Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tech Destiny!


Lorraine said...

Frank Pasquale is my thought leader!

Dale Carrico said...

At the risk of being earnest in reply to snark, I will assume that you mean this more or less straightforwardly. He's enormously smart, I'm teaching him this summer at Berkeley. He's also a more patient and gracious person than I am so I marvel at him somewhat. Do you know Audrey Watters, Tom Slee and David Golumbia? Together with Pasquale, they form a sort of posse of thinkers on "Tech" who are leading somewhere for me.

Lorraine said...

Frank is a student of yours? Holy cows, maybe I am just two degrees of separation of greatness.

Sorry about the snark. I'm very pro-Pasquale and very anti-thought leader. Both those sentiments are revealed in a blog post I wrote some time ago. Re-visiting that post, and the Pasquale article it links to, reminded me why Frank Pasquale is thought leader material, even though thought leaders are not a good idea. It's because in that article, Frank frames the smart city issue squarely in terms of information asymmetry, rather than the usual bogeycritters of privacy, accountability, even transparency. I've adopted as part of my own personal message discipline the editorial policy of avoiding talking about transparency-without-adjectives, in favor of "reciprocal transparency" or "bilateral transparency," as contrasted with what I call "mirror shades transparency." Mirror shades are the fashion accesory associated more with cops than every other group, but other metaphors (and literal examples) of one-way transparency include the reflective (from the outside) windows that are the universal architectural idiom of corporate office buildings worldwide, and of course the one-way mirror at the Primate Research Lab. Pasquale's description of what they've done to Rio is basically a description of a 1,221 km² panopticon.

Concerning your posse of thinkers, bravo! I must confess I have never heard of Audrey Watters; will look up promptly. I know of Tom Slee as someone who heavily screen scraped AirBnB's website and posted the tabulated data on Github. This is exactly the kind of work for which hacking was invented. David Golumbia is a name that rings a bell, mainly by virtue of being heavily retweeted by numerous people I follow on Twitter (including yourself, of course). Took a look at Golumbia's Twitter page. I was a bit troubled by this. I know it's de rigeur these days to hate hacker culture, the rise of amateurs, and even open source advocacy, but I still can't bring myself to see verbiage like "free speech abolutist industry" without thinking "someone is getting some of their talking points from Copyright Alliance." I'll try to give Golumbia the benefit of the doubt and assume this tweet is out of concern for sex offender victims rather than victims of file sharing or something. I'm well aware that EFF has sold out to Google among others, but at least some of the time I'm rooting for Google over Disney. One thing that is very clear to me is that standing even a tiny chance against the engines of information asymmetry will require a massive amount of amateur hacking (I don't believe for a minute there is (or even can be) such a thing as a paying job doing non-evil things in the information space) and a massive rejection of proprietary software, in general.

Your posse of thinkers on "tech" should definitely include Cathy O'Neill.

Lorraine said...

Oh, wow, this.

Dale Carrico said...

Frank is a student of yours?

To be clear, when I say I'm going to teach an important author, you can be sure I mean "I will teach work by that important author to students of mine." Pasquale is someone I interact with online occasionally -- those interactions and others I have observed inspired the comments about his graciousness and patience.

I do think of him as a kindred spirit -- and hope he thinks the same of me -- as, as it happens, I also rather tend to think of you, so there!