As a user of the internet, you can access most of the information the world possesses. The world also knows more about you than you probably realise.
Corporations like Google, Facebook and many others including data-brokers of all kinds are quietly amassing huge amounts of information about you, your interests, occupation, opinions and spending patterns among much other metadata.
The same corporations can assemble a detailed picture of your private world from the analysed metadata, then offer the insights get to anyone prepared to pay.
As a result, there is a campaign element to what I publish here.
I think it is intolerable that it is lawful for corporations to scan my emails, gather information about my credit card transactions, scrape my browser activity and harvest all the other metadata they can find, then sell it all to the highest bidder.
For many people I speak with, they are not aware that this is happening and will even deny the possibility that their data could be ever be commoditised in this way. A key aspect of what I'll be posting therefore is help to raise awareness that this is happening.
There are steps — some simple — you can take to prevent the worst of this. I'll share whatever I discover about how to protect online privacy in articles and guides which I'll publish here.
The internet is largely an unregulated space. Leaving aside censorship and other country-level variations, for most people the internet operates in an 'open' state. There are challenges to this, including the problem of maintaining net neutrality. The Internet Defense League do a great job in this area and you can join the movement by following this link.
There are however some significant downsides to the openness of the internet, including that many people leave themselves wide open and vulnerable to criminal hackers who seek to exploit vulnerabilities for their own purposes.
If you think you are exempt from their attentions, think again.
Again there are basic steps you can take to make your online world more secure.
Online: Critical Thinking
The volume of information which comes our way can be overwhelming. Many people choose to curate their information feeds.
A stream of information derived from feeds that only confirm one's own attitudes and opinions creates a world-view that shrinks tight around your personal bubble.
The paradox is that the proliferation of voices appears to be triggering a more closed-minded world.
No-one wants to read, watch or listen to hateful speech. The question at hand however is how to ensure that in managing what we read or listen to we don't become more isolated and cut-off from alternative points of view.
The problem of 'fake news' and the erosion of trust this is leading to is a further call to arms. Organising what we see and read so we are better informed is something we can't passively assume will just happen. I'll be exploring how to organise information streams to counteract the prevailing drift towards the Balkanisation of opinion.
There are many ways of being distracted.
Besides being lost in thought (meditation can help), in-attentional blindness is a leading cause of road traffic mortality. Chronic stress cuts a swathe through the middle-aged causing physical and mental health morbidity.
The deluge of information heading your way won't set you free.
Instead, it is more than likely to increase an alarming number of risks to your health and well-being.
Instead of accepting this as an expected by-product of our online activities, we need to insulate ourselves from the insidious syphoning-off of our time and attention.
We can build workflows (protocols or procedures) that organise what we do to help reduce the cognitive drain.
What's On Offer Here
The Information Paradox discusses ways to respond to these dilemmas. It includes practical steps you can take to protect yourself.
The topic areas under discussion are:
- How to protect your privacy online.
- How to be safe and act securely online.
- How to sense-make (detect signal from noise) online.
- How to engineer workflows to manage information and aid cognitive ease online.
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