[iDC] Will you delete your Feedburner account?

Patrick Lichty voyd at voyd.com
Thu Jun 7 10:05:34 EDT 2007

First, I apologize tot he list for my absense.  I will likely be relatively 
quiet for a while, as I am taking the summer to meditate on the state of 
changes in media culture, load the Intelligent Agent chamber, strategize my 
texts for possible future publication, and to reevaluate my practice.

Also, i want ot spend time with my family, whom I seem to have forgotten who 
they are, because of my schedule.

Besides that - 

I am somehow surprised that people are in any way appalled regarding the 
transparency of their information.  Or, for that matter, the security of it.

Consider the record in the era of the hypercapitalist social.  Blogs, social 
nets, community hosts are all goldmines for advertisers (the chief economy 
[besides porn and sex toys;) ] on the Net.  Secondly, the reliance on ad 
capital as hosting revenues went down created a culture in which the 
maintenance of any record is solely dependant on its economic viability.

>From this, the user innocently clicks "OK" on the TOS/EULA without ever 
looking at it.  And, when a buyout occurs, the TOS/EULA can change to 
represent the policy of the host corporation.  Why should anyone be 
surprised that their blogs, data, demographic info should be up for bid?  In 
the information economy where sites like MySpace explicitly state that any 
information used on site can be used by NewsCorp for whatever purpose, is it 
a surprise when acquisitions take place and the data, is, in fact, used?

I wonder whether net culture might be entering a moment of existential 
hysteresis in which it is straining to keep believing the utopian 90's 
paradigm of the "free Internet" (use whatever interpretation you like) 
shifting from Whole Earth to SnowCrash.  I remember when a young woman came 
up to me in '97 at the Cleveland Contemporary, angered that I had criticised 
the Net as a potential site for more corporate abuse, stating that the Net 
was the "last grass-roots place where people can really make a difference", 
mirroring the MCI telecomm ad fromt he Super Bowl with the same message.

Secondly, I once knew a data archivist who was consulting to AT&T in the 
90's who was in negotiations with them to try to allow migration of "all" 
records, including "gray" ones, and trying to institute limits on mining and 
remarketing user data.  I don't know abotu the latter, but I do know that 
because of "financial" issues, a lot of legacy information was lost.

>From this, and from other research, our data, all of it, is subject to sale 
or termination, and to changing user agreements without notice.  Basically, 
if a user agrees to the company's terms, there isn't much one can do.  
Compounding this, the changes to Terms of Service (TOS) are wholly up to the  
company, and there is little recourse afforded the user.

A faint analogy reflects the concerns people have had with Second Life.  On 
one hand, user profiles (a pay function) were recently deleted without 
recourse, eliminating hundreds of thousands of user fees in an instant.  In 
addition, the TOS/EULA states that Linden Labs makes no apologies for bugs, 
downtime, eavesdropping, or experience.  

But then, when prospective users ask me whether I should let the students 
use tech like Second Life, when there is all this "sex and violence", I 
counter that they should not use the Internet for the same reason.  My 
argument is that what we are seeing is the flowering of Web 2.0.  It was 
sold as an empowering technology, but what many of us know full well is that 
all that user data is intellectual property, and a valuable resource for the 
conglomerates.  In addition, many are just now realizing that the abuses of 
power regarding IP permissions are not restricted to logos and Metallica 
songs.  And, in regards to data persistence/security, it will exist as long 
as it benefits the institution's enlightened self interest (i.e. economic 
viability of the archive, if not for profitability, for community goodwill/

My viewpoint may be a little extreme, but probably not by much.  We want to 
believe in the Net, we want to believe that no one is mining our Facebook 
demographic stats, but I feel this is a little idealistic.  Granted, perhaps 
my Gibsonian Zaibatsu/Sprawl scenario may be exaggerated, but with 
consolidation, perhaps not for long.

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