Re: Technorealism

Michael Stutz (
Fri, 13 Mar 1998 16:09:39 -0500 (EST)

On Fri, 13 Mar 1998, Ian Andrew Bell wrote:

<technorealism info snipped>

> I doubt there's anything that these people have to say that hasn't already
> been done to death, co-opted, and then repeated in keynote addresses to the
> attendees of any of the proliferation of useless boondoggle info-tech
> conferences held every year.

Yeah, there's absolutely nothing new in the Technorealism minifesto (called
in some discussions the "Duh" factor), but they say that is their point --
laying it all on the table, as it were.

> IN OTHER WORDS, these guys are wanks. And anyone who hasn't been
> indoctrinated into the pseudo-hippie cyber elite, but has a relatively
> fluid brain on their shoulders can effortlessly dance ethical and
> intellectual circles around them.

I'm decidedly indifferent on the matter (if anything, I'm surprised; I know
a few of the signatories and they are Good People), but do question some of
their points -- such as the assertion that privacy issues etc. are too
important to be left to "the market," so government should be involve to
preserve the public interest. This, to me, side-steps the very public that
it purports government will protect, as if the public were incapable of
handling technology standards or privacy issues. What about RFCs, the
Cypherpunks, and free software?

Another one I completely disagree with is this thing that "information wants
to be protected." Information, like the notion of "cyberspace," is
non-physical -- it doesn't _want_ anything. The old Hacker Wisdom of
"information wants to be free" is not to be taken literal, but it describes
a property of non-physical things -- ownership of these "things" is
impossible in the physical sense, as information operates in what science
calls constant relative abundance, where it cannot be depleted because it is
not an object.

To this end, Barlow's "The Economy of Ideas" treatise from _Wired_ 2.03 [1]
was (imho) the best thing he ever wrote; it will remain relevant for some
time, as I think we haven't even gotten to the center of the storm yet with
regard to ownership of digital information.

And what exactly is Carl Steadman up to [2], anybody know?



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