Part 9 unpacking Shoshana Zuboff’s very important New York Times Editorial

Surveillance capitalism, by its very nature, is unable to play nicely with our Republic. At this moment, we still have a Republic and we have some democratic norms. For argument’s sake, let’s say we’d like to keep them. So, what to do?

Zuboff pleads we not focus downstream “…on arguments about data, …privacy, accessibility, transparency and portability, or on schemes to buy our acquiescence with (minimal) payments for data.” Down there is where we get into back-alley brawls about content moderation and filter bubbles. It’s where we wag our fingers at the likes of Mark Zuckerberg but change nothing about…

Three Principles for the Third Decade Part 8 of so many unpacking Shoshana Zuboff’s very important New York Times editorial

A TL/DR synopsis of the last post: Social media platforms are political-economic institutions that operate as chaos machines for hire.


Aren’t you ready to start considering what to do about that? I am. We’ll just scratch the surface of what to do, today.

A good place to start is to say that I don’t hate social media. I kinda love it. I love seeing what my friends are up to. I love sharing lives and moments of people who are geographically inconvenient. During pandemic, since everyone but the people I live with are geographically inconvenient social media has been…

Part 7— Unpacking Shoshana Zuboff’s very important NYTimes editorial

Let’s be real, if history teaches us anything, it’s that social order is a damn miracle.

Ours is a young information civilization. And by young, I mean extra, especially vulnerable. Human societies and their fragile social orders have always rested on “common sense knowledge.” That is, the knowledge we share with others in order to have normal routines of everyday life. We stop at red lights. And it really works, people don’t die and eventually, we get where we want to go. Stopping at red lights and going on green are agreements we have made as a society. …

An object lesson in how surveillance capitalism drove social media to screw the pooch. Part 6 of many unpacking Shoshana Zuboff’s very important editorial

The World Health Organization declared Covid 19 a global pandemic in March of 2020. A month earlier people who watch this sort of thing reported an ‘infodemic’ of rumors about disease. Social media is where these rumors were socialized. Zuboff writes that by May at least 34 extremist right-wing websites were disseminating Covid19 disinformation. Avaaz released a study in August reporting that by April of 2020 — only one month into the official pandemic — half a billion of Facebook’s April views were perusing Covid19 disinformation. Half a billion. 300 million of those views were fueled by only 10 sites.

Surveillance Capitalism is agnostic about the quality of information. What it serves up doesn’t need to be even just a little bit truthy to be very, very useful to the surveillance capitalist’s mission. What it does need to do is keep you clicking.

The goal is to continually extract data about you. In order to do that, they need to keep you on their sites. They don’t care if you are served fact or fiction as long as you stay. If the information served makes you stay, it’s good. …

Part 4 of many — This section of Shoshana Zuboff’s important NYTimes editorial is thorny.

Social media companies’ extraction operations thrive in the unfettered world of surveillance exceptionalism. This sort of exceptionalism is the promotion of surveillance over other values and standards we hold dear. The government told us we could expect a right to privacy except when we need surveillance more.

These government policies promoting surveillance gave rise to and provide cover for social media’s destructive business model. …

Part 3 of many unpacking Shoshana Zuboff’s important NYTimes editorial

After 9/11 the government needed information about us, all of us, and to get it they leaned on private companies to collect and generate that data. After all, private companies can do things we don’t want the government to do at all. And we the people might need that information someday, in a courtroom or to support the existence of an undisclosed location in a country less squeamish about torture than we like to think we are. …

And for today’s Zuboff Adventure we explore how the surveillance capitalist coup went down. How did they do it? It takes just 4 steps to co-opt democratic norms and practices. Spoiler alert: we’re on step 3.

Step 1: Surveillance Capitalism. Surveillance capitalism — the kind of business practiced by every social media company out there — appropriates people’s lives as free, raw material and extract behavioral data as a product worth its weight in gold. Just as soon as these companies get tease out that data, that information about US, they declare it THEIR private property. …

A week or two ago Shoshana Zuboff published “The Coup We Are Not Talking About” an important editorial in the Sunday New York times. She’s writing about the surveillance society we live in and dude, it’s really worth understanding. But her writing was lo-oo-oo-ng and the language Zuboff uses was confusing to me, so, I broke it down into sections — I think there are like, 9 of them. This is the first of many posts about her editorial.

Zuboff opens with a little history, asserting that surveillance in general got a huge boost when countries traumatized by attacks such…

Right now a virus we have no familiarity with is whipping around the world. It’s killing people. And here’s a tricky part: 30% of those infected show no symptoms at all. You may be infected and not know it, not ever know it. But you can still pass that thing along. For those who show symptoms, a “mild” case of Coronavirus can include walking pneumonia. Walking pneumonia doesn’t sound “mild,” but it is when compared to a virulent case of Coronavirus. Those who get that virulent case may need hospitalization for life-sustaining ventilation while the virus does a number on…

Mera Granberg Paul

Left-coaster, stepmom, defender of democracy

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