Why do we always fall for the Kanamits?

Respectfully submitted for your perusal, an animated GIF. Frames: seven. File size: in the neighborhood of only 860k. Origin: my wacky idea over breakfast. Motives? Therein hangs the tale, for in just a moment, we’re going to ask you to shake hands, figuratively, with a self-absorbed Christopher Columbus from a gigantic social media company and in this current time. This ain’t no Twilight Zone.

I thought I might retire after this GIF, it’s pretty awesome, IMHO.

Well, I think it is.

To Serve Man has been one of my all time favorite Twilight Zone episodes (No it’s “Time enough at Last!” or “The Invaders” or “The Eye of the Beholder” or “Living Doll” or “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” or “It’s a Good Life” or “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” or… sigh).

What, you’ve never seen it? Stop. Watch.

It’s a trope after all

I already lavished ds106ness upon this great work with To Serve Learners a radio show where the Kanamits are UdeAxerans, providing a MOOC recipe book of learning for the world

This all came from a reading of the brilliant, incisive You Are the Product by John Lanchester published in the London Review of Books.

A crux is the announcement of the Big Blue Monster’s changing of their mission statement from “making the world more open and connected” to ” bring the world closer together”

Lanchester sweeps that aside:

For all the talk about connecting people, building community, and believing in people, Facebook is an advertising company.

Yet it goes much deeper and enmeshed than the 3 billion scrolling inhabitants wish to acknowledge, as he drills in:

What this means is that even more than it is in the advertising business, Facebook is in the surveillance business. Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens. It’s amazing that people haven’t really understood this about the company. I’ve spent time thinking about Facebook, and the thing I keep coming back to is that its users don’t realise what it is the company does. What Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads. I’m not sure there has ever been a more complete disconnect between what a company says it does – ‘connect’, ‘build communities’ – and the commercial reality. Note that the company’s knowledge about its users isn’t used merely to target ads but to shape the flow of news to them. Since there is so much content posted on the site, the algorithms used to filter and direct that content are the thing that determines what you see: people think their news feed is largely to do with their friends and interests, and it sort of is, with the crucial proviso that it is their friends and interests as mediated by the commercial interests of Facebook. Your eyes are directed towards the place where they are most valuable for Facebook.

The threats Lanchester sites to the seemingly endless growth might be… running out of new users to add? Or moreL

Perhaps the biggest potential threat to Facebook is that its users might go off it. Two billion monthly active users is a lot of people, and the ‘network effects’ – the scale of the connectivity – are, obviously, extraordinary…

For that reason, were it to be generally understood that Facebook’s business model is based on surveillance, the company would be in danger…

The other thing that could happen at the level of individual users is that people stop using Facebook because it makes them unhappy.

and excuse more quoting, because it is so damned good (or evil), my emphasis added:

Automation and artificial intelligence are going to have a big impact in all kinds of worlds. These technologies are new and real and they are coming soon. Facebook is deeply interested in these trends. We don’t know where this is going, we don’t know what the social costs and consequences will be, we don’t know what will be the next area of life to be hollowed out, the next business model to be destroyed, the next company to go the way of Polaroid or the next business to go the way of journalism or the next set of tools and techniques to become available to the people who used Facebook to manipulate the elections of 2016. We just don’t know what’s next, but we know it’s likely to be consequential, and that a big part will be played by the world’s biggest social network. On the evidence of Facebook’s actions so far, it’s impossible to face this prospect without unease.

An that’s at the root of my FB loathing, there is just something there that does, and always has smelled false and rotten. Google, Twitter, eta al are no better, but Facebook does and always has filled me with instinctive unease.

And that leads me to about all I can do… make a GIF.

It’s not even a cookbook.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. I told the kids the story about your To Serve Men radio show recently, one of the all-time best ds106 projects ever. They now want to get into the Twilight Zone, so thank you!

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