Blog Articles 106–110

Digital Pasts

That post was written on May 13, 2003. It’s just a few thoughts on games. That’s it. Snowden made over 773 posts to the Ars Technica forums, and the one I shared above has nothing to do with anything, really. That’s how we act on forums, especially before Twitter. They were often a place to scribble a few thoughts, to jot a quick message to whoever was reading. Rarely do we think of anything we saw as being a part of who we are, or a manifesto leading to further actions. It’s a way to scream at the ocean, not to create a blueprint for our future selves.

— Ben Kuchera on our online pasts and chatting about games.

Snowden and the Chain of Command

A common refrain in articles attacking Snowden for leaking the NSA documents is that he worked alone and didn’t go up the chain of command.

I beg to disagree. No, he did not go one or two steps up the chain of command. He knew what would happen — he would be red-flagged and stopped. His career would likely be over, with no serious discourse or change to show for it.

He went higher up the chain of command. The problem goes all the way to the President and Congress, so he went over their heads. He went, via the press, to the American people. That is exactly how representative democracy is supposed to work.

Spam harvesting via CraigsList

The tricks of spammers are many and subtle. And I’m not always sure what their game is.

I was selling something on CraigsList recently. One of the inquiries I received asked me to e-mail the person’s personal e-mail, included in the mail message, directly (rather than hitting Reply); this was ostensibly to keep scammers and bots out. A bit odd, maybe, but somewhat plausible (at least in a misestimating-computer-capabilities kind of way), and CraigsList interactions are full of communications behavior that seems odd to me. I sold the item to someone else, but to close all my open loops on it, I e-mailed the address they specified to tell them that the item had been sold.

Big mistake. Since then, I’ve gotten at least a dozen e-mails, all with the same subject as that mail I sent and similar text about being interested in or attracted to me and my ad, asking me to sign up on a particular site (no fee, of course!) to send a private message. Occasionally, a picture is attached.

I’m not entirely sure what the game is with this. Phishing? Malware installation? Getting credit card info? I haven’t visited any of the linked sites, so I don’t know. But it’s yet another “spammers are doing what? and why?” moment.

Lean In? Or not?

The loser in the Lean In vision of work isn’t one version of feminism or another—other feminist organizations and publications will continue to flourish alongside Lean In, though they may receive less media attention—but uncapitalized, unmonetized life itself. Just as Facebook relies on users to faithfully upload their data to drive site growth, Facebook relies on its employees to devote ever greater time to growing Facebook’s empire.

The fact that Lean In is really waging a battle for work and against unmonetized life is the reason pregnancy, or the state of reproducing life, looms as the corporate Battle of Normandy in Lean In. Pregnancy, by virtue of the body’s physical focus on human reproduction, is humanity’s last, biological stand against the corporate demand for workers’ continuous labor. For Sandberg, pregnancy must be converted into a corporate opportunity: a moment to convince a woman to commit further to her job. Human life as a competitor to work is the threat here, and it must be captured for corporate use, much in the way that Facebook treats users’ personal activities as a series of opportunities to fill out the Facebook-owned social graph.

— Kate Losse’s fascinating critique of Lean In.