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[liberationtech] my geek manifesto for 2013

Shava Nerad shava23 at
Tue Jan 1 23:54:42 PST 2013

After seeing (virtually) a very activated crowd of speakers at 28c3 this
week, and thinking about a number of issues that were touching the media
involving technology, society and media recently, I was actually left
teetering on discouraged.  There's so much that needs doing and it seems to
depend on so few people -- I see people burning out, and my own health has
been in ruins now for five years.  I can't do anything but cheer from the
sidelines, and I used to feel such frustration with people who wrote and
did not act.  Heh.

One of the readers of my blog challenged me as to why anyone comfortable in
their home should even care about the things I write about.  And I kind of
assume that the people who follow my blogging are self-selecting to some
extent, but it made me think about all the people I know in the geek
community who are sympathetic but feel that if anything, expressing
sympathy is the only thing they have the power to do, or maybe sending a
few bucks a year to EFF or somesuch.  Clicktivism, at best.

Any time I hear someone tell me they admire my work at Tor (or OPN or
somesuch) I want to tell them, "I was a single mother.  Dinner was often
late.  I stopped watching TV.  I didn't date for a good deal of the time.
 At all.  Then my boyfriend practically had to kidnap me to get my
attention, sometimes.  Dishes didn't get done.  It was a 14h a day LARP
though, even if a lot of it was stupid paperwork.  But you know, Sturgeon's
Law says 90% of everything is crap -- I figured, 60% of that job was crap
so it was a net win, and I got to see awesome things manifest in the world
in the company of good people.  I also got to see a small number of
terrifying things up close and personal.  But you could do something to do
something like it -- you just have to redefine your comfort zone.  Want to
LARP IRL?  Save the world?  Fill out way too many financial forms and scut
work?  Learn new stuff every day?"  There are some things I did that a lot
of people can't do; but there are some things that need doing that most
people engaged bright people can do.  But they don't, as we know, for any
variety of reasons.

So I spent today thinking about what I could say to any person from my
community -- some intersection of geek intellectual affinity, say, fandom,
steampunks, cypherpunks, makers, otaku, free culture, free software, open
source, whatever -- who felt slapped by being a geek maybe with ADHD,
grouped by APA politics onto the autism spectrum, then told that people
with autism shoot schoolkids with automatic weapons (which is far more
important that geeks writing code to help people or anything else someone
might do, regardless of the validity of any of it).  How all of the
election year floor show makes it all look like liars and bullies and
nothing you'd want to expose yourself to without a hazmat suit.  That the
idea that the geeks might inherit the earth, far less have had profound
influence and continue to have a reforming and significant influence
(sometimes whether we want to or not consciously) can seem ridiculous but
often feels to some of us like a trust handed to us on this
multi-generational Spaceship Earth project we're stranded on (singularity
excluded).  All the reasons to say no, stay home, give up, never start.
 Reasons people told you you never should try, you'd never have access to
power.  Reasons that power as currently exercised never seemed attractive.

And I started writing...a call to action, an little cogsci and opinion on
some of some neuropolitics of neurotypical "tyranny of the majority" they
never told you in school, and a call for greater geek culture engagement in
global and local affairs.

Happy new year!  Y'all inspire me.


Shava Nerad
shava23 at
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