Thursday, July 19, 2018

#200 / The Purple Army

In a New Yorker article titled "No More Secrets" (in the hard copy version), Adrian Chen documents the life of "Ice Poseidon," who makes a living as a live streamer. Ice Poseidon's real name is Paul Denino. Chen's article, sailing under the rubric, "Annals of Technology," provides a somewhat sympathetic view of a person whom others call "one of the worst people online."

I have not explored the world of the live streamers (even after reading the Adrian Chen article). I think I might have to sample this online ecosysystem, however, and not only to provide me with examples for the class I teach on "Privacy, Technology, And Freedom." Hundreds of thousands of people follow Denino online, in real time. His followers have formed a "Purple Army."

Could the techniques described by Chen, employed by Denino, be turned to some sort of positive, political purpose? That seems to me to be an intriguing possibility. 

Denino builds his following by being outrageous (sexist, racist, and crude). The article that calls him "one of the worst people online" provides examples. As I say, the Chen article is a bit more generous and forgiving, though not uncritical. 

We already have lots of opportunities to witness a politics that is sexist, racist, and crude. I think you know who I am talking about!

Maybe there's another way, though, to build the right kind of "army," by using some of these live streaming approaches. I think it's worth thinking about!

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