S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Technology vs. age, politics and privacy

People under the age of 30 are likely much more wired into technology than those of us who are over the age of 65 and retired. Technology moves almost too fast for me, but for someone who has been retired for five years, I am fairly "tech savvy."

There are huge generational differences between the two age groups: in our financial priorities and buying habits, our ease or familiarity with very sophisticated technology, our levels of political involvement, and our needs for privacy. I have recently joined a social network online. It remains fairly unchartered waters for me, unlike the twenty-somethings. I am charmed and fascinated by its possibilities and also aware of the increased risks to my privacy.

Some of those differences have been joined, however, in an obscure little story that caught my eye this morning. Young people have come to know what it feels like to have privacy invaded. It was headlined, "Facebook users complain of new tracking," by Anick Jesdanun and Rachel Metz, Associated Press writers, on Wed Nov 21. To quote:
Some users of the online hangout Facebook are complaining that its two-week-old marketing program is publicizing their purchases for friends to see.

Those users say they never noticed a small box that appears on a corner of their Web browsers following transactions at Fandango, Overstock and other online retailers. The box alerts users that information is about to be shared with Facebook unless they click on "No Thanks." It disappears after about 20 seconds, after which consent is assumed
Another joining between the generations is emerging as both presidential candidates and young people take advantage of FaceBook's potential in political campaigns. The Washington Post reported early this month that, "For Candidates, Web is Power and Poison." To quote,
Candidates use the Internet to generate buzz, draw grass-roots support and raise record amounts of money. But in the intense, round-the-clock world of online presidential campaigning, the good comes with the bad.

. . . Facebook, the online sociopolitical hub of the moment, is the unofficial capital of anti-Clinton country: One group, Stop Hillary Clinton, has more than half a million members, compared with the nearly 51,000 who have signed up as supporters on her Facebook profile. It's the largest group on Facebook against a candidate.
Time is money to front-running candidates such as Hillary Clinton. Her meetings have clear agendas and rarely devolve into open-ended “brainstorming” sessions. Candidates who are successful will have plenty of technically savvy folks on staff. The Google Calendar, for example, has a public calendar that incorporates the campaign schedules of all the major candidates. My calendar shows, for example, that Senator Clinton will be in Sac City and Ft. Dodge Iowa today. Incidentally, this post is not intended as free advertising for Hillary Clinton. I am waiting a long time to decide for which Democrat to vote. I merely used her story for continuity.

My world makes more sense to me when I am able to put seemingly conflicting ideas together. Today is November 24, and the threads that weave together commercial advertising, the "free," "political," and "social networking" aspects of the internet, and concerns for privacy are of immense interest to me. (I am known as the *"queen of synthesis" by one of my early readers). I often blog about security and civil liberties, the 2008 presidential campaign, and the blogosphere.

It is my conclusion, therefore, that I am a very lucky elder who wants the best for today's younger "Techies." It is my hope that, through the experience of "feeling invaded" by the website in which they have such an emotional and intellectual investment, they will more clearly understand the larger value of Constitutional privacy protections. I further hope that, as a result of our mutual areas of deeper awareness, all ages can join in greater and more responsible use of technology. It is an awesome resource for getting to know each other better, for smart buying and voting, for being a more freedom loving citizen, and for electing the best candidates for office.

*Reference from for "synthesis:"
Information Theory -- This is the fifth level in Bloom's taxonomy and deals with the task of putting together parts to form a new whole. This might involve working with parts and putting them together in a creative new way, or using old ideas to come up with new ones.
"The translation of input requirements (including performance, function, and interface) into possible solutions (resources and techniques) satisfying those inputs. Defines a physical architecture of people, product and process solutions for logical groupings of requirements (performance, functions, and interface) and their designs for those solutions.
The implementation of dialectic reasoning in the research and development of a solution.
(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)
My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.
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betmo said...

you do have a talent for connecting the dots :) which is why i always send you the good stuff to do something with :) i am 30 something and i am one of the last generations to have grown up sans computer from a young age. i have only had the internet for about 2 years- and cable a little longer than that. it blows my mind what you can learn and see and do with the internet. it also blows my mind that so many folks are so trusting. me included. leap of faith i guess :)

Carol Gee said...

Thanks, b. I have a little basket set aside for your stuff.
I got my first computer in 1999, and I discover something delightful (or demoralizing) every day. That is the nature of the beast. I think it is like a friendly Chinese dragon though, not a monster.
Yes, we are trusting, and I think that is the way I want to live.

The Future Was Yesterday said...

I didn't get a computer until I was 40; I'm 58.5 now. I was lucky. I was schooled about the web by a person with a healthy skepticism, and it has served me well, when looking out for those little, disappearing boxes. Technology is indeed wonderful, but at the same time, it allows us to become more isolated from each other than ever.

Carol Gee said...

Future, I feel the same risk of isolation. For instance, I am sometimes torn between answering an e-mail from a local friend and composing today's S/SW piece. My sister once called it, "the tyranny of e-mail." I don't go that far, but it does make me feel ambivalent. Thanks for your comment, as always.