Stack O’ Books — Sources on Transparency and Privacy. Part One

I wrote a chapter on transparency and privacy for the forthcoming Barbara Fister Festschrift. I mentioned this here before. Monday I got the word that the book is in the final stages and getting closer! I really spent a lot of time on that book chapter, and it was harder to write in many ways than my own book. I ended up with pages and pages of notes and quotations I wanted to use the chapter, roughly five times more pages of notes than actually went into the book chapter. And two very heavy bags of printed articles. And uncounted more downloaded articles. So I came home and took a picture of the stack of books I had kept handy while writing.

Stack O' Books

Wow. I didn’t manage to fit them all in to the chapter, but they really are wonderful books. Here are just a few tantalizing tidbits from these great thought-provoking works, with (where available) videos of the authors on the same or related concepts. Because when I finished this post, it was as long as a short book, I have broken this up into several posts.

This is a story of clashing ideologies and dizzying technologies. The ideologies did not arise with the popularity of America Online or the merger of Vivendi and Universal. In fact, they are among the oldest ideologies still around: anarchy and oligarchy. … These ideologies are rapidly remaking our global information ecosystem, and the information ecosystem is remaking these ideologies. … Freedom can be terrifying. Cultural and technological trends are increasing freedomg in ways many people find threatening. Yet the reactions (or more accurately “preactions”) to these trends are extreme, ill-considered, and imposed unilaterally without public discussion or deliberation: easy answers to difficult problems. More often than not, we have used technological quick fixes to avoid complex, serious discussion of the dangers posed by the increasing speed and amount of information. (pp. xi-xii)

The Anarchist in the Library (2004) by Siva Vaidhyanathan.

Comment: I was lucky enough to actually see Siva speak when he came to campus last year to present about his newer book on Google. I had come in late, not realizing how exceptional the presentation would be, and ended up standing in the back of the room in my heavy winter coat, tweeting madly on my phone to try to take notes. At this point I suspect anything he writes is worth a read!

Siva Vaidhyanathan, “Copyrights and Copywrongs”

Consider what’s coming. Your genetic code will be imprinted on an ID card … for better and worse. Medicines will be tailored to your genes and will help prevent specific diseases for which you may be at risk. (But … your insurance company and your prospective employer may also find out that you are genetically disposed to, say, heart disease, or breast cancer, or Alzheimer’s.)

As the Future Catches You (2000, 2001), by Juan Enriquez.

Comment: This book does make a number of useful points, and provides a very quick high level synthesis of some of the relevant emerging technologies. Personally, I found the layout (creative graphic design, heavily broken up text, massive amounts of white space) irritating and frustrating. I suspect it was designed to slow down the reader and force them to pay closer attention to the text. In my reading, I felt that the design of the book interacted with the words to undermine the significance of content, to not give sufficient deep thought to the issues raised. I found it a useful exercise, as I was reading in these issues, to read through parts of this and watch for the moments when I wanted to jump up shouting at the author, since those helped me explicitly target some of what I felt needed to be said.

Juan Enriquez: The life-code that will reshape the future.


One response to “Stack O’ Books — Sources on Transparency and Privacy. Part One

  1. Pingback: Stack O’ Books — Sources on Transparency and Privacy, All | Emerging Technologies Librarian

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