My Relationship to Information

I remember many years ago hearing about the “new age” we were entering. The Industrial Age was long gone. We were at the beginning of the Information Age. At the time, I could sort of accept that. Later, I read that people would actually pay to get information. What nonsense! Libraries were free.

We seemed to have slipped into giving personal information away for free. In exchange, we get free services such as Google and Facebook.

The history of my phone use tells the story of our societal shifting relationship to information. My first awareness is that of my rural living wife. She told me the fun she had. The crank phone that hung on the wall – short-long-short, was the ring for her ranch house. Some of the information readily available was obtained by listening in on the “party line.” This configuration had several families on THE one telephone line, distinguished only by the rhythm of the cranks. We didn’t give our personal info away very freely. “Mr. Smith, please get off the line!”

My personal recollection was the more familiar black desk or wall phone. I was younger and remembered my babysitter trying to call her home, just a few doors down the street. The line was busy all night. That’s how we discovered who was our modern-day party line. Very modern actually, as you now couldn’t eavesdrop. Privacy rules were creeping into our lives.

Jumping ahead many years to just after I began my Movin’ On from full-time employment, I bought the iPhone X – that’s 10 years after the first iPhone. I quickly adopted it as an essential tool to both access and share information.

Three years later, I bought an iWatch that does many things the cell phone does even more conveniently if that’s possible. It does a few things my phone doesn’t do. It takes my ECG and blood oxygen levels, even while I sleep.

Encroaching is the best word I could find to describe the gradual erosion of information I can keep to myself. I still want to function in an ever-increasing digital world.

Please give this a bit of a think.

What information do you mind not sharing in exchange for some benefit? That’s a big question. Here is a smaller bite. Suppose Google Search would stop tracking what you search for and stop following you around the internet universe. How much would you pay for a monthly subscription?

Remember, there would be no targeted popup ads with this arrangement, including those irresistible ones for the special at your favourite restaurant. What else might you not see on your screen that you’d miss?

I just donated to Wikipedia. It is a search site, not-for-profit, that doesn’t do the tracking of commercial sites.

How much would you be willing to pay to stop being trapped into sharing your personal information? Is some personal information more critical than others? Is constant tracking of your phone location a priority risk for you?

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please leave me your comment below.

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

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And my thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.

Glenn Walmsley

Volunteer

TheBlog@stalbertseniors.ca

4 thoughts on “My Relationship to Information

  1. Elizabeth Ashton says:

    Hi, great blog.

    Funnily enough various activities, not least the sense of Google snooping on every search and trying to second guess interests and sales opportunities, led me to reconsider how I search for information. As a result instead of Google I use Ecosia search engine, https://www.ecosia.org/ It is a search engine where every search helps plant trees, privacy is protected ( e.g. data is not sold to advertisers and there are no third party trackers) and they have complete financial transparency, as well as paying all taxes.

    I had never considered that in giving up googling I could still search the internet but perhaps in just a tiny way try to save the world.

    • glenn says:

      Thanks for your comment. I have never heard of the Ecosia search option. I did things in reverse order and installed the extension in my Chrome browser. It was very slick to do – may be too easy as I felt as if it had suddenly become my default browser. I then used Ecosia to search for reviews on itself. It had its upside but mainly focused on carbon footprint, paying taxes and transparency. It seems to use Bing to do its searching. Reviews didn’t know but questioned if Bing was scrapping our information and using it – technically Ecosia wasn’t keeping my info.

      When something is free on the Internet and it isn’t obviously just a hobby interest I always look for how they get their money to sustain the service. This one had a lot of holes so I deleted the extension. It is so hard to get affordable service without giving up too much unnecessary and unrelated privacy. I should write a blog about that. Oh, wait. I already did.

      Thanks again, your comment was much appreciated.

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