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Issue 12


The information age began with dreams of a common language. The internet would let any network speak to any other. It has since been described as many kinds of places to gather: a public square, a mall, a street, a garden, or utopia, which is another way of saying no (real) place at all.

In this issue we explore shared standards and protocols that make possible new forms of civic life, ownership, aid, and their opposites, at the same time that they differentiate us ever more precisely. Online, you are unique like everybody else.


Singular Plural

The Editors

Towards the construction of common places.


Panopticons and Leviathans: Oscar H. Gandy, Jr. on Algorithmic Life

A conversation about life and death in a computerized world.

Evictor Structures: Erin McElroy and Azad Amir-Ghassemi on Fighting Displacement

A new website is putting eviction data at tenant organizers’ fingertips.

Building Better Technology Together: Audrey Eschright on Open Source and Organizing in Tech

Two’s a magazine, three’s an organizing committee.

Inside the Whale: An Interview with an Anonymous Amazonian

Working in the belly of a beast.


Lines of Sight

Alex Hanna, Emily Denton, Razvan Amironesei, Andrew Smart, Hilary Nicole

A genealogy of one of the most important datasets in AI.

Under a Blood-red Flag

Nayantara Ranganathan

A report on the dangerous politics of a new emoji.

Specter in the Machine

Evan Malmgren

The story of a mailing list that tried to make a revolution.

The Fort Rodman Experiment

Charlton McIlwain

An inquiry into tech’s long history of failing to diversify.

How to Make a Pencil

Aaron Benanav

A recipe for a cookshop of the future.


Enter the Dragnet

Sarah Brayne

An inside look at how the LAPD uses Palantir to spy on virtually everyone.

Decelerate Now

Gavin Mueller

The case for why you should be a Luddite.


You Can’t Count Your Way Out of This

Romi Ron Morrison

Fugitive computing and practices of care.

First edition of Issue 12: Commons released December 20, 2020.