The Californian Ideology

December 23, 2014

This one, my dear reader, may apply to you:

The Californian Ideology perfectly encapsulates the consequences of this defeat for members of the virtual class. Although they enjoy cultural freedoms won by the hippies, most of them are no longer actively involved in the struggle to build ecotopia. Instead of openly rebelling against the system, these digital artisans now accept that individual freedom can only be achieved by working within the constraints of technological progress and the free market. In many cyberpunk novels, this autistic libertarianism is personified by the central character of the hacker, who is a lone individual fighting for survival within the virtual world of information.

So much for the hacker mask that so many kids from the Silicon Valley like to wear. I have identified with the hacker image for a long time, but I like to think it is more a trait, than a belief or a religion: people would certainly write books on what it means to be a hacker, what do hackers do, or think. But I can not identify with all of it: did I outgrew these ideas long ago, or did they evolve without me noticing?

Surely, there is something very self absorbed in this little Californian hacker-land. But are there alternatives? What other model does Europe offer? As far as I can tell, it is all startups, funding rounds, and accelerators on both sides of the Atlantic. Take the money and run: there is no place in the world where the game is different, except maybe under fascist regimes. Great, let’s have more kings…

How would you grow a business that actively contributes to the betterment of society? Is that exclusively the state’s job, and is it even possible given the capitalistic nature of the enterprise in our world? Are those things hackers would even care about?

Anyway, there is this whole text (from 2007!), trying to draw a picture of what has been happening in California. It is still remarkably right in my humble opinion. Go read that, it is probably more interesting than my ramblings. :)