Reihan: The Googlopticon?

This will be an amazing book.

One of the great attractions of Google is that it appears to offer so many powerful services for “free,” that is, for no remuneration. But there is a non-monetary transaction at work between Google and its users. We get Web search, email, Blogger platforms, and YouTube videos. Google gets our habits and predilections so it can more efficiently target advertisements to us. Google’s core business is consumer profiling. It keeps dossiers on all of us. Yet we have no idea how substantial or accurate these digital portraits are. This project will generate a better sense of what is at stake in this “gift” transaction and will generate new theories of corporate surveillance that get beyond the trite “Panopticon” model.

Call this the non-fiction answer to Cory Doctorow's Scroogled.

And how does this map onto changing generational attitudes about privacy, explored in Emily Nussbaum's rivetingly brilliant "Say Everything." David Brin's now-decade-old The Transparent Society, a blogosphere favorite, explored the promise and peril of this kind of openness, ultimately coming down on the side that greater transparency is very good. I tend to agree. The wonderful 1-800-GOOG-411 harvests our voice information to build better speech recognition technology. I am an eager and enthusiastic participant in this effort. But who will own all of this information? I almost wish they were forced to work with a consortium of public and private entities when working on projects of this vast scope, to better ensure that these technologies will diffuse rapidly.