Two-way tyranny

Also while perusing Orwell below, just for the fun of it, I stumbled on this, again from 1984:

The invention of print … made it easier to manipulate public opinion, and film and the radio carried the process further. With the development of television, and the technical advance which made it possible to receive and transmit simultaneously on the same instrument, private life came to an end.

This reminds me of something Marshall McLuhan wrote, that with each advance in technology comes a corresponding loss of freedom. His example was an agent of a bank working out west before the telegraph, pretty much left to his own. Comes the telegraph, and he now has to be at his post all day long, as his bosses back east are monitoring him. Instant communication produced the first technology slave.

The Internet did not just stumble out into the open to be discovered by horny teenagers. The technology long existed, Kissinger having an early version in his brief case when he went to China in 1972. When it became available for public use it was already adapted to snooping, both by government and commercial enterprises. The “information superhighway” quickly became dot.commerce. Google started out as a good search engine because it did not sell its results to merchants, so that a query produced honest results. Now look at them. They are nothing but marketplace whores.

Worse yet, however, was the web browser itself, deliberately designed with back doors so advertisers could monitor our behavior. I only know what I know, and that due to some software I installed. Every time I open a page, in the upper right of my screen a list of companies attempting to monitor my activities appears. Google is always among them even though I do not use GMail, Google the search engine, or any Google product. Microsoft designed the Internet Explorer with merchants in mind, creating all kinds of back doors for entry into our private lives. They always claimed, when various entry points were discovered, that it was an accident.

We should not be surprised that NSA uses those same back doors. I do not have a whole lot of faith in outfits like Microsoft – that is, I do not think they are creative or innovative so much as having been lucky, and so were chosen to be the vehicle for entry of snoops into our private lives. Bill Gates is not that smart. It is not hard to see. Read into him what you will, but vision is not one of his strong traits. He ain’t got any. As the story goes, Netscape made the first browser, and Microsoft stole it. but in my heart of hearts, I wonder if Netscape made the first browser, NSA stole it, and then gave it to Microsoft and said “pretend you invented it, and make sure you leave room for us to move in too.”

The technology is not accidental, and the government and large corporations knew about it long before it became available to us. It would not have become available to us if it could not be compromised. It should come as no surprise that they are using it as Orwell’s two-way technology that ended our private lives.

8 thoughts on “Two-way tyranny

  1. If you want a real history of the internet and personal computers, read John Markoff’s “What the Dormouse Said.” It’s pre-Jobs and Gates, and covers all of the work in the 60s and 70s mainly in the Bay area developing the technology. Best rendition of I’ve ever read of how it really went down.

    The intertwining of 60s hippy culture, the military-industrial-spy complex, and research at Stanford and Berkeley is fascinating. Yes, the spooks were paying hippies and nerds to develop technology for the military. But the hippies and nerds were fighting over how to develop a technology that would empower the masses vs. creating artificial intelligence. And the anti-war protesters were protesting, and doing sit-ins at the schools protesting their receiving military funding to do their research.

    I’ve got an e copy if you want, and can’t find one online still available.

    Quick correction: first web browser was “WorldWideWeb” written by Tim Berniers-Lee in 1990 to accompany his first real web server and html editor he also invented to create the WWW.


  2. A couple of things here. Corporations world-wide have gone broke underestimating Bill Gates and his intelligence. You really shouldn’t make that mistake here. Netscape was not the first browser, it was just the best … for a while. Netscape was not stolen by the NSA and given to Microsoft to create IE. IE actually predates Netscape. Nor did the agenda of IE’s development serve government interest. Netscape, Borland and Sun Microsystems announced that they were going to create a browser based operating system and bury Microsoft with their wonder product. Bad move. Bill Gates said rather famously that “we’ll see if they can do that before we can.” His point was that speed to market and adoption are vastly superior to quality (as if Wal-Mart hasn’t convinced you of that.) MS integrated IE into the operating system Windows 95, the lawsuits began and Netscape is … where exactly?

    Given the amount of pixels you’ve spent caterwauling about corporate oligarchs, it is rather odd when you switch gears to the conspiracy that the NSA directs corporate actions. I’m certain with a minimum of thought you can see why. The technology is not accidental, but it is not part of some 1984-like conspiracy either. There is a conspiracy, alright. It’s to make money, and the NSA is piggy-backing off that. This is where the Obama administration has failed miserably. Rather than have the government take control of any aspect of the WWW, they have erred on the part of corporate control. And now Verizon can buy, sell and own anything you put onlne, and they ain’t doin’ it for free. The NSA isn’t mining your data from their chosen conspirators, they are paying for it with your money. Time Warner, Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo, Verizon, AT &T and Oracle are laughing all the way to the bank because they’ve set the dream scenario. Over the last 20 years, they’ve created a false dilemma: Either the scary gubmint controls your information or they do. The facts are pretty clear at this point. Corporations own you, and profit from what they sell to gubmint buys government propaganda such that they need to own it or terrists will kill you in your sleep.

    I know you’re a smart guy, Mark. But frankly, you’ve posted here about something you don’t know enough about. That privacy and ownership of information would dissolve completely in the techno-age is a given and unavoidable. It is my opinion, shared by many wiser than I, that this is not a conspiracy that can be exposed and turned back, but rather an evolution of social culture. If that is the case, if, than the point should be to adapt and not to resist a false entity of shadow origins. It is the technology, not the entity, that should give you pause. Blame the government. Blame corporations. Blame Bill Gates or the NSA. It doesn’t matter. Until a cosmic EM pulse dooms us all, this is our future. Complaining the gubmint with corporate help is spying on us does no good until we control the gubmint again.

    For the record, anyone who blogs on WordPress (or blogs at all) and claims that they do not use any Google product is being a bit silly. That’s either a direct lie or a really dim oversite.


    1. That was a long and thoughtful comment, by the way. We are traveling today is I’ve hardly time to give it the response it warrants. but let me say this: If I were to write a magazine article called Rob Kailey’s day, 4/26/14, and spent the entire day with you and wrote the article, I could spin it anyway I wanted, make you look bad or good. By necessity I have to omit important details, fill on gaps, misinterpret certain events (as phone calls where I only hear your end.) So you might read the article and rightfully claim it is a misrepresentation. It probably is. But it would be accurate. Just false.

      When we deal with history of technology, (all history, actually) imagine what we do not know, have not been told, have been fed with intent to deceive, misinterpret, fail to grasp, and simply don’t know to ask. I cannot deal with that and so jump to the end, as I often do, to see the outcome. I was amazed at the ready and waiting arms there were for us as the Internet exploded, not only merchants, but the government ready to tap into our daily dealings. The technology was in place before we even knew the game. Whether the web browser was invented by Netscape or someone else, we know it was not Microsoft, who merely cornered the market. Bill Gates seems to have the ability to use brute force to capture a market. If that is a talent, then he is talented.

      Orwell saw this coming, even as he was as tech-inept as me, that government naturally exploits all new technology. In our country, government and the corporate state are one, married, so they each were ready for the “new” technology. All new technology is run through the patent office, and NSA and the military watch it closely. Anything that threatens to give us the immense freedom that the Internet would have is blocked at the start, and not released for common use until it is well in hand and under control. So as the Internet developed in public, everything was in place to watch us in private. I would bet that the basic technology was in use 30 years ago, as that is a rule of thumb. Some say fifty [is the lead that proprietary technology has over that used in public]. No one really knows outside of the National Security State.

      How do I know this? I am well-rounded in these matters, you might say, having a good grasp of the nature of a national security state. There is only one enemy of the state: The people.


  3. Just a couple of Gen. observations: one, things are rarely as they appear. 2: things are never as they are written. 3: the government is always the 30 years ahead of the public in technology. Other than that you and I probably agree, except on Bill Gates who in my opinion is merely lucky. He could’ve been many people


  4. It’s hard to argue with the combination of McLuhan and Orwell when searching for the story behind the cover story. It seems to me that the big “tech” names we are most familiar with were those who monetized best. If I had to choose one word that described the rise and fall of American culture, I would probably pick “money.” General concensus has pretty much come down to this: With it, you can be somebody, without it, you’re nothing — and you can’t “win” if you don’t play. I pitty future archeologists piecing together traces of our paper and digital footprint.


    1. That word, “monetize,” is the bane of our existence. No matter what it is, health care, food, entertainment, the need to convert them to a string of annuities cheapens them. Monetization of health care gave us the worst system in the industrialized world, and we cannot get good information on healthy eating due to the presence of food processing corporations who own the Dept of Agriculture. Our cell phone should be a utility, regulated and kept under control, but instead we have companies fighting turf wars without offering better products or quality.

      Government does some things well, and regulation of utilities is one of those things it does very well. The Internet is a public utility. No way should we trust it to the whims of the private sector.


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