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🌋 It’s Not Fair
Something slightly different this week | Sorry if you were looking forward to the usual thing | Please still like me
Hello, my sexless online lovers. If you’re in the UK, I hope you’re enjoying the long weekend by doing anything but think about the queen.
✨ Today we’re going to deviate from the usual format because everything’s a bit weird and there’s some stuff I want to briefly chat about. If you just signed up and want a taste of ‘the real thing’ (like Coke but better) then I pulled these out for you:
There’s this one about the recent crypto crash
How about this one? About retina implants failing inside people’s heads?
Or this one, where I discuss how Joe Rogan likes to spread misinformation
📣 And now, on with whatever this is…
Sometimes I get frustrated with the industry I’m in. People hire me to write/edit papers about US tech policy; about data ethics; about how our rapid adoption of technology does more to speed up inequality than slow it down. It’s nice that these people
think [urghhh self-esteem] KNOW that I understand the issues enough to get paid to write about them.
☝️ BUT! When I sit there, editing paragraphs and paragraphs that describe all the different ways Amazon shits all over its workers, nestled in reports co-authored by people I’ve never even met, I do find myself wondering what good any of it does. Doesn’t everyone already know this (that Amazon workers are having a terrible time)? Won’t the ‘policy people’ who are meant to read this paper just look at it and think ‘yes okay but I don’t have time to deal with this right now and even if I did, I can’t do anything about it’??
Now that I’ve been doing this for a while, I’ve noticed that the same arguments are being made over and over. This isn’t because the people writing these papers have lame ideas — it’s actually that the people reading them aren’t listening. The arguments that I see spun in every possible directions are all about power: some people simply have too much and either cannot see it, or refuse to let it go.
But the people reading these papers just don’t care about power. We are trying our best to arm them with the knowledge to make the right decisions, but they honestly do not see power as a factor when solving or identifying problems. Probably because they don’t want to confront the idea that power is the problem, idk. So what they do is they commission reports like the ones I get paid to edit, thinking that ‘there must be some OTHER thing that we just aren’t seeing! These smart people over here will tell us what that other thing is!’
No they won’t, because the argument is always equates to the same thing: technology is designed by those with power, for those with power. To this, they say, ‘no no that can’t be it!’ and get someone else to write a different report.
This is why crypto bros will try and scam you over and over again, and why cameras (which have been around for nearly 200 years) are still optimised to photograph white skin better than anyone else’s. Really, the way we interact with technology has less to do with the devices in our hands, and far more to do with the history of colonial powers that even made those devices possible. And then of course… who even gets to have those devices.
But anyway, while I sit here feeling inadequate I must remind myself that I choose to focus my energies on tech news in part because I find it fascinating but also because I don’t feel equipped to write about ‘real’ things that pose more immediate threats. You know… ‘current affairs’; ‘politics’; that sort of thing. E.g:
All those mass shootings that keep happening in the US because of a lack of gun laws (I don’t understand the US constitution and why people love it so much)
The fact that Boris Johnson just revised the ministerial code so that MPs shouldn’t have to resign if they fuck up (I don’t understand why he’s just allowed to do that?? Isn’t that like??? Hella corrupt??)
And finally that Rishi Sunak has announced his plan to give money to those who will suffer most under the cost of living crisis (I don’t understand why the government in the UK is so inept that they have to put duct tape all over the cracks in the system caused by their own shitty policies)
Oh yes speaking of power: these bullet points are making me feel like I have none. My mum has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and it feels like we’re right on the cusp of losing the NHS. I’m scared and frustrated and all I can do is watch The West Wing and wish our politicians were more like that, even though every character on that show is righteous and insufferable (at least they care!!)
I don’t know what the answer to any of this is (sorry) but I’ve been having a lot of fun distracting myself by writing this newsletter (not this exact issue) and also making computer games — which is something I’m really glad I decided to keep as a hobby and not a money-making thing (because that would be impossible). Here’s one I’m making now:
Does anyone else feel slightly helpless? Say yes so we can all bask in how unfair it all is together