The Costs of Connection, book review: A wider view of surveillance capitalism

Nancy J. Delong


The Expenditures of Link: How Data Is Colonizing Human Lifetime and Appropriating It for Capitalism • By Nicholas Couldry and Ulises A. Mejias • Stanford College Push • 324 internet pages • ISBN: 978-1-5036-0974-seven • $thirty

The phrase ‘the charges of connection’ has abruptly taken on a new and far more sinister indicating in the final pair of months, as intercontinental and domestic travel back links — vectors by which human beings carried the novel coronavirus to seed it into open up clusters of new hosts — have been severed. In the initial 7 days of March, even so, when Nick Couldry, a professor in media communications and social idea at the LSE, gave a public converse and attendees still could gingerly sit a mere four ft from just about every other, ‘connection’ appeared purely electronic, and ‘costs’ an work out in ability fairly than counted in human lives.

It is ability that Couldry and his co-creator Ulises A. Mejias, an affiliate professor at SUNY Oswego, take into account in The Expenditures of Link: How Data Is Colonizing Human Lifetime and Appropriating It for Capitalism. In what appears to be to me an primary tactic, Couldry and Mejias put the info-driven globe into which we are shifting in the context of colonialism. You read through that proper: colonialism — not, as so numerous others have it, colonisation.

Couldry and Mejias argue that we are dwelling by the early levels of a new romantic relationship among colonialism and capitalism — early levels, since they consider this is the starting of a new 500-year period even though the outcomes of the earlier just one are still becoming felt. In their watch, the rush to monetise and financial gain from info is the equivalent of an historic land seize to which the new colonial powers sense as entitled as any Elizabethan explorer to dictate conditions to natives of overseas lands.

SEE: Sensor’d company: IoT, ML, and major info (ZDNet particular report) | Obtain the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

So Couldry and Mejias start out with this concern: “What if new ways of appropriating human everyday living, and the freedoms on which it depends, are emerging?” As a pairing to endeavor this, Couldry and Mejias are perfectly complementary: Couldry is white and English Mejias is Mexican Couldry is descended from exploiters, Mejias from a state that was exploited. In our new period, just about every of us is a mine waiting around to be dug open up — and we consent by outsourcing command of even straightforward actions of day-to-day everyday living to apps that keep track of drinking water consumption, work out rates, and order food stuff. In the meantime, companies from airlines to taser maker Axon make an increasing portion of their revenues from info, fairly than the factor they purport to offer.

A much larger landscape

Surveillance capitalism, in this watch, is just just one piece of a substantially much larger landscape of ability grabs: office monitoring that has AI removing every single final bit of ‘inefficiency’ (the breath you catch among cellular phone phone calls the excess minute you invest in the privacy of the bathroom) the gig economic climate logistics the so-frequently neglected interior company info social media that intermediate our personalized interactions and quickly the Online of Things that will change every single element of our home lives into the wholly-owned house of the firm that designed our appliances.

What is actually terrific about this construct is the perception that Couldry and Mejias are fitting the net, in all its ‘now-now-now’ insistence, into a substantially broader sweep of record than other commentators on the electronic period have tried. Nonetheless they stop on a constructive note: we still have a selection. Separately and collectively we can make your mind up that the charges of connection are not worth having to pay and reclaim our human potential to join. Ironically, though lockdowns push us online — damn the info exploitation! — they are also forcing us to join far more closely with our actual physical neighbours in ways that cannot be so conveniently colonised.

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