WikiLeaks Documentary


Source: Vimeo (originally SVT)

Interview with John Pilger


Source: ABC

Other useful links

Operation Payback

The companies which have been quick to cancel WikiLeaks’ accounts or deny them service despite no illegal activity, are suffering from a public backlash. Many people are now boycotting Amazon, PayPal, Mastercard, Visa and EveryDNS. There are also DDoS attacks being carried out by Anonymous against many of these companies.

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Listening to Oneself

Erich Fromm extract taken from his book Man for Himself.

We listen to every voice and to everybody but not to ourselves. We are constantly exposed to the noise of opinions and ideas hammering at us from everywhere: motion pictures, newspapers, radio, idle chatter. If we had planned intentionally to prevent ourselves from ever listening to ourselves, we could have done no better.

Listening to oneself is so difficult because this art requires another ability, rare in modern man: that of being alone with oneself. In fact, we have developed a phobia of being alone; we prefer the most trivial and even obnoxious company, the most meaningless activities, to being alone with ourselves; we seem to be frightened at the prospect of facing ourselves. Is it because we feel we would be such bad company? I think the fear of being alone with ourselves is rather a feeling of embarrassment, bordering sometimes on terror at seeing a person at once so well known and so strange; we are afraid and run away. We thus miss the chance of listening to ourselves, and we continue to ignore our conscience.

A longer extract here.

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Ad-Free Android on HTC Desire

“Advertising design, in persuading people to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, in order to impress others who don’t care, is probably the phoniest field in existence today.” — Victor Papanek

For anyone trying to remove ads on the HTC Desire phone (so they don’t show in apps or in the browser), here’s what I had to do:

Note: Firstly, following these steps will prevent Over The Air (OTA) updates from working. Secondly, this requires a bit of work: connecting your phone to your PC via USB, running software on your PC to root your phone, installing and running an app on your phone, watching the app fail, then moving and symlinking files around via the command line to fix it all up. If you’re unsure about any of this, don’t do it – hopefully this’ll get easier in future.

  1. Follow the steps in Root the HTC Desire (Unrevoked Method)
  2. Install Android SDK on your PC to get the adb tool (needed in the next step)
  3. Now follow these steps

Software used: Unrevoked 3, Android SDK, AdFree Android

If you know of an easier way to go ad-free on the Desire, please comment.

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Behind the Technical Screen

More from David Noble, again taken from his book Progress Without People, from a section titled Behind the Technical Screen. Much of what he wrote in the 80s and 90s still applies today to all kinds of professionals (not only technical people), including interaction designers (thinking we’ll serve humanity in our professional roles is mostly wishful thinking).

Behind the Technical Screen

When we look past the veil of mystery that enshrouds the work of technical people, we find that their activities reflect their relation to power at every point. Their link with power gives them power — it entitles them to practise their trade in the first place, to learn, to explore, to invent; it emboldens their imagination; and it gives them the wherewithal to put their grand designs into practice. In short, it is the support of those in power (in our society, those with money or those with political, military, or legal authority) that affords technical people the luxury to dream, to dream expansively (yet within well-understood limits) and to make their dreams come true (by imposing them on others). Although most scientists and engineers would admit to their dependence upon those with power, few would concede that this relationship actually influences the way they think about things. They would insist, rather, that they are guided in their work by technical considerations above all else, and that this is what makes their calling rational and thus compelling. Moreover, judging from my own experience working with and teaching technical people, I know that few engineers are deliberately out to destroy jobs or unions or to harm people in any way. Although, of course, in practice they must satisfy the requirements of their bosses, their clients, or their customers, ultimately they aim only to do the best work for the good of society. Yet consistently, again and again, they turn out solutions that are good for the people in power (management) but often disastrous for the rest of us (workers).

…In the process, their own interests, ambitions, and compulsions become intertwined with and indistinguishable from those of their patrons, and these shared fantasies of omnipotence shape what they do. Never are all possibilities entertained and soberly evaluated, as the Darwinian idea of technological progress suggests; only those that are compatible with the authoritarian position and disposition of those with the power to choose.

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Technological Progress

David Noble writing about technological progress in the first industrial revolution, taken from his book Progress Without People: New Technology, Unemployment, and the Message of Resistance:

With regard to technological change, [leaders of labour] adopted an official posture of encouragement, accommodation, and acceptance. They were, after all, progressive, and no progressive is against progress. Besides, “You can’t stop progress.” So, boasting of their maturity and responsibility, they embraced this progress as their own and, in boom times, bellowed of its abundant beneficence.

This is not to say that everyone now actually believed in progress. People still continued to have their doubts about this peculiar and alien notion, and subtly expressed it whenever they talked about such change: “That’s progress, I suppose (isn’t it?)” “Well, I guess that’s progress (isn’t it?)” “You can’t stand in the way of progress, anyhow (can you?)” The elliptical questions could still be heard, addressed to some absent authority who presumably knew about such things. Yet, even with their barely audible doubts, and even when progress looked pretty grim in the present tense, people were encouraged by social pressure to be respectable, to try to be taken seriously, to look progressive. Those who were not disciplined by their superiors in the ways of progress learned to discipline themselves. For even displaced workers want to be taken seriously and want to make a contribution to society. Thus they must believe that their own sacrifices are suffered for a larger good — how else suffer them with dignity?

And so the Luddites were forgotten, their distant distress recalled only to affirm the primitiveness of their struggle and the insanity of those who dare to repeat it. The term “Luddite” became an epithet, a convenient device for disparaging and isolating the occasional opponent to progress and a charge to be avoided at all costs by thoughtful people. For to be called a luddite meant that you were not really serious. It meant that you believed you could stop progress. It meant that you were crazy.

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