WE are simply a group of talented people, nothing more and nothing less. From all walks of life, from fourteen to fifty two. Some of us don’t even know what a password file or key derivation function is. Some of us don’t even know how to turn on a computer. The point is that everyone specializes in something and they offer their services to the rest of the group. We even have lawyers to assist us, should that need arise. Everyone helps everyone else in whatever they do, however they can offer expertise in their chosen field. It is our currency.
This is how it has always worked in our world: layers, discrete parts on which to focus, to get lost in. It’s how networks are conceived, at least in the abstract. Knowing this, you approach a technology or a system and you insert yourself, you inhabit the work. You do this as if you were always going to be there, as if this was the only place in the world which you were interested in occupying. You take for granted that the things above and below your head are precisely as they should be. You take for granted that that the roof isn’t crashing down on you.
You have to understand that computers, these machines, are first of all centers for the production of abstractions. The time we spend striking at a keyboard is a time that is lost, that will never again be reanimated or simulated by the data we’ve generated or modified in the process. This is why data retention policies are a kind of fairy tale, a flourish conceived by a class of people who don’t understand the nature of the thing which they are charged to safeguard. When you realize this—and it takes many users a lifetime—things become a lot easier. The fear of data loss, the disaster of the crash, suddenly takes on the characteristics of an enduring feature of the landscape, rather than the capsizing of logic it so often represents to neophytes.
Ours is a culture—maybe one of the few of the last century—that precedes visuality. This is something you also have to understand. It doesn’t happen with images for us, computing never did. It happens by transmission, as a thing passes from one place to another. The culture around it developed like this, too. It’s closer to us that way, closer to the heart. A thing received is always more terrifying than a thing discovered.