Florian Cramer on Sat, 19 Jul 2014 16:54:06 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> More Crisis in the Information Society

Your posting on the crisis of the information society struck me as a useful
summary of a current state of affairs. There seem to be obvious conclusions
to be drawn from this which, apparently, nobody dares to clearly state:

(a) The Internet - i.e. anything traveling over TCP/IP and routed via DNS -
cannot be trusted for any form of truly private or classified information.
It needs to be seen as one, global, public billboard - yet with varied
privileges of access that non-corporate and non-governmental users are in
not control of. The fact that all information received through this network
is, as you write, potentially tampered, is the second issue on top of the
privacy issue.

However, these restrictions still imply that the Internet can serve such
good purposes as running UbuWeb (to refer to Kenny Goldsmith's article on
this list) or Nettime.

Crypto activism does not solve these two issues despite its good
intentions. Too many core technologies such as OpenSSL, TrueCrypt,
PGP-E-Mail (with its lack of meta data encryption), TOR, ... have turned
out to be flawed or compromised. They all can do more harm than good for
one's privacy if one isn't a highly skilled computer user using
non-mainstream operating systems like Tails.

Offline communication still remains a simple alternative for dealing with
these restrictions. A good example is Henry Warwick's "Radical Tactics of
the Offline Library"

(b) These two above issues lead to the logical conclusion that no critical
infrastructure should ever rely on Internet communication. That includes
all mainstream scenarios of the Internet of Things, Smart Cities and most
other technologies marketed with a "smart" prefix, drones, robotics and
autonomous cars. To give one example: If I correctly interpret information
I received from a colleague of mine, a researcher in water management, then
it is already possible to flood the Netherlands through computer hacking
because its current systems of levees and watergates is controlled via a
local sensors in the levees connected to a data center that controls the
pumps based on the real time sensor data; all these data connections run
over the Internet via a VPN. If technology development blindly proceeds
with such "smart technologies", we'll be able to study Philip K. Dick
novels and "Terminator" movies as predictive scenarios - and write
screenplays for war movies where countries get attacked by someone hacking
and crashing all Google cars.

(c) The San Francisco billboard likely epitomizes the end of an
"information society" and media bubble period roughly between 1998 and
2008. In that time, the classical media and information economy, and their
jobs, were still in swing while the industries that were about to replace
them first came in as additional players working on venture capital. The
temporary coexistence of these two economies created an inflated market. I
remember how in the late 1990s, newspapers such as Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung suddenly boomed and expanded (employing some Nettimers as writers,
btw.) because dotcoms massively placed their ads in them. In retrospect,
this could be described as the media eating itself. The same must have
historically happened in other industries, for example in transportation,
when railroads where built while coachmen were still in business. In both
cases, the economic growth model - and investment stimulus - for the new
industry is the prospect of taking over the market with a fraction of the
previous costs and resources, basically replacing comparatively
inefficient, local and regional players with a few global players.

In the media and information sector, the business model for the new players
(Google, Apple, Facebook) has not only been centralization, but also the
fact that they are media companies that no longer employ "content"
creators. This conversely means that thee economic exchange value of media
creation, in the classic sense of editorial or artistic/audiovisual/design
work, is sinking to unforeseen lows. For regional commercial video
producers in Europe, to take an example with which I'm familiar, hourly
rates are the same as for repairman only in the best case; in most cases,
they are lower, and don't reflect investment into equipment. Another
example: according to market research, the average pre-tax income of
commercial photographers in the Netherlands is about $20,000/year. If this
is indicative of any larger trend in media jobs, then it means that nothing
is more obsolete than the notion of the "creative class", but that the bulk
of "information society" and media jobs have become working class
employment or worse.


On Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 6:20 PM, michael gurstein <gurstein@gmail.com>

> Pando.com: New San Francisco billboard warns workers they'll be replaced
> by iPads
> if they demand a fair wage
> http://tinyurl.com/mn2xzzn

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