Pawel Ngei: So, hel­lo. My name is ALXD, and I want­ed to talk about sto­ries. And espe­cial­ly about hack­er sto­ries, because for the last two years I’ve been research­ing hack­er val­ues in pop­u­lar cul­ture and the types of sto­ries we tell. Because as hack­ers we have a lot to say. We have a lot of pro­pos­als on how tech­nol­o­gy should work in this soci­ety, how we want to avoid all the dan­gers we can see that oth­ers can­not see. But we do a very very bad job at com­mu­ni­cat­ing it. Whenever we try to talk about net neu­tral­i­ty, about free soft­ware, peo­ple see us like black­hats, like conflict-mongers that are there only to smash the sys­tem, to destroy their bank accounts, and to basi­cal­ly bring trouble. 

Hacker wearing an Anonymous Guy Fawkes mask crouches over a laptop

Anonymous Hacker by Brian Klug

And the prob­lem is that we need to tell sto­ries not only pro­duce whitepa­pers. Because most of the peo­ple, most of the gen­er­al pub­lic, will not read the whitepa­pers. They want to hear sto­ries and they need to have in mind that there may be prob­lems if some­body uses only closed solu­tions. There may be prob­lems if some­body basi­cal­ly buys only closed cor­po­rate stocks and is total­ly depen­dent on closed social media. 

The cyber­punk genre start­ed as a warn­ing, but sad­ly it became our default future. And if you talk to a lot of non-technical peo­ple, you can see that they see cyber­punk as basi­cal­ly the future. If they see some new piece of tech­nol­o­gy, they don’t say, Oh, it’s so futur­is­tic,” they say, Oh, it’s so cyber­punk.” And espe­cial­ly out­side of Europe, out­side of the US, you can see a lot of mak­ers, a lot of peo­ple that are actu­al­ly wish­ing for a cyber­punk future because they wish for bet­ter tech­nol­o­gy, for bet­ter inte­gra­tion of tech­nol­o­gy with our bod­ies, com­plete­ly ignor­ing the fact that cyber­punk actu­al­ly pro­pos­es a lot more. That cyber­punk intro­duces the con­stant sur­veil­lance, the mega­cor­po­ra­tions, and a total lack of pow­er among the reg­u­lar people. 

And this all comes in a bun­dle. So what­ev­er peo­ple dream of cyber­punk future, we actu­al­ly nor­mal­ize those things. And it’s much eas­i­er to accept sur­veil­lance. It’s much eas­i­er not to rebel against cor­po­ra­tions, against a lot of solu­tions that are bad for soci­ety if we see it constantly. 

fso­ci­ety wall­pa­per by Goga Gogidze;
Little Brother book cov­er by Richard Wilkinson

The sto­ries that we tell as hack­ers are usu­al­ly sto­ries of rebel­lion against that. And hack­ers are again seen as some excep­tion­al indi­vid­u­als that are fight­ing the sys­tem, and it’s always fight­ing the sys­tem. There are very very very few works that actu­al­ly tell about our val­ues about free soft­ware, about tech­no­log­i­cal neu­tral­i­ty, that are acces­si­ble to reg­u­lar peo­ple that can talk about the whole soci­ety. And sad­ly, with those we only strength­en dystopias, because we agree to actu­al­ly be writ­ten in the cyber­punk nar­ra­tive as those fight­ers that are the ele­ment of the cyber­punk. And also we alien­ate our­selves far­ther from the soci­ety and peo­ple in gov­ern­ment, peo­ple in dif­fer­ent coun­tries are much less like­ly to talk to us when it comes to giv­ing any advice because we are the conflict-mongers.

There is an alter­na­tive that’s a chance that we can take. There’s a new genre which is being cre­at­ed right now. The name is solarpunk” and it’s sup­posed to be an alter­na­tive to the cyber­punk future. Solarpunk is a utopia, or at least a hope­ful future. It’s a future that is avail­able for every­body, not for only excep­tion­al indi­vid­u­als, which is very green and eco-friendly. Where every­thing is designed to be as green as pos­si­ble. Where there are hor­i­zon­tal pow­er struc­tures. So the things that we know from our hack­er spaces, the things that we know from the anar­chists and that is all around us at CCC, they pro­pose it for the whole soci­ety so that every school­teacher, every bak­er, every aver­age reg­u­lar per­son, is able to take part in that. And this is a great plat­form for us to tell the actu­al hack­er sto­ries. To tell about our adven­tures, our prob­lems that we have as soci­ety with­in our groups, and a plat­form to tell about dis­trib­uted tech­nol­o­gy and open source and free software. 

So I want to tell about a hack­er space in this way. This is an art that was cre­at­ed by Mike Liuzzi, and please con­tact me on my email or Mastodon if you would like to dis­cuss this top­ic. Thank you.

Further Reference

Follow-up by Pawel