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

Help Support Open Transcripts

If you found this useful or interesting, please consider supporting the project monthly at Patreon or once via Cash App, or even just sharing the link. Thanks.