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First POST: Generation W?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, September 17 2013

Generation W?

  • Philosopher Peter Ludlow has written a provocative essay called "The Banality of Systemic Evil," connecting the dots between Aaron Swartz, Jeremy Hammond, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden: they all believed that it was "sometimes necessary to break the rules that required obedience to the system in order to avoid systemic evil." And he thinks this may be a generational trend, noting that 70% of those 18-34 say that believe Snowden "did a good thing" in disclosing the NSA's vast surveillance programs. Ludlow writes:

    Persons of conscience who step outside their assigned organizational roles are not new. There are many famous earlier examples, including Daniel Ellsberg (the Pentagon Papers), John Kiriakou (of the Central Intelligence Agency) and several former N.S.A. employees, who blew the whistle on what they saw as an unconstitutional and immoral surveillance program (William Binney, Russ Tice and Thomas Drake, for example). But it seems that we are witnessing a new generation of whistleblowers and leakers, which we might call generation W (for the generation that came of age in the era WikiLeaks, and now the war on whistleblowing).

    The media’s desire to psychoanalyze members of generation W is natural enough. They want to know why these people are acting in a way that they, members of the corporate media, would not. But sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander; if there are psychological motivations for whistleblowing, leaking and hacktivism, there are likewise psychological motivations for closing ranks with the power structure within a system — in this case a system in which corporate media plays an important role. Similarly it is possible that the system itself is sick, even though the actors within the organization are behaving in accord with organizational etiquette and respecting the internal bonds of trust.

In other news around the web:

  • Just posted: With the NYC mayoral race consolidating into a head-to-head match-up between Bill De Blasio and Joe Lhota, our Miranda Neubauer takes a close look at the campaign expenditure filings to reveal who did what online during the primary.

  • Craig Newmark has been named a "nerd-in-residence" by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He believes this makes him "the biggest nerd in the USA." Well, maybe after Bobak Ferdowsk, NASA flight director.

  • Responding to last summer's massive wave of street protests, which were fueled in part by social media, Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, "is recruiting a 6,000 member social media team to woo citizens and fight critics," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The new initiative is concentrated on cities where the antigovernment protests and social-media use was greatest."

  • Iran has blocked Facebook and Twitter use again, after a one-day glitch led to a brief opening.

  • The New York Times public editor, Margaret Sullivan, takes issue with the paper's decision not to cover the Guardian's report on how the US routinely shares information the NSA gathers on American citizens with Israeli intelligence.

  • The Open Knowledge Conference has started in Geneva, and if you aren't there, you can follow along live here.

  • Tim O'Reilly goes deep on "How I Failed."