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Re: <nettime> Renewed Tyranny of Structurelessness
Zenaan Harkness on Wed, 15 Jun 2016 14:48:42 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Renewed Tyranny of Structurelessness


On Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 10:40:22AM +0200, carlo von lynX wrote:

> On 06/12/2016 10:41 PM, Gabriella "Biella" Coleman wrote:
> 
> >    I certainly like this statement and think it has some valuable
> >    insights: [1]https://jacobian.org/writing/assholes/
> 
> Yes, by creating structures of rule of conduct enforcement we create
> the ruleset by which code can be contributed, so people who had fun
> being assholes find themselves in the need to play nice in order to be
> able to submit code. Given time they probably get nice (and grown-up).

A big public example is Linus. He started Linux, and by virtue of doing
so, he is the benevolent dictator for life of his version of Linux, for as
long as he chooses.

Others are free to fork and release their own versions, to their heart's
content.

Linus' version carries a fair weight, due to his capacity for assessing
code and (earlier on) coding too of course, along with his relationships
with those who 'work' with him.

As I said recently on cypherpunks, we live in an age of digital abundance,
that is anyone can create a new digital/ online community at the click of
a few buttons.

This means, that the cost to implement a "new community with new rules",
in terms of education and effort, is not far off zero (at least for those
with a Western schooling).

So, all that's left in such situations is the motivation of a significant
subset of the community, and "significant" can be as small as two, if
there are two individuals who have the desire for their own new online
community.

With Linux, the major forks have been for technical or "related community"
reasons - the staging tree, the networking tree, and the distro trees for
Debian, Red Hat etc.

Debian has chosen a Code of Conduct, and they are choosing to apply it to
all their email lists, which are the primary manifestation of the Debian
communities.

When I made a point of the imposition their code of conduct brought, by
cutting no fine hair about swinging their CoC in the face of the
community, I was temporarily banned for life from their mailing lists (I
did repeat the innuendo at least 3 times I must admit, to make the point -
and when first banned, I had no prior communication with me, I was not
informed of any time frame for being banned, and was given some excessive
red tape process to "appease the Debian gods" if I wanted to join again).

My online words targetted no individual, only their new CoC, along with
aspects of it that I disagreed with in principle. Having been banned, I am
confident that I made my point (whether anyone heard my point I cannot be
sure of course). Also, I suspect that I have been unbanned since then,
again without any notice to me, I just discovered one day that an email I
accidentally sent to debian-project went through it seemed
(I had unsubscribed in protest from debian-user for example, since the
banning was a ban from posting, not a ban from receiving emails - I have
never tried to resubscribe to debian-user - if they're too cowardly to
communicate their changes to the effected individuals, well, I don't
support such cowardliness).

Now, one of my points is this - when rules 'change' post facto, you are
going to get kick back no matter what.

Online digital communities can be created at essentially no cost, so
perhaps we ought encourage those who desire alternative rule sets for
their online forums/ email lists, to create them, moderate as they choose
etc.

And if a programming project is particularly popular, and there's an
asshole running the show, and if there are a few people who really want an
alternative online forum for discussion and contribution to that project,
then go and create that forum, and it might even be possible to cooperate
with those who still participate in the originating group.

There are plenty of digits to go around.

And there are so many people in the world, that we need 1000s or even
more, "communities" just to host them all, let alone to provide the
different types of environments in which people want to be in. I really
want to be in the cypherpunks/ linux-kernel type mailing lists, where
everyone is encourage to be direct, blunt, and to the point. I personally
discourage any personal attacks and do not condone them, but for me, that
helps me identify the different individuals, allowing me to judge them for
who they are, rather than for who they are having to be due to the rules
in play.


> >    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.
> 
> Yes, but I think that the missing structures are what is missing here.
> There needs to be something in-between staying quiet, going to the
> police or going public, risking to be accused of defamation. Currently

That's called going to (presumably trusted) friends perhaps?


> this information would spread in random gossip, with victims talking
> to just a few good friends, creating pockets of warning knowledge
> that does not communicate with each other and still does not have
> any authority to *do* anything. By creating structures that have the
> elected role of getting informed, who have an obligation to keep
> quiet and respect the privacy of victims and accused alike, but have
> the authority to express a verdict of local range (like recommending
> project X to suspend finances for contributor Y - or recommending
> conference A not to give a keynote speech to relator Y), without going
> into details.

Like a private royal enquiry type body.

Primary problem with any such entity which is given actual authority
beyond the auspices of the entities own collection of information, is that
it will attract those who may ultimately be the target of such an entity,
and corrupted as a result.

We see that even with "public" institutions such as the police, courts
etc.  Why would this new "private by default" entity be any better.

There's a saying from somewhere in history - evil only thrives in
darkness.


> And then there should be a way for Y to reach out for an
> independent court of appeals.

Like the normal society courts - Magistrates court, supreme court etc?

> This all happens before ending up at the
> state authorities,

A whole new administration/ judiciary. With no chance of sustaining
incorruptibility than our existing administration/ judicial entities...


> and can legitimately act without hard evidence.

... but this time with the bonus of being a star chamber (check it out),
and hidden from public view.

What could possibly go wrong?


> > And I believe the digital domain is a special challenge for justice,
> > harder to deal with than problems Jo Freeman describes.
> 
> What I wanted to say in this situation is that the digital domain
> is how we met, where we come from and how we interact. Even if the
> hurting is happening physically, I would want the structures that
> help us protect from future hurting to be available by the means we
> are used to. Or would you expect victims to walk up to the office
> for harrassment complaints of the EFF or Tor Inc in person, only
> because the problem was physical? Of course it would be helpful if the
> Internet were secure.

Privacy of content of communication between entities can be achieved with
PGP.


> Justice doesn't need all the people of the assembly,

Justice, as in a fair hearing, means certain specific things. If you are
personally accused, you would want the right to respond, for example.

Some people say that a fair hearing requires evidende, and the opportunity
for you the accused to test the evidence against you.

Without such and other steps of due process, it is easier for people who
dislike you to attack you using the very judicial process designed to
right wrongs, without any wrong having been done by you.

When people conspire against another, there may not be much that any
process can do to save you, the target, but at least you ought be entitled
to a minimum process by which you can have a hope of "defending" yourself.

Must never forget the flip side of any system or process...


> > "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.
> 
> The circles are as big as people are willing to adhere to them. If
> a circle manages to develop a justice system that works so well, it
> disincentivates people from even starting fights and abuses, well,
> then I can imagine that circle to become so damn cool that everyone
> wants to be part of it - and become a part of the safe space that it
> creates for all its members. And so the circle grows... and if it is
> big enough it becomes like a Constitution for the digital sphere.

Debian looks to be heading that way.

I don't like changes in the rules after the fact, and I don't like behind
the scenes justice committees which issue what can appear as arbitrary
punishments.

But, that is certainly one way to develop a process for their community.
I have withdrawn from that community because I don't agree with some of
the way they are doing things, some of the choices they are making, and
that's ok. I imagine Debian to be one of the safer spaces online, for
those who desire, or need, or appreciate such a thing. And that's a really
good thing - Debian is meeting that demand, and the bulk of that community
is evidently recepting to actions arising from this type of conversation.


> On 06/11/2016 09:05 AM, Andreas Broeckmann wrote: > Where does this
> "becoming-celebrity" actually take place, and where is > it played
> out? I guess it must have something to do with passing a > certain
> threshold of attention into the mainstream media (interviews, > being
> named as a lifestyle example)?

Really, who cares? Who cares how Linus became a celebrity, whether by
programming, deceipt, good management or other?

I think what's important is "who do I want to hang out with/ communicate
with?"

-That- is what will make a community compelling to me - the fact that
others share my preferred set of communication rules, community rules, and
accept me within their community.

When it turns out that powerful people in the community I thought I was a
member of, disagree significantly from me, I move on - there are a lot of
people in the world, and plenty of programming projects out there. There's
certainly no shortage of options :)


> On 06/11/2016 09:24 PM, morlockelloi {AT} yahoo.com wrote:
> > In today's technical and political circumstances, it's amazing
> > that makers of anonymity and security systems still group in
> > identifiable organizations with obvious 'leaders'. There are
> > existing technologies that can provide collaborative publishing of
> > Tor.
> 
> My guess is that celebrity is the natural mechanics of humanity if
> you don't introduce any rulesets that alter these mechanisms. Let's
> say if we were to create "the circle" (in an opposite sense to Mr
> Eggers ;)) then the assembly could come to the conclusion that it is
> a *necessity* for the well-being of the organization that even if
> leader X got invited to do interviews and presentations, person Y or Z
> must be given the job to play that part instead. You can't eliminate
> charisma but you can alleviate the power effects a bit. Of course this
> means that the circle would have an assembly, like a meeting place or
> a liquid democracy platform.

Might be very interesting to see communities with different rule sets (and
actual projects of wider interest) explore this space!

Debian has a pretty democratic sort of do-ocracy, with the Debian project
leader (DPL) elected after an election campaign each term. A lot of other
groups have effectively self formed to share the work load of the project
they are on.

Good luck

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