Thirty writers from across the spectrum were brought together by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and an unlikely conspirator, Timothy McSweeney’s Literary Concern (McSweeney’s). Normally McSweeney’s publishes fiction, creative stories, humor — their go-tos for two decades. For their 54th issue, however, they focused around the theme of state surveillance, putting together a genius non-fiction collection about how technology and governments, along with corporations, are encroaching on our privacy. McSweeney’s Managing Editor, Claire Boyle, joins C. Edward Kelso for Season 2, Episode 2 of the CoinSpice.io podcast, Milk, to talk about why this topic, why non-fiction, and how it all came together.
Electronic Frontier Foundation, McSweeney’s Genius Collaboration on Surveillance
McSweeney’s Managing Editor Claire Boyle is not a techie. In fact, during our run-up to the episode, in email exchanges, she as sure to let me know. What she didn’t know is this was exactly why I wanted her perspective, and it’s why I chose McSweeney’s over a more insider representative.
Honestly, surveillance as a topic is simply fucked-out. It’s overdone, like a car alarm — no one really notices the noise anymore. McSweeney’s, however, approached the subject differently as only a literary magazine obsessed with story telling for twenty years is able.
Boyle’s lack of tech nerd-ery wasn’t a bug, it is a feature. As a main curator of the surveillance issue, she had just the right balance of tech ingenue and smarts. She can follow complicated ideas with ease, and has that innate curiosity so vital for a great editor.
Nice to See Progressives Back at the Table
I pegged the worldview of the mag and its collaborators as decidedly American progressive. Nothing wrong with that sort, but to my way of thinking they were way too lenient during the Obama years. They gave up for silly social reasons, and to protect what they imagined were political friends. Uh, no.
When a united voice was needed to shout down ever-more US foreign adventurism and domestic spying, too many progressives gave Obama admins a pass. One could make an argument That Man in the White House was among the greatest threats civil libertarians have ever known: ask Snowden (who gives a wonderful interview in this issue), ask Assange, ask Manning. You get the idea.
The End of Trust brings them back to the table, and the lovable progressives I once knew seem refocused to set things straight. Whatever the case, we’re benefiting from that return with a pretty wonderful collection. Do yourself a favor and subscribe to McSweeney’s — it’s like nothing else out there. And take advantage of the EFF’s insistence on publishing in the Creative Commons by checking out the issue we’re highlighting.
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