“Yet [Elon] Musk is also emblematic of a curious strain of denial that seems to infect Silicon Valley as a whole. His breakaway success is a powerful reminder of how the public sector can turbocharge innovation. It brings to mind the government-backed $500,000 investment in a young startup known as Apple—and the federal grants that funded the prototype for Google. But rather than becoming poster boys for public-private partnership, Musk and other Valley entrepreneurs have gone out of their way to distance themselves from their patron. Shortly after paying off his $465 million loan [from the US Department of Energy], Musk proclaimed that government should no longer provide such assistance. A “carbon tax would be a better way,” he tweeted, adding: “Yes, am arguing against subsidies and in favor of a tax on the end bad created. Market will then achieve best solution.””—
Mother Jones’s Elon Musk profile is part Silicon Valley eccentricity binge and part wonky wonk wonk.
In other news I’m so unbelievably tired of the internet and everything on it, but quitting is just not how addictions work you dig.
“What’s wrong with charter schools is that they originally were supposed to be created to collaborate with public schools and help them solve common problems. Because they have now been taken over by the idea of competition, they have become part of the movement to turn education into a consumer product rather than a social and a public responsibility. … What I mean is that you go shopping for a school. I don’t believe in school choice. I believe that every neighborhood should have a good public school. And if the parents don’t want the good local public school and they want to send their child to a private school, they should do so — but they should pay for it.”—
Haven’t you heard? San Francisco is literally hell, a place where crusted-over old guard socialites mix—cautiously—with tech arrivistes. Vanity Fair has a foie gras slab of an article on the uneasy unity of sclerotic blue bloods and geeks. We’ve found the best (worst) chunks for you. Come on, look at that guy!
Everything Republicans say can’t or won’t work, California is making work. And everything conservatives claim will unravel the fabric of our society has only made California stronger. And all we had to do to accomplish that was vote out every single Republican.
“The mirth of the company, no doubt, enlivens our own mirth, and their silence, no doubt, disappoints us. But though this may contribute both to the pleasure which we derive from the one, and to the pain which we feel from the other, it is by no means the sole cause of either; and this correspondence of the sentiments of others with our own appears to be a cause of pleasure, and the want of it a cause of pain, which cannot be accounted for in this manner.”—Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments
…to reject solutionism is not to reject technology. Nor is it to abandon all hope that the world around us can be ameliorated; technology could and should be part of this project. To reject solutionism is to transcend the narrow-minded rationalistic mind-set that recasts every instance of an efficiency deficit—like the lack of perfect, comprehensive instructions in the kitchen—as an obstacle that needs to be overcome. There are other, more fruitful, more humanistic, and more responsible ways to think about technology’s role in enabling human flourishing, but solutionists are unlikely to grasp them unless they complicate their dangerously reductionist account of the human condition.
—Evgeny Morozov, To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism.
I wasn’t really feeling To Save Everything, Click Here because the beginning is mostly anecdotes and platitudes about The Dignity of Man, which for my quals-traumatized mind are just unreadable. But it’s starting to grow on me. Among other things, it’s reminded me that the Internet isn’t a monolithic defined object, but a space like any space. And, like Morozov does, we can put philosophers like Saint Jane Jacobs our lady of urban fetishists, in service of how we want it to work.
Obvs these are some “basic bitch” realizations but I’m new here.
Some parts of the Internet are more public than others, and privately-owned public space is a real thing in brick-and-mortar cities as well, and has similar possibilities and barriers to expression/use. However, unlike, say, a corporate plaza on a city street, there are deeper levels of usage and freedom of usage that require a rarified education (ie do u even code). Moreover, spaces on the internet aren’t simply forums for congregation, and seen another way aren’t spaces at all, but constitute the tools of expression itself. Our ability to function as people or citizens is dependent on access to these mouthpieces (how many university emails, for example, now operate on the Gmail platform?).
I read this great information-and-solutions-soaked blog (link) post about corporate shuttles in San Francisco which is a gift from the universe if you’ve been pondering both ownership of/rights to the Internet and cities and want to read about both at the same time. (It’s also more humane and reasoned than my own exasperated default haterade.) If massive (seriously! the Google bus puts the Reno-to-SF-tours-coach to shame!) buses physically block public transit, exacerbate traffic, and pose a danger to cyclists, they are very much encroaching on public space, not to mention the overall badness of an ever-extending network of private transportation, while public transportation is slashed. But what obligation do they have to do otherwise? The new capitalism profits off a perceived net gain for the public good, both by creating a new corporate culture (which, I think, could actually be good, esp if the situation of thousands of employees in Silicon Valley who work as “contractors” and thus without benefits is rectified); as well as having an ethically good product. But having bought into the product, at what point does the community of consumers-who-aren’t-just-consumers-anymore become a “public”? When, being a public, can that public legitimately demand proprietors of common space to consider obligations beyond short-term revenues?
All over the world people are finding new ways to access the things they need and create value out of the stuff they already have by sharing. We call this the sharing economy and together we want to make it the biggest economic story of the 21st century.
We created Peers by and for the people of the sharing economy and we hope you’ll join us at www.peers.org
The idea is simple!
We’re a crypto lobbying group for private interests and we want you to do free marketing for us using co-opted social justice terminology! Welcome to the sharing economy! Better hope Obamacare doesn’t get repealed because there’s no employment security or benefits in Economy 2.1.
"SAN FRANCISCO — Every weekday starting at dawn and continuing late into the evening, a shiny fleet of unmarked buses rolls through the streets of San Francisco, picking up thousands of young technology workers at dozens of stops and depositing them an hour’s drive south."
// is there a special tax on these shuttles? if not: why? i think it’s been proven that the city has zero interest in keeping firms with offices in another county happy. the cultural and financial contribution has been pretty minimal unless you measure standard of living and artistic production in boutique pizza parlours.
As someone whose politics are ultimately rooted in a borderline fascist obsession with public transportation as the benchmark of civilization, the annual Labor Day - Bay Bridge closure - 24 hour BART experience is basically my Burning Man.