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Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age, Viktor Mayer-Schonberger (2009)
David Clark, Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
If the gathering, storage, and processing of information puts us all in the center of a digital panopticon, the failure to forget creates a panopticon crossbred with a time-travel machine. Mayer-Schönberger catalogs the range of social concerns that are arising as technology favors remembering over forgetting, and offers some approaches that might give forgetting a respected place in the digital world. Read this book. Don’t forget about forgetting.
Delete looks at the surprising phenomenon of perfect remembering in the digital age, and reveals why we must reintroduce our capacity to forget. Digital technology empowers us as never before, yet it has unforeseen consequences as well. Potentially humiliating content on Facebook is enshrined in cyberspace for future employers to see. Google remembers everything we’ve searched for and when. The digital realm remembers what is sometimes better forgotten, and this has profound implications for us all.
In Delete, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger traces the important role that forgetting has played throughout human history, from the ability to make sound decisions unencumbered by the past to the possibility of second chances. The written word made it possible for humans to remember across generations and time, yet now digital technology and global networks are overriding our natural ability to forget–the past is ever present, ready to be called up at the click of a mouse. Mayer-Schönberger examines the technology that’s facilitating the end of forgetting–digitization, cheap storage and easy retrieval, global access, and increasingly powerful software–and describes the dangers of everlasting digital memory, whether it’s outdated information taken out of context or compromising photos the Web won’t let us forget. He explains why information privacy rights and other fixes can’t help us, and proposes an ingeniously simple solution–expiration dates on information–that may.
Delete is an eye-opening book that will help us remember how to forget in the digital age.
Our Digitally Undying Memories, Siva Vaidhyanathan
Ask the author: Viktor Mayer-Schonberger
Teaching computers how to forget, Nate Anderson
Book of the week: Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age, Henry Farrell
Media is concerned with holding our attention. We want to feel as if we’re involved in the stories on the news as soon as they happen and be immersed in the alien worlds of film and videogames.
In today’s postmodern world TV, film and videogames seem to intersperse and influence each other. Films such as Gamer and Tron as well as the classic TV series Re:Boot take the ideas of videogames and ask what would happen if real humans took the place of in-game avatars. Recently the games Alone in the Dark and Split/Second have used TV/DVD style episode structures rather than levels.
Split/Second is an intense arcade action racing game set within the world of a hyper-competitive reality TV show. Competitors vie to be the first across the finish line in a made-for-TV city built for destruction, with the ultimate goal of being the season champion.
Meanwhile news broadcasts take visual elements from sports broadcasts and websites to make us feel closer to their narrative. There is a layering of information in split screens, reminiscent of the windows of a browser. The weather and stock information are like banners or widgets in a webpage just below their actual web address.
One way of looking at these inter connected media is through the idea of remediation set out by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin in their 1999 book Remediation: Understanding New Media. Remediation is the idea of media, whatever its form, mixing ideas and techniques from other types of media. For example The Red Shoes takes elements from fairy tale, dance, theatre and painting mixed with techniques unique to cinema to produce something that could only exist as a film. Remediation has been around for almost as long as media itself.
On the one hand any experience such as GTAIV tries to immerse the player with realistic weather, lighting and animation, going so far as to incorporate parodies of TV and the internet and getting characters to phone your mobile. All of this is to increase your immersion or immediacy as Bolter and Grushin set it out.
On the other hand is the hypermediacy of such an experience. This refers to all the technologies required to fit together, in order to create this seamless world. There’s all the motion capture and voice acting, physics modelling, path finding, a whole city of vehicles, billboards and buildings to be constructed and textured. A team of hundreds have to chip in to create that unified vision. If I become aware of all the work that goes into this it breaks my suspension of disbelief.
Put another way, when you click on a link you expect the relevent text, image or video to appear instantly, keeping the immediacy of your browsing experience flowing, but underneath is the hypermediacy of electronics, servers and data transfer.
This paradox of immediacy and hypermediacy is at the heart of remediation and seems to be everywhere if you look for it.
Went round to the Dorkbot meeting last week. Inside the Limehouse town hall I found myself in a dimly lit hall and a young woman finishing up a presentation about giving donated laptops to children who wouldn’t normally have access to them.
A got a beer and found a seat near the front as a Russian gentleman set up in front of a projection linked to his laptop. He introduced himself as Danja Vasiliev and spoke about his art incorporating technology and our relationship with it. His re: buntu program is a self replicating Linux operating system. It runs on the desktop opening an exact copy of itself. Repeatedly, until the computer runs out of memory and has to start euthanizing it’s clones.
In the past Vasiliev has recycled CD-drives and other bits of computer stuff that’s normally hidden inside sleek plastic to create a physical website called meme2.0 where every page one of 28 etched circuit boards. When the user clicks on a link one CD tray closes and a new one opens. It turns the nuts and bolts, the hardware, inside out, asking us to
bring machines into the world of people instead of living second (hand) lifes in the world of machines.
More recently he was involved in a collaborative project called Web 2.0 Suicide Machine. The aim is to help people get back to their real lives by letting the machine take all the pain out of virtual death. Designed to be compatible with the major social networking sites it would get rid of all your profile’s data, deleting friends and photos before changing your password so you can go outside and hang out with your friends. Unhappy to be losing the population of their empire, Facebook took issue with their users right to die and issued a cease and desist order to the suicide machines makers.
He finished by telling us about an idea that incorporates wireless devices into an ad-hoc network using the transport system to move information around. It would turn the tube and bus routes into a city wide network that isn’t stored on any server.
Whilst the next couple of guys set up there was a short musical interlude provided by a camera and whiteboard repurposed into a kind of freestyle, mark making beat box. Based on what kind of symbols were drawn, and the distances between them, a beat was generated by a synthesizer with a projection onto the whiteboard visualising pink blobs that bounced between the symbols.
The next group called DerivArt incorporated a sociologist, programmer and painter. Their work looks at financial systems, how they work and why they crash. They have a relaxed attitude to mixing media, using paintings to represent financial trends and turning them back into data, programming Gameboys to teach us about market crashes and still finding time to curate group shows.
It was an entertaining talk, giving a good look at the working practice of DerivArt and explaining how they try to educate with a sense of humour.
Rounding off the evening was EunJoo Shin presenting her Vocal Trio. These three instruments take vocals of participants, keeping the pitch and tempo, and turn them into a bell, horn, or flute sound. It was overall an interesting evening with an inclusive, international feel, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for upcoming events.
Pretty much everyone will agree with me that our liberty rights are being systematically erased by state and law using such noble adjectives as law-abiding, honest, fair and people like to be perceived as such. In order to be protected against terrorism we accepted more and more tight laws. However isn’t it the mass media that are modeling us into what governments see as decent citizens? Are we not being hypnotized by TV and major newspapers which at the end are owned by the same rich businessmen who sponsor our democratically elected parties?
The above video carries a well-known mark of You Tube and can be found on one of many websites created by people concerned about our freedom. The You Tube is an excellent gateway for them to communicate their truth to the world. However recently we saw a new lawsuit against the site.
A one billion dollar lawsuit against YouTube threatens internet freedom, according to its owner Google.
Google’s claim follows Viacom’s move to sue the video sharing service for its inability to keep copyrighted material off its site.
Viacom says it has identified 150,000 unauthorised clips on YouTube.
In court documents Google’s lawyers say the action “threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information” over the web.
The circle around internet freedom of communication tightens with pretty much each new venture because giant profits should be getting bigger. Here is another idea how to legally control even the typo-mistakes you and me make when searching the net. Microsoft lawyers had brought lawsuit against domains owners who profit from variations of their trademark (full article)
I don’t see myself as a conspiracy theoretician but some facts aren’t easy to ignore. Who owns the internet?Is it still a free medium or well exploited tool of business establishment?
The Internet consists of lots of different bits and pieces, each of which has an owner. Some of these owners can control the quality and level of access you have to the Internet. They might not own the entire system, but they can impact your Internet experience.
Full article here
Michael Copps, FCC Commissioner sees things in even more dark colours ( from film by John Nada ‘ Wake up call’)
Those who think the internet alone will save us should realise that dominating internet news sources are controlled by the same media giants who control radio, TV, newspapers and cable.
As another person in the film suggests the public has an illusion of choice and I couldn’t agree more. Our own convenience makes us belive we choose what we want to see and we are in control. However we long time forgot the world without the media and more so without the internet. Homo internauticus? Maybe not yet but the evolution in its notion carries a gradual process that in this case might be easily ignored by everyday users overwhelmed by on-line entertainment.
In a week were Facebook becomes the most visited website in the USA we shall investigate how much we really now about it
Possible starting points:
Facebook passes Google as most-viewed site in US in past week
With 400 million users, will the social networking service end up eating itself
Facebook still refuses to commit to panic button, minister hears
FBI using Facebook in fight against crime
Blogging then and now
Facebook’s New Privacy Changes: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Now Is It Facebook’s Microsoft Moment?
The Full Story Of How Facebook Was Founded
Facebook to Add Location Data, Encourage Epic Levels of Oversharing
Brief Facebook glitch sent private messages to wrong users
FREE MEDIA: WHAT AND WHERE
Conversations About the Internet #5: Anonymous Facebook Employee
Facebook for photo storage
Facebook ‘linked to rise in syphilis’
Facebook Abuse (video)
Facebook, Twitter Revolutionizing How Parents Stalk Their College-Aged Kids (ideas for the Group project?)
This Is Your Brain on Technology
22 March 2010, 19:00 – 21:00
What is technology doing to us? In three hands-on experiments, discover what happens to our brains when we browse the web, how our surfing habits restructure how we think, and whether we can actually be Facebook friends with 700 people.
An Audience with…
23 March 2010, 19:00 – 21:00
Join the Guardian’s ‘Tech Weekly’ podcast team for a live recording of their award-winning programme, plus a Q and A session with a special guests – Austin Heap, developer of encryption software Haystack and Christine Zaba, NO2ID.
The Web: The Ultimate Propaganda Machine?
24 March 2010, 19:00 – 21:00
The web has allowed linking up of pressure groups, bringing people power to politics. But what happens when authoritarian regimes get the same idea? Come to learn about the emerging ‘spinternet’ and how we could be turning into cogs in a new propaganda machine.
What Are Games Really Teaching Us?
25 March 2010, 19:00 – 21:00
Computer games are increasingly being used in schools. What else are children taking on board, apart from just the three Rs? Join the debate and test out the titles, to discover the good and bad that games can teach us.
Technology You Can’t Live Without
26 March 2010, 19:00 – 21:00
Technology moves at lightning speeds – how can you keep up with it all? Join us to catch up on the latest innovations and trends with an evening of fast-fire, technology-inspired presentations from luminaries and experts.
Watch it at least half way…
The term Digital Divide refers to the difference in levels of access to computer hardware and the internet whether locally or globally. This could be due to economic factors or lack of infrastructure. According to 21st Century Challenges, an organisation affiliated to the Royal Geographical Society, a third of households in the UK don’t have access to the internet.
This ‘Final Third’ is more likely to be made up of the elderly, those in rural areas and people in social housing. Last year the Department for Culture published it’s Digital Britain report outlining how the government plans to close the divide and how it’s going to fund it. These include a 50p a month ‘broadband tax’ on every telephone line in the country and a £200m surplus from the digital switchover scheme.
As commerce and education increasingly move online it could lead to those not connected losing out. Having an internet connection gives access to jobs, banking, shopping as well as all the other useful information out there. Without access to online shopping and banking it’s estimated offline households lose out on savings of £560 a year. In short, if this gap is not closed it could lead to a two tier society divided by access to information and the benefits it brings. As is so often the case it is those of higher income who reap the most whilst those on lower income are the people who’ll lose out.