My favorite things of the week were probably David Graeber’s essay on Thomas Picketty and why capitalism isn’t going to tame itself, and Thomas Frank’s interview with Graeber about bullshit jobs, the divide between anarchists and socialists on work ethic and why the working class resents middle class liberals.
But surveillance was, as it often is, the big theme of the week. For the one year anniversary of the publication of the first of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks, superstar investor and Netscape co-founder Marc Andresseen, told the world that he thinks Snowden is a traitor. Rusty Foster then told the world that he thinks Andreeseen is a douchebag. But also recognizes that there’s a douchebag living inside his own head:
When I see Marc Andreessen, what I’m really seeing is this liar in my soul. It knows I always had a leg up, it knows I went to private school, I never had to conform to anyone else’s schedule, I never had to work as hard as anyone else, I always skated by on a good vocabulary and a plausible excuse. It knows all this but it doesn’t care, because it still believes that I’m special anyway, innately, not just that I got to live life on the easy setting and that I happened to be dropping out of college right when the internet came along to support my lazy ass.
Perhaps also in recognition of the NSA leaks anniversary, Vodaphone revealed that it has secret wires into its networks that allow intelligence agencies in various companies tap right in and listen to and record conversations, or collect metadata.
Speaking of phone companies, telcos are astroturfing opposition to the idea of regulating them like utilities, even though they like being thought of as utilities when it benefits them.
And remember the Stratfor hack? It turns out it was orchestrated by Hector “Sabu” Monsegur while he was an FBI informant. So were a bunch of major hacks in Brazil. The FBI could have stopped all of this stuff from happening, but thought it would be better to give the hackers it was watching enough rope to hang themselves, damn the consequences.
Returning to Snowden for a moment: the dude has said that encryption still works. And PGP is probably the best way to encrypt your e-mail. So this week Google released the code for a Chrome plugin that should make it easier to use PGP in the browser, but Ella Saitta explained why that might not be a good thing. One of the reasons was paraphrased by L. Rhodes on Twitter: Google might end up doing to crypto what they did to RSS.
Also from me this week on things that might actually be bad, maybe dumping a bazillion new devices into the environment isn’t such a good idea. But if you must make an Internet of Things thing, maybe you should use Contiki.
Flashback of the week: Generation U by Jason Lubyk, the inspiration for my term “Urchin Economy.”
This week I watched all six episodes of Nathan Barley for the first time. It’s sort of like Portlandia if Portlandia took place in Hackney and was actually funny.
I went to Evan Meaney‘s presentation on glitches and hauntology at Weird Shift, which gave me plenty to think about. A PDF of his standard talk is here and he has a paper here.