From most reports, we are a nation of cord cutters. We are technology addicts that speak responsibly of privacy and propriety in the way digital businesses deal with us, but simultaneously consume irrationally and become easily distracted by, and attracted to, the digital squirrel of innovation.
There were a number of stories last week that set me to thinking of where the trend goes. We’ve moved from a model of active and directed consumption, to more passive and predictive feeding with things like location based services and augmented reality. It begs the question of when we may encounter literal consumption of technology that is embedded within us and becomes a part of us – or consumes us.
The most recent article in this trend comes out of the D11 conference where Google Glass and an Apple watch – and even a Disney wristband – grabbed center stage.
My fear is that the more technology becomes a proactive and transparent agent in our online interactions, the less we may think about the specifics of those interactions and the potential side effects. Are we headed toward putting technology on autopilot, and allowing it to guide where we go, only realizing too late where we end up. And just this week, stories of Google Glass going ‘full creepy’ are emerging.
It feels as if we’re approaching a critical juncture and need to make some decisions. In the words of Morpheus, “You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
Another article that drove this point further home for me was Nick Bilton’s column, At Odds Over Privacy Challenges of Wearable Computing. In it, he compares the privacy debate to Dr. Seuss’s “Butter Battle Book” in which the differing views of the Zooks and the Yooks escalate to threaten an all-out war. It’s an interesting and amusing comparison, but one that I feel may be misleading. The Zooks and the Yooks were relatively equal from an adversarial perspective, and escalation was matched on either side.
In the war of technology, those who would wish to slow the money making machine that feeds off of information do not have the marketing and sales armies – or customer conscripts – of their enemy, nor is their influence equal in the information infrastructure that facilitates the conversations. It’s not lost on me that the story of the Zooks and Yooks was released in a year that was also of note for other reasons. Stay safe folks and remember, Google Glass doesn’t wink-and-shoot people, people wink-and-shoot people.
As we come up on the Football Conference Championships, a host of stories around how we are viewed, tracked, identified, profiled and targeted, are hard to ignore. It makes me think about how we conduct ourselves and how our relationships with our devices and online lives are scrutinized and preserved – and it brings me to a bit of a cautionary tale around privacy and safety.
There’s a saying you all likely know, “better to be silent and thought an idiot then to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” In our online social interactions, sometimes it’s better to be silent and thought to be home doing boring things, than to open up your GPS and photos and introduce – or remove – a level of doubt that could be exploited.
Smartphones, GPS and Social media provide tremendous benefits and improve our lives, whether for connections, entertainment or assistance. However, an inability to disconnect and a blind dependence on the tools for validation, direction (physical and otherwise,) rage or even assumptions about people or issues, is a recipe for monumental disaster.
As you walk around with GPS and Timelines blazing, consider:
That being said, realize that all that technology and tracking are not perfect, and anyone – including the authorities – can become collateral damage, such as:
But I come here not to bury Facebook, Apple and Google, but to cautiously praise them. Going back to my headline, the mantra for rookie players in the playoffs is to “Act like you’ve been there before.” Be professional, don’t let the situation overwhelm or confuse you, don’t do anything stupid, and do your job. As humans born of free will, we can’t become a slave to our devices. We always need to have awareness of context, of content, of connections and conduct.
That being said, it’s not the worst thing if Facebook helps us “thin the herd” a bit…