Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Inching my way out

I wrote most recently about my renewed paranoia about the internet of things. I, who love the publishing and educational opportunities afforded by all out wonderful online resources, am getting cranky about putting myself out there. Even with all these plug-ins and anonymizers, I am downright worried about visiting certain sites, especially with political sea-change looming. 

Yesterday, I tried to comment on a local newspaper article, but couldn't - I don't have facebook. There was no other authentication or login method. You are expected to locate yourself and your network that way. I was as affronted as the first time Apple told me how many minutes to what it had intuited was my workplace.

So when I read Nicholas Carr's The World Wide Cage, excerpted from his new book, so much rang true, especially about blogging, what it was and isn't now, but also about the economics and power dynamics of this system we have enabled.
"[Benkler et al.] failed to appreciate how the network would funnel the energies of the people into a centrally administered, tightly monitored information system organised to enrich a small group of businesses and their owners."

"The culture that emerged on the network, and that now extends deep into our lives and psyches, is characterised by frenetic production and consumption – smartphones have made media machines of us all – but little real empowerment and even less reflectiveness. It’s a culture of distraction and dependency."
It reminds me of the conversations I had around privacy when I visited Russia in 2006. The teachers and librarians I met didn't understand the concept. Surely, they argued, you would want privacy only if you were doing something illegal or untoward. I found it difficult to justify the fact that maybe you just wanted to keep somethings to yourself, or choose what to put out there. 

I think the central issue I have is people taking random leavings on the web as a whole of someone's being -- the alleged criminal whose anti-authoritarian re-tweet from 2012 is showcased on the newscast, the beauty queen whose liking a racially-tinged joke on facebook comes back to haunt her, what passes for journalism in our world of churn. Well, after all, privacy was an anomalous state.