Thought for the day

Seth Finkelstein expresses with perfect succinctness an idea that has yet to seep into the public consciousness (and may never): “The price of total personalization is total surveillance.”

11 thoughts on “Thought for the day

  1. Kevin Kelly

    Yep, It is. But I am wondering if there is any significant difference between that statement and this one:

    The price of total personalization is total transparency.

    Transparency suggests to me a more active role, rather than an imposed view. You have to BE transparent.

  2. Nick Carr

    Kevin, I don’t think there’s anything active about people’s role in this now and I doubt there will be in the future. People’s transparency is not transparent to them, in other words. Nick

  3. alan

    Why is it that the available technology makes so much possible, both good and bad, yet that self same technology has yet to be truly harnesses by “the people” as a powerful tool for real change?

    The diametrically apposing principles of total personalization and total surveillance could be stretched to form a more balanced triad, personalization, surveillance and a radically mobilized population to bring some balance to disruptive forces.

    This question might appear to be glib and naive but what are the barriers to mass participation for the betterment of ordinary people’s lives? What catalysts might be needed? Where are those who might galvanize public opinion in such a way to enable the use of existing technologies to force change that really matters?


  4. alexfiles

    This is one of the reasons I don’t care for involuntary personalization. Even the “anonymous” personalization of the cookie shares far too much information. What good is not having to provide your name when a rough set of a relatively small number of categories can identify you anyway?

    Another problem is that personalization leads to an ever-more-subjective, ever-more-narrow perspective of content (and the world). It reinforces existing tendencies, rather than opening people to more possibilities.

  5. Charles

    This sounds familiar. Just the other day, I wrote a comment here that quoted Isaac Asimov, he said “everyone thinks computers are a threat to privacy, unless their name is John Smith.”

  6. stoddardv

    If it were possible to make available preferences in a highly secure anonymous manner, meaning only you would be the beneficiary of more targeted information but no knew you identity, then I might make my interests know. David Chaum of Digicash fame provides a mechanism for providing such anonymity, though it was designed for identi-less cash transactions

  7. Nick Carr

    The solution to this is to own and control your own data.

    meaning only you would be the beneficiary of more targeted information but no[one] knew you[r] identity

    I think that’s a fantasy. If you release the information required for highly personalized targeting, then your identity is exposed, whether or not the information is “anonymized.”

  8. Sid Steward

    JK: The solution to this is to own and control your own data. …

    NC: I think that’s a fantasy. …

    Nick, I think your head is in the cloud. Consider: my PC is highly personalized and very private.

    One way to network in a decentralized way is via P2P. My machine, my data, complete control over access. Successful examples include: eBay’s Skype, Google’s and Microsoft’s FolderShare.

    I suspect P2P hasn’t taken off because there’s so much money to be made via centralization. I feel MS has much to gain by embracing P2P, however. By bringing nodes out of the cloud and back onto Microsoft hardware. And why not?

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