Google CEO on Privacy, and Natural Surveillance

Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher recently interviewed Google CEO Eric Schmidt at D9. The whole thing is worth a watch, but two statements by Schmidt were truly exceptional. The first is his definition of privacy, the second is his framing of mobile tracking as “natural.”

Schmidt on privacy:

… from our perspective, privacy is a compromise between the interests of a government and the citizen.

Schmidt on (what I’m now calling) natural surveillance:

I’m very concerned, personally, about the union of mobile tracking and facial recognition. Because, mobile tracking is something that can occur naturally by virtue of these devices … biometrics, in general, will make it possible to do facial recognition in crowds.

I should have known it was mother nature, and not mankind, that created this form of surveillance … damn you nature!

Berners-Lee on Nature and the Web

From Berners-Lee’s Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality:

. . . people seem to think the Web is some sort of piece of nature,
and if it starts to wither, well, that’s just one of those unfortunate things we can’t help.

Not so.

We create the Web, by designing computer protocols and software; this process is completely under our control. We choose what properties we want it to have and not have. (emphasis added)

Robbins on Political Ecology as Critique

From Political Ecology, p12-13:

As critique, political ecology seeks to expose flaws in dominant approaches to the environment favored by corporate, state, and international authorities, working to demonstrate the undesirable impacts of policies and market conditions , especially from the point of view of local people, marginal groups, and vulnerable populations. It works to “denaturalize” certain social and environmental conditions, showing them to be the contingent outcomes of power, and not inevitable.

… In this sense, political ecology is something that people do, a research effort to expose the forces at work in ecological struggle and document livelihood alternatives in the face of change.

Escobar on the Political Ecology of Technonature

From After Nature, p13:

A definition of political ecology for technonature would emphasize the biocultural configurations that are emerging and those that are possible according to particular constellations of actors, technologies, and practices. The political ecology of technonature would study the actual and potential biocultural arrangements linked to technoscience, particularly along the axes of organicity-artiflciality and reality-virtuality. It would examine discourses and practices of life and the extent to which they are conducive to new natures, social relations, and cultural practices. It is important that the ethnographies of technonature not focus on elite contexts only or on their impact on nonelite communities; they should also explore the locally constituted cultural and material resources that marginalized communities are able to mobilize for their adaptation or hybridization in the production of their identities and political strategies

Castells on Environmentalism and Ecology

From The Power of Identity (The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, Volume II), pp 112-113:

By environmentalism I refer to all forms of collective behavior that, in their discourse and in their practice, aim at correcting destructive forms of relationship between human action and its natural environment, in opposition to the prevailing structural and institutional logic. By ecology, in my sociological approach, I understand a set of beliefs, theories, and projects that consider humankind as a component of a broader ecosystem and wish to maintain the system’s balance in a dynamic, evolutionary perspective.

In my view, environmentalism is ecology in practice, and ecology is environmentalism in theory . . .

From The Power of Identity (The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, Volume II), p 133:

The ecological approach to life, to the economy, and to the institutions of society emphasizes the holistic character of all forms of matter, and of all information processing. Thus, the more we know, the more we sense the possibilities of our technology, and the more we realize the gigantic, dangerous gap between our enhanced productive capacities, and our primitive, unconscious, and ultimately destructive social organization.

Latour on Political Ecology

From the Politics of Nature, p246:

The term does not differentiate between scientific ecology and political ecology; it is built on the model of (but in opposition to) “political economy.” It is thus used to designate, by opposition to the “bad” philosophy of ecology, the understanding of ecological crises that no longer uses nature to account for the tasks to be accomplished, it’s used as an umbrella term to account for what succeeds modernism according to the alternative “modernize or ecologize.”

From the Politics of Nature, p4:

Political ecology is said to have to do with “nature in its links with society.” But this nature becomes knowable through the intermediary of the sciences; it has been formed through networks of instruments; it is defined through the interventions of professions, disciplines, and protocols; it is distributed via data bases; it is provided with arguments through the intermediary of learned societies.

Engels on Nature

From the Dialectics of Nature:

It is precisely the alteration of nature by men, not nature as such, which is the most essential and immediate basis of human thought.

I am cow, not machine.

poster observed on east 9th street, NYC


:: sent wirelessly via blackberry

GTD + WordPress + Akismet