Online anonymity is a right, not a privilege

Here’s a great TechDirt article on the importance of online anonymity. As it points out, the only people claiming that real-name policies will fix online abuse are those with power in society. Not only is it not true (apparently users are more likely to post abuse when using their real names, not less), but requiring the use of real names can act as a gag order on many people – and cynically, I think this is the real motivation behind the call.

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Here’s an important article on how the Left must get ready to deal with deplatforming by Big Tech. It’s all very well to celebrate fascists getting booted off centralised web services like AWS or Twitter (that’s my instinct too!) but realistically, if the Left ever got its shit together long enough to be on the brink of forcing real, revolutionary change, we would also get booted off within the blink of an eye. Big Tech would never allow for the calling of a transfer of economic power away from board members and large shareholders, or the establishment of a democratically-run, zero-growth economy, and capitalist governments would never allow for the calling of decolonisation or real, direct democracy – not if these causes seemed within range of succeeding. I don’t think we’re in a historical moment where these concerns are applicable just yet (at least not in Australia…) but I think leftists should familiarise themselves with the issues and solutions even so, to be prepared for if or when they are.

Tomorrow (26 January) is a public holiday in Australia, marking the day white colonists arrived at what’s now Sydney and began ethnically cleansing Aboriginal people to take the land for themselves. Here’s a great article on the subject by Gundai-Gunditjmara woman Meriki Onus.

Addition (3½ hrs later): A Twitter thread by the same author, outlining the reasons for and demands of the Invasion Day marches. ✊

Political labels on the Left

If I ever asked you to describe your politics, the exact word you’d label those politics with is a lot less important to me than the actual ideas and principles you’d be using that word to describe. This is something that comes to mind a lot when I’m asked to describe my politics (or am trying to put a label on myself, like for a social media profile). I know what my politics are, but putting a label on them is always fraught, because different people use the same words for drastically different things.

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🏏 Interesting article here by Usman Khawaja on the hostility of Australian cricket to aspiring players from immigrant backgrounds, something he describes as “slowly changing”. IMO the pressure needs to be on for shit to change much faster, as it has for the women’s game.

Stray thoughts on the storming of the US Capitol

It seemed like it would be remiss of me to post today without mentioning the day’s biggest news: the storming of the US Capitol building by far-right extremists. Now I’m sure there are many people out there who are more informed, posting more insightful commentaries on the day’s events and all the years of developments that have been building up to this moment. So please don’t take this as an attempt to be on par with those people 😌 This is simply me recording what came to my mind, personally, once I found out what had happened (and as I scrolled through Twitter subsequently).

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Yesterday Melbourne reported its first locally-acquired Covid-19 cases in two months. Today we found out the common link… a restaurant two suburbs away from me, back on December 21st 😐 Considering all the gatherings that’ve taken place since then, I’m suddenly a lot more nervous…

Three quick links

I found these through Mastodon and Twitter, and while each could have sustained a linkpost on its own, the fact that I wanted to post all of them at once has made me roll them into one.

Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed is a great little article about how the standard 40-hour work week is designed to leave us crushed and exhausted, and how this influences our choices in recreation (i.e. spending money for fast gratification, instead of doing something that might be free but takes more time and maybe some hard work to reach the rewarding part, like creative pursuits).

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Thoughts on gender and (my) pronouns

Recently I’ve been spending a little more time browsing Mastodon, and one of the things that’s caused me to think about is why I don’t feel comfortable nominating some preferred pronouns on my profile (which is a popular thing to do over there). Part of me just feels like my display name – “Jessica” – is already pretty obviously gendered, so the “elegant” thing would be for the viewer to infer my pronouns from that.

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Great article on the cyberpunk genre, which emerged as a critique of technological development under neoliberal capitalism, but has now been reduced to an aesthetic enjoyable even by the very people making the dystopia come true: Cyberpunk Needs a Reboot.

photo of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society. See her homepage here.