC. Jake was kicked out from a structured project, an endeavor with
> policies and which is so not open to all.

Granted, but does it have that extra thing that Frank just alluded
to? Does it have a court and a due process? I would add, does it have
a court of appeals if the court of arbitration is for whatever reason

   I can't answer these but I do think Tor has a process and would not be
   surprised if it gets revamped after this episode.

I think we need a voluntary system of justice that works by
our own standards, and keeps people from furthering bad behaviour
*before* it gets to be a case for the state authorities.

   I certainly like this statement and think it has some valuable
   However, sexual assault is its own special case whereby victims don't
   speak out--understandably--early enough so as to change things before
   problems spiral. This is not unique to this case at all.

And I believe the digital domain is a special challenge for justice,
harder to deal with than problems Jo Freeman describes.

   Why? I think the problem of sexual assault or harassment is a society
   wide problem that many groups seem to have issues dealing with
   appropriately. In academic circles there are endemic and persistent
   problems with harassment and intimidation. In one institution I worked
   in, one professor had so many problematic relationships with graduate
   students (with so many complaints levied against him) they disallowed
   him from advising graduate students and moved him to an office so that
   another professor could monitor him. What a shameful and inadequate
   response for both parties and this came from 200 year old institution
   with a team of lawyers who you'd think could handle this a bit more
   fairly. Our society idolizes stars/celebrities and these individuals
   can in turn command a lot of power over victims whether it comes in
   form of sexual violence or harassment and whether it is in academia, in
   journalism, or in hacker circles. Thankfully things seem to be changing
   for the better in some academic institutions. A pair of scientists at U
   Chicago and Berkeley have been forced out or stepped down after
   internal investigations. Whereas once the genius professors was
   untouchable, this seems to be less and less the case. Maybe this will
   change too in hacker circles.
   And I agree with Vesna: there is a lot of material out there for
   non-violent conflict resolution and for responding to harassment.
   Institutions can more easily implement policies to deal with these
   problems but these resources, as Vesna suggested, can also be
   spread/used at conferences too.

 The Pirate Parties thought they could handle it with regular party
structures, but the improperly addressed digital domain created
shitstorms, paranoia and lifelong relationships of hatred. Party
structures were not enough.

   Not saying it is either. Just making the point that there are multiple
   types of interventions in the digital domain. It is a pretty plural

> There are plenty of other hacker projects that are more ad hoc and
> flexible, to be sure. But I am glad both types of organizing--
> institutional and non-instit utional--exist.
> The social movement as a whole, like most social movements, are hard to
> structur e (not sure I would want that anyway as social movements are by
> definition transve rsal to any one organization, group, or entity) but
> there are many  important examples of structured projects built by
> hackers.  The idea that they don't build institutions is the myth we are
> in need of debunk ing.

For Germany's public and supreme courts, CCC has certainly become
an institution. But how well has it solved in-fighting issues? How
good is the inner justice system of CCC? How many software projects
have even thought about that? I noticed Gentoo has a prototypical
separation of powers, I presume debian would have that, too.

   Debian is pretty exceptional
   Does it stop every bit of in fighting? No. But it created a structure
   so that Debian survived 20 + years, which is more I can say for many
   non digital left projects some of which implode through in fighting.
   You will always have tensions and fighting (I think it is impossible to
   get rid of those problems) but the question is whether you can create
   structures and measures to weather the storms.

> Sure they can have different structures or some may need more structure
> but ther e are plenty examples of structured hacker projects and I am
> not sure that was the sou rce the problem in this case either.

I guess my point is we need a structure that can demotivate people
from exercising anonymous hate speech and especially multiplying it
by the practical "retweeting is no endorsement" mantra.

   Or maybe we just need to get rid of Twitter and social media. They
   dynamics you address, which you seem to pin primarily onto the hacker
   world, are now endemic because of contemporary social media

No, it is not okay to retweet defamation and if there was an
organisation able to provide a justice system to the community, then
not only those who multiply defamation can face sanctions, but it
could possibly implement the frequently mentioned "safe space" or
"safe room", allowing potential victims to turn to people in charge
of prevention of injustice, authorised and enabled to actually do
something about it, something like "due process". It can keep victims
or friends of victims from escalating bad actions even further.

"Friends of victims" are potentially the worst, as they can enjoy
jumping at a chance for a vengeance crusade without having suffered
the hurting themselves. An excuse is provided to hide behind,
apparently legitimising the satisfactory feeling of exercising lynch
justice. If a structure of justice exists, such "friends" of victims
have no excuse to carry out lynch logic.

   Again I am not sure this is a problem inherent to hacker circles but a
   much much larger issue having to do with our social media landscape and
   it is a really tough problem to solve.

   -- E-mail is public! Talk to me in private using encryption:
   [5]https://psyced.org:34443/LynX/ ------------------------------

Gabriella Coleman
Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy
Department of Art History & Communication Studies
McGill University
853 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, PQ
H3A 0G5


   1. https://jacobian.org/writing/assholes/
   2. https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160112/16582733316/ian-murdock-his-own-words-what-made-debian-such-community-project.shtml
   3. http://loupsycedyglgamf.onion/LynX/
   4. irc://loupsycedyglgamf.onion:67/lynX
   5. https://psyced.org:34443/LynX/
   6. http://gabriellacoleman.org/

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