Paint with Donald Trump; why we open data; NH library may or may not support Tor; and more.
Everyone knows that Silicon Valley has made over San Francisco in its techno-utopian image, but Brett Scott writes in aeon that another victim of gentrification is the intangible thing one might called the ‘hacker ethos’:
The countercultural trickster has been pressed into the service of the preppy tech entrepreneur class. It began innocently, no doubt. The association of the hacker ethic with startups might have started with an authentic counter-cultural impulse on the part of outsider nerds tinkering away on websites. But, like all gentrification, the influx into the scene of successive waves of ever less disaffected individuals results in a growing emphasis on the unthreatening elements of hacking over the subversive ones.
Although he focuses mostly on the debasement of hacker values for profit, it’s impossible not to also think of the state or business-sponsored “hackathon,” which focuses the techno-activist’s energy on sanctioned solutions to society’s problems. However, hacker culture—unlike the physical spaces we normally think of when we say gentrification—is not a zero-sum game. While the language of the hacker might have been co-opted for profit, the “true” hacker spirit (whatever that may be) is still out there. As Scott writes:
It’s in the emergent forms of peer production and DIY culture, in maker-spaces and urban farms. We see it in the expansion of ‘open’ scenes, from open hardware to open biotech, and in the intrigue around 3D printers as a way to extend open-source designs into the realm of manufacture.
Related: In Kernel, an interview by Jesse Hicks with one of the authors of The Misfit Economy, Alexa Clay. Clay describes the book as “basically a manifesto for people to really embrace their own inner misfit, their rogue or their counter-cultural personality.” Hacking is featured prominently. Although she sings the praises of whistleblowers like Snowden or hacker collectives like UX in Paris, that operate outside of market forces, she concludes, “I don’t think the misfit economy is a blueprint for a new economy…but I think it’s really a set of skills for an economy in transition, which is where we’re at right now.”
More dispatches from Silicon Valley: Dylan Matthews went to the Effective Altruism Global conference and wrote about it for Vox, finding that attendees were pretty uninterested in addressing the problems we have here and now, like global poverty, in favor of talking about distant and indistinct threats like artificial intelligence.
In this behind-the-scenes style video by Brent McDonald and John Woo for the New York Times, activists from the Movement for Black Lives read aloud tweets from the past year. Two of the three activists featured, DeRay Mckesson and Johnetta Elzie, were arrested during a sit-in outside the U.S. attorney’s office in St. Louis yesterday, Ryan J. Reilly and Julia Craven report for the Huffington Post.
We wish we were kidding: Alabama State Senator Paul Sanford created a GoFundMe campaign to close the state’s budget shortfall, since raising taxes is out of the question. The campaign specifies that you can earmark your donation for a particular government function, prompting one donor to say, “From the Gay Confederate Flag Burning Society of Alabama! Please earmark for rainbow flags atop all government buildings,” and another to write, “Please use this money for cab fare to your local library and check out any economics text book by Friedrich Hayek.”
Nancy Scola reports for Politico that Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig is exploring a bid for the presidency.
GovTech: 18F has released a beta deck of Design Methods, “a collection of research and design practices that we use to better understand and serve the users of our products.”
Yesterday, Wikimedia passed the 2.5 billion edits marker.
Opportunities: The MIT Media Lab Digital Currency Initiative has announced $75,000 in scholarships for 50 young women and underrepresented people of color to attend the CoinDesk Consensus 2015 digital currency conference in NY on September 10th. Apply here.