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Why McLuhan was right when it comes to attention

Through his always enriching podcast, I've heard Cory Doctorow give variations on his privacy talk at least five or six times over the last year. The most current iteration is available at Intel's/Josh Bancroft's BitStories.

Why McLuhan was right when it comes to attention
Through his always enriching podcast, I've heard Cory Doctorow give variations on his privacy talk at least five or six times over the last year. The most current iteration is available at Intel's/Josh Bancroft's BitStories. In responding to an audience question, Cory explains exactly why, when it comes to attention, the medium is the message:



I think technology does embed ideologies. So I think that, for example, if you design a technology that takes your users' behavior data, and uploads it to the Internet, and then sequesters it and sells it off and gives it to other people, that technology has a message for its user, and that's that that user is an ambulatory wallet, right? Shut up and take it. If you, on the other hand, design a piece of technology that watches what your user does on her own computer and lets her serve herself better, and then enables her to collaborate with her peers, so that she's not a business model or a sticky eyeball, then that sends a different message. That sends the message that the expectation you should have of your computer is that it is not a snitch, but a competent and impartial butler. I love the fact that my computer auto-completes the email addresses if I send them once. I wouldn't like the fact that it sent them to someone else.

That's an excellent summing up of why I got involved with the Attention Trust and endorse its principles. Cory's Q&A session with the OSCON audience starts at 19:20 and is particularly good, I encourage you to check it out. (Also includes this great line re airport security: "Those who would trade liberty for a little bit of transport deserve neither liberty nor transport...") (Image by katielips, CC Attribution-2.0)

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