Friday, February 4, 2011

panopticon links

---Andrew Keen considers the future of privacy:

"Zuckerberg's ideas on "sharing" could have been invented by Kafka. Just as Josef K unwittingly shared all his known and unknown information with the authorities, so we are now all sharing our most intimate spiritual, economic and medical information with all the myriad "free" social-media services, products and platforms. And, given that the dominant business model of all this social-media economy is advertising sales, it is inevitable that all this data will end up in the hands of our corporate advertising "friends". That's why Facebook, a six-year-old, barely profitable new-media company with little proprietary technology of its own, was valued recently at about $50 billion. Zuckerberg is taking Bentham's ideas to their ultimate conclusion, and the result is a panopticon in which privacy is relegated like an historical artefact. Facebook even has the audacity, in good Benthamite fashion, to be developing a "Gross Happiness Index" which will supposedly quantify and thus own global sentiment, making the social network the central bank of our new public socio-informational economy.

Today's digital social network is a trap. Today's cult of the social, peddled by an unholy alliance of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and communitarian idealists, is rooted in a misunderstanding of the human condition. The truth is that we aren't naturally social beings. Instead, as Vermeer reminds us in The Woman in Blue, human happiness is really about being left alone. On Liberty, the 1859 essay by Bentham's godson and former acolyte, John Stuart Mill, remains a classic defence of individual rights in the age of the industrial network and its tyranny of the majority. Today, as we struggle to make sense of the impact of the internet revolution, we need an equivalent On Digital Liberty to protect the right to privacy in the social-media age. Tapscott and Williams believe that the age of networked intelligence will be equal to the Renaissance in its significance. But what if they are wrong? What if the digital revolution, because of its disregard for the right of individual privacy, becomes a new dark ages? And what if all that is left of individual privacy by the end of the 21st century exists in museums alongside Vermeer's Woman in Blue? Then what?"

---a right to be forgotten

---Tom Carson attempts to explain the career of Nicolas Cage

---"Everything is a Remix" Part 2

---the making of Little White Lies in London

---@CoolerCinema's and @onlythecinema's thoughts on the Coen brothers' True Grit via The Conversations:

"But while the Coens aren't reverent about death and disfigurement, we should be careful not to imply that they're entirely flippant about it. Because while the Coens have a reputation for dark humor, their true gift is their ability to let dark humor and genuine ghastliness (be it physical or emotional) coexist in the same frame. The best example of this, I've always thought, is the scene in Fargo when the two hired hoods show up at the Lundegaard residence to kidnap Jerry's wife Jean. We know that the men have no intention of hurting Jean, and further that they have nothing against her; it's Jerry's plan, and they're just the muscle. But Jean has no clue that these masked men aren't as cold-blooded as they appear, or that one of them (Steve Buscemi's Carl) is, in the parlance of True Grit, a nincompoop. So Jean runs around her house screaming hysterically. And while the Coens create humor out of that scene, they don't, in my opinion, overlook Jean's fear. Her histrionics are amusing, but they're also totally justified. The Coens urge us to laugh at the spectacle while also feeling sympathetic for the victim. And inTrue Grit we get something of the same: the guy in the bear outfit is quintessentially Coensian—dark and peculiar—but even amidst all that oddity it's hard not to feel for the dead guy on the back of the horse, who went from being hanged in a tree, to being ungracefully cut down, to being sold for parts. Perhaps he had a daughter, too. Perhaps he had grit."

---@filmstudiesff celebrates Werner Herzog

---Stanley Kubrick's signature shots

---A. O. Scott remembers Solaris

---Devin Friedman explores the "viral me":

"Rapportive, Rahul explains, is an application that inserts the social layer into every e-mail you receive. "Imagine if, whenever anybody e-mailed you, you could open the e-mail and instantly see their photograph, their occupation—what they do, their recent tweets, their activities on Facebook. Let me show you what that would look like." Rahul opens up a message on Gmail, and on the right flank, instead of ads, you can see data from Rapportive: a photograph of the sender and a summary of information about him from whatever social-media platform the sender uses—LinkedIn, Mixcloud, etc. "We just raised a million dollars to build that."

I ask him why one would want all that information about whoever happens to e-mail you. "Lots of reasons," he says. "Imagine you want to hire someone: I've had a number of e-mails from people saying, 'It's very interesting looking at the social lives of people who are applying for jobs.' Because seeing someone's recent tweets is actually more valuable than reading someone's résumé. So that's the new economy. That's the new world of personal interactions. And Rapportive exposes that, and we believe in it."

How do you get all that information about people?

"We're all spewing a lot of information out into the Web; some of us know about it and some of us don't. Rapportive is collecting all of that and putting it into one place. We're very careful not to find anything that you couldn't find in half an hour of Googling. We just save you that half an hour."

---James MacDowell's "What We Don't See, and What We Think It Means: Ellipsis and Occlusion in Rear Window"

---Steve Job's zen business techniques:

"Jobs's immersion in Zen and passion for design almost certainly exposed him to the concept of ma, a central pillar of traditional Japanese aesthetics. Like many idioms relating to the intimate aspects of how a culture sees the world, it's nearly impossible to accurately explain -- it's variously translated as "void," "space" or "interval" -- but it essentially describes how emptiness interacts with form, and how absence shapes substance. If someone were to ask you what makes a ring a meaningful object -- the circle of metal it consists of, or the emptiness that that metal encompasses? -- and you were to respond "both," you've gotten as close to ma as the clumsy instrument of English allows."

---intriguing trailers: Hanna, Incendies, and Peep World

---the doodles of famous authors (via @ebertchicago)

---John Patrick Leary's "Detroitism"

---behind the scenes of The Social Network, Black Swan, Cold Weather, and Deliverance

---for the love of film noir by @FerdyonFilms

---what inspires Guillermo del Toro

---lastly, Jonathan Rosenbaum's "The Death of Hulot"


JUS said...

Thanks for the excellent post. It gave me much to think about.

One observation: Deep packet analysis is a ubiquitous technology in use on thousands of networks in the US. It is used, of course, for the nefarious spying on citizens of repressive regimes, but it is also used by corporations, universities, libraries, and schools to identify traffic that disguises itself as something else.

Such uses may also be reasonably considered by some as nefarious, but I happen to know that you are often active on a network that employs just such a device intended to weed out viruses, Internet attacks, and illegal downloading activity.

I wonder: does the widespread availability and use of DPI make it a ho-hum issue or should run through the streets yelling, "Soylent Green is people!"?


FilmDr said...

Thanks for your thoughts, JUS.

I find I like to link to articles that discuss these issues because I don't fully know the ramifications of deep packet analysis, or sharing on Facebook, or new applications like Rapportive (which does strike me as intrusive), but a sense of cautious dread seems appropriate. My significant other was just telling me of our new need to maintain a positive "digital footprint" for multiple reasons, especially a possible foray into the job market. Can one shape one's Google profile for a random stranger to appreciate? Should we have to, or wouldn't it be better to persuade Google to forget one back data if one so chooses?

I also wonder if the sheer multiplicity of people on the internet also supplies us with a measure of anonymity? Who has time to keep track of us all?

It seems like the legal and ethical ramifications of these kinds of questions are just starting to be explored.

Tor Hershman said...


Just Call Me Alice said...

Couldn't find anywhere else to give you this link.
It's a fairly well produced comedy film that does a good job making fun of itself.

FilmDr said...

Thanks, Alice.