Greetings! Been awhile.
I’ve been even farther off the grid than usual lately. For the most part, I keep a discrete distance, but in the last four months I’ve even abandoned this blog. There are a number of reasons, but I’m just going to write about one today.
I grew up in a world where you got what you paid for, at least in theory. That world still exists, to some degree, but huge chunks of it have been supplanted by a world in which what you get depends on how much you are willing to divulge: lots of smart corporations have figured out that having all of your personal information can be more valuable than having a portion of your money.
Some people don’t really care about their privacy, as long as it’s not being invaded by a government, so this is fine with them. There are many others, I suspect, who don’t really understand that their personal information is being collected and analyzed by multiple anonymous entities around the world. They click on user agreements, like stuff, and share pictures without a thought about how sophisticated data collection has become.
I’m aware that these kinds of observations can quickly sound paranoid, and maybe that’s what I am, but just as often I am a willing partner in the system. Once in a while, though, I get sick of it and just shut my participation down.
Though I suppose those occasional shut-downs can be as informative to data-collectors as anything else.
This all connects with music, of course, or I probably wouldn’t be writing about it here. Coming back to where I started, I like the idea of paying money, something to which I have no personal attachment, for the things I want. And I would much rather be paid money for the things I’m good at (eg music) than gather personal information. But more and more people want music for free, not realizing that they are paying for the music they listen to through vast systems of data collection, or else feeling that maybe that form of sharing is a fair trade-off.
It doesn’t feel fair to me. Money leaves my hands with barely a shadow; my personal information sticks around long after the transaction takes place.
To raise awareness of this issue, it occurs to me that I should start amending the commissioning contracts I’ve been signing all these years. Maybe I could add a line like composer agrees not to collect your passwords, lists of movies you’ve watched and music you’ve listened to, address book contents, and other personal data.
Money — just pay me what I’m worth in money, and your privacy will be maintained.
I know, it’s a lot to ask.