All posts by hirumi

Reading Response – Code is Speech

To be honest, I haven’t perceived code as a method of free speech before. I have always viewed it as either intellectual property or open source software. I like the analogy of code to law, in that the misplacement of a single comma can be extremely detrimental to the system. With so much of our lives dependent on the placement of these commas (both in legal infrastructure and in the wide domain of technology) it seems inherently correct that we are given the same freedoms and rights in exploring code as we do speech. As the times change, so do methods of what speech is. Whether its the literal translation, of words coming out of someone’s mouth, or actions, we must adapt and react based on individual situations.

Reading Response – Ethan Zuckerman


My first response to this reading is that this guy is hilarious and I’m so sad that I missed his talk in person! It’s true though, lolcats and porn rule the interwebs; at least the US interwebs. It’s also interesting that Zuckerman uses porn & activists as tools of success for internet platforms, being that porn & social activism are probably the areas that are most likely to be censored in the first place. I really liked Zuckerman’s quote that “our job as online advocates is to raise that cost of censorship as high as possible.”


Facebook in activism. It’s a funny thing, that facebook. It’s extremely easy to start a group, and then to gain a following of supporters. What’s unclear is how the activity on a space such as facebook translates into everyday life. Jamal’s comment about facebook being a glorified petition is definitely something that I would agree with. As with any online site, activity from users is easy to attract and generate, but its how to evoke direct action from these users that is interesting. In that respect, facebook is probably most best served, in terms of activism, as an organizing tool, rather than a space to affect change.

Reading Response 11.30

I have to admit, I haven’t really kept up with what has been going on with Occupy after the Zucotti removal, besides what has happened at the Occupy NS locations and at UC Davis. The Shocking Truth article was very helpful in synthesizing the hierarchy of control as imposed by the puppet masters. Of course there must be a large (powerful) network, run by fear, that is calling the shots and acting with such brute force simultaneously across the country.

Pasha had posted this image on facebook, and it just speaks volumes about our country. The last time I saw an image like this were about the Syrian protests and brutality; the only Time cover that didn’t have this was the US one.

In one of my earlier posts, I had mentioned that the Occupy movement reminded me of the National Mall in DC during the inauguration. The second article had mentioned that we should expect some big uprisings in the spring related directly to the upcoming election, which I’m personally very excited for. I hope that this movement evokes changes within our political system.

And I actually want to state my piece a little bit on what I observed from the New School occupation. Granted, I wasn’t  a part of it, so it’s not my place to critique the mission statement behind this group, but holy cow was this the first time I was embarrassed to be a supporter of this movement. Yes, I understand this is private property, and that private institutions are responsible for a lot of fucked up greed, but what was the point of this? It was a lot of damage. And who had to clean this up? Not the 1%, but janitors and security guards, and probably us and future students with however much our tuition increases because of this. Unless someone has another way to justify this, I am definitely not a fan.

It also opens up a new host of “Lord of the Flies”-esque (Or “The Others” from LOST, or what happened with Shane in last weeks The Walking Dead) questions with movements like this. How do you proceed when a sub-sect of the community decides to go rogue?

Gabriella Coleman Response

How cute is Gabriella?? I’m so mad I couldn’t attend this talk. I howled when Sven asked about the kidnapping in Mexico and the camera stopped. Boo.

I’ve never really quantified lolism as a measure of success, or even as a founding element of Anonymous. Understanding the evolution of Anonymous was super interesting, and I’m sure a lot of it had to do with Gabriella herself encasing her talk in lols. Though they are probably most associated with being the Rebel Force of the internet, I didn’t realize how strict their internal accountability system was/is. It reminds me of Mormonism. Not that I am an expert in this religion, but I grew up in a community where so many people were Mormon, and they truly valued the secrecy of their rituals and traditions that occurred behind closed doors. Revealing these secrets would result in excommunication from the church and lifelong banishment from their society. Without delving too much into my own personal religious beliefs, I will say when this system is put into the context of Anonymous—-it makes perfect sense. It’s almost a relief of sorts to know that there is accountability within a group of people that has the ability to wreak quite a bit of havoc into a system where so many secrets lay. When initially reading about Anonymous, I found myself asking Jack Bauer-esque questions from this system. How do you know that what you do is for the right cause? What if you’re being manipulated? What if someone is a mole?

And for no good reason other than its ridiculously accurate.. here’s the geek flowchart she mentioned.

Reading Response 11.16

I love when people make things out of trash. It’s quite possibly one of my favorite things ever. I had actually read about the “internet in a suitcase” initiative earlier this year while doing research for other projects, and has influenced the progression of my own thesis work. Living in the United States, specifically NYC where WiFi is pretty much everywhere (except at the New School, ahem) we’re lucky enough to not have to grapple with access to these services. At one point I had come across articles from members in the UN arguing that internet access should be a basic human right. The only times I feel we ever really see the limitations of our infrastructure is during a natural disaster (Irene, Katrina, etc…), or when our services are intentionally disarmed (BART cell shutdown), showing just how important these ad hoc networks are across the globe, and not just in developing nations or areas that have been neglected from these services.

The Iran Protests article brought up a valid point when they stated that most people in Iran who were tech savvy are the ones that are anti-Ahamdinejad. Not that I am a supporter of Ahamdinejad by any means, but that the narrative that comes out of these situations can be somewhat likened to how we experience our personal twitter and facebook feeds, in that most of the items we see come from the same people. Regardless, in times of censorship, these networks are what gives the rest of the public a portal into current events, and allows activists to communicate and organize.

My favorite quote from these readings comes from Clay Shirky about internet freedom:
“You can’t say, ‘All we want is for people to speak their minds, not bring down autocratic regimes’ — they’re the same thing.”

Reading Response 11.9

In Storming the Servers,  Web War One led me straight to the Terminator movies. Our general infrastructure of day to day living is dependent on the efficiency of digital communications over the web. Without this in place, cities would crumble.  The power of a movement that is triggered by loss is driven by emotions, and will likely result in a much larger response. In this respect, I can only imagine how much more powerful the Occupy movement will be now that the birthplace of OWS has been stripped away. Part of me thinks that this might actually be a good thing for the movement; they can better model their physical form so that it becomes more transient and modular in nature, and won’t be subject to the existing laws of society– it embodies the “internet way of thinking.”

One of the biggest pros/cons of the internet is the mask of anonymity. Without having to be physically present in a moment of collective action can have catastrophic results. There’s this great Ted video that analogizes how a movement is started, showing how people join a movement to join a movement, and not necessarily because they understand the motive or reasoning behind it. It’s the age old grade school bully tactic, the mother’s tale of “If so-and-so jumped off of a bridge, would you?” With collective action in cyberspace that is politicized, it becomes much harder to hold people accountable for their actions, if their actions are indeed something that is deemed as violent. Where do we draw the line between private and public space in the digital world? How do we define free speech in an infrastructure that is based on textual commands?