The Executive Suites, where he’d stayed in Knoxville with Karen Mendelsohn, had these Korean robot bugs that cleaned up when you weren’t looking. They’d even had a special one that ate dust off the wallscreen but Karen hadn’t been impressed. It just meant they couldn’t afford people, she said.William Gibson’s - Virtual Light
Take this transaction for instance. I bought something for $10 from them. They gave me a mythic in game item as a bonus. When I sell that item for $25, they take approx $3.25 out of that. I then spend $13 of that on a game, of which they take a third. So that’s like another $4.22. That totals $7.57 that they have made back from that already. Now, if I purchase another game with the other 10 that I have left, they take another third. This will give them over $10. WHich means I bought an item for $10, but they actually made over $20 on the sale. Fucking genius.
My friend Dave on Valve (via hungryghoast)
This is exactly what I’m writing a conference paper about right now.
The “spirit of informationalism” is the culture of ‘creative destruction’ accelerated to the speed of the optoelectronic circuits that process its signals.Manuel Castells (1996) - The Rise of the Network Society
John Carmack has said that he thinks Brendan Eich, former CEO of Mozilla corp and donor to a Homophobic anti-prop 8 organization, deserves respect for not doing the “craven belly crawl” after being set upon by the “mob”. Whatever Carmack says to possibly defuse the situation (quite possibly Carmack isn’t a homophobe, just a Libertarian), I think what is most interesting is the now common refrain concerning “mob justice” here.
One of the promises of social media was that it gave voice to those who had no prior one - that it amplified the voices that cacaphony of the bourgeois public sphere that we ideally inhabit. In liberal political theory, the goal of the public sphere is the right to a voice. In more egalitarian liberal theory like that of Hannah Arendt, the goal isn’t just being able to speak but being able to be heard.
While we know social media does give or provide platform to speech, it doesn’t necessarily give one the right to be heard. Yet in cases of the mob it actually does, in its own way, demand to be heard. These internet mobs still conform, quite well in fact, to the liberal model of the public sphere. They have no recourse to violence or state authority. In the case of Eich, neither the state nor an armed mob (which is the truly political manifestation of the people in revolutionary moments) forced his resignation. Instead it was a private action carried out in public. It was completely, purely, liberal.
Yet in the face of Peak Liberalism, we hear, over and over again, that social media “mobs” are authoritarian, violent, extract confessions, destroy careers of innocents and such. Yet they confirm the system that liberal democracy is built upon - they are *the* confirmation of the kind of private politics carried out in public without the recourse to state violence. What’s even stranger is that those who detest this kind of speech the most are those who built the horizontalist decentralized Internet - those who would most likely identify as libertarians, the Uber Liberals who want Even More Liberalism. Why is this?
The best guess, to put it quite simply, is that these people were never truly committed to the Liberalism they professed, and in fact prefer a considerably more hierarchical relationship with the polity. A technocracy, if you will. That at the core of silicon valley’s Libertarianism is a deep fear of *functioning liberalism* explains the rise of The Dark Enlightenment and neo-reactionaries to some extent.
My big takeaway is this: that early tech scions like Carmack and his generation of white dude techbros are so fearful of the public sphere shows how close silicon valley is walking the line between its self styled progressive liberalism (al la OKCupid) and vicious reaction is something to be very concerned about.