Usernames suck, actually, and maybe it’s time we did something different . . .

One of the more amusing interactions I see on fandom.ink is people realising they don’t have to use their casgirl28747930 style usernames from the big social media platforms . . . but that you also can’t change a Mastodon username, so they have to migrate to a new account in order to get the name they actually want.

2021-03-22T09:08:57+11:004th April, 2021|Tags: |


And it’s these young professionals – not the boomer career politicians – who are setting the tone of internet policy.

And here’s the thing.

We – the GenXers – think of the internet as the open web. The land of dialup telnet Unix systems, the days of table layout, the days of dot com, the days of early tech startups, the days of the internet as a connector, the days of the internet as a business opportunity, the days of the internet as a path to social justice and revolutions, the days of the internet as a light in the darkness. That’s all we have ever known.

Today’s policy facilitators – the millenials – think of the internet as MySpace and Facebook. The closed web. The land of always-on broadband and wifi, the days of content management systems, the days of tech bros, the days of the internet as a divider, the days of the internet as an acquisition for the giants, the days of the internet as a path to radicalisation and hatred, the days of the internet as petrol on a spark. That is all they have ever known.

And that is what they draft policy briefings, proposals, and legislation against.

Heather Burns on policy.

For the record, I don’t . . . entirely buy the premise of this essay (I am a Millennial who very much grew up on the open web, for example) but I do think it’s an interesting perspective all the same.

2021-03-04T11:52:46+11:0025th March, 2021|Tags: |


This is what makes Musk’s Mars vision so different than, say, the Apollo missions or the International Space Station. This isn’t really exploration for humanity’s sake — there’s not that much science assumed here, as there was in the Moon missions. Musk wants to build the ultimate luxury package, exclusively for the richest among us. […] He wants to build Mars-a-Lago.

And an economy based on tourism, particularly high-end tourism, needs employees — even if a high degree of automation is assumed. [T]hat means a lot of labor at the lowest cost possible. Imagine signing away years of your life to be a housekeeper in the Mars-a-Lago hotel, with your communications, water, food, energy usage, even oxygen tightly managed by your employer, and no government to file a grievance to if your employer cuts your wages, harasses you, cuts off your oxygen. Where would Mars-a-Lago’s employees turn if their rights were impinged upon? Oh wait, this planet is run privately? You have no rights. Musk’s vision for Mars colonization is inherently authoritarian. The potential for the existence of the employees of the Martian tourism industry to slip into something resembling indentured servitude, even slavery, cannot be underestimated.

On private colonization.

So I’m definitely not one of those “all space colonization is bad!” people and I think the widespread private exploitation of space is probably inevitable1 whether we like it or not. But that also doesn’t mean sitting back and allowing cut-rate Bond villains named after unwanted smells free reign to do whatever the fuck they like, either.

Unfortunately, the current space treaty leaves us in a position where there really isn’t any option but to allow private space colonization, largely because government colonization is explicitly banned. Which I’m sure is one of those things that seemed like a great idea at the time. I suppose the “obvious” answer is to, like, establish some kind of Government of Mars or whatever2 but, like. There are some pretty serious logistical hurdles about how to go about actually doing that. So this is what we get in the meantime.

  1. Pending the total collapse of capitalism in the next decade, I guess. []
  2. Actually the obvious obvious answer is for sovereign nations on Earth to make engaging in space tourism a crime, in the same way sex and drug tourism are crimes. But, again, hardly a perfect solution. []
2021-03-04T07:51:15+11:0024th March, 2021|Tags: , , |


So this post is very… EFFy/Doctorowy and contains a lot of… EFFy/Doctorowy sort of grossness like hella on-the-nose comparisons between social media and Soviet-occupied Germany,1 for example. But. Still. The broader point about “fixing platforms” versus “fixing the internet” is not entirely terrible.

  1. Americans, don’t fucking do this shit, okay? You’re not clever. []
2021-03-04T07:36:11+11:0023rd March, 2021|Tags: , |
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