Now with Stuff and Things!
A blog by Peter Fein.
The views expressed here do not represent my past, present or future employers, collectives, family, nation-state or houseplants. They are mine alone. Who's else would they be?
I gave the opening keynote at Open Source Bridge 2011 about my work as a hacktivist with Telecomix, supporting free communication in Egypt, the Middle East and the rest of the world. The keynote was not as polished as some of my previous talks due to three failed hard drives, a flood, a bashed elbow and a laptop that died 30 minutes before I went on. But I'm still quite proud of the result - sometimes timeliness matters most.
I'm not going to provide a full transcript, as I've been a little busy trying to keep the Internet functioning in Syria, which has majorly upgraded its censorship and wiretap capabilities in recent days. A brief summary of each section and a few choice quotes follow. Opensource.com has a summary as well. Find more on my YouTube channel.
Part 1 - Meet Telecomix
I use the word hack in its original sense, using a system in a way its designer didn't intend.
We believe that free speech is the basis of a free society. Every person who has an opinion deserves to have that opinion heard. The ability to share ideas is the foundation of effective democracy. We can have the vote, we can elect whoever we want, we can donate wherever we want - but unless we're able to talk to one another and work out whatever we collectively want to do, those things don't matter.
Part 2 - The Internet Under Attack
A discussion of recent attacks on the free and open Internet in the US, Europe and the rest of the world. An insider's look at the groups that have been fighting back, including LulzSec and Anonymous.
New communications technologies have always been a threat to people and institutions in power. Governments have responded with repression and restriction. The Internet is young; we forget it's only been 15 years since most of us had access. Other technologies, such as the printing press and amateur radio, took 100 years, or 30 years to get clamped down.
Antisec has declared war on all governments. They're gonna DDOS sites, they're gonna crack sites, they're gonna leak things.
The Internet didn't cause the protest in Egypt, it didn't cause the protests in the Middle East, but it is facilitating them and making them possible.
Part 3 - Get Disorganized
Meet disorganizations: the ad-hoc, leaderless groups shaping the future of the Internet and society. How can hundreds of people work together effectively, not only without any centralized authority, but without even agreeing on why? Also, bicycles.
Doocracy: People just show up and they just do. That is the highest organizational principle. You can come up with whatever structures and whatever ways of working that you want, but at the end of the day what matters is what you get done.
How I got through this talk without saying "autonomous zones" is beyond me.
Part 4 - What Have You Done?
An allegory contrasting a speech by Lawrence Lessig with the actions of the Piratbyrån. What can we learn about the fight for freedom from a group of long-haired Swedish twenty-somethings who succeeded where the Electronic Frontier Foundation failed?
If you can't fight for your freedom you don't deserve it. But you've done nothing. - Lawrence Lessig Social welfare begins at 100 megabit. - Piratbyrån
If we want the Internet to be a tool for social justice or freedom, it needs to be more than just an echo chamber. If the only outlet we have is online, we're shouting in vain.
The government and corporations are not going to make this world better for us. We cannot keep relying on someone else to fix it for us. We need to start doing this ourselves.