Thursday, December 02, 2010

Halogen Mania and Information Essay

Today I replaced a 300 watt, 120 volt halogen bulb in a torchiere. Oh. My. Goodness. Words cannot express the exuberance that flooded through me this morning when I transformed our dingy gray morning kitchen nook into a Shrine of Brightness. I probably frightened a half-dozen Twitter and Facebook followers with my manic hymns of thanksgiving (and video).

All I can say is that last Winter's "creative slump" is very definitely connected with the light levels. So don't take away my electric Summer unless you want a reenactment of Psycho, directed by Ingmar Bergman.

In other news, Amanda on Facebook asked: "At what point does society decide we've collectively stored enough information about ourselves? We worry about losing any scrap of information, but, how much information has been lost to the sands of time already? Will what we save now really matter? Would it have helped us to know how many times a day Beethoven picked his nose or how he drank his tea?"

And my light-induced reply:

"Our storage habits are cheap right now; if they became more expensive they'd slow down. Yes; we're building a gigantic data Ozymandias -- but! Marketers take the information and use it to sell stuff. Google and FB make the storage cheap because they've tricked us into becoming data miners for our friends and family.

So sure: if you pick your nose at the same rate and in the same style as Beethoven, then Have I Got A Deal For You! And if you drink Lipton black tea an double strength, steeped for 5 minutes in boiling water, then may I suggest this Sri Lankan Assam tea pack and electric kettle? And we all know that the tea-drinking constituency is an important voting bloc.

Now add to that how Picasa and Google Pics can help you use facial recognition software to help you "organize" your pictures and we've all got a little virtual piece of the Panopticon right in our living rooms, dens, offices, and bedrooms.

So yes, electronic information hoarding is about vanity; it's also about money and power. Er, Yes; I love the freedom of a Net Neutral internet. Why do you ask?

So -- to apply a short essay I read about Wikileaks and how conspiracies manage information -- to stop the endless data collection, we need to make it harder for the conspiracies (Google, FB) to trade information with each other so they are unable to pursue their goal (selling stuff).

The essay posited that Wikileaks does this by forcing the conspiracies to tighten communication between cells in an attempt to control information, thus stifling themselves into ineffectiveness.

I don't know if this leads to a consumer (us) strategy of posting more Cat Videos (and porn) to fill up the networks' bandwidth, or of adapting a strategy of mis-information about ourselves, or of creating fake web surfing applications to use our accounts to surf random sites and make web browser cookies unreliable or what.

But here's where the vanity part of it comes in -- we want our friends and family (and potential readers for those of us who are writers) to be able to find us and see what's up with us. So there is little chance a Bayesian content generator FB app being written or widely adapted soon.

And of course, once Google and FB no longer can use our accounts to build marketable profiles of our consumer and voting habits, there goes "I can haz free InterNets Now."
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