The Gentleman Hacker’s Christmas Reading List 2019

Dearest Gentle Readers and Listeners,

It is with modest pride and careful consideration that we present a fine curated selection of books and periodicals for the benefit of your grey flower (brain stem) and, hopefully of course, your reading pleasure.

I look forward to your company in the new year, when together we will continue to explore human issues of the technological media landscape.

Yours Sincerely, etc. etc.

The Gentleman Hacker





Global Information Society Watch 2018: Community Networks, Alan Finlay (ed), Association for Progressive Communications, 2018

I dispense with modesty to reveal that I feature several times in this broad publication of impacts of Community Networks from across the world.





The Community Network Manual: How to Build the Internet Yourself, Luca Belli (ed), FGV Direito Rio & ISOC, 2018

An excellent book, launched last year and edited by recent co-conspirator, Luca Belli. We both recently attended the United Nations Internet Governance Forum in Berlin, organizing a session entitled the Internet Commons Forum.

 





Building Community Network Policies: A Collaborative Governance towards Enabling Frameworks, Luca Belli (ed), FGV Direito Rio & ISOC, 2019

This book was launched this year during the “Dynamic Coalition for Community Connectivity” session at the United Nations Internet Governance Forum in Berlin. Luca chaired the session, and I was a panel speaker, talking about the German community wireless network group, Freifunk. I convinced connectivity pioneer and long time friend, Elektra Wagenrad, to join me in our session to present her innovative work. I am also proud to be credited in this high level policy book aimed for regulators, policy, and governance experts.





Don’t Network: The Avant Garde after Networks, Marc James Léger, Minor Compositions, 2018

After recommending several books extolling the values and virtues of building and connecting networks, this one advises against it. A heavy but good read, with two good friends, Ilze Black and Richard Barbrook, featured on the front cover playing Guy Debord’s boardgame “Game of War”.

“The Hacienda has been built, but as an experience economy that turns everyone into cannibalistic creatives that devour themselves and the planet satisfying the insatiable demands of the market. Don’t Network offers a lucid analysis of the new class war going on in contemporary art and politics, uncovering the antagonistic forces that confront the contradictions of the network economy.” – Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen, author of After the Great Refusal

I am sadly not featured in this book.





Sad By Design, Geert Lovink, Pluto Press, 2019

One of the most insightful books of 2019. Bringing the concept of Platform Nihilism with analyses of what the systems of social media and big tech addictive persuasion engines are doing to human beings as cultures and individuals.

I’ve had the pleasure of talking with Geert in person only on a few occasions through a mutual friend and dear neighbor, Armin Medosch. But we have picked up email conversations again lately.

We hope to feature Geert in an upcoming episode of The Gentleman Hacker.





Capital is Dead. Is This Something Worse? McKenzie Wark, Verso Books, 2019

I first emailed McKenzie Wark before the World Wide Web existed as McKenzie was an early subscriber to Australia’s first national  Internet Service Provider, Pegasus Networks. Later, McKenzie wrote the seminal book A Hacker Manifesto, which describes the relationships between new arising classes, coining them as “hackers” and “vectoralists”. This work expands and extends the concepts introduced and validates those themes through observations of the present moment.

We hope to feature McKenzie in an upcoming episode of The Gentleman Hacker.





Women, Whistle-blowing, Wikileaks – Renata Avila, Sarah Harrison, Angela Richter: A Conversation

Beyond telling moments of some cringe-worthy behaviors of Wikileaks men framed in the Laura Poitras film Risk (the film was radically re-edited and reframed after the initial showing at the Cannes Film Festival), this book shines the light on three women behind significant personal contributions in activism, transparency, accountability and justice.

I first met Sarah Harrison in 2014 to communicate as a security liaison between a whistle-blowing source and Wikileaks concerning a massive phone wiretapping surveillance dump of  phone call recordings involving over 20,000 Macedonian officials, journalists and political activists. The raw telephone recordings were never publicly leaked, but the political pressure from the very fact that they existed influenced the toppling of the government.

I briefly met with Renata Avila at the final symposium of Decode, an innovative and successful EU Research Project focusing on providing tools that put individuals in control of whether they keep their personal information private or share it for the public good.

We hope to feature Sarah and Renata in an upcoming episode of The Gentleman Hacker.





A Vision for Europe, David Adler and Rosemary Bechler (ed), Eris Press, 2019

Articles authored by philosophers, activists and policy makers for a transparent, united, democratic Europe. Amongst many great essays and authors featured in this book is article by Denis ‘Jaromil’ Roio. I’ve known Jaromil since the early 2000’s when he came to London and stayed with Armin Medosch, a neighbor and collaborator of mine in various media and technology projects. He had released ‘Dynebolic’ – an independent Linux distribution dedicated to media artists and creators. Jaromil, founder of dyne.org has since been instrumental in architecting core components of the Decode project including Devuan (another Linux distribution, sans systemd) and Zenroom, a tiny and portable virtual machine to help applications to protect data and create human-readable smart contracts.

We hope to feature Jaromil in an upcoming episode of The Gentleman Hacker.





Cult of the Dead Cow – How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World, Joseph Menn, Public Affairs Books, 2019

An essential historical read that explains the evolution of “hacktivism” from its very inception.





In Defense of Julian Assange, Tariq Ali and Magaret Kunstler (ed), 2019

Too much political misinformation and emotional propaganda has been spread on and offline about this man. You may not know or even like what you have heard or read about Julian Assange, but the contributors to this book concentrate on his achievements and impact on global journalism, and more importantly, press for his release from his current predicament of severe potentially fatal mistreatment in Belmarsh prison.





The Funambulist Magazine – Politics of Space and Bodies

fu·nam·bu·list  (fyo͝o-năm′byə-lĭst) noun

One who performs on a tightrope or slack rope

From the politics of African Futurism to Rojava Women’s Army, this quirky magazine, founded by an architect, explores resistance and solidarity around the world through articles, interviews, artworks, and design projects.