Not Signed-In
Which clippings match 'Internet Utopianism' keyword pg.1 of 1
18 OCTOBER 2016

HyperNormalisation: our retreat into a simplified version of the world

"The documentary is inspired by the unpredictable events of recent times – from the rise of Donald Trump to Brexit, the war in Syria, the endless migrant crisis, and random bomb attacks. It seeks to explain both why these chaotic events are happening, and why we and our leaders can't understand them. Curtis's theory is that Westerners - politicians, journalists, experts and members of the public alike - have retreated into a simplified, and often completely fake version of the world. But because it is all-encompassing, we accept it as normal.

HyperNormalisation explores this hollow world by looking back at 40 years of events, and profiling a diverse cast of characters such as: the Assad dynasty, Donald Trump, Henry Kissinger, Patti Smith, the early performance artists in New York, President Putin, intelligent machines, Japanese gangsters and suicide bombers."

(Holly Barrett, 22nd September 2016, Royal Television Society)



20169/11 • Acid Phreak (pseudonym) • Adam CurtisAfghanistan • AirBnB • Alexei Yurchak • Anthony GiddensArab Spring • Arkady Strugatsky • BBC documentary • BBC iPlayer • Boris Strugatsky • Brexit • British filmmaker • British National Front • Carl Rogers • cartoon villain • chaos • chaotic events • chatbot • civil rights movement • Corrupt (pseudonym) • cyber activism • cyberspace • Damascus • David Frost • Declaration of Independence in Cyberspace • delusion • digital rightsdisruptive innovationdocumentaryDonald Trump • Eli Ladopoulos • ELIZA (natural language processing) • fakeness • functioning society • Gulf War • HAC (pseudonym) • Hafez al-Assad • Henry Kissinger • hippies • hypernormalisation • HyperNormalisation (2016) • intelligent machines • internet utopianismIraq • John Barlow • John Lee • Joseph Weizenbaum • Judea Pearl • Julio Fernandez • late communist period • Lester Coleman • liability theory • Lionel Ritchie • machine fetishisation • Mark Abene • Martha Rosler • Masters of Deception (MOD) • migrant crisis • Muammar Gaddafi • Muslim Brotherhood • New YorkNigel FarageOccupy Wall Street • Outlaw (pseudonym) • paradoxPatti Smith • Paul Stira • performance artists • Phiber Optik (pseudonym) • powerlesspretence • random bomb attacks • retreat into simplified views of the world • Roadside Picnic (1972) • Ronald Reagan • Royal Television Society • Scorpion (pseudonym) • self-absorbed baby boomers • self-fulfilling prophecy • Soviet UnionStalker (1979)suicide bombersSyria • Tahir Square • techno-panic • techno-utopiaterrorism • time of great uncertainty • Timothy LearyTron • Uber • Vladimir PutinVladislav Surkov • War in Syria • Yakuza


Simon Perkins
12 MAY 2013

With Enough Data, the Numbers Speak for Themselves...

"Not a chance. The promoters of big data would like us to believe that behind the lines of code and vast databases lie objective and universal insights into patterns of human behavior, be it consumer spending, criminal or terrorist acts, healthy habits, or employee productivity. But many big–data evangelists avoid taking a hard look at the weaknesses. Numbers can't speak for themselves, and data sets –– no matter their scale –– are still objects of human design. The tools of big–data science, such as the Apache Hadoop software framework, do not immunize us from skews, gaps, and faulty assumptions. Those factors are particularly significant when big data tries to reflect the social world we live in, yet we can often be fooled into thinking that the results are somehow more objective than human opinions. Biases and blind spots exist in big data as much as they do in individual perceptions and experiences. Yet there is a problematic belief that bigger data is always better data and that correlation is as good as causation."

(Kate Crawford, 12 May 2013, Foreign Policy)



Apache Hadoop • biasbig data • big-data science • blind spot • causal relationshipscausationcodecomputer utopianism • consumer spending • criminal actscyberspacedata abstractiondata analysisdata collection and analysisdataset • Foreign Policy (magazine) • globalisationhealthy habitsimplicit informationimplicit meaningInternetinternet utopianism • looking at the numbers • network ecologynetworked society • objects of human design • patterns of human behaviourpatterns of meaningquantified measurementreliability and validityscientific ideas • security intelligence • social world • terrorist acts • Twitterunderlying order • universal insights • universal methoduniversal rationality


Simon Perkins
31 MAY 2011

Adam Curtis: the network ecology myth

"The new series, called All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace, takes complicated ideas and turns them into entertainment by the use of the vertigo–inducing intellectual leaps, choppy archive material and disorienting music with which all Curtis fans are familiar. The central idea leads Curtis on a journey, taking in the chilling über–individualist novelist Ayn Rand, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, the 'new economy', hippy communes, Silicon Valley, ecology, Richard Dawkins, the wars in Congo, the lonely suicide in a London squat of the mathematical genius who invented the selfish gene theory, and the computer model of the eating habits of the pronghorn antelope.

You can see why Zoe Williams once wrote that, while watching one of Curtis's programmes, 'I kept thinking the dog was sitting on the remote. ...'

Now he has moved on to machines, but it starts with nature. 'In the 1960s, an idea penetrated deep into the public imagination that nature is a self–regulating ecosystem, there is a natural order,' Curtis says. 'The trouble is, it's not true–as many ecologists have shown, nature is never stable, it's always changing. But the idea took root and spread wider–people started to believe there is an underlying order to the entire world, to how society is structured. Everything became part of a system, like a computer; no more hierarchies, freedom for all, no class, no nation states.' What the series shows is how this idea spread into the heart of the modern world, from internet utopianism and dreams of democracy without leaders to visions of a new kind of stable global capitalism run by computers. But we have paid a price for this: without realising it we, and our leaders, have given up the old progressive dreams of changing the world and instead become like managers–seeing ourselves as components in a system, and believing our duty is to help that system balance itself. Indeed, Curtis says, 'The underlying aim of the series is to make people aware that this has happened–and to try to recapture the optimistic potential of politics to change the world.'

The counterculture of the 1960s, the Californian hippies, took up the idea of the network society because they were disillusioned with politics and believed this alternative way of ordering the world was based on some natural order. So they formed communes that were non–hierarchical and self–regulating, disdaining politics and rejecting alliances. (Many of these hippy dropouts later took these ideas mainstream: they became the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who decided that computers could liberate everyone and save the world.)...

He draws a parallel with those 1970s communes. 'The experiments with them all failed, and quickly. What tore them apart was the very thing that was supposed to have been banished: power. Some people were more free than others – strong personalities dominated the weak, but the rules didn't allow any organised opposition to the suppression because that would be politics.' As in the commune, so in the world: 'These are the limitations of the self–organising system: it cannot deal with politics and power. And now we're all disillusioned with politics, and this machine–organising principle has risen up to be the ideology of our age.'"

(Katharine Viner, 6 May 2011, Guardian)

Episode 1: 'All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace: Love and Power', First broadcast BBC Two, 9:00PM Mon, 23 May 2011
Episode 2: 'All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace: The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts', First broadcast BBC Two, 9:00PM Mon, 30 May 2011
Episode 3: 'All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace: The Monkey In The Machine and the Machine in the Monkey', First broadcast BBC Two, 9:00PM Mon, 06 June 2011



1960s1970sabstract modelabstractionAdam Curtis • Alan Greenspan • All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace • archive footageAyn RandBBC2Bill MurrayblogsCarmen Hermosillochange • commune • computer model • computer utopianism • confessional memoirs • control societyconvergencecounterculturecultural expressioncyberspacedemocracydigital cultureecologyemotions become commodified • Esther Rantzen • evolution • expressions of power • Facebookfreedom • Georgia • global capitalism • hierarchical structures • hierarchies • hierarchy • hippy communes • hippy dropouts • hyper-consumerismideologyideology of the timeindividualisminternet utopianism • Kyrgyzstan • Loren Carpenter • machines • Mayfair Set • mercantilist economy • modern world • natural order • network ecologynetworked societynetworksnon-hierarchical • non-hierarchical societies • orderingPongpopular culture • punchdrunk • reflexive modernisationRichard Dawkinsscientific ideasself-organising systemself-regulating • self-regulating ecosystem • selfish gene theory • Silicon Valleysocial experimentssocial mediasocialist realismsociety • Soviet realism • stability • stable order • Stakhanovites • structuresystems theorytechnology convergencetelevision documentary • TUC • TwitterUkraineunderlying orderunstable • Westminster • White House • Zoe Williams


Simon Perkins

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