Monday, December 1, 2008

The Long Ago and the Now Future

These days everything I read is read against the background of Vermont's Future. This article on digital privacy in the NY Times, 29 Nov. 08, is no exception:

"[Dr. Alex Pentland, MIT Media Lab,] says "there are ways to avoid surveillance-society pitfalls that lurk in the technology. For the commercial use of such information, he has proposed a set of principles derived from English common law to guarantee that people have ownership rights to data about their behavior. The idea revolves around three principles: that you have a right to possess your own data, that you control the data that is collected about you, and that you can destroy, remove or redeploy your data as you wish."

English Common Law

All Canada except Quebec and all of the United States except Louisiana follow common law. U.S. state statutes usually provide that the common law, equity, and statutes in effect in England in 1603, the first year of the reign of James I, shall be deemed part of the law of the jurisdiction. --The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia

The Expanded Party Line

If you were around Vermont after most folks had phones, you will remember the 8 party lines. I remember my Aunt Eula on her chair, heavy black receiver in one fist, the other hand clamped over the mouthpiece, listening. Fast forward to this, again from the Times article:

"The new information tools symbolized by the Internet are radically changing the possibility of how we can organize large-scale human efforts," said Thomas W. Malone, director of the M.I.T. Center for Collective Intelligence.

"For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew," Dr. Malone said. "In some sense we’re becoming a global village. Privacy may turn out to have become an anomaly."

1 comment:

  1. I have heard people discuss that idea before, the anomaly of privacy. It is an interesting question, was "privacy" part of the post-Enlightenment progressive "leap forward", or, like unbridled environmental exploitation and technology .....something else?