🎧 Episode 011 – Surveillance Capitalism and Digital Redlining | Media and the End of the World Podcast

Listened to Episode 011 – Surveillance Capitalism and Digital Redlining by Adam Croom and Ralph Beliveau from Media and the End of the World Podcast

We are joined by Chris Gilliard, Professor of English at Macomb Community College. His scholarship concentrates on privacy, institutional tech policy, digital redlining, and the re-inventions of discriminatory practices through data mining and algorithmic decision-making, especially as these apply to college students. He is currently developing a project that looks at how popular misunderstandings of mathematical concepts create the illusions of fairness and objectivity in student analytics, predictive policing, and hiring practices. Follow him on Twitter at @hypervisible.

Show Notes

An interesting episode on surveillance capitalism and redlining.

I’m a bit surprised to find that I’ve been blocked by Chris Gilliard (@hypervisible) on Twitter. I hope I haven’t done or said anything in particular to have offended him. More likely I may have been put on a block list to which he’s subscribed?? Just not sure. I’ll have to follow him from another account as I’m really interested in his research particularly as it applies to fixing these areas within the edtech space and applications using IndieWeb principles. I think this may be the first instance that I’ve gone to someone’s account to notice that I’ve been blocked.

📑 YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Letting Toxic Videos Run Rampant

Annotated YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Letting Toxic Videos Run Rampant by Mark Bergen (Bloomberg)
The conundrum isn’t just that videos questioning the moon landing or the efficacy of vaccines are on YouTube. The massive “library,” generated by users with little editorial oversight, is bound to have untrue nonsense. Instead, YouTube’s problem is that it allows the nonsense to flourish. And, in some cases, through its powerful artificial intelligence system, it even provides the fuel that lets it spread.  

This is a great summation of the issue.

A brief reflection on Kate Bowles’ keynote at OER 19

Kate Bowles gave a great Keynote at the Open Education Resources 2019 (OER19) conference in Galway last night. In it she indicates how politicians, economists and even universities themselves measure their growth at the level of imports/exports and even compare it with mining in a cynical way to describe the movement of their educational resources and students.

Slide from Bowle's talk with an image of a heavily mined and damaged site. The slide is entitled "This is how the expanded university talks" and contains the quote:'What do iron ore, coal and Australia'sinternational education sector have in common? They're the top three exports for Australia, with recent international trade data showing that the international education sector contributed AUS$32.2 billion (US$24.7 billion) dollars to the economy in 2017' --ICEF Monitor, 2018

Slide from Bowle's talk with an image of a heavily mined and damaged site. The slide is entitled "This is how the expanded university talks" and contains the quote: '81 per cent of Australians grasp that international education makes a major contribution to national prosperity. This overwhelming public support rises again--to 85 per cent--when Australians learn exactly how much income this sector brings into the Australian economy each year.'--Universities Australia, March 2019
A slide from

“What a chilling thing to say about young people crossing the world to learn.” –Kate Bowles (in response to the slide immediately above)

The fact that businesses, governments, and even universities themselves would take such an ugly standpoint on teaching and learning is painful. It reminds me that one of the things that I think the open IndieWeb movement gets right is that it is people-centric first and foremost. If you can take care of people at the most base level, then hopefully what gets built upon that base–while still watching it carefully–will be much more ethical.

The IndieWeb is a people-focused alternative to the “corporate web”.

As a result of this people-centric vision, I’m seeing a lot less of the sort of ills, unintended consequences, and poor emergent behaviors caused by the drive toward surveillance capitalism within the giant social media silos like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al.

I’m reminded of a part of the thesis that Cesar Hidalgo presents in Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order from Atoms to Economies of the idea of the personbyte and what that looks like at a group level, then a corporate level, and I wonder how it may grow to the next level above that. Without ultimately focusing on the person at the bottom of the pyramid however, we may be ethically losing sight of where we’re going and why. We may even be building an edifice that is far more likely to crumble with even worse unintended consequences.

Here’s her talk in full. I highly recommend it.

Read a post by Stephen Pieper (stephenpieper.net)
Bookmarked The ultimate guide to DuckDuckGo - BrettTerpstra.com (BrettTerpstra.com)
If you don’t already have the scoop, it’s the search engine that can serve as a complete replacement for Google (and Bing and whatever else you like), except it respects your privacy and security. And while Google does some cool tricks, DuckDuckGo does some even better ones.
I switched over to DuckDuckGo for searches a few months ago. There’s a lot of stuff here I didn’t know about especially “bangs” which look really useful.

👓 A ‘Creepy’ Assignment: Pay Attention to What Strangers Reveal in Public | New York Times

Read Opinion | A ‘Creepy’ Assignment: Pay Attention to What Strangers Reveal in Public (New York Times)
An exercise I gave my students helps illustrate the risks to privacy in our everyday, offline lives.

I saw some on Twitter say that this was a terrible assignment and that they can accomplish the same goal without being so creepy, but naturally they neglected to give any details about improving on it.

👓 Here are the data brokers quietly buying and selling your personal information | FastCompany

Read Here are the data brokers quietly buying and selling your personal information (Fast Company)
You’ve probably never heard of many of the data firms registered under a new law, but they’ve heard a lot about you. A list, and tips for opting out.

👓 Deep text: a catastrophic threat to the bullshit economy? | Abject

Read Deep text: a catastrophic threat to the bullshit economy? (Abject)
I used to be an artist, then I became a poet; then a writer. Now when asked, I simply refer to myself as a word processor. — Kenneth Goldsmith It’s a striking headline, and the Guardian…

👓 Social media is an existential threat to our idea of democracy | Opinion | The Guardian

Read Social media is an existential threat to our idea of democracy by John Naughton (the Guardian)
Two reports for the US senate reveal how Russia’s Internet Research Agency has fomented distrust and division in the west

👓 Click Facebook’s “I’m Voting” Button, Research Shows It Boosts Turnout | TechCrunch

Read Click Facebook’s “I’m Voting” Button, Research Shows It Boosts Turnout (TechCrunch)
Today, Facebook is encouraging its legions of users to declare civic enthusiasm to their friends, with a prominent "I'm A Voter" botton at the top of the newsfeed. Large-scale, experimental research shows that simply clicking the button, and sharing your voting intention, could do more to increase …

👓 ‘The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism | John Naughton | The Guardian

Read 'The goal is to automate us': welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism by John NaughtonJohn Naughton (the Guardian)
Shoshana Zuboff’s new book is a chilling exposé of the business model that underpins the digital world. Observer tech columnist John Naughton explains the importance of Zuboff’s work and asks the author 10 key questions

If you can’t read Zuboff’s new book in full, this article/interview may convince you that you should anyway. It may be one of the most important things you read all year.

📑 ‘The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism | John Naughton | The Guardian

Annotated 'The goal is to automate us': welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism by John NaughtonJohn Naughton (the Guardian)
For example, the idea of “data ownership” is often championed as a solution. But what is the point of owning data that should not exist in the first place? All that does is further institutionalise and legitimate data capture. It’s like negotiating how many hours a day a seven-year-old should be allowed to work, rather than contesting the fundamental legitimacy of child labour. Data ownership also fails to reckon with the realities of behavioural surplus. Surveillance capitalists extract predictive value from the exclamation points in your post, not merely the content of what you write, or from how you walk and not merely where you walk. Users might get “ownership” of the data that they give to surveillance capitalists in the first place, but they will not get ownership of the surplus or the predictions gleaned from it – not without new legal concepts built on an understanding of these operations.  

📑 ‘The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism | John Naughton | The Guardian

Annotated 'The goal is to automate us': welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism by John NaughtonJohn Naughton (the Guardian)
It is no longer enough to automate information flows about us; the goal now is to automate us. These processes are meticulously designed to produce ignorance by circumventing individual awareness and thus eliminate any possibility of self-determination. As one data scientist explained to me, “We can engineer the context around a particular behaviour and force change that way… We are learning how to write the music, and then we let the music make them dance.”  

📑 ‘The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism | John Naughton | The Guardian

Annotated 'The goal is to automate us': welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism by John NaughtonJohn Naughton (the Guardian)

We saw the experimental development of this new “means of behavioural modification” in Facebook’s contagion experiments and the Google-incubated augmented reality game Pokémon Go.  

📑 ‘The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism | John Naughton | The Guardian

Annotated 'The goal is to automate us': welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism by John NaughtonJohn Naughton (the Guardian)

Larry Page grasped that human experience could be Google’s virgin wood, that it could be extracted at no extra cost online and at very low cost out in the real world. For today’s owners of surveillance capital the experiential realities of bodies, thoughts and feelings are as virgin and blameless as nature’s once-plentiful meadows, rivers, oceans and forests before they fell to the market dynamic. We have no formal control over these processes because we are not essential to the new market action. Instead we are exiles from our own behaviour, denied access to or control over knowledge derived from its dispossession by others for others. Knowledge, authority and power rest with surveillance capital, for which we are merely “human natural resources”. We are the native peoples now whose claims to self-determination have vanished from the maps of our own experience.  

📑 ‘The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism | John Naughton | The Guardian

Annotated 'The goal is to automate us': welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism by John NaughtonJohn Naughton (the Guardian)

In this way they have come to dominate what I call “the division of learning in society”, which is now the central organising principle of the 21st-century social order, just as the division of labour was the key organising principle of society in the industrial age.