Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Who pays when everything is for free!

The awe of network technology is overwhelming as it showers a variety of freebies, so much so that we wonder why stuff like music and movies were priced in the past. Such freebies come on account of us donating vital information and surrendering our privacy - like our interest, buying habits and cyber movements - that has created an economy in the hands of those who 'own the fastest computers with access to everyone's information'.

Little does anyone care because false hope is spread that the emerging information economy will benefit those who provide the information that drives it? If this were so, some 140,000 people employed with Kodak would not have lost their job when Instagram had acquired it; and Facebook would not have rested those 13 employees who made Instagram worth a billion dollars before buying it. Where did all those jobs disappear to and what happened to the middle-class wealth that was created? Haven’t we been witness to recession and unemployment instead!

Digital visionary and philosopher Jaron Lanier argues that we have been psychologically victimized by technologies that we 'have chosen to adopt'. But has there been much choice? Internet technologies promote the strength of democratized wisdom at the cost of killing individual voice and intellectualism. What you say on the internet is converted into dehumanized data, which makes the information aggregator rich and not the one who produces the information in the first place. This is exactly the wrong set of values that Lanier has been concerned about. Having invented the term virtual reality and having been part of the Silicon Valley, Lanier emphatically questions the self-destructive nature of the information economy.

Recognized as history's 300 greatest inventors, Lanier reasons the need for shaping technology to fit culture's needs and not vice versa. He suggests the following experiment: resign from all the free online services you use for six months to see what happens. You don’t need to denounce them forever, make value judgements, or be dramatic. Just be experimental. You will probably learn more about yourself, your friends, the world, and the Internet than you would have if you never performed the experiment.' Only by leading absorbing lives, as an individual and as a part of the society, can we outgrow our addiction to technology-driven consumerism!....Link

Who owns the future?
by Jaron Lanier 
AllenLane, UK
Extent: 360, Price: £ 20

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