BOOK: (White) Imaginary Futures

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.


I have almost finished reading the outstanding work Imaginary Futures: From Thinking Machines to The Global Village (London: Pluto Press, 2007) by white Marxist male, Richard Barbrook. IMHO, the work makes for a veritable tour de force and is essential reading for those interested in decolonizing computing vis-a-vis understanding how (white) visions of the future repeatedly – or rather ‘algorithmically‘ – inform and inflect the present, not to mention for Barbrook’s useful, yet highly Eurocentric, account of the Cold War origins of computers, ICTs (information and communication technologies) and the Net. (For a brief discussion of the ‘algorithmic’ nature of White Supremacy / Racism, interested readers are invited to check out the following extended abstract by Dr Syed Mustafa Ali, Lecturer in the School of Computing and Communications at The Open University: “Transhumanism and/as Whiteness“.)

Interested readers can download a copy (PDF format) of the book here.

A highly useful overview of the book was presented by Barbrook at Warwick University in 2011 and is available for viewing on YouTube:

One of the most interesting sequences of slides appearing towards the end of the presentation is the following:The Futures.JPG

From a Counter-Racist / decolonial perspective, I am immediately led to ask who is this we that Barbrook is inviting to invent new futures? I should also like to suggest that for non-white VoRs (Victims of Racism / White Supremacy), the wording of the first slide (on the left) should be replaced with the following:

Those who do not remember the [White Supremacist / Racist] future [that shapes the White Supremacist / Racist present] are condemned to [have the White Supremacist / Racist future] repeated [on them]



Copyright, Copyleft, Copy-White

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance


I’m currently studying a course on the Linux operating system and have just come across, once again, the notion of copyleft which the entry on Wikipedia defines as follows:

Copyleft is a play on the word copyright to describe the practice of using copyright law to offer the right to distribute copies and modified versions of a work and requiring that the same rights be preserved in modified versions of the work.

From a Counter-Racist perspective, it is important to understand what copyleft is and what it is not. As the Wikipedia entry goes on to state, “copyleft type licenses are a novel use of existing copyright law to ensure a work remains freely available.”

In short, copyleft works within the framework / context of copyright law, i.e. in the area of major people activity known as LAW within the globally operating system of Racism (White Supremacy). To the extent that it makes “use” of “existing” copyright law, copyleft can be understood as a refinement for purposes of maintaining and / orexpanding White Supremacy (Racism). The ‘left’ in copyleft also plays on connotations of ‘leftist’ / ‘left-leaning’ or oppositional / radical politics; however, copyleft is far from being radical insofar as principled opposition to Racism (White Supremacy) is concerned; consistent with the left-right (controlled) dialectic at work within White Supremacy (Racism), the copyleft-copyright dialectic maintains WS/R hegemony in the sphere of Politics, Economics and Law.

From a Counter-Racist perspective, and drawing on the ideas of critical race theoretical and decolonial scholars, it might be argued that copyleft, like copyright, is nothing other than copy-white. (For a brief Islamic Counter-Racist perspective on Copy-White, I refer interested readers to the Disclaimer on the Bandung2 website.)


“The Machine in The Machine” (Ellison)

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.

More inspiration from Color Monitors:




COMMENT: “Color Monitors” by Martin Kevorkian

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.

Being both a computer scientist and an attempted-Muslim counter-Racist, I have occasionally been led to wonder whether the field of computing is itself ‘raced’. (Although, from a counter-Racist perspective, that should be ‘house’ of computing, not ‘field’ of computing since it’s “Massa” who has defined the ‘discipline’ – sic.)

In this connection, check out the blurb on the back-cover of Color Monitors: The Black Face of Technology in America (2006) by white Associate Professor of English at The University of Texas at Austin, Martin Kevorkian, a cheap copy of which I managed to pick up today in a London academic remainders bookshop:

Following up on Ralph Ellison’s intimation that blacks serve as “the machines inside the machine,” Color Monitors examines the designation of black bodies as natural machines for the information age. Martin Kevorkian shows how African Americans are consistently depicted as highly skilled, intelligent, and technologically savvy as they work to solve complex computer problems in popular movies, corporate advertising, and contemporary fiction. But is this progress? Or do such seemingly positive depictions have more disturbing implications? Kevorkian provocatively asserts that whites’ historical “fear of a black planet” has in the age of microprocessing converged with a new fear of computers and the possibility that digital imperatives will engulf human creativity.

Analyzing escapist fantasies from Mission: Impossible to Minority Report, Kevorkian argues that the placement of a black man in front of a computer screen doubly reassures audiences: he is nonthreatening, safely occupied — even imprisoned — by the very machine he attempts to control, an occupation that simultaneously frees the action heroes from any electronic headaches [emphasis added].

I’m sure it’s going to make for ‘interesting’ reading.