Friday, June 11, 2004

According to the Register, the trojaned networks set up firstly by hackers, then by spammers, are now being used to disseminate right-wing propaganda.

So this story now has two stings to it. Firstly, we have people spouting opinions that are deemed immoral, but they are also doing it via an illegal medium (or if not illegal, then fast-becoming in many places), i.e via spam processes and zombie PC cracking.

Personally, I take more offence at the latter (although I assume that the former doesn't extend so far as to incite violence, et al). Freedom of speech is one thing, freedom of listening is another - and I detest anyone using my mailbox, or any other form of contact, for purposes other than what I intended it for.

Is this equivalent along some lines to projects such as Freenet in terms of freedom of speech? Just because we place arbitrary political limits on what can and can't be said, at the end of the day speech is speech is speech, and there will always be people on the other side of the line drawn that will still want to get their point across without remuneration or retaliation, or even recognition. However, the difference here is that speech is being forced on people. Posting to a webpage is one thing - I'm not forced to look at it. But sending to e-mails is quite different. This is the contrast between push and pull technologies.

I'm definitely coming more and more round to the idea that technology does define our society, more than the other way around. But perhaps to see it just as a cycle of code and culture is to sell the situation short. Perhaps we need to define society in terms of technology, and then technology in terms of something else less obvious, such as the politics internal to human behaviour, or the mind and biology of the individual. Perhaps technology is nothing more than simply the bridge between the individual and the many.

No comments: