index2019-02-11

week 2: DuckDuckGo's biz model + Shoshana Zuboff

I have always wondered about DuckDuckGo’s business model! It’s funny to be reminded that even a company that cares about privacy needs to generate revenue from advertisements. The explanation of the difference between their company and Google is a good segue into Shoshana Zuboff’s writing about surveillance capitalism. DuckDuckGo call themselves a search company and Google an advertising company. I think Shoshana might call Google something more than that.

After reading the article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung I am looking forward to reading Zuboff’s latest book Age of Surveillance Capitalism. I think she raises a lot of necessary questions and perhaps finally a way to unearth and come face to face with exactly the kind of capitalist society in which we operate. Often when asking questions of technology and attempting deconstruct it I am led back to capitalism as the source of everything broken. None of this would be if not for capitalism. I am implicit in its machine but Shoshana I think makes this ever more clear and points out just how big and destructive capitalism in its current state really is.

I am still struck by this word capture. I think it’s important to hold onto. As Shoshana explains, one of the pillars of surveillance capitalism is a company’s ability to capture behavior and then allow the technology of their business adapt to the captured behavior so that they can capture even more behavior and so on…all in the name of profit. I appreciated Shoshana’s point about the difference in the economic logics used within this age of capitalism as opposed to the General Motors age of capitalism. While the latter brought administration and production to a massive scale, the former is quantifying and predicting human behavior at an even larger scale. I also appreciate that she points out that simply challenging google on the ground of it being monopoly will not do anything to actually subvert its existence. I am wondering what would happen if many many many people decided to interrupt surveillance capitalism by removing themselves of their devices and not entering public space for just one day or two. Would a change in the economy of all of this be seen? What is the “healthy evolution of capitalism itself”? Is there where we would want to return to? I guess I’m wondering if in fact people had the power to overthrow this era of mass surveillance would there also be an opportunity to say goodbye to capitalism in turn for something else?

Link to cookie server coming soon…