2021 Reading List (Part 2)

14/12/2021

This is part 2 of my reading list for this year, continuing in order of when they were read following part 1 HERE.

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2021 Reading List (Part 1)

13/12/2021

I have not written anything for a while, having gone from taking a short break at the wind down of university and then straight back into work, and thought that I should get a head start on the yearly reading list review. I hope to add another one or two by year’s end, but I am quite happy with the amount I’ve managed to get through this year. List will be in the order I read them with comments looking back over them, and with a few exceptions I would recommend most of them. Also keep in mind the earlier in the year it was the less precise details I’m going to remember about the book, so bear with that.

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Article Review on the Internet and States of Nature

01/09/2021

As with the other piece posted today, this is an assessment item from university (again, that I hope makes sense), this one a review of one of the course readings so far in the semester. I chose this one because, well, mostly I was very low on time because I’m an utter idiot. But also because it was about the internet, which I do happen to know a thing or two about. The TL;DR here is discussing whether the Internet is similar to Hobbes’ State of Nature, as depicted in The Leviathan, or a ‘state within a state’ based on Rousseau’s notion that society is corrupt. My conclusion was that it absolutely is a digital state within many other physical states, and that I disagreed with the author’s (Reeven) middle ground approach and intense focus on net neutrality.

Not as confident with this one as I am with the previous piece, but ah well, here it is.

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Conflicts Within Australia’s Liberal Democracy: Press Freedom and the Right to Privacy

01/09/2021

The following piece is an essay I have written for a university assessment. I seriously hope it makes sense, otherwise there is only disappointment ahead. For a TL;DR, the purpose was to discuss conflicts between two integral parts of the Australian system – liberalism and democracy. This essay essentially puts forward the argument that Australia’s liberal democracy suffers due to assaults on a free press by both the government and corporate power and influences, as well as the invasive domestic surveillance carried out by the government (the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) in particular). The result is a clash between the liberal concepts of the state and private enterprise with the more democratic ideals of the right to information and accountability from the government (in this case through the lens of a genuinely free press), and the right to privacy.

The reference list is also at the end, which happily contains books I have read (and written about) previously. Enjoy, I suppose.

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Anarcho-Capitalism and Gig Economy as “Crypto-Anarchism”: A Response

05/08/2021

The short answer to the question, “Are gig economy companies like Uber or Airbnb anarchist in nature?” is a dismissive wave of the hand. But one of my political science textbooks for a kind of ideologies 101 class has a chapter dedicated to anarchism, which I was excited for. To my dismay and concern, the comical and entirely contradictory branch of “anarcho-capitalism” is briefly explored. Sure, it might be a noteworthy aberration to point at and critique, but here it appears to be treated as legitimate – I guess that’s a consequence of the US’ lunacy…

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Outsourcing Deliberation: Political Misinformation Online

04/02/2021

Through the rambling redundant sections, forced jokes (except the one that sounded like something straight out of a Discworld novel*), and seemingly irrelevant personal anecdotes, the book The Knowledge Illusion: The myth of individual thought and the power of collective wisdom has (thankfully) offered up a few worthwhile points as I read it. In particular, the discussion on intuition and deliberation was interesting. Intuition is your immediate response to something, whereas deliberation is taking a moment to properly consider and reflect on it beforehand (or in hindsight). With social media today however, especially in political circles, many people do “deliberate” – they just get someone else to do it for them.

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Communities of Knowledge: The Power of Networks

30/01/2021

I recently bought a book (which has joined my daunting and ever growing to-be-read pile) called The Knowledge Illusion. The subtitle really caught my eye: “The myth of individual thought and the power of collective wisdom”. Perhaps the book may change my mind on the individual thought front – I think individual thought is still extremely important and powerful – but the notion of collective wisdom had me making parallels with other fields, from neuroscience to the cosmos. I think it is undeniable, if not plainly obvious, that creating a community of open knowledge is a natural and necessary part of any society or group.

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The Irony of Trump’s Twitter Ban

10/01/2021

Trump has been permanently suspended from Twitter, and seemingly banned from various other social media sites, in the wake of his efforts to incite violence in Washington DC. Obviously, that hasn’t simmered down tensions on the dear bird app as we now have an already raging debate reaching new heights – that is, the power of Big Tech and the right to freedom of speech in relation to causing harm. I’ll let that little discussion run its course, because here I just want to point out the obvious contradiction from the pro-Trump camp.

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Governments Can’t Self-Regulate Surveillance

10/10/2020

Reading Sacha Molitorisz’s Net Privacy: How We Can Be Free in an Age of Surveillance, I have appreciated the background and philosophical backing for protecting privacy. In particular, the relational approach to privacy he describes I think is a brilliant way to expand the scope of what actually constitutes privacy as an individual and societal concern. However, there have been a few points that I do not agree with or wish were explored more; as young as it is, the role blockchain technology has and could play in ensuring net privacy is not even mentioned once. Instead, the chapter I am currently reading speaks of regulation and legislation, talking about the privacy of individuals and society but then falling back on the State or global institutions to uphold it – a tad problematic.

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Loss of Rationality: Kant, Consumerism, and Democracy

06/10/2020

My current read is Net Privacy: How We Can Be Free in an Age of Surveillance, written by Sacha Molitorisz, which is unexpectedly intensely philosophical in its approach. At little over the halfway mark, whilst it seemingly hasn’t answered the question posed by the subtitle, it has still been a fascinating book that I would recommend. Although I do intend on writing a piece on it relating to the commodification of data and privacy, here I want to jump on a bit of a tangent. Molitorisz references Immanuel Kant a number of times, and it is one reference to “rational beings” that I am homing in on.

Because in the modern world, Kant’s rational beings are seemingly dwindling.

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