Hey kids, guess who's back.
The summer was long, so hot. Tell you the truth I don't even remember much. It's one of those years, I guess. A girl drops the ball for one split second and the whole world seems to pass you by. No matter, Miss Politics is now back with a cold vengeance and a furious anger, ready to bring back that weekly web flavor to your stress.fm delight. For the uninitiated: you are now tuned in to the raddest show west of the Great Firewall, a deep and controversial voyage to the most important and interesting topics on the network, powered by yours truly. Season 2 will turn your expectations sideways, kick'em in the gut, call an ambulance, instagram the cpr. She's mad, she's brilliant. Welcome back to The Weekest Links.
The week of the 7th to the 14th of October, 2013
Is it just me or do you also feel like the entire sophisticated-thriller genre up and bought a one-way ticket to Seoul? Can't remember the last time I saw a Korean flick without wanting to scream in ecstasy because the script is so cool and the colors feel so right, and everyone dresses like you're supposed to when retro ceases to be the only aesthetic option. This movie is like that. Not a masterpiece, I'll grant you. The undercover-cop-turned-too-gangster-to-get-out has been more than exploited elsewhere, to a far greater extent, but Park Hoon-jung knows how to give it to you raw, how to make you look closer at the doubts, the anguish, the fear of getting caught lying to those who become your intimate friends.
In the end, New World is about that moment when the possibility of becoming an entirely new person faces you head-on and you just can't look away. Ja-sung, the cop who infiltrates Goldmoon - the biggest crime syndicate in Korea - is in too deep to avoid his own sense of loyalty to his fictional persona, his hands are too dirty to write a proper resignation letter. Jung Chung, the syndicate's second-in-command, has become like a brother. When the chips are down, the truth turns out to be a feisty and fickle beast. Just like in real life. Go and check it out, it's a new world out there.
How could I not talk about it, right? This show has always been about the technosocial, the hidden infrastructural, the post-cryptographical and all the other pseudo-intellectual definitions for whatever networked thing is happening to the planet in this century. So talking about how a post on Stack Overflow led to the demise of the most infamous and interesting market on the net is only natural, and further, justifying my getting into such an already-debated issue with the fact that I too lost a fair amount of Coin in this hot mess just adds a little personal angle to the two following points.
One. This sucks. People weren't only buying snort and roll on Silk Road, there was a genuine and diverse parallel market going on in there, and this just means that whoever comes next is going to have to rough up the conditions and the environment in order to replicate what we had, and that's generally not good. I know this is the politically correct line of argument, where you kind of accept that selling drugs is bad in order to defend your righteous, anonymous Tor-enabled community thing - and I'm not too keen on that particular party line. It's just that it happens to be true: lots of people went on the Road to trade in plenty other items besides the blow, and now they are left with their orders pending and their Coins irreversibly stuck in the Federal Wallet. Not cool, The Man.
Two. Remember when Mr. Sterling talked about Assange and Stallman and Snowden being The Resistance? Well, all you good-hearted democrats and radical activists better take heed, better tread lightly, like your name is ASAC Schrader and this is Alburquerque, NM. A new kind of storm is coming, Mr. Wayne. A hard and black rain is gonna fall all over your unencrypted parade. Get hip or get busted, and I want to be clear that I'm not just talking about the Feds here. Nor the NSA. I'm talking jungle life, gangland oversight for all you normals out there. Get hip to the software side of life, children, that is if any of your changing-the-world beer-drinking table-talk is actually backed by some kind of practical intention. Otherwise, just stick to the white and blue status updates, mark your events on that calendar, and own up to the cold facts of your distress. Julian Ecuador and his buddies are, for now, for good and worse, your only knights in shining armor.
Let's end this on a positive note, shall we? I've been kind of late to this wonderful conversation about infrastructure and our relationship to it, but one of the things that struck me right away was this text about technology as territory. Having long championed the Gibsonian view that cyberspace everted into the physical world, and being a true fan of all things New Aesthetic, I'm pleasantly surprised by this turn of thought about software as a place we inhabit, not in a matrix-like immersion, but as a kind of additional or extended layer of experience, be it the Athens mesh wifi networks or, of course and inevitably, Grand Theft Auto numero cinco.
I'm not going to say much about the video, it speaks for itself and stress.fm has already covered this topic elsewhere. Just know that it was entirely shot inside Los Santos, the brand new city that is home to what we, by pure act of convenience, are still calling a game. I'll call it a night, hope that you have enjoyed the return of the show, and promise to see you back here in 7 days sharp.
Take care of yourself, and of each other.