Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Privacy in the Past

Have been reading about the past some, recently. For example, the rather fine England Arise! by Juliet Barker, about the revolt by Peasants in late 14th century England, triggered by the last straw, yet antherpoll tax (lets not pause to reflect how the rediculous sanctions threatened against Greece if they renege on their debt, and revoke their austerity measures under their own democatically elected governement might by related in some way:)

What I am more interested in here is the notion, reported in some places, that the idea of personal privacy is somehow only a recent invention.

Its actually quite hard to find good evidence on this,  of course, but it is clear that in every day life, most people lived hand-in-glove with each other to the extent that routinely private activities (the privy and procreation) were likely not terribly private, from your kith and kin.

Note well, though, this is the nub -- "private" is a triadic adjective. WHat is private about you, with respect to whom. I doubt very much if medieval peasants would have appreciated strangers turning up to queue at the window of their toilet or marital bed to watch. There was a social context.

What is interesting in the account in the book is that a highly distributed, lightly (hardly) coordinated activity arose which could not have used letters to coordinate since many were barely literate, but also due to cost, let alone the Victorian Internet (telegraph) or the telephone or e-mail or Online Social Networks. So people rode around on horseback, or walked about a lot to tell others what was happening.

And yet the powers that be were practically caught napping.

i.e. no surveillance state.

I assume the folks running this uprising were not idiots (they nearly succeeded, after all) and realized that a moducum of secrecy was needed in planning resistince and events. So they had a pretty good clue, obviously that their discussions and communications were indeed private, at least against being overheard by adversaries.

As with all revisionism, apologists angling to support the encroachment of the surveillance state on civil society, use the claim that privacy was a brief-lived, recent invention associated with wealth and individualism, and they use this to justify, in the face of relatively small injury to open societies, massive revokation of the right to privacy of every day folk (of course, secrecy in government (and banking and so on) is retained - why? do they have anything more to hide, I wonder:)).

Fact is, privacy is as old as whispering.innocently

Addendum  - just dealing with yet another teenager - do you remember hiding stuff from your parents when you were a kid? Its normal. Its part of asserting your individual nature and becoming self sufficient. Growing up. SPying on your kids is bad for them and you. Spying on your citizens is same, oh governments...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

anonymous, boring, repetitive and dull

I've just read two very good (but quite similar books on Anonymous, one is We Are Anonymous by Parmy Olson, and the other is Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy by Gabriella Coleman.

While I like a shot of lulz as much as the next guy, and the righteous support of Wikieleaks, and even more, support of Arab Spring uprisings (esp. Tunisia) was a Good Thing, a huge amount of what these folks did is really rather dull and tedious. Indeed, reading the Enki of Loki (apologies to Neal Stephenson ) or any random religious tract of biblical proportions is really quite similar (and topiary slew glenbarry who slew kayla who was the daugther of Satan who was the son of SkuleMystress who lay with socketscientist and beget IIS and Apache vulernabilities daily etc etc)

Sheesh, if i wanted this sort of stuff I could just turn to the Gideon's Bible (cue Bungalow Bill)

Open Sauce

Recent moves in US and EU have meant that Science (especially publications) that is largely funded from the public purse, is being made openly available by requiring Scientists (now, no longer in an adventure with Pirates) to publish in Open Access journals and conferences - this is a jolly good thing, in my view. Indeed, the science (drugs, software, machines) itself should also be so available.

But what about other walks of life  like Comedy, or even Politics, Economics and Philosophy?
Surely most of this is developed at Universities, and so should be made freely available to the public in the same way? Indeed, I think it would be a tragedy if we don't have Open Access to Comedy and Rock and Roll as soon as possible.

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misery me, there is a floccipaucinihilipilification (*) of chronsynclastic infundibuli in these parts and I must therefore refer you to frank zappa instead, and go home