Two Reading Assignments on the Loss of
Monday, March 22, 2010 at 01:25 PM EDT
I submit to your interest two speeches that challenge acceptance of
status quos by which our collective frogs are slowly boiling.
First is Freedom
in the Cloud, by Eben
Moglen, given at the Internet Society in New York on 5 February.
Second is Making Sense of
Privacy and Publicity, by Danah
Boyd. Given on 13 March at SXSW. One teaser quote:
A teaser quote from Eben:
…in effect, we lost the ability to use either legal
regulation or anything about the physical architecture of the network to
interfere with the process of falling away from innocence that was now
inevitable in the stage I’m talking about, what we might call late Google
It is here, of course, that Mr. Zuckerberg enters.
The human race has susceptibility to harm but Mr. Zuckerberg has attained
unenviable record: he has done more harm to the human race than anybody else
Because he harnessed Friday night. That is, everybody needs to get laid and
he turned it into a structure for degenerating the integrity of human
personality and he has to a remarkable extent succeeded with a very poor deal.
Namely, “I will give you free web hosting and some PHP doodads and you
get spying for free all the time”. And it works.
A teaser quote from Danah:
It’s easy to think that “public” and
“private” are binaries. We certainly build a lot of technology with
this assumption. At best, we break out of this with access-control lists where
we list specific people who some piece of content should be available to. And
at best, we expand our notion of “private” to include everything
that is not “public.” But this binary logic isn’t good enough
for understanding what people mean when they talk about privacy. What people
experience when they talk about privacy is more complicated than what can be
instantiated in a byte.
To get at this, let’s talk about how people experience public and
private in unmediated situations. Because it’s not so binary there
First, think about a conversation that you may have with a close friend.
may think about that conversation as private, but there is nothing stopping
your friend from telling someone else what was said, except for your trust in
your friend. You actually learned to trust your friend, presumably through
Learning who to trust is actually quite hard. Anyone who has middle
school-aged kids knows that there’s inevitably a point in time when
someone says something that they shouldn’t have and tears are shed.
It’s hard to learn to really know for sure that someone will keep their
word. But we don’t choose not to tell people things simply because they
could spill the beans. We do our best to assess the situation and act
We don’t just hold people accountable for helping us maintain privacy;
we also hold the architecture around us accountable. We look around a specific
place and decide whether or not we trust the space to allow us to speak freely
to the people there.
They’re talking about different things, but they overlap. They both
have to do with a loss of control, and both set out agenda for those who care.
Curious to know what ya’ll think.
This article originally appeared on Doc Searls Weblog.