Occupied with Illegibility

Occupy Wall Street is an uprising against a value system, not any particular set of offensive activities. There has been an ongoing critique of these values, but the astute articulation of its flaws has not made its way into the mainstream discussion, any more than the Occupy Wall Street movement itself did until sometime last week. At that point in time the sit-in “Occupy” protests had spread widely enough and become large enough that it had become awkward not to mention them, an unusual situation for media organizations which have for many years made fairly accurate calls on what aspects of counter-culture could be safely ignored.

The End of (Artificial) Scarcity

The modern materials economy has been marked by an unwillingness to face the subtle repercussions of the industrial revolution. In this essay I intend to play out this future drama of mankind in three parts. First, I will set the stage by showing that we have perhaps unknowingly built several political assumptions into our society in such a way that we cannot see these foundations, let alone replace them when they are sinking into the mire.

The Italian Wiretapping Bill

[Warning: I read about this on my cellphone just before stepping on a plane, and wrote it largely on the plane. I didn’t have references or resources, nor did I have a chance to talk to various people I’d have liked to. But I’m going to post it like it is anyway, in raw, unedited form. Enjoy. Also note, I am not a lawyer.] The Italian Wikipedia has started a campaign against a proposed wiretapping law in Italy with the claims that the law, which requires immediate “corrections” pending any complaint from anybody who feels unfairly treated, slandered or libeled, is fundamentally incompatible with the existence of the Italian Wikipedia.

Copyright Combinatorics – exercises in the banal mathematics of EU policy

Although the creation of the single market has been the primary focus of the European Union for decades, it often seems that for every step forward it takes two back. In that respect it’s often rather interesting to look at the mathematics as they play out in the different directives that come out of Brussels. After a conversation with Joe McNamee from EDRi a couple of months ago, I took a closer look at the exception clauses in the Copyright Directive.

The Cyber-Industrial Complex

A recent article on the rise of the Cybersecurity-Industrial complex hits spot on in many regard. However, one line in particular struck me as disastrously wrong: “A re-engineered, more secure Internet is likely to be a very different Internet than the open, innovative network we know today. A government that controls information flows is a government that will attack anonymity and constrict free speech.” This line assumes that a more secure Internet is going to be one with more government control – a grave misunderstanding.

Riotous Primality

[This was written last night, while on a bus between Cloughjordan and Dublin, during which time I saw no news from the London riots. Oddly, between the time of writing and now, the first bit of the final “prophecy” came true: people started to clean up the mess.] The UK government was very quick to adopt a stance of dismissal with regard to the London riots. The word “opportunistic” was used by everybody vaguely related to the government within a short time period, suggesting that it was coordinated as an effort to cast doubt on the action.

Nokkur orð um ástand heimsins

Í nýlegum skrifum lagði ég fram nokkrar tölur sem fengu lýsingar á borð við “sláandi”, og margir báðu um ögn dýpri rýni í afleiðingarnar. Þessi pistill er hvorki stuttur né geri ég ráð fyrir því að það sé auðvelt að melta hann – það var svo sannarlega ekki auðvelt að skrifa hann. Vandamálið við söguna sem við erum að upplifa er að það er afskaplega gagnslaust að tala um einstaka þætti sögunnar nema að búið sé að koma öllum saman um ákveðin grunnatriði samhengisins.

Endalok stóra samfélagsins

Báðum megin Atlantshafs eru fjármálaógöngur að aukast. Bandaríska ríkið er eitt fárra í heiminum sem hefur þak á heildarríkisskuldum, en þakið er sem stendur um 14.4 þúsundir milljarða dollara (um 1.6 milljón milljarðar króna). Því þaki hefur verið náð, og fer bandaríska ríkið í greiðsluþrot ef ekki verður náð samningum um hækkun þaksins á næstu dögum, þar sem ekki verður hægt að standa í skilum við tugmilljarða vaxtagreiðslur. Samkvæmt könnun Russia Today búast um 17% áhorfanda við því að samningar náist ekki og að ríkið fari í þrot með alvarlegum áhrifum á hagkerfi heimsins, meðan önnur 8% eiga von á því að greiðsluþrot eigi sér stað án alvarlegra áhrifa á umheiminn.

Cloud Computing, Legal Issues, and some other stuff

I absolutely forgot to mention it previously because I’ve spent way too much time bouncing around Europe recently to get anything sensible onto paper (or Internets). Anyway, a paper I wrote with my friend and colleague Primavera de Filippi, “Cloud Computing: Legal Issues in Centralized Architectures”, was published in the proceedings of IDP2011 (Internet, Law and Politics conference), which I attended on our behalf in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago.