Gratis contra Libertas
Only half of Americans believe that Snowden’s leaks served the public interest and the majority of Americans favor criminal prosecution for the whistleblower. It’s unlikely that our willingness to accept online surveillance reflects our trust in the American government, which is at historic lows. More likely, we’ve been taught that this is simply how the Internet works: If we open ourselves to ever-increasing surveillance — whether from corporations or governments — the tools and content we want will remain free of cost.
At this point in the story, it’s probably worth reminding you that our intentions were good.
What I wanted to do was to build a tool that allowed everyone to have the opportunity to express themselves and be heard from anywhere from a few friends to the entire globe.
But 20 years in to the ad-supported web, we can see that our current model is bad, broken, and corrosive. It’s time to start paying for privacy, to support services we love, and to abandon those that are free, but sell us — the users and our attention — as the product.
I learned two things from this story:
- First of all it reminds me of my own past in advertising and that it was not the wrong decision to turn my back on this industry five/six years ago. It was bad for karma (from the pure ethical point of view) back than as it was about 20 years ago. And…
- Second that even if you have good intentions things can go horribly wrong on the long run.
But more interestingly if we think that the story has a good point and we all learned our helplessness in the time of our socialization with the internet since the begining in the 90ies, how can we change it? We know that people want a solution to all the privacy problems _insert some study from BSI about the germans wanting more privacy but nowbody knows how and nobody is changing their behavior_ and for sure at least we know that resignation is not a solution. I will not stop using the internet just to gain more personal freedom.
So, you know, “there is no such thing as a free lunch”
We all heard the sentence often enought. If you are not paying you are the product or only the dumbest calves choose their own butcher (which sounds totally shitty in english so lets stay for this quote in german) “nur die dümmsten Kälber wählen ihre Schlächter selber.”
Yeah, we all know that, but maybe this goes even further. Maybe this means that we have a conflict not only between for-free and for-money. Maybe the conflict is actually about Gratis versus Libertas (and not talking about gratis vs. libre).
You can not be free in an internet where every service is selling you. We (in the “internet industry”) tried to enlighten people, but after all those years it seems like we have enslaved them…
Now the sadest part as the ending
You think the way of advertising, consumerism, commodification and surveillance is something new? Some kind of a new fany silicon valley hipster economy business model which growed with the rise of facebook and twitter? Do you remember “Pandoras Vox” a quite famouse article from 1994 from humdog?
the rhetoric in cyberspace is liberation-speak. the reality is that cyberspace is an increasingly efficient tool of surveillance with which people have a voluntary relationship.
proponents of so-called cyber-communities rarely emphasize the economic, business-mind nature of the community: many cyber-communities are businesses that rely upon the commodification of human interaction. they market their businesses by appeal to hysterical identification and fetishism no more or less than the corporations that brought us the two hundred dollar athletic shoe.
So, maybe the mainstream learned their helplessness, but what did the Avant-garde in the last 20 years? Spoken for me: not enough!