CitizenFour

Recently I got around to watching the documentary CitizenFour. It’s about the first hours of Edward Snowden as he reached out to the press as well his first interactions with journalists of The Guardian. The movie evolves into recording his reactions to the initial release of classified information to the world and thus exposing the programs that exist to spy on the public. I believe people are captivated by not only what information he released to the public, but also him personally. What he did took courage. Many call him traitor now, and he is hated by many all over the world. People like to live in comfort and ease. For a man to forsake his life, wealth, lover, and family for his beliefs does take courage. Doesn’t matter if you think he is a traitor or not it takes conviction to do what you feel is necessary.

Yet I can’t help, but think he was bit naive when it come to trusting the press. As many already know the press has become a mouthpiece for the institution that is the state. You are fed the propaganda you want to believe, and proper facts and unbiased analysis are avoided. I am sure the intentions of The Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, etc. were pure and some journalists still believe in proper reporting. It is the self-preserving nature of those who are in power of the welfare state who need to make sure that anything that can threaten them be contained.

Computer guys tend not to be the most social, or fluid speakers for that matter. I believe that Snowden stuck with an ideology that existed in his head of what justice and freedom are. He ran with it as someone who believed in the principles of western democracy. If you have been reading my blog you are well aware of the themes I try to convey in my writing. One of those themes is the idea that western principles are decaying fast.

What he failed to understand is that people are networked in. They aren’t going to give up the ease of unencrypted email, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, or Snapchat videos. People aren’t going to bother to create strong passwords or have 5-6 email accounts. Most people don’t even read the terms of service that all software companies force you to agree with. We live in a life of convenience, and luxury.

I once went to see a talk given by the legendary programmer, and activist Richard Stallman. I was hoping to get some technical insight of GNU, but instead became a political speech about promoting libertarianism and that the individual rights of citizens that are being corroded by modern software companies. He had a point, but he is mistaken on what the solution should be. He believes like many before in the need to get politically motivated. In my opinion, only economic collapses get most people motivated. He criticized that “we” tech people always look for a technical solution to the problem, but, in fact, we need to solve it as a political one. Well, I have to say I don’t see the change he keeps yearning for. I see more of the same. I bring up this point because I think Snowden indirectly did the same. He realized there was an issue, and pursued the traditional routes solving the problem. As you clearly see in a sense both have failed. They did have an impact and still do. Yet the sea hasn’t changed color, and we are still drowning in the decay that is the welfare state.
When I started learning about computers it started for the simple fact that I liked video games, and from there my world viewed kept expanding. I started to see the larger role that software and computers were partaking in society. Software is allowing people, and, more importantly, civilization rewrite the rules, and structure of the society. As I get older I realize that as a coder I don’t only have a responsibility to write programs that are technically correct, but that must also follow my morality, and ideology.

There is a battle between software that is closed, and those which are open. Only time will tell which one ends up winning the war. That battle may determine Snowden’s legacy ends up being.

 

Challenge Yourself

Society has become twisted. A person values their success based on their income, or by the number of people who show interest in their life. You see this with people who are obsessed with having large number of friends particularly on social media. We have allowed a new generation of online celebrities gain unprecedented influence on the world. Not saying they are worse than the gatekeepers of before, but I doubt many understand that with that influence comes responsibilities. No one can doubt their hard word, and the fact their is a market for their talent. These are the artists of our time since, and for the first time ever people who have the ability can easily share their talent with everyone, but in this saturation we can sometimes feel overwhelmed. So like always we look for something or someone to filter through all the material. We take recommendations from friends, bloggers, or institutions we think are credible. I know anyone reading this can think of examples in their personal lives. Without even thinking about it we find ourselves in a repeated cycled checking the same sites, and viewing the same material in an endless loop. We become trapped in this artificial personal bubble.

Which is why when Stumbleupon first became an Internet sensation I thought the purpose was pretty novel. We should challenge ourselves little by little to find something new even if it doesn’t fit our interests. All it takes 10-15 minutes every couple of days to have that resolve to pick up that random book or read that random online forum. Yes you may be challenged, or bored, but you may also find something beautiful and new. We often place too much importance on individuals who seem god like. Weather it be the athlete who can run a 4.2 second forty yard dash , the artist who can paint, or the writer who produces literature. We tend to often forget they are humans just like us who sleep, eat, pee, cry, and laugh. We become fixed on living our lives through others that we begin to lose sight of what is real and precious. Later this becomes a reality where the artificial no longer matches the reality. That fiction is preferred over the non-fiction. My lesson to you is to learn from your hero’s but do not idolize them. We place too much focus on what something means, or what the proper interpretation of book, movie, television show should be and not enough time just “experiencing” and taking in your own opinion or inner thoughts. I say this as someone who has devoted most of their life with the fundamental belief that there is a way to break down everything in our world into basic facts or principles. That our world can be like a chemistry book, and what we do not understand is because we have yet to discover it. All I ask is how can we have people who watch Netflix all day, and such that it becomes a strong focal point of their existence. Eat, sleep, work, reproduce, and die.

Do we solely exist so that the society can be productive? So that the desires of humanity can be focused into the capitalistic culture humanity has created? The message is clear we exist to consume, and keep the wheels of the money making machine turning. How long can this last? Where has the pride gone? The value of work? Of relationships? Of building something greater than yourself? Using creativity to share, and cherish. Contributing to society instead of merely consuming. Perhaps that society has never existed. For human existence has been always filled with inequality. Better minds than mine have attacked this problem, and the best answer I’ve seen is that some vague solution will appear, and people will realize it is time to “move on” to the best alternative for us all. What kind of answer is that? That’s no answer at all. I am not asking for perfection, because I don’t even know what that is. Frankly anyone who claims to have that answer do not know what they are talking about. I am just asking the questions we all have, but we hide from each other because we want to give the illusion we know what we are doing. People so easily forget that they are mortal , and potentially living a life without worth. Our dreams, and goals just like our genetics are inherited. In some form we are just mere copies of each other. We have basic needs, but we all address them differently. At one point the universe came from a singular point we are all interconnected, we feel alone, but we are not alone. Past, present, and future is all intertwined. I wish I had all the answers, but I don’t. Surprisingly it doesn’t scare me, but instead is the fuel that keeps me going. I promised myself I wouldn’t regret any action I took in life, but when ever my life does end I feel I will have one dying regret: That I never found all the answers I was looking for.