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March 04, 2009



It's a great point, Will, and it's why Bruno Latour argues (contra Langdon Winner) that artifacts can not be said to have politics in any meaningful sense.

Latour's argument is that, whatever political desire is inscribed in the design of an artifact, the set of circumstances those artifacts are deployed in are invariably so dynamic as to undermine the designer’s intention in short order. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see who proves to be more correct in the (cough) "2.0" context, but I think you've turned up some pretty clear indicators.

For my own part, I try to remember what John Kaliski said, in his introduction to Steven Flusty’s Building Paranoia:

It leaves one breathless to remember how quickly [Oscar Newman's concept of] defensible space, originally a tactic for the further liberation of society’s disadvantaged, was “consumed,” or turned in on itself and reconstituted as a strategy to “control” space in global enclaves of privilege.

It's rather sobering, actually.


a Shirky-esque 'bargain': 'I will be outside this crim's house with a plank of wood at 3am if 10 other people will do the same'

As soon as I read this I flashed back to alt.anarchism in 1996 (I discovered the Internet in 1996 & spent some time on unsuitable Usenet groups). I spent rather too much time arguing with someone with a stupid pseudonym, whose big scheme for Net-enabled anarchism was a system enabling people to subscribe anonymously to an assassination fund. Very PledgeBank - "I will contribute £10 to the cost of getting $POLITICIAN professionally bumped off, but only if 999 other people do so."

It sounds like we're nearly there - except, of course, the targets won't be the rich and powerful. Which was also your point.

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