Constructive criticism and self-criticism are extremely important for any revolutionary organization. Without them, people tend to drown in their mistakes, not learn from them.
That one new feature you added? That sparkly, Techcrunchable, awesome feature? What did it cost your user? If the result of your work consumes someone’s cognitive resources, they can’t use those resources for other things that truly, deeply matter. This is NOT about consuming their time and attention while they're using your app. This is about draining their ability for logical thinking, problem-solving, and willpower after the clicking/swiping/gesturing is done.
But even if we can justify consuming our user's cognitive resources while they're using our product, what about our marketing? Can we honestly believe that our "content marketing" is a good use of their resources? "Yes, because it adds value." we tell ourselves. But what does that even mean? Can we honestly say that "engaging with our brand" is a healthy, ethical use of their scarce, precious, limited cognitive resources? "Yes, because our content is useful."
And that's all awesome and fabulous and social and 3.0ish except for one, small, inconvenient fact: zero sum. What you consume here, you take from there. Not just their attention, not just their time, but their ability to be the person they are when they are at their best. When they have ample cognitive resources. When they can think, solve-problems, and exercise self-control. When they can create, make connections, and stay focused.
At first, they'll tell us of all the beneficial things this could give us, and phase it in gradually. They might tell us of how it could help medicine, and we agree to let them start monitoring our food and drink consumption, along with our exercise habits. And when something good, such as a cure for some difficult to vanquish disease, comes as a result, people will see that it provided them some tangible benefit this time. And from there it will slowly bleed out into other areas of life. This slow, creeping invasion of privacy strikes me as a much more likely route to such a future than such a government having a revolution and things changing overnight.
Personal analytics on large populations will ultimately suffer from the same problem so many schemes involving information and power do. If it happens, we'll probably have welcomed it for the perceived benefits to society we can get from it on a small scale, naively believing individuals in positions of power will be benevolent rulers. Most people will act shocked when this power is abused and steadily has its limits expanded. The rest of us will sit down and say, "When we were talking about this happening 20 years ago, we were the conspiracy nutjobs, eh? I'd say I told you so and leave you to deal with it, but instead I'll thank you for screwing me over too."
There was a king reigned in the East: There, when kings will sit to feast, They get their fill before they think With poisoned meat and poisoned drink. He gathered all that springs to birth From the many-venomed earth; First a little, thence to more, He sampled all her killing store; And easy, smiling, seasoned sound, Sate the king when healths went round. They put arsenic in his meat And stared aghast to watch him eat; They poured strychnine in his cup And shook to see him drink it up: They shook, they stared as white's their shirt: Them it was their poison hurt. - I tell the tale that I heard told. Mithridates, he died old.
Where once corporations could impose their advertisements on us through television, we now have PVR which can block TV ads. Where once corporations could impose their advertisements on us through websites, we now have browser plugins that can block those ads. It would almost seem as if we have the power to determine how much content we are fed by corporations and how much content we genuinely want to pay attention to.
Except we don't, because it's still accepted that when a corporation creates an advertisement that does something 'neat' or 'cool', it gets reproduced and transmitted through various mediums without any critical appraisal, just because it's different and original. Corporations know this; they know that they have to go above and beyond merely putting a billboard on a highway to attract eyeballs. They know that it's not enough to beat their rivals at pure visibility. They know that they have do something 'different', something 'cool', something 'unique', something 'neat', something that will make it through to those eyeballs and minds that have become desensitized to all those tired, traditional means of advertising.
The companies that create these advertisement (not companies like British Airways, but the PR and marketing companies that they hire), are acutely aware of the fact that the number of people that will look at these kinds of billboards are no higher than the number of people that will look at any other similarly aesthetically pleasing (given contemporary style and taste) billboards. But they do know that if they offer something else, something that piques a viewer's curiosity, a viewer's sense of inquisitiveness or fascination with technology, or a viewer's eye for novelty and originality, then those people will spread the word. They will tell others about this cool and unique and original advertisement. They might not go right up to their friends and say: "Did you see that cool new British Airways advertisement?" because they might be just the kind of person who wouldn't spread the gospel of corporations so directly, but they very well might be the kind of person who would post to a social media site that has millions of anonymous viewers.
Punishing governement and large corporations is generally meaningless. We have to pierce the veil and go after individuals within them... fine or even imprison them personally.
The political divide about surveillance is about whether or not the ends justify the means. I believe they don’t, or rather that those who focus on the immediate benefits of surveillance are myopic to its other effects on society. Those people by the way are well meaning – always keep Hanlon’s Razor in mind : never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. What it means about surveillance is that we don’t need to have intent to create a fascist regime – we can just sleepwalk into it.
These articles scare me. Another one with exactly the same message: Things are worse than we thought, it was already bad, we are not coming close to doing enough to save us, there isn't even much of a plan.
And then I see most of the west handling covid-19 just like we handle everything: No clear direction, minimal effort, leaders asleep at the wheel, politicians trying to get the better of each other, rich people get richer.
Climate was an important theme in our last elections, but even the green party had no clue whatsoever, and the voters made it clear they did not even remotely care.
Now Covid-19 is easy stuff compared to the climate. I was hoping Covid-19 could serve as a wake up call for the cost of incompetence in our organisations. But that does not seem to happen.
Covid-19 has a pattern I also see in the climate: First, nobody cares for some theoretical crisis far away, then its in our countries but still not personal, and by now everybody knows about a specific person who died. Climate is a theoretical crisis far away for now.
So how do we proceed from here?
The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.
Meanwhile, in the course of this "Terrorist Generation" campaign, for Obama to claim, "you know, I'm really worried about terrorists, so I have to to read -- well, they claim they don't read it -- I have to get information about your email, where you are, who you're talking to, what you have on Facebook; I've gotta put that on my big database"... actually, we're moving into a world which was described, pretty accurately I think, by one of the founders of Google... I don't know if you followed the stories about Google Glass? Well, Google has some new, ridiculous thing, they're marketing glasses which have a small computer on them. So you can be on the internet 24 hours a day, just what you want. It's a way of destroying people, but quite apart from that, this little device has a camera, and presumably, if it doesn't already it will soon have a recorder, which means that everything that's going on around you, goes up on the internet. Some reporter asked Erich Schmidt, didn't he think this was an invasion of privacy, and his answer was exactly right, comes right out of the Obama administration, he said: "If you're doing anything that you don't want to be on the internet, you shouldn't be doing it." This is a dream that Orwell couldn't have concocted. We're moving into it, and it's not the only case. if you read the technical journals, there's more stuff coming along. So, for example, right now there are corporations that are concerned about using computers with components made in China, because it's technically possible to build into the hardware devices which will record what the computer is doing and send it to those bad guys. well, the articles don't point out that if the Chinese can do it, we can do it better, and probably are, so it may end up in Obama's database the next time you hit the computer.
Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97:
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.
Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.
Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.
Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.
Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.
Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.
Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen.
Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.
You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid... You refuse to do it because you want to live longer... You're afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you're afraid someone will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.
Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you're just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.
We spend huge amounts of energy and time trying to convince each other that our needs are whats best for everyone else.
In reality, people and their needs are on as wide a spectrum, as the needs of a cactus and a banyan tree. And it doesn't end there, to create another layer of confusion, those needs are continuously changing with time and context.
Just because so many things are in conflict does not mean that we ourselves should be divided. Yet time and time again one hears it said that since we have been put into a conflicting world, we have to adapt to it. Oddly, this completely unchristian idea is most often espoused by so-called Christians, of all people. How can we expect a righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone who will give himself up undividedly to a righteous cause?
There is in all of us a strong disposition to believe that anything lawful is also legitimate. This belief is so widespread that many persons have erroneously held that things are "just" because the law makes them so.
Pleasure is a by-product of doing something that is worth doing. Therefore, do not seek pleasure as such. Pleasure comes of seeking something else, and comes by the way.
Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll take a shot. Say I'm working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never met, never had no problem with, get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "Oh, send in the Marines to secure the area" 'cause they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number got called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cause he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile, he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And, of course, the oil companies used the skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them, but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And they're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, of course, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin' play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive, so he's got to walk to the fuckin' job interviews, which sucks 'cause the shrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he's starvin', 'cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat, the only blue plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. I figure fuck it, while I'm at it why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president."Good Will Hunting"
Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is his own personality.
Threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen.