Saturday, June 16, 2018

Facebook & The Goog

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

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Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My beautiful muse and back scratcher 
Iggy -- My designated Sticky
Dana -- My designated gentlereader

"Sometimes, giving up your privacy is a little like going to the dentist and we have let him have access that no one's ever had."   -Tom Petty

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies,

Social media has been much in the news lately; the Goog (A.K.A. Google) always seems to be in the news. My psyche's currently featuring a mind movie that's about yinz walking around in the world after I'm dead -- or gliding around in the world on an anti-gravity platform (AGP) of some sort.

You'll be interacting with social media, and the cloud, via an implanted transceiver. Another implant will project a virtual screen in front of you when desired. Both devices, and your AGP, will be controlled by your thoughts.

Your AGP will have a self-driving function so that you can float through the world in a virtual electronic cocoon without having to interact with other meat puppets any more than you wish to.

Well, until all of your devices and software suddenly go dark because you were zapped by a raygun of some sort (I hope I'm not being too technical for you) wielded by an evil ne'er-do-well intent on robbery, or worse, and you land on your face.

There will always be evil ne'er-do-wells. Virtual cocoons are as temporary as real ones. Good -- life would be rather dreary otherwise. Think about this.

The above is not the point I set out to make but since it's a good point I shall leave it stand.

If you ain't paying for it, you're not the customer, you're the product.

That's the point I set out to make. It's certainly not original to me, in fact, you can trace its roots back to 1973.

The reason that social media is much in the news is that a series of scandals/new European privacy laws/revelations/etceterations have revealed to, or reminded, Mr. and Ms. Plebensky that the statement above is true.

I'm so old that I can remember when computers were as big as a small house, required a dedicated AC unit, and, were tended by clipboard-toting technicians in white lab coats.

There was no internet when these giants weren't roaming the earth. Computers were around long before there was much of an internet to speak of. And yes, I miss how much easier it was to maintain a bit of personal privacy back in the Black & White ages.

However, I don't need constant reminding that the data I generate interacting with "free" software and related services are sliced, diced, and sold to the highest bidder.

I'm so old that I know there's no such thing as a free lunch.

Big But

The maxim is not complete. It should be: If you ain't paying for it, you're not the customer, you're the product -- but, everyone wins bright, shiny door prizes just for showing up.

Tell 'em, Johnny! 

Well, Wink, In exchange for letting our Algorithmites, Data Dragons, and Botmonsters lose in your life, social media will enable you to effortlessly exchange all sorts of shtuff with other H. sapiens without having to get dressed and leave the house, free and no charge. 

As to the omnipresent, the Goog, you name it and they've got it, free or on the cheap. Blogging platforms, office suites, world-class search tools, cloud storage, Chrome books and boxes... why, the list goes on and on! 

[Wait,wait,wait... I for one am not crazy about inviting Algorithmites, Data Dragons, and Botmonsters into my home.]     

You're in good (and numerous) company, Dana. But the thing is, you don't have to actively avail yourself of the services of the data harvesting industry. I personally know all sorts of people that go out of their way not to and who are doing just fine.

I know of other people that enthusiastically participate in our brave new world but have discovered that with a little bit of knowledge and effort it's not that hard to electronically cover your electronic tracks.

[Yeahbut I heard you can't erase all traces. And short of living in a cave in the otherwhere, some of your personal data is parked in a database and/or sitting on a server somewhere.]

Welcome to 2018. Until someone develops a subdivision of caves with indoor plumbing, climate control, and Wifi, I'm staying put and counting my blessings.

Hopefully, My Dear Stickies, we'll work it all out without becoming too much like Xi Jinping's (A.K.A. Xi Dada) China. The Zuck's in trouble again for telling fibs about Facebook. Some of the social justice warriors that The Goog likes to hire, and encourage, have begun chewing on the hand that feeds them.

Gotta run. The techs are here to install the T1 line I ordered for Casa de Chaos. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.

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©2018 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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