futuribile / curating futures - Issue #21 - In seek of collective #mindfulness and #privacy



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futuribile / curating futures
futuribile / curating futures - Issue #21 - In seek of collective #mindfulness and #privacy
By Marta Arniani • Issue #21 • View online
A report about the right to mental health was presented on Monday at the UN in Geneva. In an interview with The Guardian the rapporteur points out that “measures to address inequality and discrimination would be far more effective in combatting mental illness than the emphasis over the past 30 years on medication and therapy.” We live in anxious times, and that’s a built-in feature of the system. A straightforward piece about the “mindfulness conspiracy” brings up how mindfulness and the likes are playing along with it:
Instead of setting practitioners free, it helps them adjust to the very conditions that caused their problems. A truly revolutionary movement would seek to overturn this dysfunctional system, but mindfulness only serves to reinforce its destructive logic. The neoliberal order has imposed itself by stealth in the past few decades, widening inequality in pursuit of corporate wealth. People are expected to adapt to what this model demands of them.
The point of both reads is not to say that individual strategies for well-being are bullshit. I think both provide a valuable angle into the tragedy of our times: leaving to individual initiative the answer to systemic problems, and commodifying the answer as much as possible. How do we build systemic collective resilience? A collective mindfulness?
Marta Arniani

Into the wild privacy
I’d like to think of privacy as an experience, taking place in a free off-the-record space where we can just do and be. An experience implies a range of experience, a range of possibility where experience can actually take place. A range of possibilities welcomes in other people, it’s not necessary an intimate space. This space would indeed have the qualities of public space, meaning protected by /functioning accordingly to public interest. We would assign privacy/ies to areas, so that privacy does not become a proxy for unbalanced individual relationships with power.
In this materialisation of privacy, we wouldn’t have to obsess over the details of which companies have a slice of our data, whether the new remote is a manifestation of Alexa, or if the neighbourhood next door opted in for Amazon surveillance-as-a-service, or if using cash will save us from repression. 
Many are seeking actively for this free zone through different forms of escapism – covered in issue #18. Going offline from time to time is a respectable and healthy individual choice, but it is not a societal option. Still, maybe we are onto something if we look at the most popular escape destination: nature. I like this idea of ambient privacy, with the same qualities of wild space, hence to be protected as we have done with natural protected areas:
In the span of a little more than a century, we went from treating nature as an inexhaustible resource, to defending it piecemeal, to our current recognition that human activity poses an ecological threat to the planet. While people argue over the balance to strike between environmental preservation and economic activity, no one now denies that this tradeoff exists—that some technologies and ways of earning money must remain off limits because they are simply too harmful.
A trip to the Green Bank telescopes, an area forcingly disconnected
A trip to the Green Bank telescopes, an area forcingly disconnected
Shall we?
Marta Arniani
We should do a global flash mob shouting “#Alexa where are you” at the same precise moment. #creativesummoning
Communism, infrastructures and other summer reads
Disclaimer: I have a form of perversion which makes me actually enjoy very theoretical and heavy books on the beach and in bucolic places. So apologies in advance for the following light and enjoyable suggestions.
Inequalities, mental health, tech corporations bigger than states: what if we gave large-scale communism another try? The internet is obsessing over this new book, Fully Automated Luxury Communism: A Manifesto.  If you are allergic to trendy reads, you can go back straight to Marx and read this excerpt of the +800-pages Grundrisse. Then you could indulge in lessons from the past and read Railroads: Their Origins and Problems (1878) by Charles Francis Adams, a former railroad executive and regulator, who lays out the rise of the railways in both Europe and the US. The idea being: can we regulate the internet like railroads in the XIX century?
In a chapter entitled “The Railroad Problem” Adams writes, “as events have developed themselves, it has become apparent that the recognised laws of trade operate but imperfectly at best in regulating the use made of these modern thoroughfares by those who thus both own and monopolise them”. You could retitle the same chapter “The Internet Problem” and have a good summary of where we are today.
The separation of platforms and commerce paper by Lina M. Khan (Columbia Law School) nails it with a documented comparison of examples from recent history with today’s situation.
Blockchain ta mère
Last week Facebook unveiled its plans concerning the launch (goal: first half of 2020) of its own cryptocurrency, Libra.
The facts:
The currency will be managed by the Libra non-profit association, a consortium of partners which invested at least 10M$ each in the venture - little players like Mastercard, Visa, Uber, Vodafone, Spotify, whose presence is supposed to increase trust in the affair 🤷🏻‍♀️ In parallel, a new Facebook-owned company, Calibra, has been created as digital wallet to develop products and services based around Libra. In short, it is the American answer to Alibaba, coupling the ads-based business model with one based on payment services.
The fun facts:
Wondering what does an astrology-adjacent cryptocurrency name mean for us all? Some astrologists tried to answer the question. 🔮
Libra development was partly indirectly funded by the European Commission: last year, the startup Chainspace - counting among its ranks several academics from the UCL Information Security Research Group - has been acquired by Facebook. Chainspace open-source research was partly supported by the Decode project. Where are the mechanisms to avoid this kind of acquisitions? 🤦🏻‍♀️
Facebook’s VP of blockchain, David Marcus, explained bluntly the company’s motive and the tie-in with its core revenue source during a briefing: “If more commerce happens, then more small businesses will sell more on and off platform, and they’ll want to buy more ads on the platform so it will be good for our ads business.”
The logo originality generated a lot of indirect promotion for another fintech venture:
this is what happens when you only have 1 crayon left https://t.co/2JY5JfesQD
I am in the Digital Future Society working group on Digital divide, here you can find an interview I did last month with them.
Legitimacities: Notes on innovating our cities from the sidewalk up.
10 Takeaways From Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends Report.
Bodies in seats: long-form about Facebook content moderators’ everyday hell.
Slack became a publicly traded company: #chooselife, do a DPO (direct public offering) rather than an IPO (initial public offering). 🖕#banks
The restaurant owner who asked for 1-star Yelp reviews (and won).
How GoFundMe is supplying to the shortcomings of the US health system.
The rise of virtual influencers.
Oh, dear!
That’s all for this round! Share to support, hit answer for feedback and to introduce me to any like-minded persons you know in New York and Chicago. 😎 As you receive this I am traveling to NY for Pride Week and a dose of inspiration, stand up as an ally wherever you are!
Did you enjoy this issue?
Marta Arniani

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