Depends on which part of capitalism you’re looking at. Are you incurring debt? Do you shuffle culture around in any way in any real or virtual place? Do you purchase commodities? Etc., etc. So cheer up: while your degree might never get you a good job (and probably not one that you’ve paid exorbitantly to be trained for), that still may not mean you’re useless to capitalism.
“If one term embodies the paradoxical and contradictory character of Anonymous—which is now serious in action and frivolous by design; made up of committed activists and agents of mischief—it is lulz. These four letters denote the pleasures attained from generating and sharing jokes and memes such as LOLcats and the cartoon pedophile mascot Pedobear. But they also suggest how easily and casually trolls can violently undermine the sense of security enjoyed by carefree denizens of the “real world” by, for instance, ordering scores of unpaid pizzas to be delivered to a single address, or publishing one’s phone number and private communications and credit-card numbers and hard-drive contents and any other information one might think to be “personal” or secure. Perhaps most important, lulz-oriented actions puncture the consensus around our politics and ethics, our social lives, our aesthetic sensibilities, the inviolability of the world as it is; trolls invalidate that world by gesturing toward the possibility for Internet geeks to destroy it—to pull the carpet from under us—whenever they feel the urge and without warning.”—
This is where Anonymous gets more interesting and relevant to me (and not just for the Lulz):
"The question is: How and why has the anarchic “hate machine” been transformed into one of the most adroit and effective political operations of recent times?"
For me, it’s interesting to watch their engagement with a working-sense of “good and bad”, speaking generally, that is actually not simply self-defined but also socially and politically conscious (that is, that recognizes more “up-ground” ethical and political discourse). I also take this as a tacit recognition that anonymity, which is used equally for snark, surveillance, marketing, and activism, is, in and of itself, no guaranty or testament of goodness or badness. And the same could be said for “community” and “laughter”, I think, too.
Instead of criticizing government actions on moral grounds, digital-transparency organizations have focused on value-neutral process: a bipartisan spectator sport involving the mannered drama of leaked data and online spreadsheets. Hewing to the ideal of transparency requires no greater engagement with government secrecy than polishing the display window, and hoping that, in time, agencies will shuffle the right bit of information into the forefront.
If “transparency is the new objectivity,” as Sifry insists, then we’ve discarded politics for procedure. If we think the necessary debates will just automatically follow from arbitrary data releases, we’ll never initiate the critical investigations that could actually prompt relevant disclosures or develop a focus to make use of the dumped info before more piles on top of us.
Belief in the inherent progressivism of the Internet and digital activism obscures the way transparency actually exaggerates those asymmetries of power that Sifry so earnestly believes will be reversed. Put another way, technology rarely helps unearth government secrets, but it can unearth ours for government. Sifry quotes Julian Assange, circa 2011, arguing that “transparency should be proportional to the power that one has.” But web technologies have rendered the defenseless citizen far more transparent than any well-fortified government agency or corporation. Institutions use their existing power to better exploit the affordances of new technologies; they don’t level the playing field, let alone turn the tables.
This article is a harsh and, in my opinion, necessary corrective to the kind of naively net-positive thinking I heard from Daniel Drache (author of Defiant Publics: The Unprecedented Reach of the Global Citizen) the other night. He was a charming and engaging speaker, but I think he was mainly wrong.
Agreed. I think this is also why I prefer to discuss resistance on the internet in terms of radical anonymity and the lulz rather than radical transparency and deliberation.
Yes. And this part: “The hype for “revolutions” in communications and information technology is meaningless blather, though, without a corresponding political ideology to steer it.” That’s the really, really hard (and usually not that fun) part.
“The Free Network Foundation isn’t interested in pushing for increased government regulation of the Internet. They don’t seem to trust the White House any more than they trust AT&T. And so, they rage against the machine by building a new one.”