internet

Kill All Normies

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This provides some good insights but draws the wrong conclusion. The book focuses on the so-called “Alt-right” and how with a degree of success, promoted its ideas online. The self-promoted name “Alt-right” encompasses a spectrum from far-right populists to actual fascists. Under Trump, Steve Bannon from the far-right news channel Breitbart became the president’s chief strategist before being forced to step down by the anti-racist movement that erupted after Charlottesville.

Splinternet

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Malcolmson’s history of the development of the computer and the internet, going as far back as the abacus and punched cards for weaving looms, is readable and informative.

But the text keeps jumping out at you with bald assertions such as, “Industrialisation did not lead to war, which had always existed” and “most human activities including war were steadily taken out of the animal world into the countable, machine world”.

Actually, in the earliest epochs of humanity, before surpluses in food or other goods existed, there was no war.

The Zero Marginal Cost Society

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Internet entrepreneur Adam Dell set up Shared Earth in 2010, a web service for connecting would-be gardeners to unused plots of land. Jeremy Rifkin enthuses about the start-up's rapid expansion.

When Dell says, "We have no business model", Rifkin corrects, "Shared Earth does have a business model: it's called the commons." He sees it as one of many harbingers of a new collaborative and technological society that will one day make capitalism obsolete.

Germany: the rise of the Pirate Party

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The German Pirate Party has captured the imagination of millions of young and unemployed voters but, asks Mark Bergfeld, are they really the radical anti-establishment force they claim to be?

"Que no! Que no! Que no nos representan!" They don't represent us. From the streets of Buenos Aires in 2001 to the squares of Puerta del Sol and Placa de Cataluna in 2011 this slogan captures the anger and alienation that millions of people feel towards the political system made up of professional politicians, lobbyists and unelected technocrats.

Why it's clicking off everywhere

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"Right now, there are more people on Facebook than there were on the planet 200 years ago," says Jason Russell, co-founder of the Invisible Children organisation, in his "Kony 2012" video. The inane "documentary" targets Joseph Kony, leader of the Ugandan rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army.

It is riddled with inaccuracies and demands that the US government send troops to Uganda to catch Kony, despite the fact that he hasn't been in the country for the last six years. Even so, it has become an internet sensation, taking just six days to notch up 100 million views - the fastest ever.

Internet democracy going offline

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There has been a lot of talk on newspaper technology pages recently about the threat to "net neutrality" - the principle that all information available online should be kept freely and equally accessible by the networks that provide access to them.

Say, for example, that my home broadband service is provided by BT. I spend a sizeable chunk of my time visiting three websites: YouTube, BBC News and Socialist Review. Despite the fact that YouTube and the BBC have internet services far in advance of Socialist Review's, and considerably greater financial resources, BT gives no preferential treatment to the giants. Sure, YouTube will have hi-tech servers which are faster and perhaps more reliable, but as far as BT is concerned it's all the same.

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