Google (or: privacy that smiles)

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So, all this furor over Google signalling they’ll be merging over sixty privacy policies into one, refining accidental bureaucracies everywhere, moving deeper toward the bottom line..


The prospect of Gmail having access to your YouTube search history? Cats as a new kind of social faux pas amongst some of the more contemporary, esoteric social classes? Google’s services will now be able to share information and (we presume) make (presumptive) level-up improvements in car adverts and cheap business insurance and debt recovery experts and creative recipes involving canned spam. For some, this seems to represent the realisation of a kind of ultimate fear: privacy’s total erosion.

Yes, so..why?

The more of our Selves we believe to be available to faceless machines calculating the precise point of our demise the greater our reluctance in giving ourselves over. The films tell us this.

* * *

We gave us away, of course. There’s no guilt, nor a sense of loss with (not and) culpability.

We resent their silver faces. We resent the tools that gave them their finish.

They have no need for sleep, you see.

They’re doing long division, every day of the year forever. All output is not necessarily in your favour.

* * *

Things’ll feel more personal now. Google and their army of PhD’s will make sure of that. Whole shelves and wardrobes and housebound storage containers full of pretty, practical things. Ones and zeros inscribed, by magnets, on small reflective plates in a study not too far away.

Recognising that when you walk into the supermarket and find yourselves in isle five staring up at the flavours, believing all the variables involved in such a seemingly simple choice to be nearly infinite, you’ll be wrong. Every aspect of design and supply, from cow to Photoshop, the whole damn chain of obscure events and you in relation to them get caught in a moment of choice that seems utterly intense and impossible for a small quotient of time, before the hungry lizard in the back of your head demands chocolate.

When Google and Amazon integrate their databases and some colossal amount of XML v3 (or whatever) translation is done they’ll be able to access the raw nerve of desire. Algebra on acid.

By this process we’ll each of us be known. And its the purest kind of show. The machines are our audience, and the communication goes only one way. 

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2 Responses to Google (or: privacy that smiles)

  1. ExOttoyuhr says:

    Bear in mind that computers have human programmers, and computer systems have human owners. The duality that you seem to be trying to construct, between “the machines” and humanity, is really a duality between the owners of Google and its non-owners.

    However, I can’t say much more than that until I’m clear on what you said, and what you didn’t say, in your essay. Could you summarize? Thesis, concerns, …?

    The point that modern commerce is a carefully-researched simulacrum is true and shameful, but it isn’t Google’s fault, and none of Google’s actions (at least since they withdrew from China) strike me as being on the moral level of placing smaller tiles in supermarket aisles with more valuable items, or developing a whole art of menu design ensuring that the eye naturally falls on the most profitable items, or having every brand in the supermarket selling the same goods from the same anonymous providers, repackaged to make them look high- or low-quality.

  2. operator says:

    Perhaps, instead of fearing the advent of “XML v3″ (XML is a markup language – it shouldn’t be “scary” on the same order as NarusInsight… and, while Google can certainly seem “spooky”, its track record isn’t nearly so questionable as Microsoft’s) you could spend some time at sites like Wikipedia, the EFF, and Schneier’s or Soghoian’s blog so when you elect to tell others what’s what, you’re not conjuring images of SKYNET.