5 thoughts on “Going into the future kicking and screaming

  1. Calvin and Hobbes is brilliant. Considering Bill Watterson stopped making it in 1995, the above strip is surprisingly up to date, as it concerns rather specific issues. On the other hand, the incessant attempts from commercial interests to map individuals’ preferences and interests predates the web and its actors by decades. These days, the scale and automization is a lot bigger of course. Calvin’s dad’s ludditery is a bit harder to uphold in 2013. However, being a luddite-of-sorts will of course always be a possibility and also painted as subversive. 😉

    On a side not: This will be the first time I am trying to write a comment in a feed reader. I hope it will not break your blog 😉


  2. Well your comment came through and the blog is still standing, so I’m going to call that a win-win 😉

    I hadn’t realised that Bill Watterson had stopped as far back as 1995 – that does make this strip remarkably prescient. Of course, large companies have always sought to know as much as they can about current and potential customers so that they can sell us even more stuff. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as we understand what information we are giving up and what we are getting in return.

    The problem, as I see it, is that far too many people blithely hand over far too much information (both online and off) for no benefit and then express surprise when the marketers use the information exactly as they said they would.

    I don’t know if it makes me a Luddite, but my usual approach is to not give out personal information unless there is some clear advantage in my doing so.


  3. Here is one way they tried grab data (even IP, as they say now) in old days (apart from name, adress etc).

    I noticed many years ago that when there was send-in photo competition for amateurs (e.g. “nicest holiday photo”), they sometimes (often?) wrote in small script that they reserved the right to claim ownership of any photos sent in. I guess many photos wound up in commercial photo collections, without many amateur photographers not being aware of it. But they agreed to the EULA, which ofc almost nobody reads. After noticing that, I never sent in any photo, and told everyone I knew not to.

    Copying isn’t stealing, but some corporations claiming all sorts of copyright have stolen things, if not legally, at least ethically bad behaviour.


  4. Whenever I see little legal notices like this one, I always find myself questioning whether the people behind it were being cynical or stupid. In general, stupidity is the answer I find more plausible.

    In the example you give, I can see that the organisers of such a competition would want to avoid any legal battles over what they can do with the submissions. And I can see that asserting ownership of all submissions would solve the problem for the organisers.

    Such an approach works for the organisers by making the problem into a problem for the participants. This is, of course, neither reasonable nor ethical and I wouldn’t submit anything to a competition that included a clause like that.

    A lot of the bad behaviour of large corporations strikes me as falling into the same category. They look to cover themselves legally, but don’t consider and don’t care about what impact their actions are going to have on everyone else.


  5. I can see that it is not always bad-intentioned, and they just try covering their posterior. But I do think they are aware the rights/power/etc between company and customer is rather imbalanced.


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