Sometimes over the course of a few days I read a couple of posts, have a few interesting meetings over a pot of tea ,watch some good television, play some good games and think to myself ‘the messages that all these things are telling me are related! There is a narrative here and I must blog about it. I wait until Friday, which of course, is the best day to write rambly blog posts, in the mean time I play a few video games in the mean time to think things over. Friday comes, boot up Microsoft Word, fingers to keys, mind goes blank. How where all these things linked again? Where do I start? Sometimes I need to write a post just to work out what my post should be about, something of a pre-post:
Today I read this blog post: Big Data, Social Ecology and the Surveillance of Management by the people. In which Mark describes one of the most distasteful things about big data, the top-down-ness. The idea of it becoming a ‘science’ of the future based on surveillance with results only available to the elite resulting ‘decisions based on a particular elite interpretation’. It is a great post and reminded me of the latest episode of South Park I watched yesterday, which dealt with the topic of addiction. In particular it focused on gamification and the freemium model. (‘mium’ being Latin for ‘not really’). This gist of the episode was that the model prays on a small number of users, it only needs to pray on a few peoples addictive behaviour make a profit, it is made worse by the fact these games have access to all this data about the user. I worry that these elite decisions that Mark talks about are not just particular elite interpretations but are made in a similar fashion to the designer of a slot machine. I did enjoy the fake advert for beer that aired after the ad break:
The show was showing that other industries sucker people in with their vices, know damn well what they are doing but justify it with a ‘well we told them to do it responsibly’. I also had some thoughts that perhaps the elites making their interpretations have their own addictions to feed.. but perhaps that is for another post. Before the episode of South Park I had seen an infomercial for a for-profit University:
The infomercial introduces gamification, micro-payments, data-harvesting bots and many of the same techniques South Park was knocking freemium for. What really struck me was that these techniques weren’t even the butt of the joke, instead the clip went all sci-fi and focused around a data-harvesting bot becoming sentient. The themes that education is starting to prey on addictive behaviour using a mixture of social pressure and the data it knows about us isn’t even the joke anymore.
I’m still not sure where I am going with this, but since I started writing this post I have received the following information in 3 emails. I think the theme for my post should be addiction, data, education and dangerous personalization