research + understand + manage | tech + social change + risk
The strangest thing about the business models of both search (google), and social media (facebook, twitter, amazon, etc) is that a lot of money is made from your private information, and all you get in return is some database lists with e-commerce attached, free email, chat, and a few webpages.
And you aren't told what happens to your personal information that tracked where you went, and everything you looked at or bought online. Not good.
Moves to create systems so that you can effectively "license" your data and information for a fee are in the works and will hopefully bring your personal information back under your personal control.
We developed our social networks over millions of years of evolution. Combining endless and relentless evolutionary experiment then winnowing of useful adaptations; layer upon layer of clever algorithms were laid down as the pathways or roots that bind us together. Later we used written language to record what had hitherto been word of mouth, or the words of poet, singer and storyteller.
The treasure trove of our ancient network skills and predilections belong to the people. Not to huge unregulated corporate "death stars" that often absorb or overwhelm companies, universities or start ups, and their intellectual property and ideas. This could better managed as respectful partnerships that properly reward those corporate partners.
Life-giving resources including social connections were once provided by family, the 'village', religion, and certain areas of government (e.g. schools), and fulfilled many civic duties for the common good: "the common wealth". Community members benefited by being part of a larger, protective, group. The group was you. Its interests wholly aligned with its members. There was safety in numbers.
Today the actual owners of social networks are the most powerful and wealthiest people in the world - and their interests have little to do with you or with anyone using these social networks. This disconnection is strongly reflected in the policies of these large monopolies,
In other regions, state actors including China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and more, do the same, using a terrifying and escalating integration of new technologies and powerful and ancient pathways of control, information production and sharing.
This is our core information: of science, technology, literature, media and news. It's what makes us what we are: human. Losing control of this to huge monopolies will be a disaster of the scale of global warming.
Network control means you can infiltrate social networks to control and confuse, and also exfiltrate information to be used to your advantage. It is a great advantage for a state actor to maintain some control of the body politic and the public and its information while the wealth of many nations is drained from the treasury through political manipulation, fake news, confusion and propaganda. And tax cuts. A surplus of tax cuts.
The new rulers or network controllers are pluto-kleptocrats. These are people who value commerce and money over every other thing, and deeply believe that taxes should not go to the poor, or to a safety net, and so work to reduce or eliminate taxes, especially taxes that target the wealthy individual or company.
Against this real-world takeover, the idea of the internet democratising our world by connecting us "for free" may be, after all, just another kind of propaganda, fake news or, at best, distraction.
This is a classic example of a lack of appropriate regulation where monopolies or oligopolies "own" the new frontier before the sheriff comes to town. And conservative politicians even deny the sheriff a job. The three decade long change to self and light touch regulation that began with Regan and Thatcher in the 1980s has resulted in virtually no regulation at all; a free for all. And so, the wealth gap is accelerating.
New networks of connection are our future. But they need appropriate, ethical, commercial and social constraint - clever regulation - to truly prosper.
Let us now claim the networks back. Back where they began, were refined and where they belong: with the common wealth; made, owned and operated by the people.
"The eye has the power, as is well known, of retaining visual impressions for a sensible period of time; and in this way, recurring actions, made sufficiently near to each other, are perceptibly connected, and made to appear as a continuous impression"
Michael Faraday, 1831