Read: World Without Mind

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I know, I know, “World Without Mind,” kinda being played out in real-time here in the United States. Probably no need to write a book about it, but thankfully Franklin Foer took the time to do so. I love reading about tech, especially big tech because I constantly find myself holding a minority opinion as the vast majority of people around me happily hand over their lives, their beliefs, and their vote to the new “Gods” of technology. If you are using ANY of these networks I’m speaking directly to you.

“World Without Mind,” speaks to the realities and motivations behind the emergence of big tech and also unveils the truth behind their design ethic of manipulation, exploitation, and capitalization of your mind and body. It’s not like this is new news but continuing to listen to friends and family justify their usage is getting so damn old. Put it this way. You simply can’t complain about the virus, politics, or the photography industry if you are using big tech platforms to live your life, even if you claim it’s just for business because 99% of you who claim that are underplaying your usage. How do I know this? Because I’ve seen it hundreds of times in the past few years. “I’m only using it for X.” Sound familiar.

The flip side of this is that it is becoming more and more difficult to avoid the shadow cast by the big four. Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. There are only six countries left on Earth that control more capital than the big four. Just think about that. And they are incredibly good at driving us apart, keeping us fired up while telling us we need to buy, buy, buy. And you, well, you are nothing more than the grand sum of your data, the only thing you have left that has any value.

And oh by the way, for you photographer types who continue to use these networks, these companies have done above and beyond in one area that impacts all of you. Copyright. They want it GONE. This book is a warning about a bomb that already went off. They want you to ask “What can I do?” as you check your feed one more time. The battle has begun and we are getting slaughtered.

Whatever your feelings are, a book like this is worth the read.

Comments 20

  1. I have a book about these four (conveniently titled “The Four”) in my to read pile, I just bumped it up to the top of the pile. World Without Minds looks like its worth it though.

    1. I’d like to read one or both. Right or wrong, I’ve concluded that Apple is the best of the lot. They have done things that make me think they’re trying to side more with the consumer than the Patriot Act surveillance state. I could be 100% wrong on that. That’s why I need to read these. But for the time being, my tech choices go towards Apple. I’ve deleted all Facebook products and I never buy from Amazon. I still use Google for things. Things I don’t really need.

    2. Scott, I agree Apple “seems” the least worst of the gang, their business doesn’t revolve around people’s data as much as the other three. Worst is Facebook which is worth absolutely nothing without gathering users data and controlling user behaviour.

    3. Thanks Scott for taking the time to look at my humble beginner stuff. Lions are majestic no matter the setting, must be quite something to capture them in the wild though!! I regret completely forgetting to take the ‘in between/context’ shots when I was putting my blog post together, because of course you can’t roam free in the zoo like we used to, there are arrows and barriers everywhere, it’s almost like captive humans looking at captive animals.

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      Apple is no saint. Look at working conditions in their factories and their tax avoidance.

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      Apple is no saint and their tax shelter plan is criminal. Then you throw in the conditions in the factories where the hardware is made. I remember a few years ago hearing a journalist asked if he would pay 4x the amount for a iPhone if it meant safe conditions and he said “No, I just want a cheaper phone.”

    7. Good points, I don’t doubt it about the conditions. One of my favorite writers/columnists is Nicholas Kristof. As far as I can see, that Oregonian has a lifelong unswerving interest in and pursuit of justice and fairness. He’s written a few pieces discussing how as bad as sweatshops are, for a lot of people they’re better than the alternatives. It’s not an easy argument to make. Not easy to read, either.

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      Funny story. A friend was going to have dinner with Kristof, didn’t know him. My friends calls me and asks “What do I ask him about.” I immediately reply “This, this and this.” My friend says “How did you know that?” I answered, “Because I read.”

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  2. I’ll definitely read this. If I can re-train my once bibliophile brain. For the record, it shut off before tech. My trial run with social media was short. 2016ish until last week. It wasn’t intentional or principled. I was old enough to miss the social media you have to be on it debut, and I had a flip phone until about 2005. I still have it. It even powered on a few weeks ago after I found it under a pile of 3×5 cards. Then I took a State Department job. I was self-aware enough to know that I do so many dumb things that having a social media presence would have been a terrible idea. Left that gig, got on social media. There are a lot of positives with social media. I don’t think people would have escaped their denial about police violence without it. I was never a deny-er, though, so I reckoned that the negatives (for me) were outweighing the good. Nuked.

  3. This rabbit hole we are all chasing down gets deeper and deeper. This surely will all end in tears. I avoid most social media, mostly because it all seems so futile. Instagram totally baffles me….Certain photographers can post a picture of a pocket shot and still get 6,000 “likes’… WTF? Not so long ago, we only saw photographs that were shot by photographers, directed by art directors, edited by photo editors and designed by designers. We now see a thousand “captures” of crap on Facebook before breakfast, shot by anyone who breathes. However, I’m led to believe by my contemporary photographers that I ignore Instagram at my peril.
    I spent the happiest years shooting film. Clip testing and drinking coffee with fellow snappers whilst we waited nervously for the clip results. it’s a solitary world now for photographers. Instagram and Facebook only serve to give you a false sense of togetherness.
    Are we all really that insecure that we need thumbs up and hearts emojis to ease our fears of ignorance? It’s when one sees photographs posted that are of such inane banality being referred to as “amazing” and “awesome shot” that one realises that knowledge of the worth of good imagery has died a horrible death.

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      I think one of the most telling things I’ve heard is the former FB designer who built the “like” button. He said we knew what we were about to do to the world and we did it anyway.

    2. Neil, I don’t think knowledge of art has died, it’s still as present and even bigger than before. It’s the voices of those who know nothing about art that has risen, that’s where social networks excel, to validate the voice of the ignorant. Hey, 6000 likes on a rubbish image isn’t much. 6000 person who probably never set foot in an art museum. There was more than 6000 people who didn’t understand a Jackson Pollock painting before social media, people who would rather print and frame their cousin’s instant camera images of Pouchie the dog having a piss than put a Pollock painting on their wall. The only difference is that today we can decide to be bothered by those people or find those who has something real to say and share. They’re there somewhere. Dan is doing a good job sharing a thoughtful vision of today’s photography in the midst of all this.

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      Each camper will hunt and kill their own bear. Isn’t that dangerous? We sure hope so.

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