I Am My Data
I can’t decide if it’s really scary, or really not scary.
I’m an Amazon junkie. I buy clothing, computer supplies, cleaning supplies, dog food, musical instruments and everything but a new house on Amazon. And that’s coming.
I can’t wait for the giant amazon drone to deliver my new 4-bedroom, 3-bath colonial on a dead-end street. It’s gonna happen, you know it.
The Amazon protocols and algorithms can identify your gender, your sexuality (gay, straight, other) and your personal “wants” within 7 purchases. That might seem big-brother-ish (“Big Brother” being one of those anachronisms that seem as outdated as “Kodak” or “hitch the horses!”), but it’s true. Here’s an example: you buy a book you’ve had your eye on… er, your browser on… and as soon as you make your purchase with your “Amazon Prime” account, the page makes 3 suggestions, which are often far better than the one you just bought!
This makes me wonder as I surf-and-search (the word I made up is “SURFEARCH” pronounced “SURF-URCH”) the web: how much data am I generating right now?
This is capitalism on a micro level. Capitalism in your life, whether you’re asleep, at work, on vacation or actually buying something. I don’t see it ever going away, and I DO see it becoming more and more pervasive. And invasive. Intense. Universal.
Not to mention boring. Because it is happening, we know it, we acknowledge it and so we hate the corporate world now that it has become intuitive. We dread it.
I have a neighbor who claims he’s living “off the grid.” Right. He has disguised his online personae with a myriad of fake IDs, monikers and email addresses. Whatever. Because maybe he thinks his little house on a quiet suburban cul-de-sac is hidden, but he’s not anonymous in any way. The path to his “bunker” is easily available on Google Maps - Street Level and Satellite view!
Data and metadata are cause for paranoia and cable news time-filler in our American life. And I see the correlation to a sort of Stepford Wives kinda thing. But it’s also trippy in a very hip way that your personal information can be gathered online, amalgamated in a yet-to-be-created online app ($4.99 for the beta version, with in-app purchases starting at $1.99 on iTunes) resulting in your likeness - a virtual you! - with 3D graphics capturing your body likeness and physical metrics. Forget the “WestWorld” upcoming HBO series (can’t wait!) because maybe the future isn’t evil. Maybe instead of turning on you, the human version of you, your doppelgänger, helps you as you SURFEARCH (MY WORD!) the ‘net! Together you grab your favorite latte or sports drink, log on to Amazon and together you choose between the Under Armour® Stephen Curry basketball shoe, or a fashion sneaker created “just for you” by Donna Karan!
By the way, quick focus on that word I used above: paranoia. Ever talked to someone from China? Government controls what you can and can’t have access to. Those folks are paranoid.
In the end, we all want access and control. Control over our lives, our likes, our futures and whatever we become online. Our data entry and metadata entities should be ours to form, right? All this info being available to corporations, government and other people is online and available. That will happen more and more, and the Internet will be whatever it’s going to be, we can’t stop it.
(Swallow hard and take a long drink of your favorite flavor sports drink to compose yourself HERE)
I know this. Whatever control we have right now over our online identities and lives is the best it will ever be today. If your life is the movie they’re gonna make in 2025 about the Internet (working title: “GOOGLED”), the people sitting in the packed theater (tickets are $42.50 each, and a 16 oz. drink costs $35) are shouting at you: “SAVE YOUR DATA TO A 15 TERABYTE DRIVE NOW! You’re gonna lose your world! Don’t give in to the online data collecting! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!”)
You know I’m right. What we’re enjoying now, here online as you read this, won’t be this good or this easy in a couple of years. Enjoy.
Thanks for reading!