if the product is free


I slept in a bit this morning which is good. However, my blogging time will be limited since Eileen will be up soon and I like having breakfast with her. Then we will probably go to the Farmers Market. Then I practice. So I have done my Greek but no other morning reading.

The wind is blowing here in Holland. I think a storm front is coming our way. I love the wind.

I have listening/sleeping to Matthew Mather’s sci fi book¬†CyberStorm. It’s a thinly veiled diatribe about tech and climate change. It kept me awake for a few hours last night (hence the sleeping in, thank god).

But I was struck by one conversation the people in the book had about privacy.  Essentially they said that online companies sell information about us that they gather from our online activities. This has expanded of course to phones and tablets. One character says it this way:

“If the product is free, you’re the product.” Matthew Mather, CyberStorm

I haven’t quite figured out how I feel about privacy. I know that I have felt exposed for a long time. I date it to the movie, “The End of Violence.” I just looked it up and this movie came out in 1997.

The creepy plot is that surveillance allows the state to execute people just before they commit a crime. This surveillance is thorough and to me seemed convincing.

I continue to be surprised at the naivete of people. Encryption and avoidance seem futile to me. So where does that leave me?

I think I probably get a false sense of staying below the radar for several reasons.

One is my own eccentricity as a consumer. My interests do not conform to many algorithmic deductions. I believe this is true of many humans. Of course the people selling us continue to refine their ability to predict our wants, indeed to manufacture them.

Another way I think I feel falsely under the radar is that I am comforted by the books and the music that surround me on my shelves. These feel like a bit of a bomb shelter from the madness. I know this is basically illusory. But it still consoles me.

I am reminded of the weird emotion I had looking at Diego Rivera’s mural in Detroit. I felt like an archaeologist in a tomb. I felt like Bruce Willis in “12 Monkeys” when he comes up and the world is all changed.

Detroit is a bombed out city. It is stuck in the past with Rivera’s beautiful paintings of its heyday.


Both Detroit and I are vestigial remains of something that doesn’t connect to the mad rush of today.

Happy thoughts.

Sorry about that.

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