In a world where we should prize privacy, whither the right to “feedback”?

I posted the following thoughts this morning:

The whole of modern business practice, its interactions with emerging “markets” such as hyperlocal activity, the development of apps and software, the codified constitutions behind online environments … all of these – and much much more – are posited and structured around the idea of individualising identity.  Essentially, of creating personal filters and bubbles that lead supposed community projects to (as I point out in my presentation) atomise the very society they assert they are looking to bring together.

I went on to blame the online ad world.

A response on Twitter, to the follow-up exchanges which came out of the post, made abundantly clear how corruptingly broad the need to know stuff about online users has become:

Meanwhile, more detail here.  But it could just as easily be me – as, indeed, you can see:

miljenko.com/news tracking graphic

If truth be known, not just ads but the whole blogosphere “work for CV-brownie-points game” has depended heavily on the psychological rewards which seeing your daily hit stats, likes and shares used to provide.  In the absence of a correct monetary valuation, and remuneration, it’s all most bloggers and online publishers ever really got.

Now that our current and developing perception of privacy, quite reasonably, says the harvesting of such data is wrong, what is really going to be left for those who continue – despite all – to throw pebbles into ether-ranging wells?  Must they get used to the idea that to be coherent with their beliefs on such privacy the inhabitants of that online “pub discourse” must be allowed to wear invisibility cloaks when they listen in?

It’s very hard, very hard indeed you know, to conduct a dialogue without any reply or feedback.

It’s also true that even newspapers such as the Guardian, rightly admired for its battles with those who would easily invade our wider societal privacies, will surely be using tracking mechanisms which allow their journalists to know more about the readers than the readers will ever know about the journalists.

I pick out the Guardian with no sense of disrespect at all; just a desire to show how the privacy conundrum must – somewhere – be hurting all our brains.

Any solution, then, in the long-term to these awful circles no one seems able to square?

Maybe a charter of some sort which defines what tracking is acceptable and what isn’t?  Which defines the purpose of different kinds and how socially acceptable they might be?  Which allows a greater understanding to emerge about how we could make such information truly consensual and dignified – instead of the current and clearly unseemly grab-bag it’s become?

So what do you think?  Is this a circle we could square together one day?

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One Comment

  1. […] I also discovered the other day how supposedly decent enough blogging outfits such as Automattic – ie the people behind the WordPress platform we’ve all gladly used for ages; me here, me there and me everywhere, for starters – may have been caught using tracking tools surreptitiously, even on self-hosted versions of its software.  And where not self-hosted, manifestly anything but surreptitiously. […]

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