Oct 23 2013

Why bother?

Published by at 9:49 pm under Personal,Privacy

I woke up this morning with a rant running through my mind.  Which is nothing unusual, by any stretch of the imagination.  I often rant, in person, on the blog, and on the podcast.  People almost expect it of me.

The difference this morning is I asked myself, “Why bother?”

Ranting isn’t going to change anyone’s mind.  The people who hold views similar to mine will nod and agree or, rarely, comment on the blog.  But it won’t change anything.  The people who hold opposing views will shake their heads and discount my opinions, or, rarely, comment on the blog.  But it won’t change anything in their minds either.

I’m currently suffering a crisis of faith; in our corporations, in our governments and in humanity.  We’re rapidly approaching an inflection point where we have to decide if we’re going to accept a world where our corporations and our governments monitor our every movement and action, or not.  Or perhaps we’ve already passed the inflection point and we just haven’t realized the implications yet.  In either case, the vast majority of people don’t even know there’s a decision being made that affects their future, as well as the future of their descendants.  Of course, such decisions are being made every day that most of us will never be aware of.

Part of me wants to lead a charge on the governments and corporations of the world in an attempt to recover some of the concepts of privacy we’ve lost in the last two decades.  But another part of me realizes the idea of privacy as we used to know it is dead and gone, it’s bones picked clean for the sake of social media and by the excuse of ‘national security’.  So how do we adjust our thinking to a new world and create a new type of privacy that limits the power of corporations and governments while still enabling social media and national security?  Especially when we live in a world where the vast majority of people don’t even understand there is a battle going on and the dangers opening up our lives to these forces pose.

I don’t know the answer, I don’t have a victory condition to fight for in this battle, or at least not one that’s realistic and achievable.  And quite frankly I don’t think anyone else does either, other than the short term goal of ‘gather everything’ that our governments and corporations have.  And I doubt even they have more than a vague idea where this will lead.

So that’s my ‘not quite a rant, but really a rant’ for today.  Scott McNealy was right, way back in 1999, when he said “You have zero privacy.  Get over it.”  It’s dead, so how do we change ourselves and the world to deal with this not so new reality?  I don’t know, which frustrates me and makes me want to rant.  Which leads to being marginalized as just another crazy talking about privacy.  So why bother?

Update:  A very timely article, at least for me:  The Real Privacy Problem at the MIT Technology review.  Long, but well worth the read.

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2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Why bother?”

  1. Leighon 24 Oct 2013 at 2:49 am

    I agree with the problem statement. And I agree with the “why bother” sentiment from time to time.

    But I’m not ready to give up just yet.

    I went through a phase of tweeting my discontent to the few dozen people who followed me, through facebooking my discontent to friends and family who didn’t care, and I finally gave up on all of that and ‘deleted’ the trail to save my blushes.

    So then I made contact with a local school and started talking with 12-18 year olds about lofty topics like privacy and anonymity. Is it making a difference? Who knows. The school keep inviting me back to talk to their pupils – and they seek my advice on their approach to things like social media – so maybe it is.

    And even if I can help a small handful of the next generation to realise the stakes in this game, maybe we still stand a chance.

    I hope you keep bothering – with this and your blog in general – yours is one of the few out there that’s worth reading.

  2. Joshon 24 Oct 2013 at 4:56 am

    I know what you mean…but to me there is a twist. I realize, like other tech people, that privacy and anonymity are important issues in modern life. It does seem to me, though, that privacy is a privileged issue. There seems to be very little outrage about the physical surveillance that a large swath of the population lives under every day. The NSA is sweeping up your email to look for “terrorists” but young men in some communities are presumed to be criminals on sight.

    Just saying…

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