I use the idea of peak indifference to describe the moment when activists no longer have to try to convince people that a problem is real (the problem does that itself, by ruining ever-more-people's lives), and then the job switched to convincing people that it's not too late to do something about it (if the day you finally decide to take rhino population declines seriously is the day they announce there's only one rhino left, there's a powerful temptation to shoot that rhino and find out what it tastes like).
Peak indifference is the moment at which a far-off problem becomes so obvious that the number of people alarmed about it begins to grow of its own accord; a new Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication survey finds that 46% of Americans believe that they are living through adverse effects from climate change right now (up 9% in a year) and 72% of Americans say climate change is '"extremely," "very," or "somewhat" important to them personally' (the highest figure ever recorded); 57% acknowledge the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change (also the highest level ever).
Five years ago, I coined the term "peak indifference" to describe a moment when a public health problem — like climate change, tobacco use, surveillance capitalism, or monopolism — reaches a tipping point: the moment when the consequences of actions taken a long time ago and very far away start to be felt so widely that the number of people who believe there is a problem starts to grow of its own accord. — Read the rest
My latest Locus column, "Peak Indifference", draws a comparison between the history of the "debate" about the harms of smoking (a debate manufactured by disinformation merchants with a stake in the controversy) and the current debate about the harms of surveillance and data-collection, whose proponents say "privacy is dead," while meaning, "I would be richer if your privacy were dead."
The Pew Internet Project has updated its must-read 2013 work on privacy perception in the post-Snowden era with a survey of American attitudes to privacy and surveillance that shows that the number of Americans who worry about privacy is steeply rising. — Read the rest
In my latest Guardian column, I suggest that we have reached "peak indifference to spying," the turning point at which the number of people alarmed by surveillance will only grow. It's not the end of surveillance, it's not even the beginning of the end of surveillance, but it's the beginning of the beginning of the end of surveillance.
Our Boing Boing partner Cory Doctorow—activist and author of Chokepoint Capitalism, Attack Surface, and, of course, Little Brother, among other books—is interviewed in The New Yorker! The freewheeling and informative conversation with Christopher Byrd spans the "mediocre monopolists" of Big Tech, the salience of cyberpunk, the danger of pseudonymity, and his experience of Fingerspitzengefühl for computers. — Read the rest
During a lunch break at the "New Future for Antitrust" conference at the University of Utah, Lina Khan (previously), Marshall Steinbaum (previously), and Tim Wu (previously) drafted "https://onezero.medium.com/the-utah-statement-reviving-antimonopoly-traditions-for-the-era-of-big-tech-e6be198012d7"The Utah Statement, setting out a program for fighting monopolies beyond the mere revival and exercise of antitrust law, premised on the notion "that concentrated private power has become a menace, a barrier to widespread prosperity." — Read the rest
A Pew Study found that 60% of Americans believe that they are being continuously tracked by companies and the government, 69% mistrust the companies doing the tracking, 80% believe that advertisers and social media sites are collecting worrisome data, 79% think the companies lie about breaches, and 80% believe that nothing they do will make a difference.
Garrett Hardin's 1968 Science essay "The Tragedy of the Commons" is one of the most widely assigned readings in the past ten years' worth of university syllabi; notionally, it describes how property that is held in common is prone to overuse and exhaustion, while privatization creates an owner who has an incentive to serve as a wise steward over the resource.
My latest LA Times book review is for Naomi Klein's new essay collection, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, which traces more than a decade of Klein's outstanding, on-the-ground reports from the pivotal struggle to begin the transformational work needed to save our species and the rest of the Earth's living things from a devastating, eminently foreseeable, and ultimately avoidable climate catastrophe.
It's easy to think of climate denial as a right-wing phenomenon, but a growing and ultra-violent strain of white-nationalism also embraces climate science, in the worst way possible.
While it's true that the Pew Center found that most US Facebook users don't understand how they're being tracked and targeted, the more important fact is that the number of Americans who do understand this, hate it and are deleting their Facebook accounts because of it is growing fast. — Read the rest
Bruce Schneier (previously) has spent literal decades as part of the vanguard of the movement to get policy makers to take internet security seriously: to actually try to make devices and services secure, and to resist the temptation to blow holes in their security in order to spy on "bad guys." In Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World, Schneier makes a desperate, impassioned plea for sensible action, painting a picture of a world balanced on the point of no return.
Amidst a global heatwave, some good news from the National Surveys on Energy and the Environment: a record-setting 73% of Americans believe that climate change is real and 60% believe humans are "at least partially responsible" for this fact. It's the peak indifference moment, when the fight shifts from convincing people that there is a problem to convincing them that it's not too late to do something about it.
UPDATE: The event at Flyleaf is at 6PM, not 7!
IBM Security's 2018 survey of 4,000 adults worldwide found that for the first time in the history of their research, the majority of users say that they'd take extra steps in the name of "security" even if it meant that their usage would be less "convenient."
Information security is a race between peak indifference to surveillance and the point of no return for data-collection and retention.
My new Locus column is "It's Time to Short Surveillance and Go Long on Freedom," which starts by observing that Barack Obama's legacy includes a beautifully operationalized, professional and terrifying surveillance apparatus, which Donald Trump inherits as he assumes office and makes ready to make good on his promise to deport millions of Americans and place Muslims under continuous surveillance.
As Schneier points out, the way this is spun ("only 39% of people did something because of Snowden") is bullshit: the headline number is that more than 700 million people are in the market for a product that barely exists, and that could make more money than Facebook if you get it right.