If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

6 03 2013

Do you become more or less of a crank the more real your anxieties become?

I’ve joked that I’m a privacy crank (even as I realize the, ah, complexities of worrying over privacy on a public blog), but I’ve felt pretty confident that I’d be able to balance my antipathy to any kind of tracking with desire to participate in a full social life. I accept cookies in order to access certain websites, but periodically clear my cache and browser history; I have a cell phone which I can use to text and *gasp* talk, but which doesn’t have a GPS. I search on Google, but not while I’m signed in to my job-related Google account (which, outside of work, I never use).

And I live and work and ride the trains of and walk around New York City, which has CCTV mounted in train stations and on the sidewalk. I don’t like the surveillance cameras, but as a small and plain person, I doubt very much that I’m camera-candy.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.

But it seems as if the chances of being both social and private are dissolving in the corrosive effects of a culture which wants only to “share” and technologies which enable such sharing. As Mark Hurst points out, while one could try to minimize the omni-info maw of social media, a technology like Google glasses sucks you in—whether you want to be so sucked or not:

Remember when people were kind of creeped out by that car Google drove around to take pictures of your house? Most people got over it, because they got a nice StreetView feature in Google Maps as a result.

Google Glass is like one camera car for each of the thousands, possibly millions, of people who will wear the device – every single day, everywhere they go – on sidewalks, into restaurants, up elevators, around your office, into your home. From now on, starting today, anywhere you go within range of a Google Glass device, everything you do could be recorded and uploaded to Google’s cloud, and stored there for the rest of your life. You won’t know if you’re being recorded or not; and even if you do, you’ll have no way to stop it.

And that, my friends, is the experience that Google Glass creates. That is the experience we should be thinking about. The most important Google Glass experience is not the user experience – it’s the experience of everyone else. The experience of being a citizen, in public, is about to change. [emph in the original]

Y’know those illegal cell-signal blockers? Would they work on something like this? If not, someone is working on countering this, right? Right?

Because, at some point, if you can’t legally opt out of this surveillance without opting out of society, those of us who want to be around other people without being subject to their tracking techs might want to consider, mmm, other ways to remain free social beings.

. . . . Yeah, I really am a crank, aren’t I?

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8 responses

6 03 2013
waynelaw

Is that a Rush reference? I swear I heard that title in Geddy Lee’s voice….It was eerie and cool at the same time.

6 03 2013
dmfant

6 03 2013
satanicpanic

I grew up in a small town, and pretty much everyone knows your business there. It’s kind of stifling, but I imagine that was life for most humans throughout history. I wonder if privacy, the way we think of it, is another one of those 20th century relics, like physical recordings of music and cheap air travel.

6 03 2013
absurdbeats

@waynelaw: Yeah, I guess it is. Back in the day—waaaaay back in the day—I was a Rush fan; this is from 2112, right? Anyway, as a drummer, I couldn’t not listen to Neil Peart.

@satanicpanic: Huh, intriguing point; I’ll have to think about this. In any case, I grew up in a small town, too, and got tired of being known as “that kid”. Still, it seemed as if there were places where one could get away—that one of the great pleasures/quests of one’s adolescence was precisely in getting away. You could have secrets in a small town, perhaps, unlike in cities, even needed those secrets.,

7 03 2013
satanicpanic

I was one of “those kids” myself and I moved to the city first chance I got, so maybe I’m a hypocrite. I think the Google glasses are kind of creepy, but part of me also thinks it would be super cool if people a thousand years ago had been wearing them. So I’m a bit conflicted.

7 03 2013
10 04 2013
geekhiker

Hmmmmm… maybe I should start up a business that builds devices that will disable google glass within your house, or even the space surrounding you… 🙂

6 06 2013
Whisper to a scream | AbsurdBeats

[…] and I rant about privacy and presumption; Google wants to equip people with awkward glass and I grouch about techno-coercion; and surveillance drones? Oy, don’t get me […]

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