2022 03 27
This has been a good week. Good advances with my research and really interesting books. One of them we all should be reading. And no, I didn’t buy any new books this week!
New books I read:
21. Hole in My Life
22. Frankly in Love
23. The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe
Books I started/continued reading:
1. Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging
2. The Journal Of Best Practices – A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One man’s Quest to be a Better Husband
3. Jony Ive The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products
This book came with mixed reviews but I honestly found it delightful. I initially got it because the author wrote it while also doing her PhD (how she even managed to squeeze it in I don’t know!) and because her field of research was almost identical to my first research project which was looking at how people with low formal education are portrayed or stereotyped in media. At least that was part of the study and a topic close to me. True, the story may have been a little too on happy happy everything works out end of the spectrum, but at the same time I do feel that we need greater representation in media and in literature of people being portrayed in a situation of strength and power rather than weak and victimised. In fact, while yes, the whole winning the lottery thing may come across as far-fetched, I would actually challenge anyone as to where the discomfort or ‘happy happy side’ actually stems: purely in the fact that everything works out, or rather in the fact we are seeing someone live a role which society rarely portrays them in. And if it is the latter case, then the book has achieved actually what it is supposed to be doing. So yes, go read it. At the very least, Perry will put a huge smile on your face and just make you feel purely happy inside. Wonderful book. I am smiling just writing about it J
After you read Lottery, go read Targeted. This seriously is the book everyone needs to read. Even if you are that person who hates being told what to read. But actually to you I say, if you have a better recommendation for reading on the topic, please just tell me and I will go read that too. Thank you.
Yeah, words cannot quite describe this book. I mean I knew data was a thing. My neighbour has been harping on about it for the last few years and I have always shrugged it off saying I knew about it but since I really had no clue what I could do about it I would remain seemingly aware but continue to do absolutely nothing. Is that how you feel too? I mean when it comes to data it can feel like we are near entirely helpless, strangled either way as if we are living in a city with near deadly levels of pollution where if we stop breathing we die and if we continue breathing we face the same absence of future.
But it’s just data! But is it? I mean, is it? Go read the book. The fact that it was data which was used to change voter behaviour supplemented by cherry picked content frequently pulled out of context and ‘enhanced’ depending on the audience it was destined to… All this in fact is what changed the near impossible tides of a certain former president getting into office. I mean go read the book and you’ll see that him running for office in the first place was a mere stunt. No wonder he was half glad to get out of it in the end as he hadn’t in fact signed up for that in the first place. Such is the uncontrollable tidal wave of data being used in certain directions. Same for Brexit.
The fact the company got dissolved counts for little when all that data is still out there and being added to by the second. How is it a basic messaging app on my phone – one I only send two or three texts messages on every couple days – has accumulated well over 5Gb of user data. I mean where does it even come from. I am not even sharing or sending video and never do voice activated messaging. Even 10,000 ‘Ok, I’ll be there in 5’ would never add up to that amount of data!
And that is not all. It is the fact that companies such as the one exposed were specialised in political campaigns and were involved in running campaigns all around the world. Yeah, the potential for damage and covert manipulation is inconceivable, especially when in the wrong hands. In fact the very crux of it erodes the entire foundation of democracy. The only reason the elections went that way is essentially because some filthy rich billionaire had an agenda and an endless cashflow to sustain it. I’m not talking being terrified like in a panic like a headless chicken, but we should in fact be terrified. Very terrified. But with an energy that should fire us up to look for and find or even create solutions. I mean I could imagine that if everyone decided to pull their data, or stop using their apps for a full week, the whole system would crumble.
Trouble is though, no one is willing to pull the plug. We only need to go and walk in the street, ride on a bus, sit in a restaurant and we will be surrounded by every single person glued to their smartphone. Yesterday I took the subway home and sat reading a book. A bright yellow book. I’d love to say I caught people’s attention for the now oddity of reading a physical book on public transport, but helas, everyone was glued to their phone. Like a conveyor belt of junk food that never ceases to hold people captive, never ceases to ease its hold. A hold few acknowledge let alone admit, a hold even fewer stand up to relinquish.
I have already taken that latter step. Now I am thinking about what will be the next. I know for many this is surrounding the aura of blockchain but I am not sure yet. I welcome the traceability yet fear the indelibility. Why does everything need to be black and white. Why is everything always so square? I mean aren’t we supposed to be thinking outside the box? Or even better sans la boite?
To be continued. I may rewrite about this again in the future as there are some other fundamental sides to the story I didn’t address here.