Day 113: The Serfs 2

There are many reasons to feel trapped by technology. Giving up email would make the modern job search very hard. Giving up Social Media would distance you from your social group even for those who only check when notified. Giving up the smart phone once again would make the job hunt harder, the job harder possibly, and navigation impossible without a map on hand. Without a computer and Office, well you would need more manpower and effort to maintain the current workload. However, I feel Farhad Manjoo’s NYTimes piece missed the hold of tech on us.
Maybe it is because I am too poor to enjoy the glory of the internet. I can’t afford an Echo let alone to pay anyone to install anything in my home. I am the Taskee not the Tasker. I think the internet means different things to different people. I personally hate Yelp to me it is a collection of attention grabbers and whiners. I wouldn’t flag people on the street for recommendations, why would I trust someone who is compiled to force theirs on me. Same goes for Amazon reviews. One example: My A/C broke a few weeks ago. I went to Costco and saw they had a budget model. I google’d it at my girlfriends request. A few reviews said it was so noisy, the reviewer couldn’t sleep. I bought it anyway (Costco returns are so easy, unlike online). It ended up being significantly quieter than my last one (which was 15 years old). Youtube for me is a memory of pre-21 in high school and college hanging out awkwardly in some basement with friends waiting for booze to arrive or parents to leave and kinda wishing I was home.
Instead the internet controls through smoke and mirrors. In this month’s Atlantic, theres a great article about how online prices especially the list price are framed to only make you perceive you got a deal while possibly paying more than other users. Twitter flurries appear as mass reaction even though it is an small percentage of users commenting let alone a small percentage of the population as a whole. Facebook encourages echo chambers which had no small part in electing Trump.
I do agree with Manjoo’s fear of the comfort tech creates. It is another illusion. To click and receive. Yet as cyberattacks especially ransomware increase, the comfort becomes a security flaw. Alexa is not a personal assistant but the property of Amazon on loan. As we give control of our lives to these networked systems, we don’t increase our practical knowledge of them. It is no different than magic and we become marks for wizards, who are always waiting in the virtual. We are sold gadgets and apps on the notion, they give us tools to gain control but the only tools of control exist in coding.  
The only way out is to stop selling ourselves into serfdom. It begins with reclaiming ownership of the self. An act as simple and rebellious as buying a physical day planner at Staples.
-E.C. Fiori

Day 87: Spineless and Rotting

The Atlantic had a great piece of Google’s failed library today. It is a troubling read that really shows the serious cracks in modern society. 
As you may guess most of the books published are forgotten, not just because of quality (even Shakespeare has had periods out of favor). Google developed tech to scan masses of books in a way that freed them from their fragile woodpulp bodies. This in theory gave out of print, rare books a chance to be found. 
People sued as they are known to do and in the lawsuit an idea was born. As the ownership of many books was questionable. An entity would be created to manage the funds from any sale of a book in question. The money would fund research into ownership or if owner known be able to be claimed. 
People became upset again because Google would get money for footing the initial bill and maintain the book depository. Despite owners being able to set the price of their books, many claimed the ownerless ones should be free. Once again Leftists crushed a deal for a better future. Even though the plan had a clause to grant access to public and university libraries. It would have created a counter point to the monopoly Amazon has on digital books. 
Google is a monopoly in its own right controlling almost 50% of digital ad sales. Its name is literally the current slang to look something up. But this library wouldn’t have created a new arm for the monster rather the opposite. It would have been a version of the Rockefeller libraries that taught the greatest generation. 
Instead the opponents of the library wanted the government to pay for and manage the database. The same government shut down by partisan infighting. The same one sinking the middle class. The one that went nuclear over cabinet picks. The one that poisoned Flint. Thats the real problem with the left, the only solution is the government when the country was founded on the opposite. 
We live in an age where individuals or groups of non-state actors can connect and act in ways greater than any traditional government actor. While our democratic republic is well positioned to protect our rights from encroachment even from itself (checks and balances), it isn’t or designed to be the final word in our lives. We are free to be moral without its permission. Now I fear we may have lost an important innovation in saving literature.
-E.C. Fiori