Hello Shadow

Note: This post is for Laura, by request – hi Laura!

Note 2: This post is far more philosophical than I normally go, but I thought, what the heck, why not have fun with it?

“shadow” by mandaloo is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Your online Shadow.

Everyone has one. Even if you take care to not use platforms like Facebook, it’s highly likely that you have a shadow profile following you around the internet.

Platforms like Facebook and Google do it best. They collect all the data you and your friends or colleagues give them when you use their free services (But Google maps is SO CONVENIENT!) and they combine that with collected data about the other sites you visit (even after you log out) or where you’re logging in from, or whether you’re on a mobile device or a computer. They combine all of this data, and start to make predictions about you, which are either confirmed or adjusted depending on your online habits, and the habits of those you are connected to. This is precisely why so many people think their phones are secretly listening to them – and then delivering ads based on something they said. Your phone is not listening to you. It’s more troubling than that. Your shadow profile has revealed your secrets (she’s not very discrete!).

Continue reading “Hello Shadow”

Hello Shadow

This Week In Tech News: Orwellian Doublethink

The last week has been filled with announcements from big tech firms:

Facebook tells us “the future is private“.

Google tells us they’re “here to help“.

Amazon tell us it’s a friend to small businesses.

"War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery Ignorance is Strength"  by Nney is licensed under  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery Ignorance is Strength” by Nney is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In developers’ conferences and earnings calls, the biggest of the big tech companies are trying to develop unique value propositions that paint them as friendly, responsive, and attuned to the needs of their customers. Then the mainstream technology media (often overworked, understaffed and reliant on the good graces of big tech for continued access to stories), generally reports these messages at face value. News in the last week focused on Facebook’s pivot toward community groups, Google’s exciting universal translator or Amazon’s claim that small and medium sized business partners made on average 90K last year through their platform.

Continue reading “This Week In Tech News: Orwellian Doublethink”

This Week In Tech News: Orwellian Doublethink

Social Media Mindfulness Is Not Enough

A group of virtual reality avatars sitting in a circle engaging in meditation
“VR Meditation Guided by Jeremy Nickel” posted to Flickr by Sansar VR. Available at https://flic.kr/p/GBrspR CC-BY 2.0

It used to be only a few voices on the margin: Ian Bogost, Sherry Turkle, Geert Lovink, or Evgeny Morozov, for example, who urged people to think a little more about the time they were spending on social media. But soon the whisper grew and now the movement may be reaching the mainstream. With the rise to prevalence of former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris and his Center for Humane Technology, and with the Facebook Privacy/Cambridge Analytical scandal all over congress and the world news, people are starting to have conversations that were considered almost laughable before. Continue reading “Social Media Mindfulness Is Not Enough”

Social Media Mindfulness Is Not Enough

Goliath vs. Goliath: Or Why the Net Neutrality Debate is Complicated

You may have noticed that net neutrality was in the news quite a bit this week after US FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tried to slip a release into the pre-long weekend news burial ground stating that he plans to roll back any legislation related to Net Neutrality. In response to this, Netflix released a statement that it opposes any attempts to roll back net neutrality rules. Back in July, when the idea of gutting net neutrality law was first floated under the Trump administration, all of the major platform players such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon, spoke out against these proposed regulations. But a Google search that I conducted this morning shows news in which Twitter, Pinterest, AirBnB and of course the aforementioned Netflix make statements opposing the new legislation while Facebook and Google are conspicuously absent.

Continue reading “Goliath vs. Goliath: Or Why the Net Neutrality Debate is Complicated”

Goliath vs. Goliath: Or Why the Net Neutrality Debate is Complicated

Words Matter, Or Let’s Stop Naturalizing Tech Development

It’s become such a regular turn of phrase, we don’t even think twice about using it:

  1. From an old Forbes article: “How Google Search Results Will Evolve Throughout 2015
  2. From Social Media Today: “Facebook Continues to Evolve Facebook Live, Announces New Tools
  3. From Government Technology Magazine: “Twitter, Uber, Plan to Further Evolve Their Civic Engagement Strategies
  4. Even in TED talks: “Kevin Kelly: How Technology Evolves
  5. And I could go on and on, the examples being seemingly endless…

 

Do you see it?

Continue reading “Words Matter, Or Let’s Stop Naturalizing Tech Development”

Words Matter, Or Let’s Stop Naturalizing Tech Development