Class Action

Saturday January 23 19:53

Rough edges of perhaps more a near future design fiction story —

A data lawsuit/class action forcing Google to make recompense to those from whom it made money derived from their actions/activities that were subsequently stored, archived, or algorithmically manipulated as digital data. The suit might demand recompense for having generated operationally useful and productive data. The basis might be that exploitive companies made money on the data itself, or generated IP in the form of algorithms that were clarified by empirical data created by people doing what people do — like search/sort/shop/email/&c. People tilled the fields from which valuable data crops sprung, and this material was used to make search algorithms that work better. Uncompensated work, or something like this.

This might be like the legal suits that come up after a decade or more by the down-wind kin after activities from an earlier day are seen from the future as exploitive or morally abject. Like locking away US citizens who happen to be of Japanese ancestry. I mean — not that, but these kinds of looks-back and juridical apologies.

A back story might be that, in the near future, the things you do in a much more quotidian sense will have much more cultural weight and import — like your job might today, depending what you do. Like — the ways that you generate data that is then the fuel or blood or coal of the network. Your measure of achievement/success/status might be related to how effectively and cleverly you generate new networks or arterial channels to disperse data — new algorithms that other people hop on to create distinct data sets that then form new data sluices that are fun/intriguing/different/curious/engaging. The new data channels are like pathways ((or neural pathways if you believe that the Internet is a collective brain of some sort, angling toward the Kurzweilian wet dream of some sort of ridiculous singularity)) more intriguing and *more new than the old ones and commensurate with endorphin-high-like activities so more people jump on them and generate more data that machines *like Google chew-and-spew ((maybe not Google — that behemoth will eventually step on its own tail and look like the Italian government or Massey Energy does today — barely competent, too big to handle itself, overwrought with technocrats, corrupt, &c.)).

This near future is one in which one’s ability to swerve conversations or attention is more valuable than whatever we now imagine as a career.

Why do I blog this? I am trying to find ways to put today’s practices and expectations into productive relief from what might be. I’m curious about this idea that *data is the new oil — or will be, or that our data production is more than just making entries into databases based on searches, purchases, and so on. But, increasingly perhaps these bits of information are seen as alive rather than inert.

Sorry for the load of mixed metaphors.

One thought on “Class Action”

  1. It doesn’t seem so obvious that Google will turn into the Italian government – or even have problems scaling. I don’t think there are appropriate historical comparisons for the shifts we’re seeing today. It’s possible that society will eventually go on a witch hunt but that seems more likely to be targeted at the Facebooks etc who slipped so much deeper into our personal lives and the cost of the individual.

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