How "The Great Hack" Completely Missed the Point (a podcast)

I was not surprised to be so dismayed with this film. It thinks it's being important and uncovering big issues while it is, in fact, a symptom of the very problem it seeks to investigate.

Like most "investigative journalism," it focuses on an instance and a player rather than the institution — on the message rather than the medium. And it's this that's so dangerous. They think they've accomplished something; we think we're enlightened. And all that's happened is the system has perpetuated itself all the more.

The fallacies of the film:

- Middle American morons can't be left to make decisions on their own! They succumb to whatever is in front of them! The silly louts! We have to legislate so that they can't make their own decisions.

- Targeted ads and news is propaganda — unlike, say, every newspaper ever. Oy.

What the film missed:

- Data is not a privacy issue; it's a property issue. Facebook and Google extract our data, sell it, makes billions of dollars, and we get nothing. This is the structure of a certain form of corrupt capitalism today: a centralized few extract what they want at any cost — oil, data — and keep all the profits. (Shouldn't oil profits be shared with everyone in a country? Shouldn't the profits from my data go partially to me?).

- If each individual is a resource of data, each individual has the ability to enter the global economy and make some money. This is an opportunity to create a new economic order — not socialist, not capitalist — in which revenue is shared between the creator of the platform that can extract data (Facebook, Google) and the owners of that date (me and you).

- The present centralized technology infrastructure makes this near-impossible. The decentralized technology of things like blockchain and its smart contracts make this readily, easily, possible.

- So rather than en economy of unabashed wealth extraction, we have an economy of abundance, of collective prosperity — without the State!


Lindsay Meisel said...

kinda like this? https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/23/opinion/data-privacy-jaron-lanier.html

Daniel Coffeen said...

Exactly like that! It seems so obvious after the fact. I feel stupid that it never occurred to me.

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