Week 4: Why is Internet Listening to Us?

As someone who boycotts Amazon about 98% of the time, I was not surprised to see the pressing issues of the ‘internet of things’ and issues with ‘smart cities.’  Both Greenfield and Jorganensen offered many reasons for why consumers should distrust and even change their habits.  While I have long been aware of the collection of data from echo- and Alexa-type devices, I had not thought through other aspects of personal electronics. It would not have occurred to me that in-home and workplace video surveillance, such as a baby monitor, could be hacked so easily.  It makes me wonder if there is such thing as a secure video feed?  Is it safe to have your baby left with no camera or risk the world hacking and monitoring the baby?

Additionally, I didn’t realize the amount of data being fed from my Fitbit watch, begging me to decide where I will draw the line?  I am not going to get rid of a smart phone, so should I draw the line on my watch monitoring my heartbeat, location, etc.? If not, where do I draw the line?

While all of Greenfield’s chapter hit home, the most powerful examples of the mention of the Dutch municipality’s maintain “demographic record of its inhabitants” through requiring “each citizen had to carry a persoonskaart, or personal identity card” (60).  Without reading on, we all know where this example went.  It’s a concrete illustration to the holocaust that rings home for many people across western countries.

While in the same vein as the ‘internet of things,’ “Between Bits and Atoms: Physical Computing and Desktop Fabrication in the Humanities” by Sayers et al. suggests analog and digital processes come together in desktop fabrication.  The authors discuss a project at Cornell that uses 3D modeling and desktop fabrication to maintain mechanic models of 19thcentury machine elements.  They suggest that this type of work, “not only creates spaces for science and technology studies in digital humanities research; it also broadens our understanding of what can and should be digitized, to include ‘obsolete’ or antique machines” (10).  One challenge in cultural heritage is deciding what should be preserved; Sayers et al. suggest that this type of web-based collection will help determine what can and shouldbe digitized.  However, the remarks on what can and should be digitized are not fully developed and they refrain from offering an explanation of how it will guide those decisions.

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