This is a very interesting record of a serious attempt to remain in the mid twentieth century to avoid participating in any virtual societies. The point here is, as was rather vaguely stated at the end, that all of this effort and sacrifice is a terrible sacrifice. It blocks participation in the most complete change in human societies since the Neolithic discovery of agriculture. I suppose someone had to do it and it is valuable for techniques and awareness of how personal data is captured and spread.
I will deal with this primarily as an IT professional who has been heavily involved in the growth of the internet and networking as the foundation for human society since the beginning of the web. This stuff is known, if not as well known as is shown here, and something drastic needs to be done. But not this.
All of us operate, at least partially, with care to maintain untracked routes to internet based information and services. Given the evolution of predatory capitalism all data has been declared open game for corporations. That must be ended but that can’t be done by separating yourself and family from the virtual reality (and I sure that term with full meaning) that we are evolving to.
Very early I decided on a different experiment. I was involved in almost every network based business and social development with the full understanding that my information was already gone from my control. I would see what benefits accrued and what risks resulted. That was twenty-five years ago.
I have taught both business and Information and Computer Science and worked to let students know what was happening to their information. I also taught them how this would be used to target products and services at an increasing rate as well shaping information that would be compatible with an abstract model of them. There are great benefits to that but mostly it does little beyond be occasionally annoying. If you know this you know the advertising (in all its forms) that you receive is loaded for everyone else’s goals except yours beyond looking for something.
Despite the last three years of trauma, political collapse, and impending economic disaster in the US none of this has failed to go much beyond the old days of junk mail (snail type mail) that filled every mailbox and then every trash can. The advertising corporations are, I would say, a little less of problem because they don’t waste time selling you things you aren’t interested in. And, once in a while, you may actually be given a lead on something worth looking at if you were actually looking for that category or product or service.
The great Russian lead manipulation of the least capable in what has come to be called Trumpistan in 2016 actually worked. But that was quickly obvious to the majority of the population that had not already been tricked and deluded into following bad sources of information that were simply reinforced.
If you have worked in advertising at the national level you know how quickly people get smart. It was always a scam. Not on the population but on the corporations who paid large amounts of money to folks to generate a 1.5% response rate to a million direct mail prices. With email and banner ads it mostly fell to about .5%. Now those are in the old days. ML can target and design this much better now but people are quicker than the people designing the campaigns.
Now personal information is important and drastic changes must be made (see above). To me what needs to happen national and then planetary legal definition of information ownership. Try to opt out is not an answer and only a route to isolation, frustration, and reaction.
In short, our information is valuable. That is now a major commodity in the market. We need to own it and to charge people for its use in properly aggregated and anonymous forms. But then we also have the option, which millions of people take advantage of now, to sell their ‘presence’ for promotion of things that they are willing to support or recommend.
Just a note on the huge Chinese market for luxury goods. This is the future for the planet right now. This relies almost completely on promotion by personalities using managed blog tools. This is a bit backward but it is establishing the power of using people who then get cuts. We need to turn that around and required Google, Facebook, Tencent, etc. to pay us for our information. I see this as a potential basis for Universal Basic Income. The new definition of value is not money but information.