The ethics of digital: round up #4

October 10, 2014

Leigh Alexander has published a useful list of “ethical concerns in video games”.

Ideology and taste are a toxic mixture. “You like different things from me therefore you must be bad/corrupt”. Any reasonable ethical framework has to include some sense of tolerance for others tastes. Abusing people because they like different things obscures real ethical problems that ought (in theory) to be easy to agree on (or at least discuss without resorting to abuse).

Kathy Sierra has written a heartbreaking history of the abuse she has suffered online, reproduced in its entirety with her permission by Wired Magazine. The much abused word “freedom” seems to be a trump card for some, a word which can excuse any other kind of bad behaviour or ethical failing.

Here’s another angle on the same subject: abuse and control online: “Everybody Watches, Nobody Sees: How Black Women Disrupt Surveillance Theory” by Sydette Harry in ModelViewCulture.

“souvelliance”: in a world where everyone is watched by the authorities citizens should use the same tools to watch them back and hold them to account. The trouble with souveillance is it implies that the citizen has enough status, power and access to the tools to start with. What if you are so low down the pecking order you are at a disadvantage before you even start?:

What we have decided to call surveillance is actually a constant interplay of various forms of monitoring that have existed and focused on black people, and specifically black women, long before cameras were around, let alone ubiquitous. Surveillance technology is a dissemination of cultural standards of monitoring. Our picture of surveillance needs to factor in not just tech developments, but the cultural standards that have bred surveillance, especially towards black culture, as part and parcel in our world.

Elahi can use the intrusion into his privacy to further his work. But if all you want to do is have space to mind your own business, handle your family issues in private, or exist without interference, sousveillance isn’t an answer… it’s a reminder of defeat. If what you want is representation as you are, what do you do when the reality is ignored for the easy win, even when it leaves you worse than before?

While I was putting this post together I came across this (again via Leigh Alexander): “Why Nerd Culture Must Die” by Pete Warden. It makes this post redundant, but I’m going to publish it anyway…

“We’re still behaving like the rebel alliance, but now we’re the Empire.”


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