Let’s turn censorship into sensorship.
Face it! It’s too late to become utterly private these days. If ever again. And unless you are planning some kind of terrorist act, you are just “irrelevant” to the state, anyway. Let’s get real!
(“irrelevant” like in J.J. Abrams’ Person of Interest)
Let’s have a look at the facts. Right now, while you’re reading this, over 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Over 6 billion hours of video are watched every month on YouTube. A fair amount of the videos are people like yourself acting somewhat crazy in front of a camera. You are “Broadcasting yourself” all the time. We use YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook to express ourselves, because we have a basic human need for recognition. Bottomline is: Privacy is almost dead. And no one forced us into killing it. We made the choice ourselves.
Besides the fact that we are all more or less gregarious creatures, no one is preventing us from being private. We can take a walk in the woods and leave our smartphone at home. We don’t have to record ourselves on YouTube, while getting drunk at our friend’s birthday party. Or post a photo of our naked legs while tanning to Instagram. It’s our choice and we are choosing to do it because it serves a purpose in our lives. It makes our lives richer and more fun. We get closer to our friends, because they are only a few thousand bits away, all the time.
Technologies like texting, instant messaging, and Instagram are actually not alienating us from our friends. They are getting us closer.
Let me give you a real-life example. I have a good friend who recently moved 8779 km away. Before he left we saw each other at least a couple of times a week, having beers, chatting and just hanging out. I was losing a close friend that I shared almost everything with. At least that’s what I thought would happen. Today we are chatting every day on Google Hangouts. Commenting on each other’s images on Instagram. Reading each other’s tweets. Before he moved we also used the available technologies to stay in touch, but not nearly as much. Even though I miss the occasional beer on a table between us, we are actually interacting even more now, because of these technologies. And when we meet in person every 6-8 months, it’s like we were never apart. We try to get back into the context of “being together” by starting over and asking “So how are you… really?”, which is actually a pretty stupid question. We “talk” every day on Hangouts. I know exactly how you are doing.
And I’m not really worried about NSA screening our conversation about the latest Louie CK TV show. If they really are, it might inspire them to watch better TV shows. Why not give them that extra value in their otherwise super private and sometimes secret lives. I think we owe them that for sacrificing their own freedom to protect us, don’t you?
Let’s become even more open.
Being as open as we are today makes it easy for us to debate, to share opinions, knowledge, to amplify each other by constantly questioning each other’s views and perspectives. We use it to get quicker feedback and not just from our best friend when drinking a beer, but from the entire planet. We are basically moving closer and closer to becoming a single organism with a massive level of intelligence that can be used to change the world to the better, a hundred times over.
Instead of being the selfish creatures we were born to be, we can use this openness to take the human race to the next evolutionary level. Even though we want to think that we are in this together, our DNA tells us otherwise. Let’s change that and make the intelligence leap that we need and become creatures that actually have an interest in amplifying each other. We might be too impatient and will make AI do the trick for us in the shape of some kind of cybernetic organism. But no matter what, openness could be the driver to getting us creative and intelligent enough to take us off this drained planet, when we need to.
You could of course argue that a healthy scepticism feeds a precautious behavior that will make sure that we create control mechanisms that will prevent future super intelligent machines from annihilating us. But I’m pretty sure we can find a way to be both open and cautious.
Let’s create a new service that breaks down all barriers. Today.
Take a look at one of the frontrunners in streaming music: Spotify. Last.fm made a great social music attempt but never really got enough traction. But Spotify made the genius move of tightly integrating their service with Facebook to open up the music sharing business. Now you could suddenly follow your friends’ music listening on Facebook. What a great way to discover new music.
Why not take it a step further? Imagine that you can let your friends listen in, real-time. When a friend listens in on your music you will be notified about it and can feel like a real DJ. And if the people tapping in are someone you also respect for their musical taste, you could start interacting around each track, in real-time:
“This sounds interesting. Who are they?”
“I just stumpled into these guys last week. They just released this album.”
“Where did you meet them?”
“Really? That’s funny. Local talent.”
“Right! Stay on. In a second it suddenly changes tempo and they start introducing string instruments in this otherwise very grungy sound”.
The “listener” will be attached to their “player”, following them along through the musical pipes of Spotify. If the “player” is actively shifting track, instead of just going with the playlist order, the “listener” will be real-time notified with a sound. The “player” can get real-time likes, which would resemple people screaming and dancing to your music. Now everyone can be a DJ.
Netflix could do the same thing. As soon as you start watching the latest episode of “The Newsroom”, your friends will know and can tap in real-time to that same experience (and exact time code). It will feel like watching a TV show together even though you are not sitting in the same room. When the “player” is pausing the show to get another cup of tea, everyone watching would pause too. And you could use the breaks to discuss the show and the characters, like you would in real life.
Apple put a new chip in the new iPhone. It only sleeps when you do. It’s a more motion-savvy processor that will be running constantly collecting motion data, without draining your phone’s battery just as much. And it automatically lets your apps know what you’re doing (running, sleeping, etc.), in real-time.
This gives us a perfect chance to take our service a step even further. Besides being able to tap into each other’s entertainment experiences, we could tap into each others’ actions. Imagine a dashboard with your friends that would show you something like this:
John Smith is jogging while listening to U2 — Numb (15% in).
[Jog and listen with John] [Encourage John]
Melissa Chin is watching Breaking Bad, latest episode (just started) while riding on bus 3A towards Nordhavn St (almost there).
[Watch with Melissa]
Kim McAlly is writing on a Medium article called “10 best ways to boost creativity” in Von Fressen,Vesterbro (been writing for 10 mins).
Larry Cong is having sex at the office (5 minutes in — almost done)
[Request photo] [Say “Awesome”!]
— ok, this might be a bit far fetched.
Jill MacHale is browsing the H&M.com men’s swimwear section in her bed. (been here for… a while)
[Browse along] [Buy her boyfriend the swim shorts that she has been looking at the most]
(I’m running out of random name ideas now— bear with me)
Kalash Nikoff is walking around in Central Park alone (been doing it for 5 mins)
[Walk and talk with Kalash] [Request a photo of sun bathing people]
Canary Burd is having a business meeting at Nike HQ. Subject: The Nike Move app.
[Listen in on meeting] [Request to join meeting]
Of course all of the above examples would be configurable. You would be able to enable privacy within specific touch points: context (never show when I’m having sex), apps (never show when I’m using Facebook) and locations (I go stealth when I enter my own home). The “doer” would even be able to create specific participation rules. John Smith could demand that you would only be able to listen in on his music, if you were jogging yourself or you would only be able to encourage him by sending a real-time audio encouragement where you are shouting “Way to go John!”, popping into his ear while fading down Bono’s singing. Others would prefer a subtle encouragement sound. You can even create context specific actions (some of the buttons above) that your followers can get you to do (ie Request a photo).
I guess it’s time to give this new service a name: Sensorship — to be a bit ironic about the fact that this is the exact opposite of censorship, and that we are making this happen by asking every available sensor on the planet.
I would use it, would you (dare)?
Let’s think multitudes
Imagine that you’d be able to interact with everyone that were jogging in the world right at this very moment. Everyone writing an article about 9/11 right at this moment? Everyone listening to Michael Jackson’s “Bad” right now? And then make som clever algorithmic tools to make collective decisions, give collective feedback, create collective real-time debate. Would that give humanity a way to collectively put their brain power together and eventually solve some of the toughest problems we’re facing in our time?