Surveillance Capitalism

Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff calls it “surveillance capitalism.” And as creepy as Facebook is turning out to be, the entire industry is far creepier. It has existed in secret far too long, and it’s up to lawmakers to force these companies into the public spotlight, where we can all decide if this is how we want society to operate and — if not — what to do about it.

Schneier on Security – Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

Going For A Song: ‘Every Grain of Sand’

Bob Dylan – Every Grain of Sand

I watched Trouble No More over the Easter bank holiday. I’m no authority to say so for sure, but the documentary seems to be part of a recent ongoing reassessment of Dylan’s Christian “phase”. And I use scare quotes there because after watching the film I’m inclined to agree with the conclusion of this writer:

In retrospect […] it’s hard to see the singer’s turn to faith as anything other than an authentic change of heart

In the footage of the gig, which is of the tour around the time of his conversion, Dylan’s anything but insincere.

The documentary is a good one. There are sermons interspersed between the live footage, and these are delivered by the actor Michael Shannon and written (I think I noticed his name in the credits) by the writer Luc Santé.

The song ‘Every Grain of Sand’ is one of the stand out songs of that late 70s and early 80s period, even though it ended up on Shot of Love and not on one of the two albums – Slow Train Coming and Saved – directly linked to Dylan’s conversion.*

This version of ‘Every Grain of Sand’ is the one included on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare and Unreleased) 1961-1991 compilation and it is, to my mind, the superior version to the album version.

 

* Saved and Shot of Love began the competition for worst Dylan album cover. A competition that continued unfettered throughout the 1980s.

 

To a Future…

If you’re on Facebook, you are living on Mark Zuckerberg’s bounty.

This is of course a choice you are free to make. The problem comes when, by living in conditions of such dependence, you forget that there’s any other way to live—and therefore cannot teach another way to those who come after you. Your present-day social-media ecology eclipses the future social-media ecology of others. What if they don’t want their social lives to be bought and sold? What if they don’t want to live on the bounty of the factory owners of Silicon Valley? It would be good if we bequeathed to them another option, the possibility of living outside the walls the factory owners have built—whether for our safety or to imprison us, who can say? The open Web happens outside those walls.

Reading the recent reporting on Facebook’s data breach, I returned to this thoughtful essay in The Hedgehog Review by Alan Jacobs. There’s not much of it, if any, I find myself in disagreement with; and in the suggestions he makes towards becoming ‘a citizen of the open Web’ it feels quite useful and significant.