Tag Archives: privacy

Is Google boss’ vision for augmented humanity insidious?

“Schmidt said the long term goal here is to ensure everyone lives a happier life. Central to this is information, which is where Google comes in as a company driven by organising all the world’s data and making it accessible.”

Isn’t it dangerous to trust one private company with the world’s data? Was it George Orwell who said smth like, he who controls the present, controls the past; he who controls the past, controls the future. The word accessible has such a positive meaning these days, but what is being made accessible and to whom? What is in data? What is considered information esp in the digital age are at times beyond simple comprehension – as in, why would anyone want to know that? Like how many people visit my website, what websites I go to, what I download, who I speak to, who emails me, what I search for (indeed this has been used by police to track someone’s motives) and many more I cannot think of.

Also…. one data= one culture? The homogenization of world society well under way? We’ll generally aspire to similar things and dreams? Hence widening the market across the world to keep the demand going? Things and dreams that sap time and life so that we don’t have time left to think (only on trains and planes… oh wait, there are free newspapers to distract you)?

“In the future, he remarked, “We can suggest where you go next, who to meet, what to read…What’s interesting about this future is that it’s for the average person, not just the elites.”

Another mechanism to curb human thinking and natural ability to explore? Thinking is like a muscle. Anything that directly saves labour (like washing machines) is ok – anything that attempts to save thinking should be viewed with suspicion.

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Lifelogging – I see what you see, he sees, she sees

I read in a blog, “A firm in the United Kingdom is about to roll out a camera that people wear around their necks and which captures an image every 30 seconds, all day long.”

Crazy! Have a look at the camera on New Scientist. People are posting enough photos already on Facebook – do we really need to see a picture of them experiencing the joys of a toilet or someone’s back while doing something, erm, private? CCTV ain’t enough – let’s have people walking around with permanently-on cameras on them! Now even big mama is watching you!

I’m sure this device will be useful in some cases, and certainly be attractive to the exhibitionists among us. Lifelogging. Well, as you can see it’s not really anything new. But it’ll probably get more popular the more accessible, unobstrusive and hassle-free it is to do it.

Will the people of the future be forced to be an honest bunch? Since there are now already many ways to ‘catch someone out’. Like someone playing a game on Facebook or posting on Twitter when they are supposed to be in bed/work. You can track someone on Google Latitude. Our actions esp online are logged without us even thinking. Email trails, smses and what not. You used to be able to burn a letter. Now one even can retrieve smth deleted from a broken hard drive. To answer my own question – maybe people won’t be more honest but more likely to be revealed as liars. So have people become more forgiving?

There are always good and bad uses of technology, and some people are more ‘free’ about expressing themselves than others. Good for them. But:  Always sign out of email. Set the right privacy settings. Use different passwords. Be anonymous if that floats your boat.

Would/n’t it suck if someone sabotaged your lifelog, did things you didn’t do, and leave your descendants to find out? I think even if it was smth pretty exciting and good you’ll feel a pang of betrayal. Well, history books don’t always get it right either. Though I think people trust pictures more than words, and a lifelog is a first person thing… you can do a lot of damage.

Thoughts: archive, storage, hoarding, a civilization stored in a very sensitive data format? A message carved in stone has more chance of survival than a file on a usb stick.

World is ‘getting smaller’ – ditto timelines

It’s super easy to find and enjoy stuff from 100 years ago now. Try saying that in 1980! Of course artifacts, books and photos have been around for much longer, but now we can simply type in whatever takes our fancy and if they’re any good, you can find a film clip or some music, in the comfort of your own home/bed.  Such a broad and rich source of culture. I remember having to physically go to the National Library to ‘research’ anything to put together some primary school scrapbook.

Now you can find 3 centuries’ (hmm, yes “19th, 20th and 21st”) worth of footage from ITN Source, for instance. On youtube/vimeo/etc anything and everything gets airtime – one doesn’t have to be famous. In 60 years’ time you can watch a video of your late grandfather’s teen angst-y video response  on youtube. If youtube still exists then.

World’s oldest film, according to youtube – filmed in Leeds in 1888. Of all places!

People won’t be too happy if youtube or facebook or any major personal repositories dissolve along with years of collective personal history. We now have a situation where most of our info resides not (just) with us but on outside ‘resources’. Like, say your hard drive gets wiped out. But your video is still on Youtube. Your pictures and friends are still on Facebook. And hooray for Google Docs! Oh yes, your mobile contacts are on Mobyko. Phew. You don’t even pay any of them!

But we must be paying somehow. Data – obviously. Advertising revenue – targeted -> privacy issues.  Add carelessness to the mix (yes that includes weak passwords) and it goes one step further, to fraud.

About privacy though, what really do we care about it? That’s a strangely worded question – I mean, maybe people don’t mind others knowing what songs they like, that they went out last night, and have brown hair. Maybe it’ll pave the way for a more honest and open-minded world – or dual identities.

Anyway. We should not take the pervasive force of the internet for granted. I am grateful that I got to experience a pre-internet, pre-mobile life as a pre-adolescent – as there is no going back, and no way of future generations to know what it was like. And I am so glad to also be living in today’s convenient world!