1/ So, I read “Blockchain Chicken Farm" by @xrw . It’s one of the best books I read this year, not just because its starting point (the countryside) is counter-intuitive for a “metronormative” person like me, but also because it’s much more than simply a book about tech. Image
@xrw 2/ It’s a reflection on the transformation of social and natural life under digital capitalism, full of off-hand remarks such as: The “right to privacy is not an individualistic one of secrets and stories, but a social one that requires us to lead with trust in our daily lives.”
@xrw 3/ @xrw is sharply critical of how the drive for optimization and scale underlying the transformation of the Chinese country-side is driving a ‘race to the bottom.’ Yet, the past of back-breaking poverty offers no reason for nostalgia, they (the author is non-binary) are also ...
@xrw 4/ … very attentive to why people still grasp the very real opportunities and where there are forward-looking alternatives, in bottom-up, open-source, shanzai appropriation of tech. The story is about agriculture leapfrogging directly into a post-industrial phase:
@xrw 5/ extremely fractured, yet highly integrated, free-wheelingly entrepreneurial, yet fully dependent on the all-powerful platform. Information-rich, but culturally impoverished. Moving between rural China and the US, they show how deeply intertwined these two have become,
@xrw 6/ not just economically, but also culturally. Similar sadness, alienation, but also energy to somehow still make it, even if it means to fake it. Indeed, faking it has become an entire way of life.
@xrw 7/ In the writing style, one can feel that the author also works as an artist. In this, the book is similar to @jamesbridle “New Dark Age”, but less panicky negative, rather the queer American-Chinese perspective seems to inoculate against the view that things used to be OK.

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More from @stalfel

25 Nov 20
1/ So, I read @adriandaub “What Tech Calls Thinking”, a book I was predisposed to like, not just because I’m interesting in the topic (a cultural critique of tech), but also it caters directly to people like me who believe in the value of higher eduction and critical thinking Image
@adriandaub 2/ And how does tech, that is Silicon Valley, think? Basically, like bumbling undergrads who grab trivialized versions of serious concepts, which they misinterpret to provide their privileged and parochial experiences with faux drama (dropping out! disruption!) and universalism.
@adriandaub 3/ Fair enough, but is that really all? Unless you read the book closely, you might miss that most tech entrepreneurs were engineering rather than humanities students. Has perhaps the culture of engineering (or economics or law) also shaped their thinking?
Read 9 tweets
11 Nov 20
So, ich habe das neue Buch von @Viktor_MS gelesen. In a nutshell: Nicht Rechenleistung, nicht Algorithmen, nicht Data Scientists, nicht Risikokapital sind knapp, sondern der Zugang zu Daten. Die grossen Firmen (in USA und China) haben alle Modelle entwickelt, (1/5) Image
@Viktor_MS durch die sie immer mehr Daten sammeln, so dass ihr Konkurrenzvorteil immer grösser wird und sie de-facto Monopolstatus erreichen. Europa kommt dabei immer mehr ins Hintertreffen, Innovation wird abgewürgt, eine neue Form des Kolonialmus entsteht. (2/5)
@Viktor_MS Datenschutz ist ein untaugliches Mittel dagegen. Was würde helfen: Europa muss Konzerne zwingen, ihre Daten offen zu legen, so dass alle darauf zurück greifen können. Monopole werden aufgebrochen, die Hürden für Innovation radikal gesenkt. (3/5)
Read 6 tweets
2 May 20
While we continue to talk about #Tracing apps, we are missing out in what happens on the level of infrastructure.

I see three things:

1) Amazon and other "just-in.time" services are becoming essential infrastructure. Thus consolidating their (near monopoly) power.
2) Social media companies are consolidating their central role shaping public discourse. How? Content moderation is expanded, and, as the lock-down keeps workers at home, and the rest is focused on Covid-19 stuff, more & more is being automated, further reducing accountability.
3) Big data companies (e.g. Palantir) are moving into public sector infrastructures, providing data-analytics services. Not only do they gain access to vast amounts of data, but their logic of differential treatment (rather than universal service) will become even more dominant.
Read 4 tweets

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