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Freedom in the digital age

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Confronting The Techno Empire

Humanity has a long history of overcoming complicated challenges, even self-inflicted ones. Tyrants desperately want you to believe their control is total, inevitable, and impossible to reverse. This belief is not only a self-defeating illusion, it’s also very easy to dismantle. What’s harder to dismantle is the idea that many modern technologies aren’t inherently evil themselves.

For many, various devices and systems are themselves manifestations of the malicious intentions behind our modern digital experience. This is a perfectly understandable belief in many circumstances, smartphones themselves are notorious for being the gateway of online intrusion into people’s daily lives. Even worse, many of the major companies laying the foundation for almost all of the software and devices we use are themselves attached to shady organizations and hostile agendas.

Despite all this, there are many who are diligently working to unravel all of it, piece by piece. This can sound impossible until one takes the time to learn the fundamentals. When one starts to tune out all the propaganda and calm their fears of technological terror they can start to make progress at forging a different path. Those at the forefront of breaking new ground take the time to learn simple physics, a programming language or two, and a bit of engineering. The more skills these cyber rebels learn, the more cyberspace can be reclaimed for noble causes.

To those who take the time to reflect, things are in quite a recoverable state. We are a long way into rediscovering and mapping out the ideal software patterns and practices that avoid many, if not the vast majority of our modern-day woes. The truly immense challenges ahead are more fundamental and will require inspiration, creativity and a drive for real innovation. Low-level learning of circuitry, computer engineering, and how to program circuits will be the bedrock of the new cyber resistance. The cyber rebellion is all about making the best of what we have while building that which can truly work for the people rather than against them.

In the broader fight against tyranny, those with technological aptitude and understanding are vital in many underestimated ways. Just as vehicles adopting more surveillance technologies doesn’t make mechanics evil or useless, it creates an opportunity for skilled individuals to participate in a better way. Salvage, reverse engineering, repair, and creation are all vitally important techniques that will only become more important over time. Those practices will also themselves highlight lessons that are crucial to truly improving the devices and systems we use.

Cyber Rebel Profiles

Despite aiming for mostly similar goals, many digital rebels operate completely differently and have wildly different preferences. Instead of working to unite the differing flavors and specialties into a single consensus, the optimal path forward requires finding ways in which they can compliment each other. Aligning over shared goals, and knowing when to set differences aside is one of the most valuable skills in these times. The following profiles are generalities, and a single person may find it advantageous to dabble in more than one area of focus.

Digital Nomad

With almost every major platform having serious issues, digital nomads move from pasture to pasture to get the most out of what’s offered until things turn sour. These people will likely focus on one or maybe two devices, generally preferring whatever works on-the-go. Simplicity and elegance are valued over having any and every feature available. Often they tend to be quite good software developers, happy to build something that suits their particular needs. Digital nomads prefer systems that works in close proximity like peer-to-peer messengers such as briar, and ephemeral services like nostr.

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Cyber Homesteader

Instead of taking the web for what it is, these individuals focus on building up their own micro-internet. Self-hosting services, using powerful hardware the cyber homesteader dreams of being able to provide fully-featured network of services for those around them. By building up their own services and community, a cyber homesteader is able to reduce reliance on the Internet as a whole. They have the advantage of leveraging the latest and greatest hardware to enable others to have reasonably secure infrastructure with a decent amount of work. With the same skills, even a pile of old hardware can be transformed into a micro data-center with a high amount of utility.

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Specializations

Archivist

Despite the problems of the current Internet, there’s a tremendous amount of valuable information worth preserving. Never before has so much knowledge been able to fit in something as small as a simple microSD card. Just as immediately as people started sharing information, data was beginning to be eroded by time, technical changes, and outright destruction. By curating a personal collection of data, the “data-hoarder” works to ensure valuable insights, great works, and magnificent art isn’t lost to entropy forever.

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Computer Wizard

A good developer is worth a great deal. With the right focus, well-made software can make what we want to do easier and what we don’t want harder. These people are problem solvers through and through, the challenge is to get them interested in the right problems! Computer wizards are also excellent at securing software and systems. Those who learn from the cypherpunks will build systems that are resilient from surveillance and censorship alike.

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Mechanical Mind

Those with a sophisticated understanding of how hardware works on a physical level can make the impossible doable. Getting the most out of hardware that exists, or being able to reprogram logic circuits are skills that can resolve a great many problems. To a great mechanical mind there aren’t good and evil devices, only components that can be stripped out and put to better use. With the ability to make the most out of existing components, and even build new ones, the opportunities are endless.

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Cyber Muse

Those with a flair for presentation, can hone their skills in multimedia. No matter what the medium, their expertise is ensuring that tyrants can’t stop the signal. Getting the word out by a variety of means, these cyber rebels work to ensure they’re heard by other rebels and even those captured by the techno empire. Having a broad understanding of media formats, live production, and various multimedia skills allows them to be very useful in a pinch!

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Retro Conservationist

Nostalgia not a dirty word! One can the principle of “If it ain’t broke, don’t throw it away!”. In the 2020s one would be very surprised at what can be accomplished with hardware from a decade ago. A retro conservationist is crucial to keeping systems running across long periods of time, having seen first hand how entropy treats machines. Our culture throws a lot away, and there’s a great deal that can be repurposed instead of wasted.

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Futurist

There will always be those fascinated by the latest and greatest to see where the limits are. Following emerging trends can help those both new and experienced adopt new techniques or refine existing practices. Often there are useful new strategies that can be applied in other contexts. Those reflecting on the latest and greatest can get a sense for where new opportunities lie.

Battlefields

But where will you find all these fantastic net warriors? If you’re lucky you may find a couple sticking around on mainstream social media or accessible platforms, but these days you’ll find a majority of them engaging in the fight for the web itself.

Independent Web

We can rebuild the web by taking part. No matter how bad search engines get, or how void of information mainstream websites become, there is always the opportunity of creating an oasis in the desert. Too many forget that the web itself is an open, decentralized, permission-less system that is vital in the fight to oppose tyranny in all its forms.

Decentralized Social Media

To some it may come as a surprise to know that social media can already outside corporate control. There are a variety of protocols but the two major ones are nostr and activitypub, both effectively part of the larger Fediverse. By migrating to owner operated systems surveillance and censorship can both be challenged directly, at the cost of working out how to cooperate in an open network.

Networks

There’s a very powerful tug-of-war going on. The fight to wrestle control over the entire single world-wide Internet has the potential to destroy it forever. Those interested in the ability for people around the world to challenge power have to wrestle with the consequences either way. There’s a wide variety of strategies that can be employed, but overcoming this challenge requires a lot more study by brilliant minds.

Machine Brawl

Changing the technological landscape over the long time requires changes in hardware. There is only so much that can be done in software, eventually more deliberate work is needed to make improvements. It is possible to reclaim many modern conveniences without sacrificing autonomy or privacy if effort is put into improving the very foundation of our digital experience. Those engaged in rewiring the future have a great deal of power to have a massive impact.


If you’d like to suggest a resource, feel free to reach out!

Gabriel

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Published: Jun 10 2024
Tags: Remoralization Decentralization Cyber Rebellion

Attention Democracy with William Maggos

Mar 06 2024 Gabriel

In a special converation you would have a hard time finding elsewhere, Gabriel joins William Maggos to discuss the fediverse, attention economy, and the Culture War. Taking a sober look at the very foundation of our media and online discussions, William Maggos introduces the concept of attention democracy, where we can have a real impact on culture by choosing platforms that put people in charge of helping spread ideas and culture.

Tools: the Good and the Bad

Jun 27 2023 Gabriel

If all you have is a hammer, suddenly every single thing starts to look like a nail. Hardly and tool itself is wholly evil or entirely good. Not only are the tools themselves important, how we use them matters quite a bit as well. This applies all the way from the entire software ecosystem, down to the hardware components themselves. The fundamental attributes of the tool will set the incentives for how they can be used, and how they are used creates incentives for how future tools will be made.

Raise your Shield

May 19 2023 Gabriel

It’s a cliche nowadays to point out that society is fractured. The Culture Wars are no longer a side-show for the politically obsessed, instead they are front-and center in the spectacle, aggressively inciting the wider public to participate. Hate your family? Hate your community? Hate your country? Even worse, do you hate yourself? There is no shortage of (often quite valid) reasons to keep you in a prison of rage and despair.


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