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Where I explain why SOPA, ACTA and the Aaron Swartz case happened.

March 4, 2013

Up to probably around a thousand, maybe two thousand years ago, metalworking was special. It was not just a skilled line of work done by a special knowledgeable few, it was magic. There’s a reason Thor wields a big magic hammer. Nobody understood it, not even the metal workers themselves.Through experimentation they came up with rules of how to do things, in a particular sequence, but they did not know why it had to be done exactly like that. And metals generally don’t come in pure forms. The best copper during the copper age was hard. They didn’t know why. Now we know it is because it had high amounts of arsenic in it. Many early metalworkers probably died from strange diseases brought on by being poisoned by metals. What was going on was clearly a dark, dangerous magic.

Today we understand chemistry quite well. And with “we”, I mean humanity, to me it’s still a sort of dark dangerous magic. But when hunter-gatherers see the world as full of small spirits, and there is no difference between religion and daily life, with the start of metal working some people were clearly doing different kinds of magic than others. It may not be a coincidence that everywhere we look around the world, when metal working arrives we see the rise of religions and priesthoods.

And today, we have a new technology that many people do not understand. Just like everyone used metal tools, but very few was able to make them, everyone uses computers today, but most people can not program them. Computers also are incomprehensible, and you often need to do things in  a special order even if you don’t know why. Using a word processor or a content management system can become a ritual, where you do a certain list of steps in  a particular order, without fully understanding what you are doing. I’ve seen many people have notebooks or word documents full of step-by-step instructions for doing things like posting a new press release on the web page, etc.

For most people, computers are simply magic. But we computer programmers, we seem to make computers and the internet do our bidding. We can handle this magic, and we don’t even die of arsenic poisoning. There is a theory that the legend of drawing a sword from a stone started as a metaphor for metal working. Computer programmers are today’s metal smiths, and we seem to be able to command a kind of magic that enables us to draw information from the internet.

There are no priesthoods yet, partly because society already has it’s own priesthoods to do not embrace this new magic. But where you get stale priesthoods threatened by something external, you also get these priesthoods defending themselves. And that defence comes in two major versions.

The first version is simply a general oppression, reducing freedom and attempting to make the new thing illegal. That is what both SOPA and ACTA is about. They are the establishment reacting to a technology they don’t understand, and hence view like magic. So they are trying to stop it, mainly by simply making it illegal. In Sweden, since the Pirate Bay case, it is illegal to link to material that is infringing on copyright. And since you have no control over what you link points at, any link can be changed at the receiving end, you can suddenly find yourself a criminal. Do I think that will happen? Yes.

Because in some cases the general oppression leaks over into an effort of getting to one particular individual, no matter what. Or in other words, a witch hunt. And in that case, anything that can be used against that person will be used against that person. And since as a part of the general oppression it has become illegal to do what everyone is already doing, anyone can tied to the pole and set on fire.

Aaron Swartz was, in the eyes of those prosecuting him, a magician. They would never admit to this, because they don’t believe in magic ahaha that would be ridiculous. But the fact is they they don’t understand what he did, or how he did it. To them, computers, internet and open source is incomprehensible, and therefore dangerous and therefore it must be stopped at whatever the cost. And as long as these people run the courts and big business and sit in political offices, this will be the case.

And if these people and their witch hunts aren’t stopped soon, anyone with a smart phone will be a criminal.


From → plone, python

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