“But how will Google ever make money? There’s the rub. The company’s adamant refusal to use banner or other graphical ads eliminates what is the most lucrative income stream for rival search engines. Although Google does have other revenue sources, such as licensing and text-based advertisements, the privately held company’s business remains limited compared with its competitors’.”—“Will Google’s Purity Pay Off?” BusinessWeek, Dec 7, 2000 - via “Remember When Everyone Wondered How Google Was Going To Make Money” - cdixon.org (via bijan)
About a year ago, I wrote a post with the same title, except that it ended in a question mark. Since then I have become convinced that solving the problem of our ever growing data trails will require a reshaping of what we mean by and expect from the idea of privacy. Two things happened this week that brought this issue back to mind:
On Monday in our partners meeting we got to talking about EZ Pass and how it creates a trail of a car’s movement (and by implication people movement). We talked briefly about whether an approach like the one originally pursued by Zero Knowledge would enable a technological solution that lets you still pay via EZ Pass but somehow prevents tracking. That was before I spent 20 minutes this morning trying to scrape my old registration sticker off my car to attach a new one. At that point all I could think was “I can’t believe it’s almost 2010 and I am dealing with a paper registration sticker” — what I wanted instead was for my EZ pass to simply double up as my registration!
Then this morning I saw on Techmeme that RIM (the maker of the BlackBerry) is recording all of their employees’ phone calls. A few seconds later I noticed in my Tumblr Dashboard that Bijan blogged about it, saying “This has got to stop.” While I share the immediate emotional reaction, I am a lot less sure that it *can* be stopped in a reasonable way. All our calling is moving inexorably to VOIP. Voice does not take up a lot of room. The net result will be that calls are becoming more and more like email or chat, i.e. go from ephemeral to permanently stored. When you get someone’s voice mail this is already the case today (and when you call my voice mail which is PhoneTag enabled a transcription is created on top of your voice recording). Also, more and more meetings are being recorded (often with video) so that people not attending the meeting can see afterwards what happened.
Both of these cases illustrate that there are basic conflicts between privacy (at least our traditional notion of it) and two other important factors: productivity and transparency. Open systems allow for things to be tied together easily. My EZ Pass doubles up as my registration. My phone calls show up in the same place as my email (and can be searched). Open systems also allow for transparency. Would we rather Geithner hash out the bailout in a backroom or on a recording? If we are concerned about things that need to be secret initially, they could be on a timed-release depending on the level of secrecy (ideally, everything would be stored in a way that prevents the destruction of evidence as in the case of the CIA tapes).
This brings me back to my original post. I believe that the right way to address these conflicts is not be somehow trying to force things back into systems of control but dealing with the consequences of the widespread accessibility of this kind of information by pushing further on transparency and by changing our concept of privacy. I will try to describe in more detail how this would work in upcoming posts.
1/3 cup olive oil 2 cups finely chopped onions ¾ cup finely chopped celery 1 cup finely chopped green peppers 1 cup finely chopped carrots 2 cup finely chopped mushrooms 1 tbsp minced garlic 1/3 teaspoon pepper flakes 1 tbsp cumin ¾ teaspoon dried basil 2 tbsp chili powder ¾ teaspoon dried oreg 2 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper
sauté for couple mins
2 cup tomato juice or v8 ¾ cup bulgur wheat 2 cup chopped canned tomato 1 20 oz can kidney beans (drained and rinsed) ½ tsp tabasco 2 tbsp lemon juice 3 tbsp tomato paste 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce ¼ cup red wine 2 tbsp chopped green chilis