I’m keeping this week’s note short so I can get back to hacking on When Comes What Darkly Thieves.
I went to New York this past week and met up with Adam and Nurri of Do Projects and Urbanscale before attending The Networked City on Thursday. Ended up spending most of my time sitting in bars and cafés just watching people and enjoying being in the city.
Jaron Lanier suggested in his keynote Thursday evening that we took a seriously wrong turn with Google where the Internet became all about advertising. It’s interesting that some of the scariest networked interventions into the city are related to advertising. Facebook’s and Google’s business model is based on arbitrage—they profit from the difference between what we can see (such as a public Facebook profile) and what their machines are (quietly) inferring about us in the aggregate based on our interactions with the system. Of course, the data generated may not be as rich or useful as some think, but at least we have a choice (to some extent) about whether to interact with Facebook or Google. Some of the ad technologies being deployed in cities today include analytics based on eye tracking and facial recognition of passers-by. As Adam has been discussing in his talks recently, this is a pernicious use of networked technology especially because it privately captures economically valuable data about us whether or not we choose to interact with the ad.
Back to work this week—so much to make.