Pry, To

privacy is dream

personal privacy is an oxymoron. you know less about yourself than the mass of services and companies out there that collect, individually or collectively, information about you and your activities, for their own selective proprietary uses or for selling to other organizations, institutions and/or governments.

you think you have privacy left to protect?

privacy today in general is a fallacy: it’s an impossible dream that we should’ve woken up from some time ago.

a “publicity policy” isn’t enough, but it’s a cute idea. naw, it’s time for a whole mind shift in how we, as individual persons, address and engage the question of what it means to have little to no power to control who sees, studies, sells information about, the things that we do.

repeat after me: “PRIVACY … IS … A … DREAM.”

not for you. not for me. only for the government, big corporations, disappearing persons.

but hey hey, don’t fret. it’s not that bad. and maybe, maybe we can do something about it that won’t cost us all that much, if anything. so long as we follow the superstition that we have any privacy at all, we’ll continue to try to “hide” (in order to “control”) whatever information we can. but that’s just what keeps us in this situation, this is the very thing that keeps us weak.

get it? they already have all the juicy bits about us. it’s all out there in the ether already. and you spend this effort keeping these bits to yourself, bits that really could do you and your friends and your social cohorts some good if you just put it out there.

jamming, yeah, that’s what i’m talking about. flood the network with information of, by and for ourselves… so much so that only our friends and those we care about and are close to can make sense of the data.

yeh, come looking, come stalk me, come steal my identity. yeah, there’s nothing i can do to stop you whether i’m jamming the network anyway. so i might as well take the other approach, do what i can to subsume what’s subsuming me.

personal filters (maybe like Onlife) leveraged put our attention stream into service for ourselves… to improve our day-to-day experience by giving us the information to learn about what we really spend our time, attention and energies doing… so that we can improve, make better, more informed decisions… just like the credit card mongers and insurance brokers do about us.

this data is extremely valuable. there’s a multi-billion dollar market out there for this kind of information. but what they don’t want you to realize, is that this data is also available to you, cher amie, even though we haven’t built good tools for harvesting and using it yet… too afraid that these microscopic pixie dust embers of personal data will be scooped up by Evil, Inc., they’ve done an end-run around us, ignoring those teensy morsels that you protect to focus on grabbing up the good stuff (credit card records, travel behavior, cell phone calls, etc). they’ve got you p0wned. get over it.

besides, who are you kidding besides yourself?

get over it. flood the network.

listen, if it’s about you, it’s yours (yes, I believe that). and yes, you ought have a right to see it, to know about it, to correct it, to use it. you also should have the right to take it back, to conceal it, to lock it away forever.

but good luck, once it’s out there, it ain’t comin’ back. you step out that door, and forget it, you’re already on camera; say cheese.

repeat after me: “PRIVACY … IS … A … DREAM.”

what you don’t know about you, someone else by now already does and has sold off to a mailing label company, a magazine subscription company, a freeipods dot com rip off pyramid scheme. so look, if you don’t think of yourself as an aggregate statistic in your own life, for eff’s sake, stop treating yourself like one. flood it. c’mon, flood it. make it impossible for anyone to ever treat you as just another statistic again.

teh end.

sources, references and influences that partially lead to this flamebait:

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

9 thoughts on “Pry, To”

  1. First of all, you underestimate the complexity of people, I would counter, if you really believe, as you write, that privacy is a dream.

    Second, take a breather and realize what a revolutionary change you are advocating. This notion that flooding the networks will be somehow helpful and not harmful is entirely new, untested, unproven and is therefore, risky.

    You are a frontiersman, Factoryjoe, to live like this, it is new territory and not for the faint of heart, a word of caution and greater responsibility behind your uninhibited evangelism is needed. With so much of your own information online, you will no doubt be one of the first victims should this flood of information yield an accompanying criminal revolution. But then, something tells me you would happily be the modern equivalent of the first man to die in spaceflight.

    The reality is that the flood of information that is out there could potentially be used by its owners as you suggest. But, you do not address the ingenuity of the criminal mind, you do not seem to pause to consider the possible bad, so consumed are you by the possible good.
    So sure are you that the good will outweigh the bad. That is your underlying assumption and it is not acknowledged as such in your post.

  2. Chris, you must immediately read The Transparent Society by David Brin. In fact, everyone who believes in the myth of individual privacy must immediately read it, because it’s getting late; maybe too late. Unless things change soon, there will be privacy, but only for big and potentially evil things like governments and corporations. We’ve already gone pretty far down that road. Check out Brin’s book; it’s all about what you’re saying here, but in more detail.

  3. 1) Off Topic, but top o’the list: I thought at first that your site didn’t allow comments, which would be very un-Messina. Then I realized that the link for commenting was just very obscure, which is only slightly less un-Messina. Think about it… 😉

    2) While the literary reference theme is along, I’ll suggest a Brautigan saying that might be adaptable and which I find a good crutch at many times: “You can have security or you can have sanity. Pick one.”

    3) In addition to the concept of flooding, there’s a great deal to be gained from just opensourcing and owning your behavior. It’s kind of priggishly moral to say, but don’t do things you don’t want people to find out about.

    Of course, there are some real ways in which we are going to need to keep the State off our backs, but I’m relatively confidant that people will come around on that. And if not, I’ll end up in some secret jail, so I don’t have much to worry about either way.

  4. Yep Josh, that’s pretty much the way I see it. I mean, I have a great incentive not to lie, like, evar: I interact with so many people in so many different mediums that to try to keep a lie going (unless I’m honestly deluding myself in which case it’s accidental!) is impossible! It’s better that I just do the right thing™ and be honest… and consistent!

    Same thing goes for my behavior in general. I’ve been to rallies and marches as a volunteer observer. I saw the shit that went down. I know what kind of surveillance goes on. The more you try to hide yourself away, the easier it is to spot. So hell, flaunt it, be you, don’t let them stop you, and take refuge in the notion that, if they want to get you, one way or the other they will; the only question is whether enough people will know who you are well enough to come looking when you disappear!

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