Sunday, January 9, 2011

Agitprop: coda and finale

As a coda to my recent agitprop/psyops postings, I'd like to quote some sections of a seminal document which helped to express my beliefs in the world in which I choose to inhabit.

This document - A Declaration of The Independence of Cyberpace - was written by John Perry Barlow (of The Whole Earth Catalog & Electronic Freedom Frontier fame), one of our early community leaders in cyberspace. It was written in February 1996, a mere 18 months or so after the establishment of the World Wide Web, as a reply to the Telecommunications Reform Act.

In that short time we, netizens of this new country, observed the beginning of the conflicts which have struggled titanically for the control of this new medium for the last 15+ years. We have grappled with issues Mr Barlow so eloquently expressed for us all in this document and which are again gaining attention and discussion.

If you read blogs like soror nishi's, Botgirl's and other writers on the metaverse you will recognize these topics, and the topic of information/disinformation/propaganda I have recently written about and their pertinence to the larger picture of what this technology is doing to us and providing for us. As a citizen long absent from active participation in this community and world, I am happy that such issues and topics are once again being explored and discussed.

Quotes from the Declaration:

"Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live."

"We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth. We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity."

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule."

"Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish."

We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before."



sororNishi said...

Amen, too.

Lalo Telling said...

I am strongly reminded of "Crown of Creation" by Jefferson Airplane, who in the late 1960's wrote anthems for a revolution we thought was coming, but didn't... except that it did, in this new electronic form, where one does not have to literally "take to the streets".

The song quotes (without attribution) lines from a classic science fiction novel, The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. The novel is of the same sub-genre established by Olaf Stapeldon's Odd John and carried forward more recently by Nancy Kress in Beggars in Spain: the next stage in human evolution appears, collectively discovers itself to be so, and deals with the inevitable opposition of the parent species.

The particular line I have in my head is:

"Soon, you'll obtain the stability you strive for, in the only way that it's granted: in a place among the fossils of our time."

Miso Susanowa said...

@Lalo: You and I really need to do something at Bookstacks... "Blows Against The Empire" also owed a great debt to science fiction which, once past it's hardware/gear-oriented past, became some of the best speculative social fiction grappling with the implications of technology on society.

From another JA song:

"We must begin here and now
A new continent of earth and fire
Tear down the walls
Tear down the walls
Won't you try"
- 'We Can Be Together'