Citizenship, after not thinking about it for a while, feels like something we’re all thinking about quite a lot these days. In the words of Hannah Arendt, citizenship is the right to have rights. All of your rights essentially descend from your citizenship, because only countries will protect those rights.
You might be more comfortable thinking about deploying math and code as your tactic, but I want to talk to you about the full suite of tactics that we use to effect change in the world. And this is a framework that we owe to this guy Lawrence Lessig.
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 I believe is that computer science emerged as a science, as a profession, with all the requirements on what professional standards and requirements of what one needed to know to get a job in the field. […] In that period, then, credentials were established, and by the early 70s things had really changed for women, at least in my environment, and most other groups that I’ve talked to about this theory absolutely agree that that was where there was a significant shift.
We’ve got an inflection point opportunity here and we ought to be talking about this European Court of Justice opinion and what it means, because what the European Court of Justice said is the NSA surveillance is not appropriate.
So the kind of technologies that get made are not necessarily very exciting. It’s something that [Alexis] Madrigal of The Atlantic said, these technologies that are coming out of these startups, they’re nice, they’re cheap, they’re fun. And they’re about as world-changing as another variation of beer pong. This is not big, radical change.
So much of the work that is being done by the government is actually being done by third parties, and it’s a very lucrative business. So I went to this office park and kind of just walked around it, and it’s boring. It’s really kind of weird and boring and it’s weird to think about the fact that these companies that are enormous and involved in pretty unseemly shit appear like this, like this kind of crappy building with this kind of crappy public art.
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.