pirates are everywhere. it was chomsky quoting the patron saint of brewers st. augustine, who said that the basic difference between pirates and emperors are that pirates have a ship and emperors have an armada. the notion of piracy to me, in regards to the realm of cyberspace as well as that of “meatspace,” is as intriguing as it is frightening. pirates, like any other selective society have “signals” and “totems” that set them apart from the world at large. the infamous jolly roger, the pirate’s skull and bones, were one of the most well known and feared of the hailing signs of these infamous marauders.the so-called “anonymous” legion of hackers are a great example of modern day pirates sailing the high seas of cyberspace. however, like the pirates of old, there is infighting, treachery, mistrust along with the occasional loose alliance with either some other faction of the mass of miscreants, looters, anti-authoritarians and mercenaries who fly under the same defiant sign.
for instance a group of trolls or torrenters may form occasional uneasy alliances with others flying beneath their flag or, depending on the occasion, the individual’s philosophy or the circumstance, any flag. in place of the jolly roger today we have the guy fawkes mask of 4chan borne meme “epic fail guy” and hearkening back to secret societies with their code words we have terms like “soup” and “i know what you did there.”according to Peter T. Leeson’s essay “Pirational Choice: The Economics of Infamous PiratePractices” (a discussion of “the economics of famous pirate practices” as viewed through the lens of economics and games theory), “Pirates earn their largest payoff when the merchantman doesn’t resist them and they don’t slaughter its crew. Pirates take the target without a costly fight. Further, they contribute to a reputation for kindness to cooperative targets. Pirates earn a smaller payoff if the merchantman surrenders but pirates slaughter its crewmembers anyway. Pirates take the target without a costly fight but they damage their reputation for kindness to cooperative targets. Pirates earn a still smaller payoff if the merchantman resists and they slaughter its crew in response. In this case pirates engage in a costly conflict, but they contribute to a reputation for mercilessness toward uncooperative targets. Pirates earn their smallest payoff if the merchantman resists but pirates ‘wimp out’ and don’t slaughter its crew as punishment. Pirates suffer a costly conflict. Further, they damage their reputation for mercilessness toward resistant targets.”
the world is a mass of gangs who at the highest levels are, if not in league, at least gentlemanly, or rather, economically shrewd enough to realize that though a bit of healthily blooodthirsty competition coordinated amongst the numerous gangs involved will lead to reputation building within the cadre for the secured thugs in whatever field, be it the security state, organized crime, fraternal secret orders, street gangs, high profile corporations, politicians and various national, political and/or ideological coalitions struggling for a mass of (in the new century) not just market share, but the all important currency of “mind share.” perhaps the rise in interest in the idea of an all-controlling group like “the illuminati” comes from a gestalt arising from the reality of multiple power brokers (pirates) sailing the seas of cyberspace (and from that sea of cyberspace often directly through multiple varied streams of consciousness) in a sort of collusion as they cast lots over the contents of our psyches via shared symbols and manipulation of fears and aspirations of sub-groups of the populace.
mind share, if you weren’t familiar, is a creepy bit of marketing/advertising terminology that’s about as nefarious as it sounds. Instead of being all focused on controlling the market share and amassing purely material capital, we’ve entered an age where having a greater “mind share” is preferable to market share, i.e. Pepsi Cola has a narrowly smaller market share worldwide and is actually making greater gains as of last fiscal season* compared to Coca Cola which has a respectable but not commanding lead in shares and net revenue. However as per mind share, Coca Cola wins hands down. in short, they’re not merely after our wallets anymore, now they want our heads and hearts.
here’s how this works: what bandage company has the largest mind share? Band-aid brand. what flavored gelatin producer has the most share in the collective consumer mind? Jell-o, and like these three previously mentioned classics, Coca Cola is also practically eponymous as the prototypical and quintessential eponymous cola product. being from small town tennessee i’m fairly used to hearing folks ask for a “coke” when they could be requesting anything from a dr pepper to a sprite or a root beer.
“Pirates earn their largest payoff when the merchantman doesn’t resist them and they don’t slaughter its crew. Pirates take the target without a costly fight. Further, they contribute to a reputation for kindness to cooperative targets. Pirates earn a smaller payoff if the merchantman surrenders but pirates slaughter its crewmembers anyway. Pirates take the target without a costly fight but they damage their reputation for kindness to cooperative targets. Pirates earn a still smaller payoff if the merchantman resists and they slaughter its crew in response. In this case pirates engage in a costly conflict, but they contribute to a reputation for mercilessness toward uncooperative targets. Pirates earn their smallest payoff if the merchantman resists but pirates ‘wimp out’ and don’t slaughter its crew as punishment. Pirates suffer a costly conflict. Further, they damage their reputation for mercilessness toward resistant targets.”
the Net is a Sea loaded with gold including a new currency for the new millennium. bullion, here at the beginning of the first quarter of the new century in this new millennial age, is still the “gold standard” for wealth, but info brokering for the purposes of consumer research, trend forecasting, predictive analytics within the realm of the burgeoning field of data mining (there’s gold in them thar’ algorithms). “big data” may soon keep pace with the “dinosaurs” of the petrofueled “big oil” In addition with the revolutions in communications, as web3.0 (UbikWeb as I call it, as it will be practically ubiquitous within and without of the home) is rolled out, there appears before us a wireless wonderland for the “users” to gladly offer up their personalities to be profiled and comparatively analyzed alongside the larger field of their surrounding culture.
The the world of UbikWeb is one where Isaac Aasimov’s fictional science of “Psychohistory” which melded history, psychology and statistics to predict overall patterns in populations is becoming closer to a reality. The the basic idea is that, for instance, one can’t perfectly predict the behavior of a single helium molecule outside of a vacuum, but the general movement of a helium gas cloud could be fairly well foreseen. which brings us to predictive analytics, the boon of “big data.” that is the holy grail for social media marketers, media moguls, law enforcement and government agents. The the trend for law enforcement to use “fusion centers” for “receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information between the federal government and state, local, tribal, territorial (SLTT) and private sector partners” is an example of the department of homeland security’s utilization of this new field. this was supposedly what “strategic forecasting” aka “stratfor” was aiming towards. using predictive software and commercial mass surveillance (which is a multi-billion dollar industry) before being exposed by “hacktivists,” speaking once again of our aforementioned modern day pirates the “anonymous” hacker gang. this technology and it’s use aren’t going away any time soon, the payoffs are too great for those involved. besides, in a society that’s “amusing ourselves to death” in the words of neil postman, eventually leading towards “descent into computer aided unconsciousness and consumer fascism” as NYU’s Douglas Rushkoff (author of 1995’s “media virus” one of the first book length works to tackle the topic of viral media) puts it, and it seems as if we may be heading right there into a world where our every move and public comment are cataloged and scrutinized in order to influence and predict our future thoughts and
Surrender or Die, was the cry of the ( mostly unrelated excepting their mutual use of the fear inspiring emblem of the skull and crossbones) black legions who branded themselves as mercenaries to be dealt with on their terms, or suffer dire consequences. similarly today big banks, multimedia institutions, corporations, governments and others are amassing, hoarding and hiding the treasure troves of what cnbc has called “the sexiest job of the 21st century” and one of the most in demand fields to work in. surrender or die, is the cry of the varying groups who would like to control data, influence future trends and most effectively engage in civilian perception management as mapped out in the 90’s air force document “new world vistas” . see also cass sunnstein, (author of “on rumours” and formerly of the “office of information and regulatory affairs”) a proponent of Infiltrative Disinformation Tactics termed “cognitive infiltration” in regards to the growing community of “truthers,” “alex jonesians” and other subscribers to any but the “official story” that’s been standardized, broadcast and purposefully doctored and formulated for a specific behavioural outcome within the desired target “belief-network.” considering his viewpoints on the use of disinformation tactics to weaken from within and discredit from without numerous alternatives to the neatly packaged bit of over-processed gruel that passes for “fact” in the mainstream media as well as the academic institutions. now,, maybe i’m just crass and i know i have a tendency to be paranoid but this strikes me as eerily similar to the model of orwell’s “ministry of truth.”
as the world becomes more and more standardized and we’re bombarded with more and more simulations of reality in what was already a hyperreal plastic simulacra, the smoke and mirror sideshow illusion that keeps the emperor looking clothed. taste tribes growing up around “lifestyle” brands creating convenient pigeon-hole niches to choose from any number of pre-approved and prefabricated lifestyles with accompanying uniform, mores, culture, ideals, etc. who needs a personality these days when there are so many being sold right off the rack and from such a variety of sub-genres of the massive mono-culture in it’s prismatic incarnation. the real is becoming less real. Ron Sukenick, in his novel “out,” describes the situation as being like a billboard obscuring the mountains with a billboard proudly proclaiming: “come see the mountains.”
surrender or die, cry the hordes poised upon their black binary galleons. collecting, analyzing and modifying information then regurgitating it as specifically altered pablum designed for a specific response from the various target behavioral groups and by controlling the “good data,” i.e. the truly valuable mass of information from an increasingly growing number of sources in the age of UbikWeb where a neo-luddite can’t stand a chance these days in a world where even job applications and more are often required to be filled out online. pirates are everywhere and these days may be as significant in the coming years as they were in the days of dreaded privateers. they’re still out for your head, this time they won’t take it with a cutlass but wiith the voluntarily offered information you feed to the ever hungry data banks of the “big data” mines, whose mines may one day outovulate the oil fields, diamond and gold mines that have been the kingmakers in the millennium prior.
and as for advice from your soapbox climbing evangelist? don’t lose your head.
*this article was initially written/completed circa March/April 2014.