Final Project: Surveillance Capitalism Logs

Over 17 days I read shoshana zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

I logged the general data like how many pages I read, what time I started, what time I ended, I recorded everything going on in my screen while I was reading, I also recorded my face while I was reading…or not reading.

One of the most exciting parts of this project was what happened before it started. I emailed Shoshana, thanks to Shawn’s suggestion, and told her about my project. I wanted to read it on the screen so that I would be facing my computer and seamlessly moving between the text and my research. She very quickly replied to me with a PDF of the 525-page book and sent a very kind message letting me know that she was excited about the project.

I just finished on Sunday and I’m still internalizing and intellectualizing the information. There was a lot. I definitely feel as though I learned a lot but it’s hard to articulate what it is I learned. I think the main takeaway for me was Shoshana’s kind of call to action. She is asking for astonishment and subversion. She is also advocating for new language around networked technology and its relationship with hyper-scale corporations. I was really impressed by how deep and thorough the research was and also how kind of fearless the writing was. She seemed to have no problem problematizing research by people in high places like MIT, Harvard, Google, Facebook etc. I definitely don’t think there is enough problematizing of social media and its relationship to capitalism and its many crossover with seemingly neutral technology – I think she really does a good job of enlightening the reader to the complicated and unapologetically choreographed relationships between something like Facebook and behavioral extract modification in the name of profit.

I am definitely still processing a lot of the information but am left wanting to explore the gray areas between privacy and security and also between surveillance and censorship. I realize that these things can be defined separately but I am curious about how they intersect and perhaps complicate conversations about centralization versus decentralization. I am also doing a long-term research project on the computer mouse as an object and there were so many instances throughout the book which made me think about the (un)importance of the mouse within the history of surveillance capitalism.

Some things I’m holding on to:

  • GM vs Facebook
  • John Hanke > CIA backed KeyHole, led Google Maps, pushed forward Street View, now owns Niantic the company the made PokemonGo
  • Notion of inevitablism as an answer
  • BF Skinner comparison, rejection of free will
  • Draws a lot upon Karl Marx, Karl Polyani, Hannah Arendt
  • The right to sanctuary
  • no longer just “i use facebook, i give up my data”, instead i use the internet at my house “i give up my data”,
  • ubiquitous computing as falling into background and becoming invisible,
  • public text vs shadow text
  • removal of uncertainty
  • no known way to actually anonymize location data
  • division of learning

sixteen reasons for surveillance capitalism’s unprecented growth page 341

Unprecedented > state to private firms, hyperscale Declaration of invasion > google just stating that it takes w.o asking Historical context > neoliberalism of self management, government war on terror Fortifications > revolving door between google and washington Dispossession cycle > street view > incursion, gradual habituation, adapt, redirect Dependency > free, difficult to withdraw Self-Interest > pizzeria > pokemon go Inclusion > social Identification > role models of financial success Authority > geniuses in silicon valley Social Persuasion > targeted ads Foreclosed alternatives Inevitablism Ideology of Human Frailty > mentation as irrational Ignorance Velocity