I’m going to argue today that even while we know post-truth politics is having a terrible effect on our political culture and our role as citizens, it’s curiously difficult to combat it because of a set of beliefs about what politics is, and about the Internet and the way it enables ordinary people to have a voice. And these beliefs intersect with a prevailing anti-intellectual anti-elitism which associates knowledge, discernment, and truth with snobbery and power.
When I announced the talk on Twitter, somebody immediately was like, “Lawful abuse, isn’t that a contradiction?” But if you think about it for just a moment it might seem to be a little bit more clear. After all, the legality of a thing is quite distinct from the morality of it.
What does it mean to be private when you’re in a place where you have no right to privacy but are ironically deprived of the thing that makes your privacy go away?
I think there’s something interesting about a discipline that historically is tied to political intrigue, to secrecy, being linked into this debate over what is good magic or true divine magic, and what is the work of demons. And I think there is something interesting to be said about the moment we are in right now and how states themselves kind of identify and invent existential threats to justify their own behavior.
I’ve always been really interested in this idea of whether or not we can predict hits. You speak to anyone who works in the entertainment industry, and everyone has their was stories of that film they were sure was going to become a hit which somehow became a miss. There are niche films which appeal to everyone, and perhaps more likely, films that are designed to appeal to everyone which somehow appeal to no one.
I figured I would give a presentation to better explain the work that I do and show, hopefully not too technical, but show how you can think about the way you go about your online life and the traces you leave online, and what this means for the work that you do, the people you interact with, and so on.