Radicalizing hackers and hackerizing radicals

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(mostly redacted) intros

  • hunch it's exausting to try to radicalize libertariants
  • eff/fopf can't hire everyone, how can we create and
  • important to not fetishize issue, cause
  • how to talk to young people
  • briding worlds
  • do we hire people from industry or hackerized radicals?
  1. discussion#
  • assumption: easier to bring technical skills to radical people, but we

should leave open door to everyone

  • hiring from mainstream (to work on securedrop). have they become


  • common story: people followed corporate path and felt aimless and

wanted something more

  • one hire brought a lot of best practices from "professional" world

into hacker community, which was very useful

  • [redacted] works at corporate startup w/ good values. lots of

employees from places like palantir, google

  • digression: what is palantir? they aggregate law enforcement and

intelligence data across agencies and make them easily queryable

  • there are lots of people with solid values
  • what does one get from working at a corporation to use it to bring

stuff back to activist spaces?

  • do we give people the tools they need to translate that knowledge?
  • do we give people a forum for sharing what they learned?
  • big detractor: people don't want the paycut
  • how do we deal with that?
  • why do people work? not just $$$
  • a lot of it is relationships
  • working in non-heirarchical spaces is also rewarding
  • family and solidarity are rewarding
  • if well-intentioned programmers want to become radicalized, what do we

point them to?

  • what organization can sustain them?
  • if they can only volunteer, what can they do?
  • supporting people with benefits (like health care!) reallly makes a


  • if we do have a non-profit that can support people, benefits are

really important

  • obamacare, universal basic income
  • there's a level of trauma in terms of actually acquiring the skills
  • often information is taught in really intimidating ways
  • even non-profit w/ good benefits couldn't sustain [x] living in bay area
  • not possible to make changes of scale needed to confront problems
  • got tired of pushing for what was needed and what could actually be done
  • how to weaponinze spare time of well-intentioned programmers?
  • onboarding infra needs to be incredibly solid
  • could we standardize on how to plug people in?
  • how can we efficiently funnel people into existing projects?
  • at day job, we reorganized incredibly frequently
  • non-profits don't tend be able to move this way. not "agile" etc...
  • can we use timeboxes and sprints to effectively use corporate

coders' time?

  • can we leverage time of people with partial time off?
  • in sum: can we come up with smaller chunks of work to do?
  • what makes this work attractive?
  • can't compete on material benefits
  • can compete on social, emotional support
  • social-justice driven spaces can heal and meet needs that companies

can't meet

  • there is *huge* demand for this
  • case study: NYC-based learning collective for activist programmers
  • grew out of research needs of housing campaigns, etc.
  • lasted over 2 years (a lot in activist time)
  • people who are still programmers are ones who learned corporate stuff
  • in corporate places we learned corporate tools, not activist ones
  • activist things are smaller, but to make internet we need (eg:

replace google docs), it's big

  • can we scale our activist networks to make such big tools? can we

use our corporate skills to make smaller tools?

  • how can we find meaningful (non-corporate) coding work for activists

before they fall out of the lloop?

  • how can we divide up really big infra projects into smaller chunks

of work suitable for activist coders (or corporate recruits) to tackle in their spare time?

  • centralizing the on-boarding
  • effective harnessing of volunteer work
  • getting peeps interested is easy, keeping them engaged is hard
  • civic tech meetups are a great place that keep people's energy, but

they aren't politicized

  • can we make the rad equivalent of civic tech meetups?
  • is there a bait and switch move you could do?
  • pose as civic tech meetup but secretly be an anarchist tech meetup?
  • we don't make time to strategize deeply, work extendedly on retreats
  • on being reactionary
  • opinion: anarchism == reactionary to material captialism that stole

everyone's culture

  • we can't beat google. we can parasitize their space, make plugins

that work on top of them and counter what they do

  • we shouldn't try to replace FB, etc. with our own social network,

b/c reinforces consumerist/passive position of users

  • hot take: civ take is just neoliberalism: privatize the public good
  • coopts well-intentioned programmer's time and puts it toward

counterproductive means

  • corporate tech does some things more efficiently, can we structure

software dev in ways that learn from this?

  • non-profit industrial complex problems
  • do they have a generally liberalizing effect on radicals?
  • doe they effectively mine the more hard skills of hackers?
  • do they steer energy toward more pedestrian concerns?
  • could we intervene?
  • established non-profits gonna creep on a self-driven project
  • way to think about non-profits and funding: you are just taking

excess left-over wealth

  • great example: robin hood foundation -- have good rep, but for every

dollar they spend, they get tax break, and focus/language is on "monetization" (not our structure)

  • instead: seek support from/for each other. raise $ to pay for small

leaves of abscence

  • seek to avod beiung permanently beholded to anything/anyone
  • on bait & switch: assumes an "us v. them" frame
  • have lots of "non-political" friends. scary to be asked to "come

over to our side & fight the man."

  • how can we work together toward particular goals?
  • how can we meet people where they are at?
  • if we put people in box of "them" it will be harder to work with them.
  • "build or buy?"
  • bait & switch / bite-size chunks
  • we should do more meetups.
  • palantir was a bad name:
  1. main takeaways#
  • professional bite-sized onboarding infrastructure
  • does bait & switch work?
  • DIY or buy?