When I was very young, I wondered what it would be like to know “everything.” At that same tender age I thought about eternity and found the thought terrifying. Eternity isn’t something that can truly be grasped at the level of the mind. No wonder that sellers of “eternity” get nowhere with me.
Thinking one can know “everything” means that things known are like boxes in a warehouse. Knowledge becomes a concrete commodity that is stored.
Knowing and storing everything is the goal of Google who not only organizes and makes available information stored by others, but now is storing our email, calendars and documents.
Knowing “everything” makes one omniscient. Because of that, I think we should create a Google Day (called “GoD Day”) to celebrate the incarnation of technological omniscience.
GoD Day can be celebrated on Google’s incorporation day, September 4. People can buy big file cabinets to put in their living rooms and decorate those cabinets with strings of green-bar paper, old floppy disks and shiny CDs.
On GoD Day, families will gather for food and the exchanging of emails and texts.
Threat to Privacy?
That Google will store all of our electronic data scares many people and used to scare me, the high school author of a paper called “Is the Computer Revolution a Threat to Society?”
I was all over it.
But I’ve begun to sense a disconnect here that I didn’t think about in high school. On one side, we want others to know us and to be known by certain qualities, which is why we put bumper stickers on the back of our cars or posters up in our cubicle or wear sports team clothing.
We want people to know about our gods (I’m a . . .), our habits (organic food only), our personalities (I’m an . . .) and our background (my people are from . . . .). We want to relate and to be understood by others.
At the same time we want others to know we eat at fancy restaurants, we don’t want our electronic friends Google and Facebook to know we were just at a fancy restaurant and we don’t want the bank to store and use our fancy restaurant ACH transaction and send us a coupon to that restaurant.
I sense a schism here.
The schism is that we want to shout out who we are and now that technology has made it possible to shout to the entire world for eternity, we get scared.
Maybe rather than protecting our privacy, we should stop shouting. Or maybe we should be fully open and when we’re all open there is really nothing to hide.
I’m wondering now if Google and its electronic friends aren’t simply the symptom and not the problem.
It’s a lot to think about. Maybe I’ll do a Google search and see what others have to say . . .
Google: Librarian Gone Mad
When I look at the chart of Google’s incorporation, September 4, 1998, I don’t see the secret police, I see a librarian gone mad.
What would be in the chart of the secret police?
The signs that love secrets are Gemini, Scorpio and Pisces. Gemini loves gossip and secrets are gossip. Scorpio seeks to understand the motivations of others and secrets indicate strong motivation. Pisces simply has no boundaries and others trust Pisces with their secrets.
Scorpio is a sign that would use your secrets against you.
Google doesn’t appear to be a lover of secrets for fun or defense. With sun in Virgo and moon in Aquarius, I’m imagining a librarian gone mad.
There are two types of librarians – reference and catalogers. The stereotypical librarian is the reference librarian sitting at a desk waiting to answer your questions.
But behind the walls in some closed off room somewhere there is an introverted cataloger who makes sure all those books get placed in a particular order so that you can find them while browsing.
The cataloger spends all day understanding the content of books (and other materials) and organizing those materials into a logical or categorical order. Imagine that same cataloger, after a day of organizing books, going home and organizing the cupboards. Imagine that librarian making an index card of each storage box in the attic and the contents of each box.
Virgo and Aquarius are about categorizing, classifying and organizing. Both signs are interested in “perfection.” For Virgo, perfection stems from trying not to make mistakes and for Aquarius it stems from having an idea of how society “should” be.
Google is the opposite of a hoarder -it is an obsessive-compulsive organizer.
If Google were a person, we’d be friends.
Of course if the librarian has made a full catalog of the entire house, it’s much easier to know what’s in the house than going through all the cupboards and boxes.
But I still could have gone through all the cupboards and boxes.
With Google, the threat to privacy is not greater, I believe, but simply quicker.
If you want to know how many cups of tea I drink a day you can: 1) ask my friends; 2) look in my garbage can and see tea bag wrappers; 3) read my Internet writings to see if I post about my tea drinking or 4) get my electronic records and see how much tea I’ve purchased at the grocery store and Starbucks.
Which would you chose?
What do we truly fear?
What do we truly fear with the loss of privacy?
Those breaking the law, of course, will always fear loss of privacy. They will always want to hide but probably aren’t posting their crimes on Facebook anyway.
For those just posting their interests, I sense we have a collective visceral fear of religious and political persecution. Unfortunately, both have existed for centuries and continue to exist today.
I keep this blog anonymous for that very reason. I don’t fear persecution. I do fear losing work or other opportunities in this Judeo-Christian culture because of my interest in astrology. Our culture teaches that astrology is “superstition” and religion is not.
Google and the Internet have allowed my interest in astrology to be found and categorized very quickly. That both threatens my privacy and allows me to connect with others who share my interest, which is the very reason I created a blog.
I suppose the privacy we want is a more like a fence than like a wall. A wall blocks others out entirely. If we block others out entirely, then we block ourselves in.
A fence, on the other hand, says, “Over here is my property” but allows you to see and talk to others through the slits in the fence.
If we don’t want to block others out entirely, then I suppose we have to live with threats to privacy which translate into others seeing our vulnerabilities. Protecting civil liberties, then, becomes crucial.
The real threat then is not Google, but legislation that takes away civil liberties such as the National Defense Authorization Act.
Maybe our fears are correct but the object of our fears misdirected. Should we fear Google or should we fear politicians who take away our right to a trial?