I started listening to the audiobook of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff (PublicAffairs, 2019). 20min into the 24hrs(!?) I discovered I already know all this. Also, I couldn’t handle anymore of Zuboff’s writing style or the narrator’s voice.

“I have dedicated the last twelve years to observing and analyzing the quiet emergence of a fundamentally anti-democratic new economic logic that I call surveillance capitalism” – Shoshana Zuboff

Zuboff could have halved her wordcount by replacing Surveillance Capitalism, with the word the rest of us use: Capitalism.

While I got bored with the book, I hate how much a few (US) corporations know about me. Unlike Zuboff, I accept this is how the world is now. The following is a ramble of my chaotic thoughts on capitalism, inspired by (not actually) reading the book. Feel free to go to an actual (goodreads) review of the book, by a person who actually read it.

eg. Nilesh

“The author – who yearns for the pre-digital era utopia of almost anytime in history including as late as the 1980s – is a twenty-first century, Rousseau-like romantic. She happens to be a critic of our era modernity but if she was from some other era, she might have hated television or automobiles or combustible engines with equal gusto.”

If I wanted to follow in Zuboff’s dragging footsteps back to last century, I would turn off every device and cease contact with my social circle (a lot of my friends I only know online). But I won’t. I choose what devices and apps I use and to an extent choose what I share, but really who am I kidding. I’m as enmeshed as everyone else, except Zuboff (I guess?) She has a website and photo/bio on her goodreads profile, but it says:

Is this you? Let us know. If not, help out and invite Shoshana to Goodreads.

So she hasn’t paid to be a “goodreads author.” Is google allowed to search her website? Who knows how she finds anything on the internet – she doesn’t? Is she allowed to use a landline phone? Smart phones are definitely out.

Back to me, I spend half my life on goodreads and have amazon prime – so they know everything about my entertainment wants. I watch youtube, search google, always have ig logged in. I got sick of instagram’s change from chronological timeline, so I rarely post or look at it. My limited use doesn’t affect how much facebook knows about me. I would have to log out, delete the app and probably get a new phone, to cease their spying. And don’t let’s get started on my wordpress addiction (since 2006) and twitter (since 2011). I had a facebook acct in my pseudonym, but I forgot the password and my isp took my pseudonym email off me (don’t know how – I was paying them). I’m old (the right age for facebook) so I know nothing about all these ghost and clock things kids are into.

Zuboff wants to go back to the good old days when google started and their search was amazing because: secret algorithms! no ads! I worked in public libraries with the old timey search engines. We hated the ads and clutter of the pages (but no monopoly guys!) Along came our saviour. Little did we know that google had a plan… (world domination through “Doing No Evil”)

I’ve had a life long hatred of advertising. But throughout (at least) the 20th century its been with us – only the presentation changes. Zuboff’s hand wringing is replicated every time media changes (with associated advertising) and the kids go off the rails:

  • 1890s Penny Dreadfuls
  • 1940s-50s Comics
  • 1950s Rock n roll
  • 1960s (to forever) Television
  • 1970s who knows what went on – I wasn’t born for most of it
  • 1980s (to forever) Computer games (if you remember Commodore 64 you are really old)
  • 1990s – satanic cults (seriously, adults thought there was a plague of satanic cults) I assume this didn’t come with ads?
  • 2000s WWW (if you remember MySpace you are old)
  • 2010s social media
  • 2020s plague and climate change leading to general apocalypse

“The real psychological truth is this: If you’ve got nothing to hide, you are nothing.” – Shoshana Zuboff

In my opinion, it’s worse if your government knows your innermost thoughts, or in my case, medical conditions. The Australian government has a portal My Health Record – easy access for your doctor to your lifetime health info. Australia’s government has an appalling record on data privacy, but

Your health information securely in one place.
Access to your record is in your control.

Surprisingly, I opted out. The ad campaign telling people to opt out before whatever deadline was a whisper. The government could just look at what I tweet, blog, search for… They really don’t move with the times.

In summary: we are all owned by big tech. That is all.