When I first started to self-dox myself on the DuckDuckGo search engine, I typed in my name, old usernames, such as the ones I used for Myspace and Facebook, and current usernames, such as the ones I use for Snapchat and Instagram. I surprisingly found nothing connected to me. I actually felt pretty pleased and proud of myself for not being transparent. However, I then typed in the main part of my email address and this website called Census Data Research Online popped up, which is a site that can find information on anyone you choose to search for. After typing in my name, I found that I was the second person on the list and it shockingly contained the names of my main relatives and the city in which I live. Next to this information there was the option of accessing a report on me. Of course I clicked on this and strikingly there were about five ways in which one could access data on me. The first way was for sale. One could purchase a basic report, a criminal check, and a background report on me for up to $40! All of these options contained information, such as my address, my phone number, property info, relative info, financial info, social networks I am a part of, my history, and even my neighbors’ names! I could not believe it. If I had actually shopped for my own records (talk about capitalism and consumerism), I absolutely believe the correct information would be there. However, one does not even have to purchase this information because the website could also connect to certain archives and databases that had even more information containing myself for free! For instance, one could look up my marriage and birth records and even my family history. I had even begun to get this report on myself because I was so fascinated and wanted to see if I really had no privacy whatsoever. But when I saw that the site had to be monitored while I was doing this, I stopped the whole entire process. I became paranoid, like Mae, in The Circle. I do not like surveillance whatsoever. I should be able to look up myself in privacy. Actually, I should not even be able to look myself up at all! But I can and it feels morally wrong to do so, especially if I was searching for another person. I realize that we should not be able to access this private information. Instead of privacy being theft, like Mae and Bailey think, I believe that striving and taking action to know is theft. Yet many people would not agree with this, which is very unfortunate. What is even more unfortunate, is that people are unaware that anyone in the world could look their information up if they wanted to. There is so much information out there, yet no one knows it is out there! This is completely ironic and definitely needs to change. This is why the Lightbeam experiment was extremely beneficial. I realize from this experiment that the data collected on this Census website is made possible by all of the places we connect to on the internet. There are numerous third party sites collecting the information one types in about themselves, despite putting this information on private restriction. Even if one tries not to be transparent, I feel that if anyone joins networks or fills out anything online, it is impossible to do so. And in this day and age, with the internet and other technology being a central part of our lives, being transparent has become inevitable.
Nick Dyer-Witheford’s essay, “Digital labor, species-becoming and the global worker,” has a lot in common with Hari Kunzru’s novel, Transmission. For example, Dyer-Witheford describes species-becoming as the way in which species alter, transform, and ultimately evolve themselves in the world. In other words, it is about progressing into the future or even transcending the human state, as well as transmitting the human into what is known as “post-human” (Dyer-Witheford 487). The characters in Transmission who seem to be following this concept of species-becoming are Arjun and Guy. However, Dyer-Witheford brings attention to Karl Marx’s critique on the process of species-becoming. He says, “For Marx understands the unfolding of species-being as determined by class and conflict” (Dyer-Witheford 487). This is significant because the central idea of evolution involves capitalism. Capitalism affects every class differently and the class level that one is on ultimately determines who can progress in the world. This is why Arjun and Guy are on very different stages in this progression.
Arjun is of the lower class and therefore, capitalism is not in his favor. He has no money to get ahead in the world, and so, he has to work. But due to capitalism, there is no profit if one pays laborers a good amount of money. Laborers, like Arjun, are then forced to work longer hours with low wages, to keep capitalism going. Because these workers are poor, they are alienated and cannot evolve. Those who are rich, like Guy, are the ones who benefit from capitalism and because of their financial power, they can keep this class hierarchy in place. This set hierarchy then allows the rich to be in control of who gets to progress, which is the ultimate conflict and example of Marx’s critique.
However, it is this futuristic accumulation that Dyer-Witheford says keeps both the inferior worker and the superior capitalist subordinated (Dyer-Witheford 494). In the end, the fight is with capitalism itself. The rich may always be on top of this hierarchy, but they have to keep up with capitalism in order to maintain that position. The rich cannot rely on one another because of the individualistic nature of capitalism and will ultimately always be a slave to it, just like Guy. Guy is having financial troubles and may not be a part of this future evolution anymore. He is having difficulty with keeping up in this fast pace world. However, I would argue Arjun has a chance to survive because species-becoming relies on collectivity, and when laborers of the lower class work together, they end up rising together. Hopefully, Arjun will find the right people in his class to do this with.
Pickup on South Street and Neuromancer are both noirs because they both contain the characteristics of the oneiric, the strange, the exotic, the ambivalent, and the cruel. One characteristic that really stood out to me was the strange. For example, Moe is seen as a strange character because she sells personality ties and peddles information in order to save up for her one goal-a fancy funeral. In my opinion, Moe represents Linda Lee. The reason why I think she represents Linda Lee is because like Linda, she keeps Skip grounded to the meat or in other words, she reminds Skip of what is real and brings him back down to earth. One scene that exemplifies this is in the coffee shop. Moe puts all things aside and warns Skip about the Commies coming after him. One can see that they actually have a deep and caring relationship with one another. They may both be caught up in the biz, but they have a truly meaningful and meaty connection. This is exactly like Case and Linda Lee, minus the romantic part. Due to the biz, Linda Lee steels from Case in order to maintain her own survival just like how Moe pretty much sells out Skip for thirty-eight dollars. But all business aside, they care about one another even if it is not outright said. This is shown when Linda Lee lies to Case about Wage coming to kill him. Case may seem to offer her fifty dollars in order to get rid of her but that is only half true. He really does care about her well being. Linda Lee cares about him as well which is shown when she hesitates in taking the money. Additionally, like Moe, Linda is able to keep Case connected to the meat-the body-which is shown when Case constantly confronts her memory. Ultimately, Moe and Linda both keep their men in reality or remind them to return to it once they have performed their hack. Although they are both minor characters, in a sense, they are the most important of all.
I do not agree with Neil Easterbrook when he says that Neuromancer is emphasizing how the artificial is more valued and more natural than nature itself. When first reading Easterbrook’s opinionated quote, it was easy for me to agree that artificiality is more valued in the realm of Neuromancer and maybe even in the world today. I especially see proof of this when Case continuously comments on his dislike of doing “meat” things, such as traveling, and when the narrator says that “Case fell into the prison of his own flesh,” when he was no longer able to jack into the matrix (6). It is clear that bodily experiences are trifling and even quite annoying to deal with. This is why the artificial world of cyberspace is so appealing to Case. He does not need to deal with bodily obstacles in this world. However, this does not mean that artificiality is more valued than nature.
The reason why I believe nature is still the more valued term in Neuromancer is because Case’s feelings of disgust with meat and bodily experiences are quite natural to feel in one’s life. Many people dream of a different world, that is ultimately artificial, in order to escape. They dream of and wish for nonexistent places, such as utopias, in order to get away from the everyday hindrances of bodily life. Even though a sort of utopia exists for Case through the matrix, there are still obstacles, such as artificial intelligences, that are in his way. With this being said, the nature of the mind is to strive for what is perfect, but one can never actually reach that artificial world. Nature ends up calling one back, just as Case has to leave and cannot be in cyberspace forever. In other words, the attempt to attain the artificial is an act of nature. It is the thought process itself which is so important rather than the end goal of artificiality.
In addition, even though jacking into cyberspace is like a sexual experience, as I mentioned in my first blog, it is not a real sexual encounter. One can see that Case misses the touch of Linda Lee when he remembers their sexual moments together. He even says “all the meat…and all it wants” in a positive way, rather than in a negative way (9). But maybe because he lost her in this fleshly world, more than once, he needs a way to escape. Through this example, one can see that nature is more valued, and because it was taken away from him, he needs the artificial to escape, which is once again natural in itself to feel this way. Ultimately, nature or what is natural is still superior when it comes to this natural/artificial binary.
In William Gibson’s Neuromancer, the main hacker, or console cowboy, is Case. He follows what Pekka Himanen calls “The Hacker Work Ethic.” According to Himanen, the hacker works because he or she wants to. They find hacking to be joyous and entertaining. They work hard because they are passionate about what they do and find self-fulfillment within this “game.” This is exactly what Case’s attitude is towards hacking. When doing his job he becomes the creative “artiste,” that Ratz seems to be calling him all of the time. Case may be doing this job because he is in the debt of Armitage, but he is very much willing to jack into cyberspace for his own pleasure. In fact, for him it seems as if the experience is sexual. When he gets the Ono-Sendai in order to enter the matrix, even Molly comments and says to Case, “‘I saw you stroking that Sendai; man, it was pornographic”’ (47). It seems that there is no coincidence in Gibson’s use of diction when he says one has to “jack” in to enter this very sensual place. Once Case has finished using the Ono-Sendai for the first time Case acts as if he were done having a sexual encounter. The narrator says that “somewhere [Case] was laughing, in a white-painted loft, distant fingers caressing the deck, tears of release streaking his face” (52). Even though Case does not want anything to do with meat, or flesh, this sexual cyberspace is in a way a very bodily experience. The deck is like a woman’s body in that he has to gently touch it. And he is in such euphoria when he comes to the climax of entering cyberspace fully that he feels this sense of release that accompanies a sexual experience. Case worked hard to get there, but it was clearly a joyous experience.
As a result of seeing the passion that Case exudes when hacking, the reader can see him as a cultural hero. He is a cultural hero because he may be an outcast of society and come from a low class, but he can still find happiness within his situation, which is extremely inspiring. And as we continue along in the plot, he discovers that who he is working for may not be a very good guy. Armitage and Tessier-Ashpool seem to be working in a way that is evil to the society in which they live. Because Case is directly involved, yet has as outside perspective, we can see the wheels turning in his mind and predict that he will be saving this society from its complete ruin. In terms of Mckenzie Wark’s quote, instead of producing the exact same thing or what Tessier-Ashpool wants, Case will hack in order to differentiate, or produce a new outcome for society. In fact, he could create a surplus of different possibilities.
This reminds me of other types of hacking within the novel. For example, one can see the use of drugs in this novel to be a type of hack. Even though drugs are essentially used for the same outcome, to escape from some type of obstacle, one can see with Peter Riviera’s use of drugs, that Peter uses them in order to help boost his performance for his job. He is not trying to escape anything in this particular situation; he is using the drugs to enhance his skills. He is differentiating in terms of Wark.