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The Laws of CoolKnowledge Work and the Culture of Information$
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Alan Liu

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780226486987

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226487007.001.0001

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Cyber-Politics and Bad Attitude

Cyber-Politics and Bad Attitude

(p.239) Chapter 8 Cyber-Politics and Bad Attitude
The Laws of Cool

Alan Liu

University of Chicago Press

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

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