[Air-L] Privacy Buzz

Richard Forno rforno at infowarrior.org
Wed Feb 17 04:15:00 PST 2010

On Feb 16, 2010, at 22:37 , Jean Burgess wrote:

> However, the commercial imperatives of platform providers introduce
> genuinely new and difficult questions, precisely because their ways of
> engaging us as users, their regulatory mechanisms, their governance
> structures etc etc take little or no account of their role in  
> producing
> public good.

  Let's take that a step farther and look at how these new  
technologies are received and embraced by the masses.   At times I  
really think humans are like magpies -- we are attracted to shiny  
objects and shall, after a cursory examination, incorporate said shiny  
objects into our daily life, families, communities, industries, and  
societies. Then -- and only then -- might we realize there may be any  
consequences we might not like.   But by then, it's too late, we've  
grown accustomed to it, and so we shrug those concerns off (either  
intentionally or otherwise) as the "price of living in the Internet  
age" and carry on with our lives.

Actually that's an interesting thing to ponder, come to think of  
it.....I see this within the information security realm all the time.

> Where you say Google's "provision of "free" services makes it come  
> to feel
> more like a public utility than a cutthroat commercial entity", I  
> say it in
> some ways actually *is* a public utility. And in fact our  
> participation via
> these platforms already includes the practices of citizenship.

I've had this thought for a while now.  At what point does a Google or  
Akamai become a public utility?    If Akamai goes down, what are the  
consequences for not only informaiton distribution for companies *and*  

> But then thirdly, just because I want to say it (and not necessarily  
> to you
> personally), I must say as a cultural studies scholar I can't accept  
> the
> false consciousness explanation for how Googlespacebooktube have  
> come to be
> popular in the first place (we are seduced by the tools of our own
> enslavement which we misrecognise as agency - by which one must mean,
> *other* people suffer from this misrecognition). If we want to dream  
> of
> alternatives, then we need to understand this too, not as
> seduction/manipulation, but in terms of an invitation to participate.

The invitation is made by making it free, fun, and viral.  So folks  
flock like magpies toward it and then, as I said above, maybe realize  
too late they can't easily 'disconnect' without breaking their social  
ties in cyberspace, or at least making it more incovenient for others  
to include them in interaction via such services.  As I said the other  
day, I have friends who would love me to be on Facebook because they  
end up emailing me photos of events and reunions. Sure, it's a PITA  
for them at times, and they may stop sending me updates......but since  
I've chosen not to participate, I will deal with the consequences of  
my decision.   My social network is built, sustained, and coordinated  
on my terms, not through any one company.  Ergo I am beholden to  
nobody's service. licensing, DRM, or proprietary API.[1]  :)

Christian makes some good points. Embracing the shiny is not a bad  
thing, we just need to recognize the potential consequences and not  
just the convenience.  A common maxim in the commodities futures  
trading world is that "amateurs focus on how much they can make per  
trade; responsible professionals focus on what they might lose per  
trade."   The same applies here on a variety of levels, I think.


[1] Though if the rumors of free Kindles for Amazon Prime customers is  
true, I'll let 'em send me one and will download a few books to play  
with the device.  That said, I still prefer hard-copy that I 'own' and  
ones where nobody can observe from afar how many pages I read,  when I  
read them, or if I skip a chapter.   *g*

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