In around 2015, in an independent coffee-house in Chester UK, I met with a man called Marcus E. I had been experimenting over the previous year and a bit with devolved online networks designed to enable people-power in #tech, via independent open-source software communities.
I suggested seeing many of the things people pay for – marketing materials, templates for work, etc. – as being basic utilities in a modern world of digital, which everyone, whatever their financial standing, should have free and open access to. Almost as if aspects and tricks of even things as apparently complex as marketing should become simple reusable utilities like water, food, shelter, and Internet access.
Inalienable human rights, if you like. After all, in a world where brains make livings, shouldn’t SOME things, SOME key tools, be moved into the realm of equal opportunity?
And goodness me, I even began to explore exchange systems to substitute money. I did an interesting exposition of what could one day be, which disappeared from the web when – unbeknownst to me – the social-media channel I had used to deliver it found itself gobbled up by a competitor.
In general, over this period, I did stuff quite cogently, quite exploratively, as is my wont.
I even got to make a formal presentation at a conference held by a Welsh university of journalism of considerable reputation, because of the things I was doing.
Some months before, I had already met, in the same city, with a man who claimed to have the ear of one of the giants of search: the ear of the founder that is – the man himself. I was offered a chance to use a brand-new Skype-killer as a tool for continuing my language-training business. He said I could have it for £10,000. It was already functioning spectacularly in Asia, so he suggested.
I didn’t take him up on it, though was very grateful for the offer. I suggested we continued talking. We left it at that.
But then the meeting with Mr Marcus.
It was a sunny morning, I remember. He represented a political party which had been up to its neck in Iraq, around the time I was falsely imprisoned on a trumped-up diagnosis of schizophrenia: this was 2003.
Mr Marcus came to me with a warning: he said there were a lot of very wealthy people out there, and they were watching. I didn’t appreciate it as a warning at the time. In fact, it’s only now I really do.
I couldn’t work out at the time if he meant the Murdoch empire, given the friction that later emerged between his party and the mogul. I now believe firmly no. The warnings did not come from Mr Murdoch, nor anyone connected with his company.
I think, in truth, Mr Marcus was a messenger for #siliconvalley. Someone wasn’t happy that I was suggesting, quite logically and persistently, that the changes the Valley was perpetuating were a choice THEY had made, not an inevitability WE all had to accept. (Let me add, at this point, that when I say Silicon Valley, I mean not only the tech industry traditionally understood to be located there, but other places, organisations and peoples who strongly identify with, support, and sustain its core philosophies re how best we should implement the world of technology.)
Since then, doors don’t open. Not for long. Not as fully as they could. Primarily, perhaps, because I still refuse to believe the only change we can contemplate is that which the Valley prefers.
And that’s all I can say for the moment. Until, maybe, a formal investigation is mounted. Tbh, I think my story, and the story of people like me, is to tech what “The Insider” was to Big Tobacco.
It would be good to find an Al Pacino, at this point. Though I am clearly NOT Russell Crowe!
Recently, then, and this perhaps explains better my drivers, I have begun to conceptualise a figure called #neoterrorism, particularly where directed at and imposed on the individual: the tools are of #bigdata, and are commonly used in aggressive #marketing. They involve #surveillancecapitalism’s broader toolkit to a highly focussed end: achieve defined and shared objectives of preventing concrete, targeted individuals from achieving their long-term democratic life goals and growth, where such goals and growth CANNOT be encouraged to align with the Valley’s.
I believed Mr Marcus was a messenger for such proponents of the neo-terrorism I now describe: strategies and acts which I am strongly convinced have been exerted on me from at least 2016, and maybe from as long ago as 2002.
And I believe this is something many other people have suffered dearly too: people whose only crime has been to strongly, finely, grandly believe that whilst change is inevitable – of course it is! – a choice ALWAYS exists around HOW … if we want it to.
It’s time we showed them we did.