We want to be part of this information environment and feel more empowered with each new gadget, service or digital connection in our lives. From packets to pagers, wireless to wired, the sun never sets in the information age; we are always plugged into the global matrix of the information domain. We're addicted to it and constantly awash in a sea of electronic stimuli.
Yet as we rush to embrace the latest and greatest gadgetry or high-tech service and satisfy our techno-craving, we become further dependent on these products and their manufacturers -- so dependent that when something breaks, crashes, or is attacked, our ability to function is reduced or eliminated. Given these frequent technical and legal problems, I'm wondering if we're as free and empowered as we've been led to believe.
Technology, like gambling and heroin, is addictive. We're pushed or forced into buying new gadgets and constantly upgrading our technology for any number of reasons, both real and perceived, and feel uncomfortable without our latest high-tech "fix." Corporations love this because once we accept and begin using their products or services, the dependency is formed. In the end, they essentially own our information -- and subsequently, society and us. And our "price" keeps going up.
But unlike many other companies from the industrial age, high-tech corporations are in a unique position. They are able to get us to spend money -- and to relinquish our rights for seeking recourse for damages arising from their faulty products, no matter what pain we must endure during our period of indentured servitude and addiction to their problematic technologies.
In some cases, particularly in mainstream operating systems, software, and Internet-based services, it's one step short of blackmail. We all certainly can't go cold turkey very easily, although some modern Luddites may succeed.
To make things worse, government practically has outsourced the oversight and definition of technology-based expression and community interaction to for-profit corporations and secretive industry-specific cartels such as the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Business Software Alliance. Such groups have wasted no time in rewriting the rules for how they want our information-based society to operate according to their interests, not ours.