Christopher Kelty: “Ten years ago I began writing a book. It was going to be called Power/Sharing and would pick up on my previous book Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software. It was a turbulent time: the occupy movement, M15 and the indignados movement, the protests in Tunisia and Egypt, protests against legislation called SOPA/PIPA, the suicide of Aaron Swartz, STUXnet, the successes of the Pirate Party, the antics of Anonymous, the crazed certainty of Wikileaks, the revelations of Edward Snowden, and seemingly endless lawsuits, crackdowns, and arrests related to piracy, hacking and as we used to say, various internet motherfuckery.”
For someone with fond nostalgia for the pre-dotcom boom/bust internet (or maybe it’s because of that?), this article hit hard. It’s difficult to reconcile where the internet of today has ended up—and to be honest, where the internet of tomorrow seems to be headed—with just how hopeful we all were about it. The internet is the perfect case study for “this is why we can’t have nice things”.
The internet we do have, however, is figured much differently. It is figured as a tool of political domination. It is the apotheosis of the forms of domination secretly hidden inside the stories of progress and liberation. It is capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, slavery, and environmental destruction all rolled into one hideous hydra whose heads are Zuckerberg, Bezos, Pichai, Cook, with Musk and Thiel at the ass end.
I think part of the reason that the principles of the IndieWeb community resonate with me is that they are much more in line with the ethos that used to underpin so much of the “old internet”. I guess the commercialization of the internet was almost inevitable, but where we’ve ended up seems like such a let down… to use another trite parental admonition, it’s one of those “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed” kind of things.