Just meat following rules

by Maria on May 2, 2017

Seminar on Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway

Recently, someone who works in an adjacent field was described by a friend as having been radicalised. It’s an odd verb, that, radicalised; to be made radical. It sounds almost as if it happens without agency. To have all the depth, complexity and contradiction in your understanding of human life boiled away, leaving the saltiest essence, crystallised on the bottom of a burnt saucepan. That would take some extreme heat, you would think.

Here’s what apparently happened to this guy. He published a book about competition. Part of it looked at search engines. Talking about the book soon after it was published, his tone was, by my friend’s account, pretty even-handed; full of ‘on the one hand, we need new ways of thinking about monopolies that aren’t just based on immediate consumer harm’, and ‘on the other hand, we get lots of nice shiny things from this free – to consumers – service’. But things started happening. Pieces got spiked. When he wrote about the issues, the company would complain, or insist on a right of reply, either directly or via proxies. And when he spoke in public, there was usually a paid stooge in the audience. [click to continue…]