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Re: <nettime> The Unconscious Performance of Identity: A Review of Johan
Nick on Tue, 28 Aug 2012 17:52:10 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> The Unconscious Performance of Identity: A Review of Johannes P. Osterhoffâs âGoogleâ


On Tue, Aug 28, 2012 at 09:30:51AM -0400, Owen Mundy wrote:

> I wrote a review of an online performance staged during Transmediale this
> year. Here is an excerpt and link:

Thanks a lot for sharing this, Owen, it was very thought-provoking;
it was wonderfully framed. Issues of privacy and data sharing can
easily become lost in a morass of muddy words, but this is clear and
strong.

As ever with this kind of work, though, the conclusion is
(perhaps necessarily) unsatisfying;

> ...inspire them to regard the issue enough to do something about
> it: To not allow themselves to be tracked; To use anti-tracking
> software when they browse online, or a browser that supports Do
> Not Track; To make an artwork or write software that raises or
> frames these issues for others to consider: Or just to be aware,
> and make decisions which change the culture of the Web2.0, and
> influence it, slowly, but surely, to respect privacy. And to know
> that, in this techno-utopian-neoliberal wet dream that is dripping
> with app stores, computer waste, and rampant consumerism of binary
> data under the blanket of the good-natured term, âfree market
> economy,â that âfreedomâ stated another way, means âdo not track
> me without my consent.â

I can't see how mainstream web use today could be altered a little
in a way that respects privacy. If "do not track" and similar
proposals actually worked (which in their current incarnations they
do not,) 96% (say) of Google's revenue would dry up, with a similar
amount for Facebook. Leaving a fundamentally different landscape of
web use. Don't get me wrong, I use privoxy and similar tools to
strongly limit the amount of surveillance that these companies do, and
believe in doing so strongly. But the issue of what the web would
look like if everybody succeeded in taking their privacy seriously
is not a simple one.

Personally I have for a little while switched to using Wikipedia as
my launching point for many questions I had previously asked of
Google, throwing my support behind an organisation and knowledge
system I have fewer issues with. It's interesting to see the
difference; knowledge is generally presented more contextually, and
prioritises different parts of the web to those which dominate
Google. But it isn't as instant and immediately gratifying as
search engine based web interaction.

Anyway, thanks again Owen for the article, it was nicely provocotive
in a way that I need more of.

Nick


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