People we don't like, fighting each other. An ode.

Sunday, 11 January, Year 7 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Evgeny Morozov we don't like because he's a socialisti, and we don't like socialists because of their ridoinculous notions that the group's somehow above the individual.ii

He's nevertheless written an excellent piece on Tim O'Reilly sometime last year, The Meme Hucksteriii or somesuch. Now Tom O'Reilly we don't like because he's a totalitarian, which is to say one of those who believes that a formal effectively generated theory including basic arithmetical truths and also certain truths about formal provability may include a statement of its own consistency and remain consistent. This is nonsense of the first degree, but totalitarians like to pretend that it's not really nonsense, they've just not found the right theory yet. So they're looking for it.

Socialists similarly like to pretend they've not yet found the right group, it's hidden somewhere under a pile of oppression, but just you wait! When the ideal worker finally emerges from under the mountain, when the true revolutionary awakens from the lumpen dream that's keeping him under...

Metaphorically speaking both groups find themselves in the position of that weird bachelor uncle who mutters a lot and collects garbage. The one that spends 14 hours a day in the garage, working on his perpetuum mobile under another name. The one that goes to Alaska to become a sourdough miner and spends the rest of his days alone in a cabin upon a windswept glacier, playing with his rock collection. The one that will manage to deny fundamental laws through careful application of exceptional exceptions. Really, there's an excellent reason both groups are so rhetorically able : they're both born out of an unchecked, malignant metastasis of finesse.

Often totalitarians and socialists are good friends, because misery loves company, and what's more miserable than folly ? Just as often totalitarians and socialists are at odds, however. Consider some quotes :

[the] future of collective intelligence applications is a future in which the individual that we prize so highly actually has less power—except to the extent that that individual is able to create new mind storms. . . .


Against individualism, the Fascist conception is for the State; and it is for the individual in so far as he coincides with the State, which is the conscience and universal will of man in his historical existence. [...] Fascism reaffirms the State as the true reality of the individual. And if liberty is to be the attribute of the real man, and not of that abstract puppet envisaged by individualistic Liberalism, Fascism is for liberty. And for the only liberty which can be a real thing, the liberty of the State and of the individual within the State. Therefore, for the Fascist, everything is in the State, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has value,-outside the State. In this sense Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State, the synthesis and unity of all values, interprets, develops and gives strength to the whole life of the people.

Not that much difference there, a little in form but absolutely none in substance. And while Hitler's National Socialism was a purely socialist movement, even more representative of Revolutionary/Progressive socialism than the other two very representative implementations Napoleon and Stalin blessed modernity with, Mussolini's fascism was strictly totalitarian and etatist, not in the slightest socialistiv. Yet in spite of this distinction the two nuts could be the best of friends, because, again, misery loves company, and there's no greater misery than folly.

For reasons entirely unclear that may well have to do with overpopulation, Morozov and O'Reilly don't really like each other.v While they ponder and perhaps resolve their differences, let me observe that I believe the former when he claims he's done an excellent jobvi researching his subject and am thoroughly impressed by it. And now, let's dip into the results!

While the brightest minds of Silicon Valley are “disrupting” whatever industry is too crippled to fend off their advances, something odd is happening to our language. Old, trusted words no longer mean what they used to mean; often, they don’t mean anything at all. Our language, much like everything these days, has been hacked.

While the phenomenon is certainly occuring, and while the "Sillicon Valley is important" submessage is certainly a tempting way to do captatio (hey, tell the idiots nonsense they recognise, they'll like you if you start off with a promise they won't have to think!), that this is in any way new or novel is rank nonsense.

Language ALWAYS has been a whore. She's not "our" language in the sense we talk of "our mothers", ie, each has one that's his own and they're all identical and fully described by Grimm, Grimm & Seuss LLC. Language has ALWAYS been opaque to the lower classes, incomprehensible to them, and therefore necessarily a tool of their oppression. Chimps may be stronger than men, on a force/bodymass ratio, but men can speak and chimps can not - which is how chimps ended up in the zoos we run. "We" run. We (in the sense of Not-You) don't only run zoos for chimps, by the way. We also run zoos for you. These days the most fashionable model is that thing with styrofoam separations, mercury lamps and plastic floorings, you know it.

So, no. Language is exactly as comprehensible as it always was, for the elite. And for the lumpens, language is today exactly what it was in 1814, or in 814. They don't have letters, you see, and so the actual content of the writs we use to decide their future and dispose of their present is not something they may immediately access. Sure, in a naive sense, using an "absolute" scale as if such can exist for these things, lumpens today are perceptibly more advanced than lumpens at 814. They can read, yo! Not understand anything they read, of course, but factually, they can now type buttons on a plastic bit and make Reddit go! The distance between that top where language works and that bottom language works upon has never been wider, but nevertheless! They can read now! The mud-packing anarcho-syndicalists of 814 couldn't read! Clearly, this is doing something for them.

Something other than making it easier for us to tell them what to do. Passons.

Fuzzy, contentious, and complex ideas have been stripped of their subversive connotations and replaced by cleaner, shinier, and emptier alternatives; long-running debates about politics, rights, and freedoms have been recast in the seemingly natural language of economics, innovation, and efficiency. Complexity, as it turns out, is not particularly viral.

The real complaint here is, that socialism looked for a while last century like it may score one against the world by abusing words. But meanwhile, the world took the production of ideal objects, put it in the same terms as it had put the production of physical objects, and all of a sudden the "radical" idiots find no point of support. What to say now to unhinge the natural hierarchy of the world ?!


Fortunately, Silicon Valley, that never-drying well of shoddy concepts and dubious paradigms—from wiki-everything to i-something, from e-nothing to open-anything—is ready to help.

To make it perfectly clear : when I blast retardopedia for being retardopedia, I do not do this because of my own interest. I couldn't care less, I don't depend on garbage for my own cultivation. Plenty of people, however, actually do. That same plenty of people that think they're ahead of third worlders because they have the privilege of paying 3200 to earn 2900vii, the same people who "invest" in scams and then tell me all about FUD, the same, endless people.

Like a good priest, it’s always there to console us with the promise of a better future, a glitzier roadmap, a sleeker vocabulary.This is not to deny that many of our latest gadgets and apps are fantastic.

Actually... I deny it. The latest gadgets are universally the opposite of fantastic, which is why I never bought one. That's right, I don't have a smartphone. Not for any other reason than the direct one : I don't perceive a smartphone's worth having. Much like an AK-47, if not for the same reason. They're simply not useful.

Let's not even get into the details of how you can't find a recent laptop that doesn't suck at any price, or how the new LCD monitors are crap, or all sorts of other common topics in #bitcoin-assets. Let's just point out that not everyone is "a good priest". Socialists, sure, that's their only mode. Totalitarians, sure. Also their only mode. But not sane people.

Not sane people, and this to the degree where you actually recognize the sane because the socialists and the totalitarians are arrayed in a confederacy against them, screaming "cult!" at the top of their lungs. Because How To Huckster 101, of course.

But to fixate on technological innovation alone is to miss the more subtle—and more consequential—ways in which a clique of techno-entrepreneurs has hijacked our language and, with it, our reason. In the last decade or so, Silicon Valley has triggered its own wave of linguistic innovation, a wave so massive that a completely new way to analyze and describe the world—a silicon mentality of sorts—has emerged in its wake. The old language has been rendered useless; our pre-Internet vocabulary, we are told, needs an upgrade.

Without going so far in most respects, there's actually something here : the social media generation has in fact created a mental framework supposedly intended to do what all intellectual frameworks do (effectually describe the environment), but in practice optimized towards its particular goals : it being cheap to churn out words. In fairness, Silicon Valley has absolutely nothing to do with this, it's purely a failure mode of the etatised academia. Once the state became the way to finance research, actual research went away, to be replaced with "scientists", the sort that create politically convenient "consensus"viii and otherwise churn out "grant applications", also known as "blog posts" and "social media accounts". There's no difference between this and that, and none of it can be pinned on Silly-con Valley. It's all the product of the libertard mainstream, of its delusions, its failures, its pointlessness. Nice going trying to pin Holodomor & Katyn on the Nazis, dear Evgeny, but it ain't sticking.

Silicon Valley has always had a thing for priests; Steve Jobs was the cranky pope it deserved.

You know, as opposed to socialists, paragons of independent thought as they are.

Today, having mastered the art of four-hour workweeks and gluten-free lunches in outdoor cafeterias,

Holy hell, seriously !? Nobody in SV works four hour days, let alone weeks. Try sixteen, Mr. For a week straight. Try a hundred hour weeks for nine months running, and then you'll be in a position to discuss the crying shame, the outrageous horror of these people's efforts being squarely wasted because the management is so utterly inept and entirely fraudulent.

They're the proletariat, yo. Silicon Valley is no different from Manchester a century ago. Even the food's reminescent.

The enduring emptiness of our technology debates has one main cause, and his name is Tim O’Reilly. The founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, a seemingly omnipotent publisher of technology books and a tireless organizer of trendy conferences, O’Reilly is one of the most influential thinkers in Silicon Valley.

How did Ballas go, "power is traded for the fetish of power" ? Seriously, I just read that, "omnipotent publisher of technology books" ?! This guy ?


Seriously, omnipotence and texbook huckster in the same sentence ? My mind's blown. How long have I been away ? What year is this ? Are we in the future ?!

Is the bull the most influential thinker on some ranch in Texas because hey, he's the one getting all the cows to sit put while he sticks it in them ? Is Coca Cola the most influential thinker in Christmases because it stole a shade of red ? Is gravity the most influential thinker in aviation, because it always lands its plane ? Exactly how far can the cheese of language be stretched, in an article that begins by deploring the stretching of the cheese of language over six paragraphs ?

Needless to say, this virgin looks pregnant to me.

While Washington prides itself on Frank Luntz, the Republican strategist who rebranded “global warming” as “climate change”

I don't know if pride is exactly the right word for desperation.

His essay on “Web 2.0” elucidated a basic philosophy of the Internet in a way accessible to both academics and venture capitalists;

This'd be a lot more interesting had web 2.0 not failed so miserably. But I guess that's not nearly as interesting, being in the past. Forward, soviet, always keep the eyes locked on that ever vanishing line of the red horizon!

it boasts more than six thousand references on Google Scholar—not bad for a non-academic author.

Not good, either. In fact irrelevant, for anyone who's a scholar. The numeric method works on like things, and if the proposition seriously is that academic papers are like things then by that token the entire thing can simply be ignored, and should be so ignored.

A stylish and smooth-talking self-promoter with a philosophical take on everything, O’Reilly is the Bernard-Henri Lévy of Route 101, the favorite court philosopher of the TED elites.

You know, you hadn'd heard of BHL in `76. You've heard of him now, mostly because he's talking news items and soundbytes. Kinda... poseur-ish, this, no ?

If the "TED elites" are anything of this sort, they're elites in the sense the oldest, most infected, wartiest prostitutes constitute "the bordello elite". I have my doubts.

His impressive intellectual stature in the Valley can probably be attributed to the simple fact that he is much better read than your average tech entrepreneur. His constant references to the learned men of yesteryear—from “Archilochus, the Greek fabulist” to Ezra Pound—make him stand out from all those Silicon Valley college dropouts who don’t know their Plotinus from their Pliny.

I am not sure the reader is familiar with every American (that is to say - minor) poet's biography. Ezra Pound spent some time in what was then known - quite dismissively - as "dame schools", the rough equivalent of "Women in Tech Academia". He then spent some time travelling - this apparently counts as education, at least in the sense of a good familiarity with the various venereal diseases available. He then went to a Military Academy, which primarily taught such academic mainstays as "submission to authority". He might have attented a local High School for a year, and some sort of local Vassar minus the tail and the money for another year. He got kicked out for poor academic performance in any case. After which he bummed about Europe and so on and so forth. He attended lectures at the Sorbonne for two weeks! Stuff like that.

If this is what a learned man makes, I daresay the objections registered prior are without any merit.ix In any case, there's nothing in there to justify a Plotinus-Pliny investment in dime words, nor is it exactly clear what the association belies, outside of the author's very light approach to words, based apparently more on how his mispronounciation of proper foreign names sounds in his ear than anything.

While he recently told Wired that he doesn’t “really give a shit if literary novels go away” because “they’re an elitist pursuit

This is very funny, because... they aren't. They never were, actually. Novels were historically what pulp became in the 60s, what TED talks are today : the written word most approachable for the common man, who doesn't even know he speaks in prose.

Poetry... now that's another story.

O’Reilly is also quick to acknowledge that novels have profoundly shaped his own life. In 1981 the young O’Reilly even wrote a reputable biography of the science fiction writer Frank Herbert, the author of the Dune series, in which he waxes lyrical about Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers.

Seems fitting. Clearly [what is understood in our colonies of] Heidegger and Jaspers belongs precisely in a biography of that guy that started Scientology. Or wait, was it a different pulp author that did that ? They run together in my mind, for lack of space between Plotin & Pliniu.

Alas, O’Reilly and the dead Germans parted ways long ago. These days, he’s busy changing the world; any list of unelected technocrats who are shaping the future of American politics would have his name at the very top.

Apparently, the herd being herded by anything but a sheep is a bad thing. How dare "unelected" technocrats make sport of the pointless bureaucrats ? But be that as it may : the notion that any US citizen makes the list as to what shapes the future of "American" politics is beyond laughable.

No, my dears. Putin is on that list. A dozen or so 2nd echelon Chinese functionaries are on that list. Someone in Bitcoin may or may not be on that list. But nobody born in the United States is in there, because you're not a nation, and no longer even a power. Much like Nigeria or the Ukraine, much like Lybia or Venezuela, the future of the United States is being decided by foreigners, outside. Oh, it burns ? Get used to the feeling. Chances once lost never return.

O’Reilly’s thinking on “Government 2.0” has influenced many bureaucrats in the Obama administration, particularly those tasked with promoting the amorphous ideal of “open government”—not an easy thing to do in an administration bent on prosecuting whistle-blowers and dispatching drones to “we-can’t-tell-you-where-exactly” destinations.

Not an easy thing to do and even less of an easy thing to verify. Has O'Reilly truly corrupted a number of administrative minors into doing the shameful acts they had been fantasizing about for months and months, hours before finally going to sleep, exhausted ? Such influence. Much wow. The moon! (Admire how influential Novacoin has been, and how enduring its legacy!)

Compared to ultra-libertarian technology mavens like Peter Thiel and Kevin Kelly, O’Reilly might even be mistaken for a bleeding-heart liberal. He has publicly endorsed Obama and supported many of his key reforms.

Yes yes, Peter Thiel supported Ron Paul, the unspeakable horror. Meanwhile, Kevin Kelly is a nobody of the sort O'Reilly is, of the sort Morozov aspires to be - newspaper editor or whatever. How's all this mixed up where Thiel and Kelly are the same sort of thing and properly in the same enumeration boggles the mind. I guess the author must proceed on the absolute shallowest approach possible : they're both bipedal life forms without feathers and with nails flat, right ? Nuts.

He has called on young software developers—the galley slaves of Silicon Valley—to work on “stuff that matters” (albeit preferably in the private sector).

This absurd sentence is in there because code. What Morozov liked about what O'Reilly said was the implication that there exists something "more than money", and the secondary implication that said "something more than money" is actually more important. While this is factually true for as long as one thinks of money in the sense of worthless fiat dollars, and the "something more than money that's more important than money" readily maps to Bitcoin, this is obviously not what Morozov'd like it to be. He simply shares the socialist fear of capital, and follows in the lengthy tradition of, you know, "rewards in Heaven".

He has written favorably about the work of little-known local officials transforming American cities.

I'm too lazy to go hunt the actual point hiding under this (and, for all his hard work put into documentation, Morozov does not put a note here to link us to a dozen or so articles so we can directly follow it - what sort of seriousness is this!) but somehow I suspect it's not actually the individual-first-and-only, small-government thing it appears to be.

O’Reilly once said that his company’s vision is to “change the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators,” while his own personal credo is to “create more value than you capture.” (And he has certainly captured a lot of it: his publishing empire, once in the humble business of producing technical manuals, is now worth $100 million.)

100 million bezzlars is certainly not a lot of value. It's better than what butt girl made, of course, but it's still in the range - testament to the fact that O'Reilly's an older male rather than a young female, so he gets some extra, but also he's one of the nobodies, like Kelly, rather than one of the actually powerful, like Thiel. So, ok, 100 million is a lot for whatever random walker, it can buy you a lot of house and RV, stuff like that. Meanwhile, one single aircraft carrier costs degrees of magnitude more than that, and you need a dozen of em. So no, in political terms a trillion's money, however many millions don't even register.

This tendency to view questions of freedom primarily through the lens of economic competition, to focus on the producer and the entrepreneur at the expense of everyone else, shaped O’Reilly’s thinking about technology.

However, it’s not his politics that makes O’Reilly the most dangerous man in Silicon Valley; a burgeoning enclave of Randian thought, it brims with far nuttier cases.

The pressing matter of "what else other than the producer could possibly constitute a point of interest" does not impress upon the author any feeling of urgency. He does not feel any pressure, he does not see the expediency of populating that field. Who else ? Why, "he's covered the economics of it already". With wool.

O’Reilly’s mastery of public relations, on the other hand, is unrivaled and would put many of Washington’s top spin doctors to shame. No one has done more to turn important debates about technology—debates that used to be about rights, ethics, and politics—into kumbaya celebrations of the entrepreneurial spirit while making it seem as if the language of economics was, in fact, the only reasonable way to talk about the subject.

This'd be almost cool, if it were much related to the subiacent reality. In fact, it's all a matter of plowing flies. The "debates" about technology were never debates in the first place. In second place, while they contained lots and lots of politics, they never were about "rights" or "ethics", save of course for either's side inclination to misrepresent war, economic or otherwise, as a question of justice and a matter of freedom. Who exactly are these previous luminaries of ethics & rights debates, the luddites ? The American Eugenic Society ? Laissez.

So, O'Reilly was in the room and Morozov says it's "all his fault" ? Sure, sure, самокритика & 20 lashes.

As O’Reilly discovered a long time ago, memes are for losers; the real money is in epistemes.

As Morozov discovered a long time ago, his shit's for losers, my articles are so much better.

Something like that, right ?

Hey, if it works on the audience... why not. It's after all a discussion of nude and rude capitalism, not a matter of fucking rights and god damned ethics.

His true hero is the hacker-cum-entrepreneur, someone who overcomes the insurmountable obstacles erected by giant corporations and lazy bureaucrats in order to fulfill the American Dream 2.0: start a company, disrupt an industry, coin a buzzword. Hiding beneath this glossy veneer of disruption-talk is the same old gospel of individualism, small government, and market fundamentalism that we associate with Randian characters. For Silicon Valley and its idols, innovation is the new selfishness.

This is an astute observation, except unduly limited. It's not "for SV and its idols". Innovation is the new selfishness for all pale boys of astenic build. Their more athletic, more colorful congeners prefer a very direct selfishness instead, which is why bitchez gotta twerk in rap videos. (And, since we're on the topic : the girls in their age range being a lot more pliable is pretty much the only thing they got going for 'em, poor souls).

It was the growing popularity of “open source software” that turned O’Reilly into a national (and, at least in geek circles, international) figure. “Open source software” was also the first major rebranding exercise overseen by Team O’Reilly.

Or at least, that's the narrative butthurt RMS likes to hear. Nevermind just how improbable it seems on the face, or stuff like that.

This is where he tested all his trademark discursive interventions: hosting a summit to define the concept, penning provocative essays to refine it, producing a host of books and events to popularize it, and cultivating a network of thinkers to proselytize it.

No trademark, because so much prior art.

It’s easy to forget this today, but there was no such idea as open source software before 1998; the concept’s seeming contemporary coherence is the result of clever manipulation and marketing.

Actually : it's easy to forget this today, but there was no such thing as "proprietary" source code, or software generally, prior to a whiny boy with glasses getting lucky the second time (his first was IBM not comprehending how to license) and managing to convince a dinosaurian state to enforce imaginary "rights" that he imagined he had.

The notion that someone owns source code is not so different from the notion that someone owns Mickey Mouse. Really ? Sue me.

Open source software was born out of an ideological cleavage between two groups that, at least before 1998, had been traditionally lumped together. In one corner stood a group of passionate and principled geeks, led by Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation, preoccupied with ensuring that users had rights with respect to their computer programs. Those rights weren’t many—users should be able to run the program for any purpose, to study how it works, to redistribute copies of it, and to release their improved version (if there was one) to the public—but even this seemed revolutionary compared to what one could do with most proprietary software sold at the time.

This seems bad writing, the "in one corner - and in the other" structure is never completed. In any case : open source today exists as a temporary form, just about to change, of the same general principle that made the free exchange of cassette tapes the norm when I was a child, and "videogame" cartridges a ridoinculous piece of nonsense. It's not "software wants to be free" exactly, it's more of a "who are you again ? fuck off, I don't give a shit" sort of approach to third parties of any man owning a computer, which in turn stems from a much older "yes, ok, you can live at my place but you can't bring your mother along" that any man put to any woman that just wouldn't go away after a fuck or two like sane people do. It's not about to change, any of this. Cloud or no cloud, whatever.

Stallman's bulky, self contradictory, impracticalx paraethicology has very little to do with any of this, which is why his "social movement" is sterile. It's not O'Reilly's fault.

Perhaps inadvertently, Stallman also made a prescient argument for treating code, and technological infrastructure more broadly, as something that ought to be subject to public scrutiny.

Yes, "perhaps presciently" Stallman made the argument that patents which stifle innovation and creativity could perhaps be replaced with something worse, that'd stifle even more, perhaps all the way to respiration. If that was his original intent, which I have no idea about, it definitely wasn't the intent of his followship, as anemic as that was at all points.xi Because this is a point which somehow readily disappears under all the Morozov spin : at no point was the FSF an important force on the field. Choke on it.xii

Once the corporate world began expressing interest in free software, many nonpolitical geeks sensed a lucrative business opportunity. As technology entrepreneur Michael Tiemann put it in 1999, while Stallman’s manifesto “read like a socialist polemic . . . I saw something different. I saw a business plan in disguise.” Stallman’s rights-talk, however, risked alienating the corporate types. Stallman didn’t care about offending the suits, as his goal was to convince ordinary users to choose free software on ethical grounds, not to sell it to business types as a cheaper or more efficient alternative to proprietary software. After all, he was trying to launch a radical social movement, not a complacent business association.

You can not convince a group of idiots to do something because it's ethically better.

This is why capitalism is such a fucking important innovation : prior to capitalism, you could not convince a group of idiots to do anything, period and full stop. The most you could do was, make it very painful for them to not do it. That's all - and that's exactly how it fucking worked, even as late as 1930. There were some attempts to fix this, deployed by artists, which were famous principally for not working. Once we discovered capitalism however it became possible to convince a group of idiots to do some things that are better in some very narrowly defined ways. Yes, that doesn't always work. Yes, it's not a full language, you still can't convince the fucking idiots to do fine things such as read, or think. Nevertheless, it does get them to do a lot, such as wash, and twerk, and make themselves useful to a degree and pleasant if one doesn't examine it too closely. It's a huge fucking advance in politics, and it's a major step forward for ethics.

I guess all this is still surprising somewhere, among the learned men like Ezra Pound or something. Quit the dame schools, yo. Not good for your brain.

By early 1998 several business-minded members of the free software community were ready to split from Stallman, so they masterminded a coup, formed their own advocacy outlet—the Open Source Initiative—and brought in O’Reilly to help them rebrand.

I thought he was the mastermind. Are we being coherent or what ? I understand that the sheer length of this piece is supposed to mask just how badly thought ought the narrative really is, but seriously... it doesn't work.

A few months later, O’Reilly organized a much-publicized summit, where a number of handpicked loyalists—Silicon democracy in action!—voted for “open source” as their preferred label. Stallman was not invited.

Are these the "handpicked loyalists" that "handpicked" O'Reilly earlier ? Are they some ditzy kids ready to be really excited about anything everyone else's really excited about ? For what it's worth, the version I knew held that Stallman was invited but he didn't go for some idiosyncratic reason or other, but I'm too lazy to dig up this strand.

The label “open source” may have been new, but the ideas behind it had been in the air for some time.

Didn't we just mere moments ago say it was entirely a PR / spin / marketing concoction ? Now it's natural evolution (but here's a carefully curated list of what exactly it is an evolution of) ? C'mon.

Even before the coup, O’Reilly occupied an ambiguous—and commercially pivotal—place in the free software community. On the one hand, he published manuals that helped to train new converts to the cause. On the other hand, those manuals were pricey. They were also of excellent quality, which, as Stallman once complained, discouraged the community from producing inexpensive alternatives.

Well... there's always pedopedia... that's cheap. And they don't even do pedophillia that much anymore. And they run on donations, which they don't need, but beg for anyway because they hate the corporate millieu that insists on getting paid. And they'd never do that.

Pretty much the only way I can read that quote is, "Stallman complained that anything of good quality remains in the world, because the socialists are the sworn enemies of quality (it's elitist)". And we're supposed to sit huddled around a fire in some sort of Jonestown-Jamestown of the future, dressed in coarse overalls and listening to Morozov interpret the words of the Ethics Prophet Stallman ? Or what's the idea here, what exactly is the "ethical alternative to capitalism" that's on tap ?

You know it's not okay to pretend like alternatives exist and then fail to describe them, especially if you take seventeen thousand words to get the history mostly wrong, and knot the narrative red threads beyond all description.

Ultimately, however, the disagreement between Stallman and O’Reilly—and the latter soon became the most visible cheerleader of the open source paradigm—probably had to do with their very different roles and aspirations. Stallman the social reformer could wait for decades until his ethical argument for free software prevailed in the public debate.

Millenia's more like it. The man simply doesn't have an ethical position. He has some desires and some designs on the future, which he understands are impractical and so he calls them "ethical", but ethics isn't the dumping bin of all the things we want but don't know how to get.

O’Reilly the savvy businessman had a much shorter timeline: a quick embrace of open source software by the business community guaranteed steady demand for O’Reilly books and events, especially at a time when some analysts were beginning to worry—and for good reason, as it turned out—that the tech industry was about to collapse.

Nobody believed those analysts at the time. Nobody. I don't mean "not Morozov", who was at the time playing in the muds of native Bielorusia or whatever 15 year olds do there. I simply mean nobody. Just like nobody today understands that if they're not in my WoT they're fucked on the long term, irrespective of how plainly obvious that is to a few analysts, just so nobody believed those analysts then. To intimate that O'Reilly was motivated by some sort of desire to cover his bets against what turned out to be the future and at the time appeared nothing short of kooky is to engage in the exact sort of rewriting the past that said O'Reilly's being accused of. C'mon.

In those early days, the messaging around open source occasionally bordered on propaganda.

Yeah, and this doesn't. Because reasons. And perhaps ethics.

What reasons ? What ethics ?

The coup succeeded. Stallman’s project was marginalized.

Seriously, it was never central. In anything. It was at times interesting, as an intellectual pursuit, much in the sense the article we're working on today is interesting after a fashion. Central however it isn't, and for that reason it can not be marginalized. It's marginal by its nature.

To make his narrative about open source software credible to a public increasingly fascinated by the Internet, O’Reilly produced a highly particularized account of the Internet that subsequently took on a life of its own. In just a few years, that narrative became the standard way to talk about Internet history, giving it the kind of neat intellectual coherence that it never actually had. A decade after producing a singular vision of the Internet to justify his ideas about the supremacy of the open source paradigm, O’Reilly is close to pulling a similar trick on how we talk about government reform.

There's a lot in there that I don't readily observe, and will be quite different to verify (helpfully, the author makes not the slightest move in the direction of supporting his claims). So, is there a "standard way" to talk about the Internet ? Well, it'd depend where, right ? In some circles, the blue e icon is "the Internet", as in "Who deleted my Internet" or "Where did my internet go". In some other circles, Bootstrap is the Internet, except plenty of people have no idea what that Bootstrap even is. Doesn't really sound like all that "standard", does it ?

For that matter, is "the Internet" the web, in the author's view ? Because most of the stuff I do is on the Internet, but isn't on the web. For that matter, while IRC has webirc facing the web, it's still not a web service, it's irc. Port 8001, not port 80/443. MPEx similarly has web front ends, but it's not actually a web service (unlike plenty of "Bitcoin businesses" that came and went to date, run by folk who similarly confuse web and Internet).

In short : I have little doubt that it's possible for the author to have spent a summer among lythe coed chicks who thought Frank Sinatra or whoever's the Frank Sinatra currently "is just dreamy". What's the relevancy of that to a discussion of demographics ? Not like Sinatra's impregnating the lot of them or anything, eh ? The "standard" way to talk about "Internet history" understood as the WWW is not, turns out, particularly standard. There perhaps does exist a standard group that speaks of things similarly, but this has little bearing on the things, it's more a matter of juvenile fashions (and if the pudgy Bielorussian is that interested in the juvenile fashions, here's to hoping he IS banging a bunch of them lythe co-ed chicks).

To understand how O’Reilly’s idea of the Internet helped legitimize the open source paradigm, it’s important to remember that much of Stallman’s efforts centered on software licenses. O’Reilly’s bet was that as software migrated from desktops to servers—what, in another fit of buzzwordophilia, we later called the “cloud”—licenses would cease to matter.

This, again, is rank nonsense. It's not even wrong it's so off the table. For one thing, the proposition O'Reilly made such a bet, no doubt flattering as it may be, rests on the whole prior construction about how O'Reilly is something he isn't, playing a role he's not really played. For another thing, it suffers from the same "he magically knew the improbable future and so took measures" discussed above with the analysts. Why did he only take one narrow set of measures, and not others that'd be equally reasonable had he really "known" this stuff ? Ah, that's not how one's supposed to read socialist reinterpretations of events ? Guess I'm lucky these folks aren't in power, lest I end up like Trotsky.

For yet another thing, software has not migrated to servers, nor is there even the faintest hope that it actually will. If anything, software is migrating from servers to desktops - decentralization is a very powerful and very visible trend. Licenses won't matter in the future, of course, but for the same fundamental "fuck you" reasons discussed above, coupled with the Bitcoin mediated death of an entire system of organising society. I suppose if I hold my horses I will be reading some twentysomething cocklet discussing how some sexuagenarian "made the bet" about all this. We don't know their names yet, but that doesn't matter : impudent cocklets go by what they see, and since O'Reilly's visible clearly he's important. Because that's "how the world works". I bet he's Oprah rich, too.

Pretty much the note on which I'm going to close this thing : some kid that's not black took 17k words he doesn't own to express his deeply felt conviction that "wow, this O'Reilly dude... he must be Oprah rich!"

What is the benefit of schooling the proles, tell me again. They can express the same nonsense in more words ? I guess, if you must.

  1. Tellingly, I've only read him because Richard Stallman ("That old Bolshevik? No!") keeps linking to him. I can readily understand why he does it. []
  2. Really, that the individual's problems may be resolved by the group, with the intermediate step of positing there even exist group problems in the first place. Exactly how the nonsense is formalised matters little. []
  3. I hope you don't mind I fixed your title. []
  4. There's no actual group in his state - which sad reality he hides under a complaint about the imaginary "abstract puppets" envisaged by individualistic Liberalism. Because that's How To Huckster 101 : the thief yelling "Thief!". []
  5. Consider the send-off :

    [*Author’s note] In researching this essay [...] I decided against interviewing him [O'Reilly]. First of all, I don’t believe in interviewing spin doctors: the interviewer learns nothing new while the interviewee gets an extraordinary opportunity to spin the story even before it’s published. Second, my goal in writing this essay was not to profile O’Reilly. [...] Third, the only two emails that I ever received from him hinted at his penchant for heavy-handed manipulation of the media. The first email arrived long before I started working on this essay. It was a complaint about something I had written about him in the past, a throwaway line in a long essay—a complaint I believe to be without merit. The second email came right after I finished writing the first draft, which, by coincidence, happened to be on the very day that O’Reilly and I had a brief but feisty exchange on Twitter (he initiated it). In that second email, he offered to explain all his positions to me face to face—an opportunity I turned down, having just spent three months of my life reading his tweets, blog posts, and essays. That said, I have no doubt that everything in this essay will be meme-engineered against me.

    To what degree O'Reilly is even aware of the former's existence is dubious (as an individual I mean, in opposition to a simple entry in a certain group ledger, that gets bombarded with mechanically created emails whenever certain triggers get activated - a for profit activity). To what degree O'Reilly's lap dogs will be lapping this way rather than some other... well, it's a purely mechanical question, like the previous. If it occurs to them they will, if it doesn't they won't... "Will the ants find this dead earthworm ?" Maybe they will, maybe they won't, if they don't they certainly found something else, in the same manner, for the same reasons. The anthill's not going hungry, that's for sure.

    What's not dubious or dispassionate is the other side of the coin. Quite clearly Morozov despises O'Reilly with an intensity that in his system is maximal. (Hate is not the opposite of love, by the way, just like a clear glass is not the opposite of an opaque cup. They both hold water. Despising, however... now that's a colander.) I suspect it's because the socialist considers a totalitarian may only exist inasmuch as he furthers the goals of socialism, and therefore O'Reilly is a bit of a false inheritor, taking over Morozov's divinely promised throne and fatherly estate through trachery! A bit of a Sheriff of Nottingham forcing good ol' Evgeny Wood into the forest sort of dynamic. []

  6. Consider :

    I tried to read all of O’Reilly’s published writings: blog posts, essays, tweets. I read many of his interviews and pored over the comments he left on blogs and news sites. I watched all his talks on YouTube.

    Isn't such dedication impressive ? I find it quite impressive.

    But to think this task is even feasible in the first place! And even if you include slow-as-fuck youtube videos, and comments abroad, it is still feasible. Somebody did that for O'Reilly! Excuse me a second while I go count Trilema articles.

    10138472. Words. Ten million one hundred thirty-eight thousand four hundred and seventy-two. That's right. How fast do you read ? 200 words per minute ? 300 words per minute ? That's about where the average adult falls, but let's say you're damned good and reach 500 wpm. You read like two people in one, what. Provided you actually sustain that thoroughput indefinitely, and that you fluently read Romanian (and... ahem, other languages), you'll only need twenty thousand minutes give or take. 333 hours. If you do this eight hours a day and take two weekends off a month you'll be done in just about... a couple of months.

    But... wait. I said "articles", didn't I ? There's also... comments, right ? Yes, there's also comments. Since you mention it, let's go count that as well. 1`232`432 words, that's not so bad. Of course that only includes comments I left on Trilema itself, not anywhere else, but let's ignore this bit. There'd of course also be... hm. Look at that! 112`802 lines this year alone, there were probably about that many last year and hm, lines... Ten words each ? Maybe.

    So, in the end, neglecting the point where O'Reilly's sixty-five which leaves me some space to do more damage, a full read would actually take the dedicated, intelligent fellow just about three months. It's doable, yo! And someone out there is doing this sort of thing! Who knew!!

  7. "Hey, those poor schmucks in Poor Schmucktown only make 110!" Yeah. They also only spend 100 to make it. Ik,r? []
  8. "Yes, we all agree the State is paying us". []
  9. Note that nobody contests the man's talent. But being a learned gentleman and being a talented goose are entirely different matters. []
  10. Suppose I want to organise a card game. Stallman won't let me, because all players must be able to see all players' cards. Right ?

    No, that's ridiculous ? Work on your reading comprehension, that's exactly what his "ethics" say.

    Suppose I want to run a game server, I must also distribute the server software, right ? Why would I do that ? Because the lusers have the right to use "software" any way they please, such as to make the game impossible to play for other lusers, and in the end make entire types of software simply not feasible ? GTFO I'm not giving up MMOs and poker and everything because socialist retards think "ethics" is "anything that's really stupid and hard". []

  11. Proof that the followers of the social movement don't often comprehend wtf they're following surfaces with amusing frequency even today. []
  12. Yeah yeah, Gnu is not Unix. Guess what ? Gnu is not linux, either. []
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2 Responses

  1. The title inadvertently got Chief Keef stuck in my head.

    "Socialism! That's that shit I don't like!"

  1. [...] Meanwhile your daughter won't, but... parents can't think of everything now can they. [↩]People that have been looking at this for too long from too close to the point they've given themselves [...]

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