Coming to terms with cyberlibertarianism

Knowhere from Guardians of the Galaxy. Becasue it’s sort of related. Source: empireonline

There’s no ‘I’ in technology…

Cyberlibertarianism sounds less than ideal. The Californian Ideology’s ambition for “unfettered interactions between autonomous individuals and their software” to replace current societal structures (Golumbia 3), and its ‘individualism, individualism, individualism’ mantra sounds like it would result in a lawless backwater like Knowhere, the “no regulations” world in the Guardians of the Galaxy film (Any place where an individual can amass a collection of live sentient and non-sentient species seems somewhat concerning).

A world where it’s “too bad” if economic and political inequalities make some people better-off than others didn’t appeal when couched in Luhmann’s systematic terms, and still doesn’t when wrapped up in cyberlibertarian ideology (Golumbia 9).

How about cybergrootism instead? Source: buzzhub

… But there is an ‘I’ in iPhone

Winner points out how far removed most of us are from “technology-shaping” processes (1013-1015). In an internet-age when every (digitally-enabled) person supposedly has a say, it is sobering how limited one’s voice really is.

Can we “forcefully demand” a role in sociotechnogical decision-making? My sister and I are currently researching new smartphone purchases. She likes the Fairphone, an ‘ethical smartphone’ supporting conflict-free mining and electronics worker-unionisation.

Fairphone story

Source: Screen grab from

The Fairphone not only appeals to existing ‘conscious consumers’ who place certain social and environmental standards on the products they buy, it also has the potential to create conscious consumers. The Fairphone company aims to use their smartphone as ‘a storytelling device’ , thereby exposing often dubious social practices behind smartphone manufacturing. Fairphone believes it is “building a phone to create a fairer economy”.

But has the Fairphone arrived too late to profoundly influence smartphone production and consumption? Smartphones of questionable ‘fairness’ are ubiquitous these days. Case in point, the Oneplus One. Despite ethical concerns regarding the One’s production (and awful gendered marketing), the highly customisable interface, adjustable privacy settings, and other bells and whistles are (excuse the anthropomorphisation) wooing me into buying my first smartphone.

Maybe I’m a horrible cyberlibertarian after all.


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