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A Renegotiation of the Social Contract
September 10, 2011 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Journalist Ben Hammersley gives the UK's cybersecurity specialists his view of how the Internet is changing the world: "We expect everything. And we expect it on our own terms."
posted by kristi (28 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is an amazing speech. MeFites, this is worth your time.
posted by Malor at 12:53 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


His points about the transgenerational divide on the internet and social networks are spot on. In my experience, this is the single greatest challenge in my job as a government scientist.
posted by aeshnid at 1:06 PM on September 10, 2011


MoFi's MeFi's own.
posted by Abiezer at 1:06 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, this is brilliant.
posted by Auguris at 2:15 PM on September 10, 2011


Tangentially relevant.
posted by chavenet at 2:45 PM on September 10, 2011


Well said.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:07 PM on September 10, 2011


Marvelous speech.

tl;dr: gtfo old people lol.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 4:22 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


My hobby is developing cheap yet powerful EMP devices. Note to the authorities: it's just a joke. Honest.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:31 PM on September 10, 2011


I like the idea that networks are the Trojan horse that might allow us to build a more equitable and egalitarian society.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 4:59 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Throttled downloads. Walled gardens. Premium services. Filtered service. Law enforcement shutdowns. IP address location systems. anti- neutrality legislation. Real name only services. This is not a level playing field. Just wait til the isp's start implementing primitive AI filtering of uploaded content, like posts to metafilter.
posted by yesster at 5:11 PM on September 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Our only hope is that there will be principled people in the IT infrastructure who care more about freedom than the corporations they work for do.
posted by yesster at 5:17 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


A newer example is that young children consider televisions to be broken. Why doesn’t the touchscreen work? Why can’t you pause things? Where, if we’re being old fashioned, is the mouse? No Angry Birds means it’s broken.

My son expects everything from net books to pieces of paper to have touch screens. He is 14 months old.
posted by bq at 5:28 PM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


The government, and the security industry, in this country and elsewhere, have spent the past ten years really blowing it. Time and time again there has been a demonstration of security theatre, or overreaction, or overstatement of the risks in hand. From liquids in airports to invading Iraq, no one
believes this stuff any more. ... A world where Al-Qaeda can be described by the government as an existential threat to the UK, when it is patently not, is a world where warnings about updating your virus scanner because of Chinese cyberwarriors or Russian mafia will be ignored as yet more paranoid security bullshit.

posted by TheShadowKnows at 5:36 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Generally liked this, but there are two places where I have issues:

The handwringing about teenagers exposing themselves on Facebook is based on the idea that they don’t know why Facebook is so keen on that happening. Far from it.

In my experience, quizzing college students every semester for the past few years, this is simply not true. Students are rather shocked when they realize the amount of data that facebook and similar sites collect about them and how porous those sites are. It's not that they are indifferent that they are being bought and sold, but they, except for a very small percentage, have no idea that this is happening. Who's going to tell them. According to this speech, their teachers and parents don't know it's happening, and the social network sites have no interest in telling them. Ignorance, rather than disinterest or active collusion, is what is going on here.

We expect everything. And we expect it on our own terms.

This is a bug, not a feature. As the recent JSTOR thread showed us, even many Mefites, who are generally able to parse out fine distinctions in technology, can't tell the difference between electronic access to information and the information itself, decrying charging for electronic access as pretty much the same thing as hording information, since physically traveling to a library (or indulging in interlibrary loan) is an impossible burden. Over a little more than a decade, I have watched electronic access and the belief that everything should be immediately delivered to the desktop, erode collegiality at my universities, where many faculty seem increasingly siloed and provincial in outlook. People complain about the same behavior outside of academia -- it is increasingly possible to tailor your information consumption so that you are not challenged by competing worldviews.

Additionally, you don't get to take the world on your own terms -- the world comes as it comes. It takes effort to dig what you want out of the information available to you, and, despite your belief in your ability to effectively search for information, you probably aren't that good at it. The attitude of "We expect everything. And we expect it on our own terms" is the attitude of a child splashing around in a kiddy pool unaware that that pool is floating in an ocean. An ocean that really really does not care what you expect.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:56 PM on September 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


let me tell you my views on maturity, personal responsibility, and humility:

tv static, grinding noises, glass breaking5
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:02 PM on September 10, 2011


glass breaking x5
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:05 PM on September 10, 2011


I was enjoying it until he talked about "consuming culture" and then I wanted to hit him in the face with a lead pipe.

You consume a pie. You experience culture.
posted by rodgerd at 9:06 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cite please, I didn't see consuming being used anywhere.
posted by infini at 10:11 PM on September 10, 2011


Cite please, I didn't see consuming being used anywhere.

If you hit your browser "find" and look for "cosum" you will.
posted by rodgerd at 11:25 PM on September 10, 2011


until he talked about "consuming culture"


If you hit your browser "find" and look for "cosum" you will.



I did, didn't find "consuming" ... will now search for "consume"
posted by infini at 12:36 AM on September 11, 2011


Interesting article.

With regard to the disagreement of whether or not 20-somethings are fully aware of how their information is used, my anecdata tells me it isn't commonplace to be aware of it, but that many people are.

Most don't care, for I can only assume is a gross lack of foresight.
posted by flippant at 1:41 AM on September 11, 2011


what I can only assume..
posted by flippant at 1:42 AM on September 11, 2011


I really wish I'd proofread that for punctuation. Sigh.

One can happily consume culture, though: in the way that you take it in, and allow it to become part of you, feeding you just as much as the food one consumes feeds you.

More to the point, though, this was a speech. I wrote it to alliterate. It makes it nicer to say.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 2:42 AM on September 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


I actually found this article really depressing, and didn't really speak to my experience or concerns at all (as a 20 something who spends 3-4 hrs a day on the internet) Also, I couldn't really figure out what it was actually trying to say, it just felt like a bunch of shiny words with not much holding them together.

"We have become more empowered, more self-actualised. We know what we create simply by existing, and we know its value. " I don't feel especially empowered by knowing what 'value' companies place on having access to my data. In fact, with the rise of services which rank popularity in social networks as a metric for employment and access to good and services I would say I actively feel threatened and disempowered.

"We understand the value of our data, we have done the sums and we judged ourselves in profit. If advertisers want to know my preferred brand of whisky, or be allowed access to my travel schedule, and these disclosures gets me Facebook for free, with all its associated social utility and delights, then fine. Fair play."

And what if we're not 'in profit'? What if our data isn't worth much at all because we're not of a demographic that can buy loads of stuff? And then, what if, we've basically been forced to used facebook in order to communicate with other people because that's what everyone uses? If "this technology isn’t a removable part of life," then what?

If "the internet isn’t a luxury addition to life; for most people, knowingly or not, it is life. " then shouldn't we be making some kind of effort to ensure it's usable by everyone as some kind of a public good? Or at least acknowledging this as a question?
posted by ninjablob at 6:37 AM on September 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think it is complacent for someone in their thirties to imagine that people in their fifties are wedded to old paradigms. In fact an older person like me has experienced far more change than a younger person, and so I think we are less conservative, we anticipate the temporary nature of all current systems. Many people in their twenties and thirties speak as if the future can be extrapolated from changes of the type they have experienced up to now (for example the extrapolation of Moore's Law). Instead my prediction as an older person is that the next changes will be ones that are not anticipated, that the young will rapidly become old, and that the only way to survive is not to become wedded to anything, including social media and technology in the form which we currently experience it. For example - just plucking out of air - the concept of portability itself, the concept of 'a device', the model of politics.

But conversely, the idea that things are new - 'politics is shrill', 'everyone has an opinion nowadays', 'there are riots' - when they are very old. The very idea that there are 'the young' who get it, and 'the old' who don't, is an ancient thought, constantly being swept away and reformed.
posted by communicator at 6:57 AM on September 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Instead my prediction as an older person is that the next changes will be ones that are not anticipated, that the young will rapidly become old, and that the only way to survive is not to become wedded to anything, including social media and technology in the form which we currently experience it.
posted by infini at 8:51 AM on September 11, 2011


You consume a pie. You experience culture.

At a chain restaurant, maybe. I will argue that, if the pie is really good, you experience the hell out of it. But maybe that's just me; I do like me a slice of pie.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:07 AM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Worth reading to the end - notably the part about Al Qaeda being far less of a potential existential threat to the western democracies than their own security services.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:22 AM on September 12, 2011


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