Rally Cry for the Digital Natives Generation? > Travellers Teacup

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Repinted from Travellers Teacup blog by Citt Williams

Art by Arpitam 


An undercurrent and thought provoking keynote from Rop Gonggrijp who opened the annual Berlin hackers event, Chaos Computer Club in a sold-out Congress Center 27/12/10

‘…Looking at TODAY

As we enter uncharted terrain, we are the first generation in a long
time to see our leaders in a state of more or less complete
helplessness. Most of today’s politicians realize that nobody in their
ministry or any of their expensive consultants can tell them what is
going on anymore. They have a steering wheel in their hands without a
clue what – if anything – it is connected to. Meanwhile the brakes are
all worn out and the windy road at the bottom of the hill approaches.
Politics is becoming more and more the act of looking at least
slightly relaxed while silently praying the accident will happen
sometime after your term is up.

Now of course I am not being completely fair. The fact that
politicians are generally helpless in terms of public policy doesn’t
mean to say I think they are stupid. They do have a vague sense of
what might be coming and they’re acting accordingly. To judge their
efficiency take a good look at the remaining public funds and public
infrastructure and see who owns it in 5 years time.

Our leaders are reassuring us that the ship will certainly survive the
growing storm. But on closer inspection they are either quietly
pocketing the silverware or discreetly making their way to the

[ citt: interestingly read this @climateprogress post on "abandon earth" rhetorics  http://bit.ly/fNG3nD ]

Even politicians that are the exception, ones that “get it” and that
want to help get us out of this mess are increasingly
indistinguishable from those that just pretend. We will have to learn
to navigate a world in which every imaginable aspect of being genuine
or sincere has 10.000 spindoctors working on how to transplant it to
the fake turds that run things.

Now this all sounds really smug. Like we, the hackers, the geeks,
somehow have all the answers. We don’t. But we do have some important

For one we understand the extent to which complexity can be our enemy.
We’ve optimized our privatized world to get that last 2%
profitability. And we’re already in a situation where everything we
need comes just-in-time from China, assuming that we’ll need exactly
the same things today as we needed this time last year. Everything is
interconnected and if one thing fails the whole system goes down. The
winter chaos that has broken out all over northern Europe is just
another sign of this lack of slack.

We also live in a world that increasingly has different pockets of
reality, different narratives. In that context, I think we can all see
that our narrative is gaining importance.

At the same time Apple, Google, Facebook and the more geographically
challenged traditional governments will try to make all of humanity
enter their remaining secrets, they’ll try to make attribution of
every bit on the internet a part of the switch to IPv6, they’ll
further lock us out of our own hardware and they’ll eventually attempt
to kill privacy and anonymity altogether.

We still have to tell most of the people out there, but privacy is not
in fact brought about by some magic combination on the intentionally
confusing privacy radio button page on Facebook. It does come from,
among other things, code some of us have already written and code that
we still need to write: we need many things by yesterday. And we need
to properly security-audit the tools we build, even if that means we
can’t put in new features as quickly.


As for the future, I stand by our basic story in “We lost the war”:
it’s going to be a mess. I’ve just calmed down a lot when I decided
for myself that this is not only bad news. Let’s face it: the current
situation was never sustainable anyway. And people, both in rich and
in poor countries, are not very happy now. Just remember the massive
loads of ant-depressants apparently needed to keep us going. The
decline of the Roman Empire was probably a very interesting period to
live in and for most inhabitants life simply went on, with or without

OK, so the world is going to be a mess for a bit… You are maybe asking
yourself: “What do I do with this knowledge?”. First of all, John
Stewart nailed it when he recently said “we live in difficult times,
not end times.” The future is not about finding solitude and a farm on
a hill, it’s not about guns and ammo. But it is about having working
trust relationships with the most varied group of people you can find.
And it is about imagining beyond today and picking up a wide range of
skills. It’s about positioning yourself such that you have some
flexibility…”   Full speech here

And for those of you who got this far through the post… ;) .. some interesting words from media and digital culture theorist Greg Smith

“This is the ground-zero moment for DIY citizenship and there is definitely a wealth of opportunity available for individuals that are able to capitalize on this leadership vacuum. The tech-savvy and fiercely imaginative are charged with making sense of big (civic) data, assessing and re-imagining crumbling infrastructure, building prototypes, finding business models and inviting themselves into the free-for-all of policy-making. To quote Adam Greenfield’s “Elements of Networked Urbanism”, we need to shift from being “consumers to constituents” – who would have thought an ethics of interaction design could be the rallying cry for a generation?