Benjamin Geer on Sun, 16 Sep 2007 16:25:36 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Cybernetics and the Control Society

The more data you want to analyse, the more superficial the analysis
must be. When people talk about surveillance, it's always about
superficial aspects of our lives: where we are, where we worked, our
purchasing habits, etc. But I don't see how that kind of data would
enable anyone to analyse something like the evolution and spread
of ideas, which seem to me much more important in bringing about
historical change. Sometimes a few people, who in terms of their
purchasing habits are probably no different from millions of others,
launch an idea that brings about major changes in the world. If you
tried to identify such developments by looking at superficial patterns
in large amounts of data, even if that data included the content of
published texts, maybe you'd get ridiculous results like Andrej Holm's
arrest in Germany: you've found that "subversive" people tend to use
the world "gentrification", and you think academics are a source of
"subversive" ideology, so you start arresting academics who use that
word. A political campaign manager can afford to send advertising to
thousands of people, only some of whom may be interested, but can
Germany can afford to arrest thousands of academics, only some of whom
might stand a chance of contributing to social change?


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