Privacy projects, solutionism & surveillance capitalism, books.

Hello friends & network,

  1. I launched a couple of projects to grow the privacy-friendly network: (1) a list of privacy-friendly products; and (2) a newsletter with “privacy jobs.” Sign up.

  2. I’ve been reading books to better understand the impact the ubiquitous use of tracking (and surveillance) will have on human nature and our own well-being. That is work in progress. I am sharing more below. If that is of your interest, let’s chat: rpsa@pm.me, or reply to this email.

You receive this newsletter because we met, chatted, offline or online, at some point in the past. I send this newsletter every 2-3 months with updates on what I do, learn and read with the aim of engaging in conversation. You can unsubscribe at the bottom.

projects

I put together a list of privacy-friendly products:

A weekly digest of privacy jobs in your mailbox:

books

the digital age, solutionism and surveillance capitalism

Hedge: A Greater Safety Net for the Entrepreneurial Age by Nicolas Colin.

“Tech,” “The Internet,” “startups” are often analysed as a standalone event in history, by their own protagonists, claiming that those movements are a “revolution” and that “this time is different.” Nicolas Colin puts the digital age in perspective with 100+ years of political, economic and social developments in the US (and Europe) and tells the story of how the last 30 years of digital developments fit along.

Colin also explains why our current social and economic policies are unfit for the digital age; he proposes new models, and rebukes solutionist models such as Universal Basic Income — definition of ‘solutionism’ in the next book review.

To Save Everything, Click Here by Evgeny Morozov.

Morozov coined the term “solutionismin the technology space.

Solutionism is when a simplistic (technological) solution is naively brought to fix an presumed, misunderstood, complex and barely undefined problem.

Full explanation from Morozov:

“I borrow this unabashedly pejorative term [“solutionism”] from the world of architecture and urban planning, where it has come to refer to an unhealthy preoccupation which sexy, monumental, and narrow-minded solutions—the kind of stuff that wows audiences at TED Conferences—to problems that are extremely complex, fluid, and contentious. These are the kinds of problems that, on careful examination, do not have to be defined in the singular and all-encompassing ways that “solutionists” have defined them; what’s contentious, then, is not their proposed solution but their very definition of the problem itself. Design theorist Michael Dobbins has it right: solutionism presumes rather than investigates the problems that it is trying to solve, reaching “for the answer before the questions have been fully asked.” How problems are composed matters every bit as much as how problems are resolved.”

Morozov’s book is a critic of Silicon Valley; worth reading especially if you have been soaking in Silicon Valley’s ideology of “fixing” and “disrupting'“ all industries.

My next read is from an author that further investigates the impact of the digital age on human nature:

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff.

I just started that book; but there is one sentence that reflects what I think:

The impact of surveillance capitalism will be “as significant a threat to human nature in the 21st century as industrial capitalism was to the natural world in the 19th and 20th’.”

Definition of surveillance capitalism:

“Surveillance capitalism is the process of commodifying personal data with the core purpose of profit-making”

Zuboff also makes the case that a feature of surveillance capitalism is its capacity to operate an apparatus for data collection in a subversive and deceptive manner that is unseen, or unknown, and totally ignored by most people.

More on surveillance capitalism in the next newsletter. If the above is of your interest, let’s chat: rpsa@pm.me, or reply to this email.

other books

From Third World to First: Singapore and the Asian Economic Boom by Lee Kuan Yew.

The story of how LKY built a country. From Scratch. With no natural resources. On a tiny island. In 30 years. I am still reading that one.

Journey Under the Midnight Sun (白夜行, Byakuyakō) by Keigo Higashino.

This book is like a TV show, Twin Peaks style. The story was originally serialized in 25 stories from January 1997 to January 1999 in the monthly Japanese novel magazine Subaru. Now it is packed in a book and ready to be taken in one single shot. The thriller takes place in Osaka, involves a multitude of characters each more intriguing that the other. The story navigates through layers of the Japanese’s social order and systems. That was fascinating.

How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert.

The story of Scott Adams himself where he explains how to turn three skills you are just ‘good at’ into an expertise. An easy read useful for “generalist” trying to define their expertise.

Un Peuple de Promeneur by Alexandre Romanès.

I am fascinated by the relations gypsys have with time, ownership, and space. Millennials (and digital nomads) often question their relationship with time, ownership and space (home) too; they want to own their schedule, don’t own a house and move around. Can we learn from gypsys?

Quote from Romanès’ writings:

“Everything you don’t give away, is lost.”

—Romain

From Paris.

Ps I curated a list of 30+ books I learnt from; suggest to people from time to time. Take a look here.

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