Let’s say you’re a US Supreme Court Justice, able to change the laws of the world’s only superpower with the stroke of your pen. Well, big deal. Had you not been appointed to the Supreme Court the President who appointed you would have found some other judge who would have made the same changes to the law. Yeah, you get to wear a robe and feel powerful, but when you look at the cold, hard, scientific facts, you’re not making a lick of difference in the world.
Want to actually make a difference? You’ll have to buck the system instead of joining it.
Here’s the whole post from March 27, 2007:
Thousands of people out there are willing to give you a motivational seminar, but only Aaron’s Patented Demotivational Seminars are going to actually admit they demotivate you. I’ve collected thousands of actual facts from real scientists and the verdict is in: people don’t matter, except for a couple of rare exceptions, and you’re not one of them. Sorry.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? The universe is a bunch of random particles shooting through space following a handful of simple laws. Through completely random and unintentional properties, some of those particles bounced together to form you. But, I swear, it was a total accident. They didn’t even realize they were doing it at the time and if they knew they’d probably feel kind of guilty about it.
For a long time, it was pretty clear that most people didn’t matter. The average person didn’t leave their town or village and so only interacted with a small handful of people who lived near them, most of whom found them annoying. The Internet has changed all that. Now the average person doesn’t leave their computer and so only interacts with a small handful of spammers who read their LiveJournal, most of whom find them annoying. Luckily for posterity, their LiveJournal will probably disappear within their lifetime due to a hard drive crash or some other kind of poor server maintenance.
But let’s say you want to make a difference in the world. You can learn a skill and go into a profession, where you get bossed around and told exactly what to do by people more powerful than you. (Obeying them is called “professionalism”.) It’s completely futile; had you not gone into the professional (or if you decide to disobey orders) they would have found someone else to do the exact same thing.
The same is true even if you’re the one giving orders. Imagine about the most powerful job you can think of. Let’s say you’re a US Supreme Court Justice, able to change the laws of the world’s only superpower with the stroke of your pen. Well, big deal. Had you not been appointed to the Supreme Court the President who appointed you would have found some other judge who would have made the same changes to the law. Yeah, you get to wear a robe and feel powerful, but when you look at the cold, hard, scientific facts, you’re not making a lick of difference in the world.
Want to actually make a difference? You’ll have to buck the system instead of joining it.
So, Oscar Micheaux was infuriated by Birth of a Nation, and so was the NAACP. What ended up happening is that they protested it, and created a whole dynamic where they would have almost riots and controversy. They actually invented the term “blockbuster” – because people would line up around the block to see the film.
There’s a lot of legacy in Oscar Micheaux because he ended up responding against Birth of a Nation by making his own film. His most famous film is In Our Gates…
In this weird Trump Dystopian Bizarre Feverish Lunatic Dream of White Supremacy that we’re kind of trying to deprogram out of, these kinds of films, and these kinds of gatherings, are where people from different perspectives, races, classes, come together and think: “How does cinema change our vision of things?”
– DJ Spooky, during his introduction for “Body and Soul,” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, July 12, 2018.
I’m a believer in the potential of P2P technologies and the decentralized web to change the way knowledge is disseminated. I consider open science/scholarship to include equity, justice, and opening the profession of scholarship to historically marginalized communities. Building offline-friendly tools, baking in free access, and creating decentralized communities can help open the profession of research and scholarship. A personal goal is to build systems that provide free access to knowledge.
Working with the open access movement via OpenCon, the Code for Science & Society community, and projects like Dat, ScienceFair, and the decentralized data sharing project – I am privileged to wake up everyday and work towards that goal…
Like many people, I felt Aaron’s actions were justified and in line with the spirit of science and research. While the actions of MIT, JSTOR, and the federal government appeared to be motivated by a desire to restrict access to academic work for the protection of moneyed interests. This was the first time I’d heard about the open access movement and first exposure of activism around academic issues. I saw that the problematic incentive structure I experienced in my lab were part of a much larger issue that impacted global access to knowledge. Aaron’s writing on open access inspired me, in part because he focused on what a person could do today.
As a graduate student at a US institution, I was in a relatively privileged position to impact the system. I was inspired to find the community of scholars and activists working on open access issues around the world. I found my local open access community though Robin Champieux at my home institution’s library, got involved in the OpenCon and Mozilla Science communities, and found the way to put my disillusionment to work…
It’s hard for me to consider his work without thinking about his death. Although there is nothing I can say about his death that is new or insightful. Any suicide leaves pain, sadness, and questions unanswered. It’s a reminder that life is messy, and messed up, and often too short. I’ve also struggled with depression. Who hasn’t? I got treatment at a critical point after the birth of my son. Depression isn’t rational. It’s deeply irrational. My personal goal is to be honest about my own experiences and try to support my colleagues and friends (and myself) to do work that (hopefully) matters in a world that doesn’t make sense…
Sadly my PhD advisor is not an open access believer, so until my paper is out of review my dissertation is under embargo (until March 2020), which drives me nuts.
To give you more context regarding my dissertation being embargoed: I understand the incentives that lead my PhD advisor to prefer to keep unpublished work, such as what’s contained in a dissertation, under wraps. I get it. But I think it’s the wrong path for science, in the big picture. It’s also personally frustrating to me, as I know how long it took to get some of those protocols working and I’d prefer preprints or the dissertation to be freely available. I want to save some other researcher that time.
Looking at the field today, open access, preprints, and other approaches to make research freely available are becoming the norm in neuroscience research. It’s a huge change from when I started my degree in 2011. The work isn’t done, and the embargoed dissertation illustrates that for me (on a very personal level).
Complete Transcription, Video, and “Trailer” of “Rebirth of a Nation”
From the transcription, DJ Spooky, Creative Commons Launch, 2002:
To make a long story short, when they asked me to do a piece for this, I was thinking about it. I am in the middle of about three different projects. One of them is “Birth of a Nation” I am remixing that. It’s an early D.W. Griffith film. And many copyrighted works that are pre-1920 are still accessible. The film makes kind of a statement about the ownership of culture, and of course, about ownership of memory. Collective memory.
So that’s the project that’s going to be associated with Creative Commons. What I’d like to do is show a snippet of it. I presented an early work in progress of it at the Castro Theater.
Essentially whenever you hear something and the idea is made, it’s always a sense of playing with memory. What I’m fascinated with in the Eldred case, is the idea of who controls memory. How can you recall an image or a sound that’s essentially part of a collective unconscious. How we think of things that just go through your mind every day and how you externalize that. That’s what DJing is about. It’s playfulness. It’s reverence for controlled memory. Reverence for the found object.
So essentially, that’s what DJing has become. It’s almost a basic fabric; part of the the fabric of contemporary culture. So, there’s that kind of thing, which to me it becomes kind of what I like to call 21st century – a new form of folk music or folk culture…
these issues, always migrate. You control one thing, the net will thread its way around it. And so on and so on.
That sense of control, one of the terms Larry always uses a lot, in his great book “The Future of Ideas” – if you haven’t read it yet; you should – is the idea of “creative co-authorship.” Being able to actually reach into a text and reconfigure it. And if there’s something we’ve seen throughout the 21st century, whether you are looking at the outside of things, or the underground or overground, it’s that sense of; whether you are looking at William S. Burroughs or the Jack Kerouac and the beats in the 50s, or the Dada scene in the 20s, or the early cinema people working with that, is that America has always been the place of “the mix.” But somehow, I think in the 19th century we were a net importer of intellectual property, whereas after a certain point we became a net exporter, and that’s when all these kinds of control issues come up.
These Early Bird Passes are only available until midnight on August 15th.
Hello everyone in Aaron Swartz Day-land. We are expecting a full house this year for our San Francisco Hackathon and subsequent Reception & Evening Event. This will be our largest event to date, and many of our speakers are flying in from out of town.
For these reasons, in order to supplement our finances for this year’s grand extravaganza, we have decided to sell some “Early Bird All Access” Passes.
So, until midnight on August 15th, you can buy an “Early Bird All AccessPass” for only $20! (For up to 100 passes, while they last.)
Each “Early Bird All Access Pass” Includes:
1) Admission to both days of the Hackathon ($25 value) (Don’t panic. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. See the note at the bottom of this announcement :)
2) Admission to Reception and Evening Event ($50 Value)
3) Admission to After Party – 10:30 pm-2am ($20 Value) – Location TBD
8pm – Evening Event – Special Guests Speaking or Performing (or both):
Manuel Duran Ortega―founder of Memphis Noticias, a Spanish-language publication in Memphis, Tennessee―was arrested in April for disorderly conduct and obstructing traffic while covering a local protest. Duran Ortega was one of several journalists covering the protest, was wearing his press badge, and yet was the only journalist arrested.
Two days later, the Memphis Police Department dropped the charges against him. But instead of releasing Duran Ortega, Memphis officials turned him over to ICE. He was subsequently transferred to a detention center in Louisiana―separated from his family in Memphis.
Manuel Duran Ortega should never have been taken by ICE.
His attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center alleges that Duran Ortega was targeted by local police in retaliation for his critical reporting. In a petition to the court, Duran’s attorneys state that:
“Detention of Mr. Duran Ortega is a direct result of Memphis law enforcement officers’ and ICE officers’ illegal and unconstitutional actions in targeting, arresting, detaining, and seeking to deport Mr. Duran Ortega. MPD [Memphis Police Department] unlawfully arrested Mr. Duran Ortega to silence and retaliate against him.”
An attack on journalists is an attack on our First Amendment rights! Sign the petition and demand the immediate release of Memphis journalist Manuel Duran Ortega.
We, the undersigned organizations, are calling for the immediate release of unjustly detained journalist Manuel Duran Ortega.
As organizations advocating for press freedom, immigrant rights and racial justice, we are outraged by Duran’s arrest and detainment, which are in direct violation of the First Amendment.
Duran is a well-known and respected journalist in Memphis. He is also an undocumented immigrant who fled El Salvador over a decade ago — where he worked as a TV station manager — after his life was threatened…
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which is representing Duran, and the Latino community in Memphis believe Duran is being targeted because of his critical coverage of the city’s police department and Department of Homeland Security. He wrote stories about police abuse and misconduct, immigration detention centers and coordination between Memphis police and ICE.
Newspapers such as The Nashville Tennessean and The Memphis Commercial Appeal have also denounced his arrest and detention.
We do as well. The First Amendment guarantees a free press. That means that reporters like Duran can’t be subject to censorship by the government, nor can government use any measures to prevent the expression of ideas before they are published, or to punish reporters for doing their job. Prior restraint by any official means is clearly unconstitutional.
We are calling on ICE to release Manuel Duran Ortega immediately. The unlawful arrest of Duran violates his First Amendment rights and is an attack on press freedom in our country.
Joseph Torres, Free Press
Faiz Shakir, American Civil Liberties Union
Chris Faraone, Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism
Mike Katz, Lacabe Center for Human Rights and Privacy
Steven Renderos, Center for Media Justice
Brandi Collins-Dexter, Color Of Change
Sue Udry, Defending Rights and Dissent
Shannon Soper, Dignity and Power Now
Colin Kinniburgh, Dissent Magazine
Janine Jackson, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Joy Hyvarinen, Index on Censorship
Matt DeRienzo, Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION)
Tracy Rosenberg, Media Alliance
George Freeman, Media Law Resource Center
Bryan Mercer, Media Mobilizing Project
Monika Bauerlein, Mother Jones
Christopher Finan, National Coalition Against Censorship
Carmen Scurato, National Hispanic Media Coalition
Suzanne Nossel, PEN America
Lark Corbeil, Public News Service
Margaux Ewen, Reporters Without Borders North America
Rebecca Baker, Society for Professional Journalists
Julie Winokur, Talking Eyes Media
Brian Dolinar, Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center
The counterdemonstration, organized under the banner of “Hate Not Welcome: No Unite The Right 2” was removed by Facebook, who loudly accused the organizers of being paid Russian trolls hoping to stoke American divisions. Except these organizers are actually well-known, American activists, posting from within the USA, about an issue they care deeply about.
Among these genuine, American organizers is Chelsea Manning, the US military veteran and heroic whistleblower, who explained that the protest was “real and organic,” adding “We started organizing several months ago. Folks from D.C. and Charlottesville have been talking about this since at least February.”
It really hasn’t been that long since every progressive cause and event was accused of being a front for Russian fifth columnists and Senator Joe McCarthy was hauling anyone who advocated for a better life for all Americans in front of his House Un-American Activities Committee. Not much has changed. I guess the Democratic establishment finds talking about Russian hackers easier than campaigning on a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, and breaking up the big banks and bringing them to heel.
…at least one of the pages deleted this week was run by a group of real Americans who say they’ve been unfairly targeted by Facebook and falsely accused of being “unwittingly” duped into helping plan a protest scheduled to take place in Washington, DC, less than two weeks from today.
Facebook, for its part, says the page advertising the event was founded by a group whose administrators include some who have been flagged as a potential threats—entities, it says, who are likely trying to influence domestic politics from abroad, as Russian trolls had done two years ago. The real activists, however, say that Facebook, in this case, overshot its mark, overzealous perhaps in its attempt to placate a hostile Congress, while holding fast amid a week of ugly financial misfortune.
Facebook’s privacy practices and judgement calls have been seriously called into question lately by just about everyone. Although the company has been trying to reassure everyone, with a massive marketing campaign, how it’s changing its ways, it doesn’t seem to really be making any actual useful changes.
But yesterday, its idea of “doing something about it” appears to be shutting down at least one real event page. The reason? You’re not going to believe this; Facebook is claiming that the page was put up by Russian-based conspiracy troll accounts. Yes those accounts; the same ones that influenced the #2016 #Election.
Facebook is making a bad situation worse with its misguided censorship. All we know is that whatever vetting process it’s using is truly flawed. An apology is in order; and the runaway news cycle just keeps repeating the company’s misinformed statements.
Earlier today, Facebook deleted numerous Facebook pages, including one event aimed at promoting a protest against Jason Kessler’s Unite The Right 2, the sequel no one asked for.
The Shut It Down DC Coaliton has been meeting for weeks. We took over the Facebook event created by outside groups, in a desire to keep it accountable to local organizers…We did not promote anyone’s views except our own.
White nationalism and supremacy is not a Russian ploy, it’s a systemic problem. Jason Kessler is not a Russian bot, he’s the foot soldier of the Trump agenda…
Black Lives Matter D.C. and numerous other groups are central to organizing against a real threat to D.C. We do not organize because of a FaceBook account purportedly run by Russia, we do this to make sure our loved ones, communities, and neighborhoods stay safe from fascists in, and out of, uniforms.
We’ve since created a new Facebook event but we know real organizing comes from talking with our neighbors, and that this is a real protest in Washington, D.C. It is not George Soros, it is not Russia, it is just us. Facebook, has left numerous white nationalists pages openly promoting hate up for months at a time, claiming their hands were tied. They regularly suspended Black Lives Matter, Antifascist Groups, and Black Lives Matter member accounts. They have taken down real organizing.
Facebook has taken down 32 fake pages and accounts that it says were involved in coordinated campaigns on both Facebook and Instagram. Though the company has not yet attributed the accounts to any group, it says the campaign does bear some resemblance to the propaganda campaign run by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Facebook is now working with law enforcement to determine where the campaign originated.
In the Wired article, it also explains how Facebook felt pressure to “get ahead” of what it thought was a fake event, and in its haste, neglected to thoroughly investigate the matter:
One event, a protest against Unite the Right in Washington called “No Unite the Right 2 – DC,” was scheduled for August 10th. It was cohosted by other, legitimate pages, and more than 3,000 people indicated they were interested in or planned on attending. The desire to get out ahead of this event, Facebook says, hastened its announcement. The company says it disabled the event on Tuesday and alerted the administrators of those pages. It will also notify those users who were interested in attending the event, but a spokesperson told WIRED it’s “premature” to alert all 290,000 people impacted by the campaign.
Shortly after the announcement, other organizers of the protest took to Twitter to object to Facebook’s suspension of the event. “I cannot believe I have to say this: The Unite the Right counter protest is not being organized by Russians,” wrote one user, Dylan Petrohilos. “We have permits in DC, we have numerous local orgs like BLM, Resist This, and Antifascist groups working on this protest. FB deleted the event because 1 page was sketch.” Petrohilos also tweeted that the event was founded by another group, not the Resisters page.
Also in the Wired article, Facebook’s Cheryl Sandberg admits “they don’t know all the facts” yet:
“We’re still in the very early stages of the investigation, and we don’t know all the facts, including who might be behind it,” Facebook’s chief operating officer said on a call with reporters Tuesday.
The Aaron Swartz Day Solar Survival Team (led by Matteo Borri and Lisa Rein) has developed a “Vampire Charger” which enables a cell phone to be charged safely from whatever random batteries happen to be lying around after a disaster, while protecting the phone from blowing up.
After a disaster, this can be used with any kind of source of power that still has a battery in it. When you don’t know the voltage or current – and you don’t even know which is plus and which is minus or if it’s AC or DC – that’s the perfect time for the Vampire Charger!
Just connect the two input terminals to your “unknown,” and it gives you reasonably clean 5VDC to run your GPS or emergency radio with. Connect its two alligator clips to ANY two contacts of the part in question.