Introducing Surveillance

Don't Hesitate Downloading Our New Surveillance App! It Will Make You Buy More Useless Stuff!

Another Monday, Another Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

This week I went back to school. Harvard Professor Shoshana Zuboff was ending her visit to Denmark by giving a public lecture at Copenhagen Business School about her latest book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.

Allegedly we were 300 people attending the lecture, with another 500 people on the waiting list, quite an impressive crowd to have gathered at a business school for a capitalism critique. Especially considering that registration was only open for 48 hours.

Over the last years Zuboff has been creating a vocabulary to talk about the undergoing changes to society and the reality we find ourselves in. Our times are different from the industrial capitalism: it is no longer nature, but human nature that is the raw input for capitalism. It is our emotions, actions, fears and personal relationships that companies use to create economic value.

Zuboff argues that the situation we are all immersed into for the large part has been wordless. And without words we have struggled to address the problem and find a way out of the situation.

She started her lecture by asking us to think about why we have decided to join this talk. Giving us a couple of minutes to brew on our emotions and motivations, before boiling them down to one single word: One word describing our interest in the topic of surveillance capitalism.

Manipulation, Surveillance, Anti-Capitalism, Extraction and other rather negative words made out the vast majority of emotions when we shared our single words out loud. Change, Democracy and Resilience were the three most positive words I noted down, words that indicates empowerment and actions.

I felt my own word was too different, so I kept it for myself, I kept silent. Following last week’s newsletter, my word was Beauty. Not because I think surveillance capitalism is beautiful, but because I believe beauty is a concept that struggles in the age of surveillance capitalism.

The Internet Black Hole

  • TikTok Is Timeless
    I am not using TikTok which might explain my fascination with the platform. This week Wired brought an article exploring the consequences of TikTok’s choice to not put timestamps on the content and hiding the in-app clock. One of the benefits is that content becomes timeless, with newsworthy content failing to grasp the audience while it is urgent.

  • Twitter’s Reply Problem
    I recently clicked on a tweet by Greta Thunberg to understand the context of what it was about. When I clicked the tweet I was surprised to read a long list of extremely negative replies, none of them directly related to the initial tweet. After a bit of scrolling I reached a tweet describing how to boost the positive comments, urging people not to engage with the negative tweets in any ways because it would only lead the algorithm to rank them higher. If Twitter wants to become the healthy townhall assembly, then there is still some work to do in what voices are amplified.

  • Everything’s Better With Animals
    This week’s WTF launch in the tech world is Airbnb Animal Experience. I lack words describing how bizarre I think this is, and don’t even want to comment on their promise of getting to know over 300 species in unique ways…

  • Emoji Science
    Instead of giving Airbnb money, just follow this excellent Twitter account that turns science into emoji. My favourite tweet is covering what animals live across different latitudes.

  • Information Gerrymandering
    Nature brought an article showing how simple it is for a social network to screw with election results. In the graph above you see three different scenarios with the same amount people, 8 people who prefers blue and 10 people who prefers red. In a non-rigged election, red would win every time, however, by filtering the connections between people, it is possible to make the result end in a deadlock or even in a blue majority.

  • Close Friends
    Instagram launched a new app called Threads. Essentially it let’s you message - only - with the people on your closet’s friends list. I fail to see why we need more messaging apps (am I the only one overwhelmed?) and why we should share more of our personal information with Facebook (am I the only one?).

Naive Weekly

Hi, I’m Kristoffer and you have just read Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

Following last week’s newsletter I owe a few people a response. I’ll make sure to find time and words soon.

And as always a big thanks to the (now!) nine Naive Friends who chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: NikolajAntal, SørenDriesMikkelTina, Aydo, Lukas, HansAngela!