Why Regulatory Control misses the Point

Writing on the 10th of June a post programmed for publication on the 18th of June, I do not dare to refer to ‘the latest scandal’ dealing with Facebook-security issues – it does not really matter as sooner or later others will follow, perhaps one between writing and publishing. Reading an article (by Alexis Madrigal, published on the 4th of June) that wants to inform the reader about

W,hat We Know About Facebook’s Latest Data Scandal,

I stumble upon the following sentence right at the beginning:

Facebook said this special access to data existed only for old devices that did not have a native Facebook application.

It also shows why any regulation and stricter control of security will not solve the underlying problem. Reading the sentence slowly reveals its exact meaning, suggesting that Facebook is actually saying “go with us the entire way – otherwise we let you go.” It is not only about using FB as social networking tool but its home made application etc. Moving the analysis from here to the main point shows that we are not “only” concerned with the envisaged control of a dubious advertising bubble market

(cut from: http://view.stern.de/de/rubriken/streetlife/berlin-street-fruehling-seifenblasen-clown-entertainer-original-3849611.html?k=3045&r=9)

Instead, at the centre we find a major overall shift of control of capital in terms of concentralisation, i.e. concentration and centralisation closely interwoven. The aim is taking at least for the time being total control over an entire sector of capital movement, going far beyond advertisement. Reading later in the said article that

(t)he drive for growth led Facebook to share data with device manufacturers. Device manufacturers were competing for market share themselves, and needed a Facebook experience to be competitive

reveals the meaning: control over complex processes of accumulation. “The winner takes all” translates into a “modern” version of absolutism: “society, that is me” – signed Gates, Jobs, Zuckerbergs … As Steve Jobs supposedly said

It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy.

Pirates, that is what they surely are – and it surely makes little sense asking pirates to accept rules that control piracy.

Looking closer at the scene, not individual cases, some feeling of unease must remain:

I.

Though I would not share the positive assessment of the US-hearing suggested in the article, the result in Washington and Brussels surely had been similar:

Here is what most people feel after seeing the European Parliament hearing of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: The questions were tough but the format was rubbish. This is in contrast to Zuckerberg’s hearings in Washington DC last month where the format was right but questions were rubbish. The end result though was same in all hearings, in Europe and the US: Zuckerberg easily avoided answering tough questions.

II.

Should we really widely ignore – acceptimg that we may have temporary personal advantage – that Ryanair, whose pilot had been at least “independent entrepreneurs” – opens now also to RyanairRoom, apparently marking a strategic move from putting existing accommodation-businesses under pressure to directly controlling them?

III.

Is it by accident that APPLE’s tax-avoidance policy in Ireland is especially now being issued again – now, after moving back to the US?

IV.

A nasty tiny thing at the end: Seeing Zuckerberg giving his “testimony” in Brussels, I am asking myself, after hearing again all the gratefulness also of the EU-politicians (admittedly not as bad it had been as in Washington) … – who paid for his flight, a flight that didn’t even allow Mr. Z to stay really to the end? – Well. the rushed leave saved the tax payer at least paying for his dinner …

Annunci

science – new readings from the tea leaves

It is surely getting exciting now – on the back-cover of the book
Abundance – The Future Is Better Than You Think
authored by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler we read:
Breaking down human needs by category – water, food, energy, health care, education, freedom – Diamandis arm Kotler introduce us to dozens of innovators and industry captains making tremendous strides in each area: Dean Kamens’ Slingshot, a technology that can transform polluted water, salt water or even raw sewage into high-quality drinking water for less than one cent a liter; Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE which promises a low-cost, handheld medical device that allows anyone to diagnose themselves better than a board certified-doctor; Dickson Despommier’s ‘vertical farms,’ which replaces traditional agriculture with a system that uses 80 percent less land, 90 percent less water, 10 percent fewer pesticides, and zero transportation costs.
Now, I am not scientist but social scientist – and some scientists insist that there is a difference, science being the only ‘precise’ and ‘reliable’. Admitting that I am social scientist ‘only’, and thus speaking so to say as layperson, I still dare to conclude that something is odd:
zero transportation cost means the stuff grows from nowhere, just being there as the famous honey and milk rivers, the roasted pigeons just waiting to find a open throat and probably we all standing there, mutated to cows.
Oh, lads, mind: there is huge difference between scientific analysis and reading tea leaves as there is a difference between peoples’ visionary dreams and nightmares that are only profitable for minorities.
And that
[t]he authors also provide a detailed reference section filled with ninety graphs, charts and graphics offering much of the source data underpinning their conclusions
reminds a bit of the claim of most of religions: you have to believe, even if you cannot see it. And in case of doubt we make things visible.
What makes all this even more interesting is that New Princes, self-nominated, as for instance Ray Kurzweil and Sir Richard Branson are full of praise of the book – those are major players of RIP = RIp-off Profit businesses, exactly those who followed the Thatcherite programmatic of There is no such thing as society, which seems to translate well into – ‘We, the Soeders, Thatchers, Blairs, Zuckerbergs – sitting e.g. in Davos  on the Bilderberg, making sure that humankind’s future will end with stultified individuals, bleating like sheep.
Who ‘they’ are? – Here is what
Chrysta Freeland
writes in her book
PLUTOCRATS .THE RISE of the NEW GLOBAL SUPER-RICH and the FALL OF EVERYONE ELSE [39 f.]:

The best known of these events is the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, invitation to which marks an aspiring plutocrat’s arrival on the international scene—and where, in lieu of noble titles, an elaborate hierarchy of conference badges has such significance that one first-time participant remarked that the staring at his chest made him realize for the first time what it must be like to have cleavage. The Bilderberg Group, which meets annually at locations in Europe and North America, is more exclusive still—and more secretive—though it is more focused on geopolitics and less on global business and philanthropy. The Boao Forum, convened on Hainan Island each spring, offers evidence both of China’s growing economic importance and of its understanding of the culture of the global plutocracy. Bill Clinton is pushing hard to win his Clinton Global Initiative a regular place on the circuit. The annual TED conference (the acronym stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an important stop for the digerati, as is the DLD (Digital-Life- Design) gathering Israeli technology entrepreneur Yossi Vardi cohosts with publisher Hubert Burda in Munich each January (so convenient if you are en route to Davos). Herb Allen’s Sun Valley gathering is the place for media moguls, and the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival is for the more policy-minded, with a distinctly U.S. slant. There is nothing implicit, at these gatherings, about the sense of belonging to a global elite. As Chris Anderson, the curator of the TED talks, told one gathering: “Combined, our contacts reach pretty much everyone who’s interesting in the country, if not the planet.”
Recognizing the value of such global conclaves, some corporations have begun hosting their own. Among these is Google’s Zeitgeist conference, where I have moderated discussions for several years. One of its recent gatherings was held in May 2010 at the Grove, a former provincial estate in the English countryside whose three-hundred-acre grounds have been transformed into a golf course and whose high-ceilinged rooms are now decorated with a mixture of antique and contemporary furniture. (Mock Louis XIV chairs—made, with a wink, from high-end plastic—are much in evidence.) Cirque du Soleil offered the five hundred guests a private performance in an enormous tent erected on the grounds; the year before that, to celebrate its acquisition of YouTube, Google flew in overnight Internet sensations from around the world.

But mind …

Tragicomedy of Capitalism Today

A new video is uploaded, referring to short clips from a BBC-biography cast presenting Bill Gates . The presentation here is titled

Tragicomedy of Capitalism Today – A bit of Gates-Peeling

and looks with the reference to short excerpts from the film at some of the socio-cultural dimension of the tragicomedy.

— Tiny aspects – still, if it is true that we are witnessing a fundamental and deep-far reaching change of the ways we produce ad live together, it may be worthwhile to reflect as well a bit on the generational shift and on who this self-appointed avant-garde is.

The five sections are musing around the following items:

  • Predatory and Tributary Aspects of Capitalism Today
  • Alligator Capitalism
  • Cultural/historical heritage without inheritance tax
  • Sense of public service or missionary capitalism?
  • On horses, cars and Microsoft computers

It is a bit of ‘slow reading’ of the sign of apparently turbulent times.

References:

photo in present text: https: //tr3.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2017/12/13/7fa674ee-c595-4a22-867a-c5f27b5faaa6/resize/770x/dcc1b021beb10d381e6eed9ab560bd9f/istock-501221160.jpg

The Bill Gates Story: https://youtu.be/fu1fBJ9b0mQ

Garrett Hardin: The Tragedy of the Commons; i: Science, December 1968

Carol M. Rose, 1986: The Comedy of the Commons: Commerce, Custom, and Inherently Public Property; Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 1828; http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/fss_papers/1828

Wassily Leontief, 1983: National Perspective: The Definition of Problems and Opportunities; in: National Academy of Engineering: The Long-Term Impact of Technology on Employment and Unemployment; Washington: National Academy Press

Peter D. Norton, 2008: Fighting Traffic. The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City; Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England: The MIT Press

numerification

 

Recently I read in an article
that the value of their [the US Foundations’] increased more than 1,100 %.
Seeing move ‘beyond 100%’ is not unique.
Still I dare to wonder if and to which extent this kind of numerification, the pressure to put everything into banale figures, is reflecting some sort off loss of entirety, wholeness, the holistic nature of things.
On this occasion I remember  para from Goethe’s
Elective Affinities
reading in chapter four
It is a great annoyance,’ cried Eduard, ‘that one can no longer learn anything once and for all. Our ancestors observed their whole life long the instruction they received in their youth; but we have to learn anew every five years if we do not want to fall completely out of fashion.

Higher Administration versus Higher Education

Recently, Denis Rogatyuk wrote in a telesur article about

Britain: University Teachers Launch the Largest Strike in Modern History

There we find the sentence

university staff, lecturers, and students have organized picket lines, rallies, occupations and protests across all major cities in the country in their bid to defend their future livelihood and bring the university administration back to the negotiating table.

Well,it deserves some slow reading, becoming fully aware of the fact that administrators are not mentioned. – Admittedly and importantly,

In a number instances, the vice-chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Chris Day, came out in support of the academic staff’s decision to strike, while Glasgow University’s Vice-chancellor, Anton Muscatelli, joined the staff on the picket lines on February 27th. Even the Conservative Minister for Universities, Sam Gyimah, expressed support for further negotiations between UCU and UUK

[An image from a University and College Union rally in London on February 28th. | Photo: UCU]

Of course, the one point is simply a matter of the ‘organisational framework’: Administrations are formally responsible for dealing with the issues of payment. However, considering that today admin-staff in UK universities gets higher pay [raises] as academics, the underlying is getting clear: universities are money generating systems, the academic freedom and academic standard seems to be – in the institutional  light – increasingly a necessary, though not valued by-product – as it is with any other commodity. – Achieving high academic standards is a matter of private engagement.

In this context another point should be mentioned, though just anecdotal: I talked to several colleagues, who confirmed that forty, four-five percent of standard teaching is nowadays at their uiversity undertaken by casual teaching staff. Mind: standard teaching. These teachers, often highly committed, still have another commitment: paying rent and getting some food on the table.

Talking … – but about what?

It is apparently not just a phenomenon of our present time … – pretending to know, acting accordingly – and not acknowledging the need to know [about] the fundamental rules

Spencer’s own books were widely read, or at least widely discussed, in the closing decades of the nineteenth century and the opening years of the present one.

(John Kenneth Galbraith, 1958: The Affluent Society; London, Hamish Hamilton: 45)

– the difference between reading and discussing, similar to the often provided answers, before the question is really formulated and understood. Doesn’t it remind of the tennis-matches Herreweghe mentioned?

problems of language

It happened frequently, and when using different languages, I got confused, when listening to a sentence or a word: I understood the words, but not the meaning. An exciting challenge at times, actually making it possible to develop a deeper understanding than we have when we simply refer to our knowledge without reflecting on what we really know – and mean.

Sometimes …

One of the early days in January we went shopping, some stuff for a nice meal. My friend picked up a package, not being from Europe she wanted to know what this is:

 

I looked at the label, and said:

This vegetable is called Oxymoron, a subspecies of asparagus. It comes from Peru to Bavaria and is supposedly fresh.

I guess, more in general, that little story is one about the small print of language and one dimension of the difficulties of people understanding each other. And one wonders if it tells us to take things from experience, talking to people and trust or if one should run around with all the relevant textbooks and reference manuals – here a beginners guide for EU-Fruit and vegetables: Marketing standards. Many seem to be far fetched, but it actually reminds me of universities. boxing students and not allowing to open them. Sure. all as well a matter of skills and knowledge.