Archive for the ‘google’ Tag
OK Google, did the Holocaust happen?
So as you know, as a Gmail user, Google scan the contents of all your emails, regardless of the confidentiality or sensitivity of the content, in order to target advertising at you – and, it turns out, possibly forward stuff to the US National Security Agency. Google’s lawyers refer to it euphemistically as “automated processing” (DoubleSpeak at its finest). Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, memorably used the C Word in summarising the corporate policy behind this: “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”
In May a class action centred on data-mining was filed against Google claiming that the company “unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people’s private email messages”. Google’s response last month was that Gmail users have no “reasonable expectation” that their emails are confidential.
The Google lawyers use this telling analogy in their defence: “Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their communications are processed by the recipient’s ECS [electronic communications service] provider in the course of delivery.” The skewed nature of their world view is given away by the notion that the modern world of work is full of people with personal assistants. And of course the analogy is equally wide of the mark because Google is more like the Post Office where we have no expectation of the deliverer to open the envelope and “acquire” our content or that of our correspondents (and where what interventions there are are the work of the odd rogue low-life at Mount Pleasant rather than a planned mechanised system on an uber-industrial scale).
Beyond the question of whether Gmail users do actually understand what they are signing up for in terms of surrendering their basic privacy, a huge issue here is that anyone corresponding with a Gmail user is likewise having their data pillaged and raped. Which should raise a big question mark over the use of Gmail in business contexts. Some way beyond the creepy line I’d argue and I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be the wrong side of the legal line too.
I was in Rottingdean the other day with the Enfants Terribles when we passed a small shop called Serendipity. I asked them whether they knew what it meant and I ended up explaining it in terms of the Google ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ button (which I have to admit I’ve never quite got and always struck me as a bit of a lack of imagination on the part of the presser – it really isn’t difficult in the era of the Web to go on your own random or serendipitous journey).
The Wikipedia entry for Serendipity (which Google freakily informs me Aleks Krotoski shared on tumblr.com on 29 Apr 2011, Aleks having appeared at The Story #1 in February 2010) is one of its more charming entries:
“Serendipity means a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it. The word has been voted one of the ten English words hardest to translate in June 2004 by a British translation company. [prime wikispam] However, due to its sociological use, the word has been exported into many other languages. Julius H. Comroe once described serendipity as : to look for a needle in a haystack and get out of it with the farmer’s daughter.”
Meanwhile, over on the other side of Brighton… towards Hove/Portslade my former colleague at Channel 4, Matt Locke, was busy putting the finishing touches to his The Story conference, like the programme for the day which was etched into bars of dark chocolate. When Matt started this one day gathering in 2010 it was a labour of love alongside his day job at C4. I thoroughly enjoyed that first iteration and recorded 4 things I learned from it on Simple Pleasures part 4. It’s interesting looking back at that entry today: the first thing I learnt was:
1) The best conferences (like this one) have only two outputs – Inspiration and catalysing Connections between people.
The same held good for #2 last year featuring the likes of a controversial Adam Curtis, writer Graham Linehan and photographer Martin Parr. I think I was too indolent to write up last year’s.
Connections, inspiration and creativity are the meat and two veg of this blog and what the Web is wonderful at catalysing. Straight after exiting Conway Hall yesterday I met up with Karyn Reeves who was waiting just outside, a statistician from Perth, Australia who specialises in analysing mathematical patterns around AIDS infection. Karyn is only the second person I’ve met in real life through having made contact online. The first was Sandra, a street art aficionado from Jaffa. Karyn writes a lovely blog about vintage Penguin books, which she collects and reads weekly, and I came across her in the wake of reading an old Penguin I picked up at random in my local bookshop, Black Gull, about the trial of Roger Casement. By chance Casement’s defence lawyer, I read, had his chambers at 4 Raymond Buildings from where my best friend now operates. What a tangled Web we weave. So Karyn and I headed back from The Story 3 to Black Gull where she picked up a few more P-p-p-enguins.
Meanwhile back at the start of the day… Meg Pickard of The Guardian, with whom I got into a lively online discussion at one of the earlier two The Story s about where The Guardian should gather their user-generated photos of Antony Gormley’s One and Other (which we were discussing here and he was explaining here), kicked off the proceedings with a quick update from The Ministry of Stories, the excellent local children’s literacy project based in a Monsters Supplies shop in Hoxton and championed by the likes of Nick Hornby. Part of the ticket price for The Story goes to the now thriving, volunteer-driven project. It’s great to see such a thing burgeoning in Hoxton – when I was a teenager my step-dad would drive me past there on the way to Petticoat Lane where I worked on the market stall outside his shop, he’d point past some grim Victorian estate and say ” ‘Oxton, arse-hole of the universe, never go there, son.” How it has come on over the years…
Next up was Matt Sheret of LastFM in discussion with producer Simon Thornton of Fat Boy Slim fame about telling stories through the album form. Simon was the fella behind the brilliant remix of Brimful of Asha (way better than the original) as well as the marvelous Turn On Tune In Cop Out by Freakpower. The whole debate about the patterns of music consumption in the Web/On Demand age and the relationship between albums and single tracks is a fascinating one still, and particularly for me at the moment as I’m working on a development to do with a classic album with Bob Geldof’s gang at Ten Alps and Universal Music, very much shaped around a carefully constructed sequence of 9 great songs which may or may not now be a thing of the past (I take Simon’s side, but I would wouldn’t I).
At this point Channel 4 wove back in in the form of artist Jeremy Deller, currently setting up his one-man show at the Hayward on the South Bank and the prime mover of Artangel’s The Battle of Orgreave, commissioned and funded by C4. He sees the ’84-’85 miners’ strike as a critical moment in British history (it gets its own room in his soon-to-open retrospective) and that programme/artistic re-enactment as a way of “exhuming a corpse to give it a proper post-mortem”. He spoke about how everyone of our generation remembers where they were when the miners took on ‘The Iron Lady’ (in spite of the fact I’d voted for her [Streep not Thatch] Meryl Streep’s apology [in the Miltonian sense of explanation/justification] for the strange politics of that movie at the BAFTAs the other night is still bugging me) – my other half was up in Ayrshire making her graduation film about the miners’ wives with a dodgy old University of Ulster camera, while I was visiting my oldest friend at Baliol where a furious debate about how to support the strike was erupting in their common room, featuring toffs in donkey jackets as well as more grown-up, committed people than me, who was still relying on the likes of Joe Strummer and Elvis Costello to give me some political insight). Deller’s still- image only presentation was one of the highlights of the day for me, centred on one iconic photograph of a miner father and his glam rock showbiz son.
Next up, blogger Liz Henry who told the fascinating story of A Gay Girl in Damascus, a murky tale of hoaxing and fictional blogging (an area I find fascinating as an emerging writing form and which formed a substantial part of the now traditional annual Story lunch with Tim Wright and Rob Bevan, the former in particular much interested in this territory [and the person who taught me the value of the image-only presentation when I helped host the launch of his outstanding In Search of Oldton project at Channel 4 HQ a few years ago]). I learnt a lovely new word too ‘Sockpuppeting’ – to comment on your own blog both positively and negatively as a way of stimulating interest/activity. One of the interesting facts that emerged was that The Guardian published the initial story without establishing proper (off-line) sources based on people who had actually met the Gay Girl in question in real life (shades of Karyn above and Tom/Emily below).
Late on Thursday afternoon, the eve of The Story, I met for the first time Anthony Owen, Head of Magic (arguably the best job-title in the business) at Objective TV, home of Derren Brown. We were kicking off a project to do with consumerism. Lo and behold within 18 hours he’s up on stage before me doing a magic trick and explaining the role of narrative within that art/entertainment form. Particularly interesting for me as the youngest Enfant Terrible has recently become obsessed with performing magic, daily learning tricks off of YouTube and practising them with his chums over Skype (before posting them back on YouTube and Facebook). Anthony singled out the quality of encapsulating “something we’d love to have happen” (e.g. being psychic, becoming immortal, etc.) as the defining characteristic of a great trick – so sawing a woman in half only to reunite the two still living ends is a story about immortality which also has the key quality of being sum-upable in a sentence.
Coincidence and serendipity came to the fore again in the afternoon when Emily Bell, formerly of The Guardian online and now teaching at Columbia (who I first had the pleasure of hanging out with on the panel of judges she lead at The Guardian Student Journalism Awards a few years ago, in The Ivy so clearly a former era) interviewed Tom Watson MP about the phone-hacking scandal whilst: Meanwhile across town… in Wapping Rupert Murdoch was entering the newsroom of the Currant Bun and sticking two Aussie fingers up at the British establishment and public, who momentarily humiliated him last summer, by announcing the impending launch of The Sun on Sunday. The audience was riveted by the recounting of events from both the MP and Guardian perspectives, and the interview typified the rich and perfectly balanced mix of contributions making up the day’s programme. Watson predicted that there was a massive PC/Data hacking dimension to the scandal still to break.
Vying with Deller for highlight of the day was Scott Burnham. The last time I met Scott was in the back of a Nissan Cube in which he was filming me spouting on about why I love London. At this year’s The Story he spoke vibrantly about design in the city and urban play through a classic tale of 7 Coins, the last vestiges of a beautiful public art project in Amsterdam. He told of the construction of a Stefan Sagmeister piece made up of 250,000 one cent pieces and its subsequent thoughtless destruction by dumb cops who were trying to protect the raw cash (still held as evidence in the police station). His conclusion was that we’ll always have Paris… I mean, we’ll always have Amsterdam… he means, we always have the story if not the creation itself. He took the 7 coins, painted blue on one side, out of his pocket to show me and the Royal College of Art’s Bronac Ferran as we chatted outside the hall during the tea break.
Also up in contention as a highlight was artist Ellie Harrison, author of Confessions of a Recovering Data Collector. She started her work focused on gathering everyday data on her life or ‘life tracking’ at Nottingham Trent university art school and then later at Glasgow School of Art (where our host Matt once studied). An early such work was ‘Eat 22’ in which she recorded everything she ate for a year in 1,560 photos. At the start of her talk she positioned herself firmly as a Thatcher’s Child (a resonant link back to Deller’s earlier session) and was sporting a Bring Back British Rail T-shirt (a campaign she champions, also resonant as my aforementioned best-friend above worked on that Kafkaesque privitisation). So food and beyond, Ellie’s obsession and the thread through her work seems to be with Consumption – she spoke about her development with great humour and insight (including into her own compulsions). From ‘Eat 22’ she went on to record all her everyday actions in a spreadsheet, in turn converted to colour-coded graphs, which is when the addiction kicked in. I was sitting in a brainstorm at an indie production company a couple of weeks ago discussing mental health and happiness when a colleague I have know a long time revealed he’s been keeping a numerical record of his mood on a precise scale of 1 to 100 every day for well over a decade, with the last five years available likewise in Excel form. So art/fiction are no stranger than life.
Preloaded I have known since they were born, as I worked with founder Paul Canty, as well as Rob Bevan and Tim Wright, on a game called MindGym way back when. Paul’s colleague, Phil Stuart, and writer Tom Chatfield talked us through the game of self-discovery, death and philosophy they made for Channel 4 Education – The End. This rounded off a fine day, alongside Karen Lubbock and Jeremy Leslie on mags and Karen magazine in paricular, ‘a magazine made out of the ordinary’, and a lively turn from Danny O’Brien on josticks, hacking, anarchy and the universe. And where can you go from there…
LAST UPDATED: 12.xii.11 (EoC)
In the spirit of the earlier, still in progress 50 People Who Buggered Up Britain – and to avoid, in these troubled times, a ball of anger seasoned with irritation and sprinkled with misanthropy gradually turning into a malignant growth somewhere in this fine body the Big Man was kind enough to lend me – I’ve decided to start a list of the Friends and Enemies of Carlotta. Feel free to suggest candidates for either…
Enemies of Carlotta
- Corporation tax cheats: Google – they set the standards for taking no social responsibility in the territories they exploit, squeezing the most they can out of a morethansemi-monopolistic situation
- Corporation tax cheats/duplicitous businesses: Kraft – manoeuvring to take a progressive, visionary Victorian business out of the tax regime of the country which created it – Cadbury’s secret Swiss move will cost UK exchequer millions in tax
- Duplicitous individuals: Sepp Blatter – robbed £16M in broad Swiss daylight including the cash of hard-pressed city councils (looks like Morrison’s may take FIFA to court on this count in Switzerland)
- Duplicitous individuals: Jack Warner – not the cozy cop from Dock Green but the corrupt cock from Trinidad & Tobago – see Corruption Charges “FIFA’s auditors Ernst & Young estimated Warner’s family made a profit of at least $1 million from reselling 2006 World Cup tickets that Warner had ordered. Minutes of FIFA’s executive committee indicate that a fine of almost $1 million, equal to the expected profiteering, was imposed on the family. Despite numerous reminders from FIFA, only $250,000 has been paid. // After Trinidad and Tobago visited Scotland for the friendly match on 30th May 2004 in Edinburgh, Jack Warner asked SFA President John McBeth for the cheque for the game to be made out to him personally and not to the FA of Trinidad and Tobago. McBeth refused to issue the cheque to Warner.”
- Corporation tax cheats: Vodaphone – Watching the backlash from avoiding £6M of corporation tax #mademesmile – now people need to PAC a punch by moving their accounts away
- Wayne Rooney and the England World Cup 2010 football team – didn’t even look like they gave a damn when they got knocked out, sorry shower
- Rebekah Wade/Brooks – one can only hope she, Murdoch and the Sky deal get dragged down in the emerging News of the World phone hacking scandal to show how if you operate without morality with a bit of luck it eventually catches up with you (I know the world doesn’t work quite like that but we can dream) [22.i.11]
- Caroline Spelman, so called Environment Secretary – someone remind her she’s supposed to be protecting the environment, not selling it alongside her own grandma
- Brian Coleman – fat cat councillor/London Assembly member, mummy’s boy, too grand to walk
- Angela Knight, Chief Executive, British Bankers’ Association – excuses the inexcusable, especially around banking reform. I want my savings insulated from her members’ (in every sense) partially informed gambling.
- Subway franchise – What the fuck is that smell?
- Alain Rolland – What the fuck is that smell? The man who ruined the Rugby World Cup 2011 single-handedly (15.x.11)
- Thierry Henry – he got a statue outside the Emirates last week (w/e 9/xii/11) but he should be remembered above all as a tricheur, the man who robbed Ireland of their place at the World Cup Finals in South Africa (even though it was one of the worst World Cups ever)
- Colin Barrow, Leader of Westminster Council, who is pretending the proposed weekend and evening parking charges in the borough are not motivated by revenue generation – perhaps he could start his money raising by paying back the money his hedge fund owes the council & Councillor Lee Rowley, cabinet member for parking and transport, some kind of moron with no experience worth talking of
Friends of Carlotta
- Voina artists co-operative in Russia – taking on the KGB and corrupt police with Art
- David Beckham – worthy (emotional and dignified) winner of BBC Sports Personality of 2010 Lifetime Achievement award – I was there when he was sent off against Argentina at St Etienne and how he came back not just as an even better footballer but as a very fine human-being
- Gareth Bale – bringing long lost joy back to White Hart Lane (or White Hard Lane as I saw on a West End ticket booth yesterday)
- Alastair Cook, cricketer/batsman – hero of the 2010-11 Ashes series in Oz with 766 runs to his name (with another innings still to play) and 189 today (5.1.11) to pretty much secure the victory
- Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, founder of Mary’s Meals, a Scottish charity which feeds and educates 460,000 children in developing countries every day.
- Rolf Harris – what a lovely man – soon to feature as the Art Teacher in Jamie’s Dream School
- more to follow
‘My Google Team’ sent me (and zillions of other punters like me) this message over the holidays [to which I’ve added my own thoughts in square brackets]:
“Merry Christmas from Google
As we near the end of the year, we wanted to take a moment to thank you for the time, energy, commitment, and trust [and personal information] you’ve shared with us in 2009.
With sharing in mind, this year we’ve decided to do something a little different. We hope you’ll find it fits the spirit of the Christmas season.
We’re looking forward to working with [working on?] you to build lasting success [for our corporation/international quasi-monopoly] in 2010.
With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year,
Your Google Team”
Call me a cynic if you like but international near-monopolies bother me for this kind of reason…
According to the recently published accounts for Google UK for 2008 on £1.6 Billion of ad revenue from this country Google UK paid £141,519 in corporation tax. Our Google Team avoided £450M of UK corporation tax by channeling all its advertising earnings from UK customers through its Irish subsidiary. Now Ireland’s got problems of its own of course but all signs are that Google doesn’t give a monkey’s about them either – Google’s Dublin operation’s latest accounts show that only €7.5m of tax was paid in the Emerald Isle in 2008, even though the lion’s share of Google’s €6.7 billion European earnings went through Ireland.
In that same year of £1.6 Billion UK revenue Google UK donated £5,662 to charity.
The fact Google can’t spell “reggae” has been bothering me all Christmas. (It makes this link from the above message feel rather thrown together, and it already felt as calculated and American-centric as the corporation itself.)
Google is putting back graphic design by years with its second-rate illustrations, not least over these holidays.
I’m being a bit silly of course but there is a fundamental issue here – it’s a fundamentally parasitical entity, sucking ad revenue off to the US (some 13% of Google’s global revenues now come from the UK) without putting much back into this country and not really caring about it. Which is why a message like the above rings so hollow, more balls than (jingle) bells. And on that metallic theme, why I won’t be embracing Chrome at the expense of much less evil Firefox.
China evidently blocked access to Twitter two days ago, two days before the sensitive 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Other Internet services that seem to have become inaccessible include Hotmail, Flickr and search engine Bing.
In recent years, access to YouTube, Western media outlets and many other websites has also been blocked, often before or after ‘sensitive’ events. And now’s a good moment to remember those who blocked themselves.
A few days after the blog of artist and government critic Ai Weiwei was shut down, he simply opened a new one (which you can see here, in Chinese). Ai also uses Twitter.
Only 22% of eligible British voters have declared their intention to vote in the European and county council elections today. In 2004 the turnout in Britain for the European parliamentary elections was 38.9%.
Chat rooms monitored. Blogs deleted. Websites blocked. Search engines restricted. People imprisoned for simply posting and sharing information.
The Internet is a new frontier in the struggle for human rights. Governments – with the help of some of the biggest IT companies in the world – are cracking down on freedom of expression … learn more
Got a blog or website?
Sexperience making good Google impact – on Day 1 of new series ranking #1 of 532,000,000 on searching “sex education” (where it has resided since the last series in Sept 08) and #2 of 731,000,000 on searching “sex”!
Nice piece in Broadcast about this today
First a Russian idiot and now the blank generation… No followers, no updates, just me in his/her/its sights. Why me?
I tried calling the Paranoia Helpline but they asked me to ‘please hold while your call is traced’.
Eventually I calmed down a bit about the whole thing, and then got this funny feeling I was being Googled…