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<nettime> Benjamin Bratton: (Untitled [On 'Dark Google'])
nettime's_anonymous_login on Thu, 1 May 2014 06:50:49 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Benjamin Bratton: (Untitled [On 'Dark Google'])


< https://www.facebook.com/benjaminbratton/posts/10152082644097966 >

This piece by Shoshanna Zubof is just bad in multiple dimensions at
once. For that it neatly summarizes the warble of several of the weakest
and sickest old dogs within Google Studies. There are literally a
million reasons that the geopolitics of Google needs to be
front-and-center debate, bloody and relentless. Articles like this do
nothing but cheapen that debate with ignorance, sloppy and fearful
analogies, and tired conventional platitudes calling themselves courage.
A Top 12 of useless tropes, in rough order of their appearance in
Zubof's article.

(1) Taking what Eric Schmidt says in Op-Ed's at face value as
representing Google's strategy, or worse as representing Google's
geopolitical and geoeconomic significance, power, or danger.

(2) Insisting that the author's self-pronounced confusion as to the
history or mutability of the Internet is proof of its insidiousness,
unaccountability and over-determination by current actors.

(3) Using a mish-mash of trigger words like 'colonize' and
'self-determination' without any need to link these to the presumed
contexts, and one assumes, giving no real thought to how (quote) "the
whole topography of cyberspace" does and does not resemble other kinds
of social, political, economic or cultural geography, let alone their
contentious histories.

(4) Utter misrepresentation of the relationship between Google and the
USA Federal Gov't, especially the NSA, including taking quotes out of
context to ventriloquize inverted meaning (the McConnell quote here was
about China hacking Google's servers to track dissidents, not PRISM).
Including patently absurd links between disparate events (such as Street
View inadvertent capture of public wi-fi addresses = NSA hacking patrol
because Google reported Chinese hacking to the NSA in 2010). Or how
about this one: NSA tracked users with some insidious new secret
technique called "cookies," a weird new trick they learned in conspiracy
with Google.

(5) Blaming the disillusionment and disenchantment of their own earlier
naive and shallow presumptions about some intrinsically liberating
nature of the Internet on Google's data and advertising business model.

(6) Conflating Google with all other Cloud platforms, especially
Facebook, as one big entity with apparently deliberate ignorance of or
disinterest in significant distinctions.

(7) Insisting that things we do know about Google and PRISM (such as
their continuing pushback and resistance to court orders, their
subsidized development of user tools to directly circumvent government
surveillance, such as uproxy and google dns) are meaningless, but
indicating the opacity of all things we don't know about any possible
dirty dealings is demonstrable proof of their abyssal darkness.

(8) Conflating user feedback and pushback regarding strange and
disturbing new forms of data transparency with some deliberate and
explicitly criminal mischief on Google's part. Including
misrepresentation of what practices were and are secret and which are
merely unusual and controversial.

(9) Demanding that the author's confusion about the ambiguous social
logics of secrecy and privacy in a network society is proof of an
innocence not merely disenchanted but one deliberately stolen by bad
actors. Demanding that the author's inability to articulate a coherent a
political description of Cloud-based social systems is demonstrable
proof, not just of a general confusion, but once again of Google's
willful violence.

(10) Offering laughably obvious predictions about Google's future
intensions, including "data mining" (whoa, no way) and linking "online"
services with "offline" physical systems (like cars, robotics, and
houses) ... (um, no shit). Demanding that because the exact terms of the
future are not known, then it must prove "secrecy" (in this case 'bad
secrecy') darkness and danger.

(11) Conflating Google with all of neoliberalism.

(12) Demanding that the only way to adjudicate these new Googly
conundrums is with new language and analytical tools. Next 5 sentences
then repeat the oldest and most conventional calls for general
well-being through measured oversight.


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