Extremely Online

One of the founders of Substack, the mailing list and personal website hosting and monetizing provider, has rejected a recent petition for the site to moderate and remove openly Nazi content (via Mefi).

If the proliferation of Twitter clones since Musk started tanking it has shown us anything, it’s that there are many possible venues for posting one’s views online—too many, in fact. In this year of all years, there’s no basis to the position that keeping a specific site unmoderated is the only possible way of protecting or enabling free speech.

Which means it just comes back to money. They’re gambling that keeping their site safe for Nazis will bring in more money than keeping it safe for non-Nazis, because the two are fundamentally incompatible. Denying any Nazi sympathies with the disclaimer that “we don’t like Nazis either—we wish no-one held those views” merely looks like an attempt to keep both sides as customers. That will only work if not enough people call them on it, though, so fingers crossed that they lose their bet.


Wired recently charted the different trajectories of various Gen X technoenthusiasts in an interview with Douglas Rushkoff (archived), a writer I’ve followed on and off since reading his Media Virus in the early 1990s and knowing he’d identified something important. On reading this article it felt as if he’d ended up where he has surprisingly late, until I remembered that few of those Gen X tech gurus had much grounding in political science, just as few Gen X and older political scientists had much grounding in tech.

At the end of the 1980s, when I was majoring in both computer science and political science as an undergrad, people used to ask me what I expected to do with that odd combination, and I really couldn’t say; I was just interested in both. For years it seemed as if I’d have to choose one over the other. Now I know that I was just getting ready for the twenty-first century.

The start of it, anyway. Now I need to bring in the strand I dabbled in but didn’t carry through to a major, environmental science and politics, to tackle the next part of the century… but life is short, and gets in the way. Gen Z won’t remember everything that Gen X saw, though, so we Xers need to tell them about it. Rushkoff is right—he’s ended up in the right place.


Facebook is being overrun with stolen AI-generated images that people think are real.

What are streams worth?

A valiant effort to save some of Twitter’s best gags. You can’t even see the originals now without being logged in to Elon Musk’s vanity project.

25 December 2023 · Net Culture