Bird’s Eye: Confrontations in cyberspace? No! Read an amazing story of compassion from the Guardian, the backstory to Wikileaks; and why Assange is far from the end of the story, whatever his fate may be; and the look at the world of online debate, and why we aren’t all getting wiser (except for Tikkunista readers.)
* “The Day I Confronted My Troll” The Guardian
When I left Twitter numerous people thought it was as a result of an overreaction on my behalf. That my departure was a knee-jerk reaction to a couple of “trolling” or “flaming” incidents or that I was attention seeking. The reality of the situation is that my wife and I were targeted for over three years.
It started in July 2009. I’d been on Twitter for over two years at that point, having joined in May 2007, and I’d never had a problem. My account was followed by a fairly innocuous looking one which I followed back and within 10 minutes I had received a direct message (DM) calling me a “Dirty fucking Jewish scumbag”. I blocked the account and reported it as spam. The following week it happened again in an identical manner. A new follower, I followed back, received a string of abusive DMs, blocked and reported for spam. Two or three times a week. Sometimes two or three times a day. An almost daily cycle of blocking and reporting and intense verbal abuse. So I made my account private and the problem went away for a short while. There were no problems on Twitter but my Facebook account was hacked, my blog was spammed and my email address was flooded with foulmouthed and disgusting comments and images. Images of corpses and concentration camps and dismembered bodies.
* “This Machine Kills Secrets,” about Wikileaks Boing Boing
Here’s the video trailer for my new book “This Machine Kills Secrets” about the history and future of anonymous information leaks. The book, which started when I interviewed Julian Assange in London two years ago, aims to trace how the Cypherpunk movement used cryptography and anonymity tools to alter the act of spilling secrets and bring create a world where anyone can leak secrets with impunity.
* The Hysteria That Threatens To Erode Public Debate Peter Beaumont The Observer
The internet, it was once claimed by theorists such as Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody, was supposed to be democratizing and empowering, giving a voice to those marginalized by the elite of opinion formers dominating the media and politics. These days, even Shirky has moved to distance himself from that earlier utopian idealism, telling Journalism.co.uk three years ago he feared that he, like others, had got it wrong and that public pressure via the internet, far from leading to “democratic legitimation”, could be seen as “just another implementation layer for special interest groups”.
All of which leads to an inevitable question – whether our new developing public discourse, largely mediated online, has made our conversation more open, democratic and accountable? Or, instead, more fragmented and poisonous? Among the pessimists has been the US academic Cass Sunstein, who was early in proposing a more dystopian picture of how debate was being shaped online, noting a fundamental contradiction. “New technologies,” Sunstein has suggested, “including the internet, make it easier for people to hear the opinions of like-minded but otherwise isolated others.”