18 votes

How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism - A new, short book by Cory Doctorow that looks at big tech as a monopoly problem

12 comments

  1. [2]
    Micycle_the_Bichael
    Link
    Here I thought this was an interview with the author about their new book or an article about the book and the word count on tildes had a bug but nope they just fucking published a whole book on...

    Here I thought this was an interview with the author about their new book or an article about the book and the word count on tildes had a bug but nope they just fucking published a whole book on medium. Alright then.

    13 votes
    1. Eric_the_Cerise
      Link Parent
      Cory Doctorow has always been a pioneering anti-copyright advocate. Most (all?) of his works are available in e-format for free, no strings attached, except a gentle nudge—if you like his stuff—to...

      they just fucking published a whole book on medium.

      Cory Doctorow has always been a pioneering anti-copyright advocate. Most (all?) of his works are available in e-format for free, no strings attached, except a gentle nudge—if you like his stuff—to buy a hardcopy or two from one of his favorite bookstores.

      11 votes
  2. [2]
    onyxleopard
    Link
    Doctorow isn’t beating a new drum here, but I think the rhythm bears repetition. One of the best reads that one of my high school social studies teachers recommended me (it was not part of the...

    Being watched changes your behavior, and not for the better. It creates risks for our social progress. Zuboff’s book features beautifully wrought explanations of these phenomena. But Zuboff also claims that surveillance literally robs us of our free will — that when our personal data is mixed with machine learning, it creates a system of persuasion so devastating that we are helpless before it. That is, Facebook uses an algorithm to analyze the data it nonconsensually extracts from your daily life and uses it to customize your feed in ways that get you to buy stuff. It is a mind-control ray out of a 1950s comic book, wielded by mad scientists whose supercomputers guarantee them perpetual and total world domination.

    Doctorow isn’t beating a new drum here, but I think the rhythm bears repetition. One of the best reads that one of my high school social studies teachers recommended me (it was not part of the curriculum) was Vance Packard’s The Hidden Persuaders. The amount of resources that big corporations put toward methodically finding out how people tick and exploiting that understanding is astounding and it totally predates personal computers. The tobacco industry successfully exploited the public for decades before anything like Big Tech could be imagined. I think history will look back on Facebook today the same way we look back on Philip Morris. And I think it’s not really Big Tech that’s the bogeyman here. It’s simply Big *, and Doctorow points this out:

    Big Tech is able to practice surveillance not just because it is tech but because it is big.

    Maybe the pervasiveness and scale of these issues is multiplied by technology, but I think it’s dangerous to think that if the Googles, Amazons, Facebooks, etc. are broken up that there’s nothing left to worry about on this front.

    8 votes
    1. determinism
      Link Parent
      It goes all the way back to Eddy Bernays' application of Freudian psychoanalysis to manage the opinions and behaviours of large populations. https://youtu.be/eJ3RzGoQC4s

      The amount of resources that big corporations put toward methodically finding out how people tick and exploiting that understanding is astounding and it totally predates personal computers.

      It goes all the way back to Eddy Bernays' application of Freudian psychoanalysis to manage the opinions and behaviours of large populations.

      https://youtu.be/eJ3RzGoQC4s

      3 votes
  3. [3]
    skybrian
    Link
    I found a lot to argue with, but gave up and deleted it since I figure nobody wants to read a point-by-point response. But I like this argument Cory Doctorow made on Twitter. Governments tend to...

    I found a lot to argue with, but gave up and deleted it since I figure nobody wants to read a point-by-point response.

    But I like this argument Cory Doctorow made on Twitter. Governments tend to want tech companies to do things rather than doing it themselves, and this threatens to make them arms of the state, with high barriers for any competitors.

    7 votes
    1. arghdos
      Link Parent
      That twitter thread is actually a pretty good summary of the last few chapters of the book, e.g., starting with “A monopoly over your friends”-ish.

      That twitter thread is actually a pretty good summary of the last few chapters of the book, e.g., starting with “A monopoly over your friends”-ish.

      3 votes
    2. onyxleopard
      Link Parent
      For what it’s worth, that’s exactly what I come to Tildes for. 🤷♂️

      I figure nobody wants to read a point-by-point response.

      For what it’s worth, that’s exactly what I come to Tildes for. 🤷‍♂️

      3 votes
  4. [5]
    acdw
    Link
    I find it ironic that he published the book on a Medium platform, which last time I checked is pretty chock-full of trackers.

    I find it ironic that he published the book on a Medium platform, which last time I checked is pretty chock-full of trackers.

    7 votes
    1. [4]
      georgebcrawford
      Link Parent
      Sometimes you have to compromise - in this case, eyeballs are important. This subject matter has been gaining mindshare in the last couple of years, so I think it’s a worthwhile compromise to...

      Sometimes you have to compromise - in this case, eyeballs are important. This subject matter has been gaining mindshare in the last couple of years, so I think it’s a worthwhile compromise to publish where it will be seen.

      Still ironic though, you’re right!

      8 votes
      1. [3]
        acdw
        Link Parent
        Fair fair -- though it's Cory Doctorow. He coulda posted it anywhere and they would've taken it, I'm sure. Maybe I'm too much of an indieweb type guy.

        Fair fair -- though it's Cory Doctorow. He coulda posted it anywhere and they would've taken it, I'm sure. Maybe I'm too much of an indieweb type guy.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          georgebcrawford
          Link Parent
          Absolutely. But perhaps this way people who don't read One Zero will see it. Full disclaimer: I have no idea how Medium's discovery features work. Perhaps I'm also too much of an indieweb type...

          Absolutely. But perhaps this way people who don't read One Zero will see it. Full disclaimer: I have no idea how Medium's discovery features work. Perhaps I'm also too much of an indieweb type guy!

          Edit: With these discussions I always think of people criticising Rage against the Machine being on Sony all those years ago. I wouldn't have heard of them, and they had a massive role in my political thinking (still do, really).

          6 votes
          1. acdw
            Link Parent
            This is a really fair point, and I think it captures how capitalism captures culture -- it's impossible to be true to ideals if they are against the status quo.

            Edit: With these discussions I always think of people criticising Rage against the Machine being on Sony all those years ago. I wouldn't have heard of them, and they had a massive role in my political thinking (still do, really).

            This is a really fair point, and I think it captures how capitalism captures culture -- it's impossible to be true to ideals if they are against the status quo.

            5 votes