I wrote an essay called “Fuck Optimism” for a print project from F-Secure, about how we’ll make the Internet a 21st century electronic nervous system that serves humanity and stop it from being a tool to oppress, surveil and displace humans.
In honor of Digital Freedom Month, F-Secure and Little Atoms have republished it online.
Say that I believed that the Internet – presently treated by regulators as the world’s best video-on-demand service, or the world’s most perfect pornography distribution service, or the world’s finest jihadi recruiting tool – would be turned into the world’s greatest surveillance device.
WHAT WOULD I DO?
I would work to take back the Internet. To make crypto usable and robust. To spread free (as in “speech”, if not as in “beer”) and open software. To hold regulators to account on the matter of network neutrality, and to build alternative networks less susceptible to rent-seeking by venal cultists of the religion of fiscal responsibility over human decency.
In short, I would do every single thing I would do if I was *optimistic* about the Internet.
FUCK OPTIMISM. I WANT *HOPE*.
Hope is why you tread water if your ship sinks in the open sea: Not because you have any real chance of being picked up, but because everyone who was picked up kicked until the rescue came.
Kicking is a necessary (but insufficient) precondition for survival. There’s a special kind of hope: the desperate hope we have for people who are depending upon us. If your ship sinks in open water and your child can’t kick for herself, you’ll wrap her arms around your neck and kick twice as hard for both of you.
To quote the eminent sage and Saturday morning cartoon superhero The Tick: “Don’t destroy the Earth! That’s where I keep all my stuff!”
Cory Doctorow’s manifesto for hope