- Important: All passwords were reset on 06/15/11. Old passwords will no longer work. Click here to retrieve your password.
- Subscribe to Our Free Dewsletter
We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
On the one hand, it’s cool to be wired into our world. Obviously since you’re reading this online, you agree. However, I’m feeling pretty creepy about being a “Quantified Self.” The Quantified Self lives in a smart home, traveling in our smart cars to meet with our smart friends who are using their smart phones to connect with even smarter friends who aren’t at the table. We can use the QR code on the menu to find out how many calories of what we’re about to eat, and then our biomonitors can tell us how well our bodies enjoyed the meal.
Gary Wolf has been documenting the human/data entwined world for many years in Wired magazine and the New York Times Magazine 2010 article “The Data-Driven Life.” At the recently concluded CES Consumer Electronics Show we see what else we can wire-up to: connected appliances have arrived, just in time to monitor the babies, pets and mother-in-laws.
Self-tracking is everywhere, wonderfully described by James Wolcott in his article “Wired Up! Ready to Go!” As he puts it: “a greater transparency of our personal biomechanics in the quest for vitality, mental clarity, sleep quality, pain management, smoother operation, enhanced productivity, Zen tranquility.”
I’ve also been amazed at how quickly politicians have learned about our household’s preferences. Although I’m familiar with microtargeting from my research business, Sasha Issenberg’s The Victory Lab, filled in the history and gave me a taste about what’s next for political campaigns. My family had an interesting appetizer last election. We’ve always voted for Democrats household (I’m a Precinct Chair), but one of my family members decided it would be “fun” to vote for Michelle Bachmann in the 2012 Republican presidential primary. Within DAYS we were getting at least one Republican robocall, and then came the torrent of mail from Republican candidates up and down the ballot. When I went online to prepare block walking lists for my precinct, I saw that my household had now become “soft” democratic, and listed my family member’s recent Republican vote.
If you’ve ever checked your credit record and found erroneous information, you know what I’m going to say next. My loan officer recently called to inform me that she couldn’t move forward with a loan because I have a tax lien against me from 1992. After paying for the full report, I found out the lien was from a city several thousand miles from my home, against someone whose name I can’t pronounce. Equifax and I have entered the “dispute” phase of our relationship.
So, should we worry about the expanding cybertentacles finding us, or some approximation of “us”? The Europeans seem to be more concerned that we are, issuing a Data Protection Directive that’s got lots of US companies and bureaucrats frightened.
Sure, we should stop posting all the Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare tidbits about the less than flattering activities in our lives. If you’re interested, some states are better at protecting privacy than others, and there are many ways you can track down what’s available online about yourself and set up some protections.
I’m just not so sure any of it matters. I don’t care how much computing power will be devoted to defining my consumer habits or political opinions, because if those out to find “me” ever get it right, they’ll learn that I’m not persuadable anyway. As for my Quantified Self, I don’t need any digital reminders that I’m stuck in the February blues, waiting for Spring, missing the real people I love.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
The book review I just finished repeatedly asks, “What endures?” The author offers one possible answer: “Spaces in the heart that accommodate the absent.” When I read this, I had just learned of the deaths of Peter Matthiessen and Thomas Polgar. Matthiessen was the prolific writer and author of a multitude of books, including The Snow Leopard, his account of a grief-stricken journey to the Himalayas. Polgar was a legendary CIA officer and the last station chief in Saigon. His final cable from Vietnam quoted Jorge Santayana that those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it. Both lived full li Read on →
Do the 2014 elections look promising for the Democrats? Not so far as I can tell. Do the Democrats have a bold plan to inspire the American people to turn the House back over to them? Not so far as I’ve heard. Is there a solution available? I think there is. We’ve got a Supreme Court that just doubled down on its disgraceful 2010 decision in Citizens United, continuing in the new case (McCutcheon vs. FEC) to pretend to believe that opening the floodgates still wider for big money to flow into our elections does not corrupt our political system. And we’ve got poll Read on →
How many of you are aware that Albert Einstein taught a physics class at Lincoln University (an HBCU in Pennsylvania) in 1946? In doing so, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist once said, "The separation of the races is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.” Another noted figure, Martin Luther King, once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” But we have become silent, for I don’t see the human outcry about where we are today. We have be Read on →
You knew in the beginning it was folly, no good -- like that girl who lived around the corner your Momma said was "fast." “She's gonna take your money and your stomp on your heart,” Momma said. You knew it too ... but you went anyway. YOU You promised yourself you would not get involved this time. You knew all about the probabilities ... the impossibilities, really. You knew all about the odds against success, heard Nate Silver -- or somebody -- use $5 words like “implacable,” “infinitesimal” and “asymptotic” to assure Charlie Rose the odds were ridiculous. And yes, you knew it was a Fool's Notion Read on →