Technologists sometimes suffer ahistoricism: because so much in the world of technology is new, when confronted with current affairs outside of tech, they reach first for tech—when they should reach for history.
It is a mistake to assume that the Internet is the appropriate stage on which to fight libertarian battles. It’s like looking for keys under the streetlamp. Authoritarian states predate the Internet. Your threat models do not apply.
Zoom out a moment. Maybe future historians will look back and see the rise of ISIS as simply the first of a series of tribalist, fundamentalist movements: with ISIS, the movement is superficially religious. In the UK, the movement is superficially nationalist. In the US, the movement is superficially partisan.
What’s the worst case scenario? Jane Jacobs suggested: Dark Ages 2.0. Brewster Kahle has clearly been reading his Asimov, and is planning a Foundation in Canada. In that worst case scenario, what should ordinary scientists do?
Maybe they can take inspiration from the archetype of the itinerant monk. To be precise, the kung fu monk. The one who, despite being a member of the monkhood, actually opposes the clergy, on behalf of the laity. First, sort out your own sources of personal power and immunity, then help others.
Tired / Wired:
tired: politics. wired: religion.
tired: echo chamber. wired: religious sect.
tired: technology. wired: magic.
tired: fake news. wired: evangelism.
tired: freedom of expression. wired: freedom of religion.
tired: fact and evidence. wired: narrative and believability.
tired: infosec. wired: opsec.
tired: immigrant democracy — “We’re all in this together”. wired: close the doors, we’re full.