7 votes

Against Hackerism

4 comments

  1. tempestoftruth
    (edited )
    Link
    This is the reason why I haven't created a Mastodon account even though I wholeheartedly embrace the idea of federation over centralization on the internet. Although the federated model has...

    These days federated solutions seem to be trendy, with lot of hope put into Mastodon, a federated clone of Twitter that replicates the UI/UX of a software designed to extract data from users and make them engage in a rapid, toxic, and confrontational way to maximize engagement and attention. Most of these design choices seem to go unchallenged.

    This is the reason why I haven't created a Mastodon account even though I wholeheartedly embrace the idea of federation over centralization on the internet. Although the federated model has removed the centralization and the profit incentive inherent to Twitter and other big social media corporations, on Mastodon, human connection is still being mediated through metrics that were created by capital to propagate itself. In some important respects, it's a shallow mockery of genuine interaction. It will continue to reproduce a lot of the negative outcomes we see on and attribute to Twitter, e.g. poor communication between users, inability to express complete and nuanced ideas and/or critiques, polarization leading to pointless conflict and the targeting of certain users, etc. I left social media not just because of the issues surrounding surveillance and control, but also for the aforementioned social reasons, and Mastodon doesn't attempt to fix those in any meaningful way. You can argue that Mastodon was never meant to address those, but if that's the case, then the choice between Twitter and Mastodon is still a bit of an illusory one, which weakens the case in favor of using Mastodon, since most people are still on Twitter.

    Mastodon, being an exemplification of the hackerist perspective, puts its trust in the liberating power of the technology itself as we have discussed before. In contrast, FairBnB comes from a more traditional analysis of power dynamics in local and global economics, a critique of platform capitalism and a desire for communal services, all of which are characteristic traits of a leftist environment that is still struggling with its relationship with digital technology.

    It's true that in some circles technology in and of itself is thought of as liberatory, when the question of whether or not technology will liberate us is more about who controls it and how it's deployed. It seems to me this sort of techno-optimist thinking hasn't been as popular since the Arab Spring, where it was proved that the centralized forces who owned the platforms were more powerful than the users on said platforms. Techno-optimism is still alive and well in advertising and marketing, though, so I can imagine how, through socialization and messaging, it's been internalized even in left political spaces. In the face of this illusion, it's important to understand the political role you want your software to fulfill, and then to design it from the ground up according to those principles, instead of assigning qualities like "liberatory" to federation, creating federated software, and then being confused when you get outcomes similar to those we can observe on the platforms we were trying not to emulate.

    EDIT: Sad to see that the author never published the "Part 2" mentioned in the post, was excited to get more thoughts on this issue since it's very relevant to me as a leftist trying to get into networking and software development in order to facilitate activism.

    13 votes
  2. tindall
    Link
    The critique of Mastodon here is, I feel, fundamentally off base. It's true that a lot of the development priorities in the main project come from this perspective, but at the same time, its...

    The critique of Mastodon here is, I feel, fundamentally off base. It's true that a lot of the development priorities in the main project come from this perspective, but at the same time, its existence has enabled Monsterpit, GlitchSoc, and other software that genuinely engages with the social issues around social media more than any project I've ever seen. If the software we build is federated or decentralized and open to modification, the mistakes we make have much less of a lasting impact.

    7 votes
  3. skybrian
    Link
    FairBnB doesn't seem very transparent? They say they give 50% of the booking fee to... someone. But don't say how much the booking fee is, or how much money they've given away and to whom. As a...

    FairBnB doesn't seem very transparent? They say they give 50% of the booking fee to... someone. But don't say how much the booking fee is, or how much money they've given away and to whom. As a charity donation scheme, it seems rather dubious.

    On the other hand, on Mastodon I have trouble finding anyone worth following, but it does seem like there's a fair bit of activity.

    5 votes
  4. PendingKetchup
    Link
    I read https://tildes.net/~tech/qp6/my_hot_take_on_internet_privacy and was inspired to post this article I came across recently.

    The hackerist perspective is an attempt to alter technology for political reasons by repurposing technological artifacts without concerning oneself with altering the process that produced said technology.

    I read https://tildes.net/~tech/qp6/my_hot_take_on_internet_privacy and was inspired to post this article I came across recently.

    1 vote