Cyber-Politics and Bad Attitude

Alan Liu

in The Laws of Cool

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780226486987
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226487007 | DOI:
Cyber-Politics and Bad Attitude

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Most users of online media are likely to have encountered—and in practice at least minimally endorsed—“politics for the really cool.” One does not need to be overtly political, after all, to feel a vicarious thrill of revolution while downloading copyrighted music at work or viewing previously restricted satellite images on the World Wide Web. Even purely fictional representations of digital information technology, such as the 1990s films The Net and The Matrix, implicate their audiences in this way. This chapter examines the logic of the politics of cool by focusing on “cyberlibertarianism,” the belief that the technological and social covenants of networked information are a new form—or reform—of politics. This chapter discusses the freedom associated with cyberlibertarianism, including freedom from government and freedom from big business. It also examines cyberlibertarianism as a flawed politics or, more extreme, no politics at all; cool as “bad attitude”; how cyberlibertarians treat privacy, free speech, and freedom of information; and the unstable balance between cyberlibertarian privacy and individualism.

Keywords: cool; politics; cyberlibertarianism; World Wide Web; information technology; freedom; privacy; bad attitude; free speech; individualism

Chapter.  17616 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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