For the record, I do not have any social media accounts as I have no interest in giving Big Media, the government, or retailers any more personal information about myself than I absolutely have to.
And there are just a few activities that I do on the web anyway: banking, follow the news, book hotels and flights, use Wikipedia and other sources to look things up, email, and write the occasional post for this blog.
But for all my intended innocence and innocuous use of the web I am discovering both a literal and figurative creep factor at work that is pushing the whole internet experience out of the highly enlightened and self-empowering information age and replacing that goodness with the sticky tawdriness of informational consumerism.
What do I mean by informational consumerism? Let’s first start by saying what I don’t mean and I am not talking about companies like Google pushing targeted ads our way. I can understand that. And if companies like Google continue to keep following a mostly down-low path, I can’t find issue with that. It’s marginally annoying but then again so many other things are too.
No, what I am talking about is how the information itself is becoming less and less free. And I am talking about purportedly non-commercial websites offering informational services (and now Win 10/data processing) and how there is being an increased focus on their levying some sort of tariff for your continued use.
How did I arrive at this? Well, I do my work and internet activities on the following devices: a Windows 10 smartphone, A Windows 10 netbook, an Android tablet, and a Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit workstation.
Of all these devices I’ve come to prefer using the workstation. Yes, it is the more powerful, but both the netbook and the smartphone can be run from a full size keyboard/mouse and drive my 32” monitor too. So why the preference?
Simply because the Win 7 OS powers the workstation and nothing more. It wasn’t constructed with any sneaky inbuilt purpose in mind. You bought the software and it justifiably stood to reason there wasn’t anything left to pay for after that initial purchase.
Microsoft – those crafty bastards – changed the game with Windows 10. Have you seen that? The fact that the initial upgrade from Win 7/8 to Win 10 was free should have been clue number one.
Why do you think Google developed the Android OS and made it free? It’s economic scorched earth my friend. If you are part of the Android ecosystem then you won’t be part of Apple’s. And why do you think Facebook and Amazon are both clambering to provide viable platforms of their own? Because the platform is the portal into their universe.
But I digress.
The difference between the two Win OSs occurred gradually to me this morning when I was thinking about what it was exactly that was beginning to bug me about Windows 10. And then I happened upon what I chose to call the nag factor.
It starts out so subtle you hardly notice. Like asking me each morning when I fire up the Win 10 netbook if ‘I like what I see?’ (As in the ever new, ever changing glossy wallpaper.) Or when I open the Start menu there is more times than not a prompt to look at a new app (advertising). Or sometimes Win 10 bugs me to put in a review for Microsoft’s new Edge browser.
And my new Windows 10 phone persistently begs me to review their camera app. Or review the resident music app (Grove Music – which incidentally sucks).
All of these systems and applications that beg and wheedle, wanting my time, wanting to have a relationship with me are all collectively starting to grind on me. Which in turn is making me take a new look at my computing/browsing requirements. Ubuntu anyone?
And I am discovering that anything – an application, a website, a service – that asks as much of me – like my time, my personal information – as I ask from it – generally in the way of posted information – has become a nuisance as serious as a squirrel in the attic, meaning it’s something I am going to have to kill.
For instance LinkedIn bugs me all the time about all kinds of shit. Sending me emails all the time about stuff I could care less about. Wanting me to join groups. Wanting my feedback. Sending me unsolicited advice and opinions. Sorry, but I am totally not interested. Nor did I intentionally sign up for those kind of services. If they want to advertise groups, services, and opinions – fine. But don’t clutter my inbox with it.
Personally I want LinkedIn to do two things for me and two things only: be the repository of my CV and provide a communication conduit for past and future work colleagues. And that’s it. I don’t want to marry the bitch and have her carry our virtual love child.
As a homeowner in the past, faced with intrusion, I drew the distinction between what constituted friendly wildlife and that of a pest.
Run wild and run free but try and take up cohabitation with me in my house and you’ve just crossed that boundary from friendly cute and adorable wildlife to that of pest.
So anytime in the future when some entity on the World Wide Web starts nagging at me or begging me to do something for it, that’s the time I am going to walk on down the hall and fetch my virtual 12 gauge out of the closet.
PS – A couple of months ago, Zinio a magazine download/magazine reading service provided online in the ebook download section by my old public library in Washington, DC – Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library – gave me no option after its last update on my Android tablet; I could either let them access my personal information and data or effective immediately could no longer use their service and read all the magazines that they were holding hostage on my tablet in my Zinio folder.
Please tell me why a magazine reader service would need access to my personal information and data except for commercial or other nefarious purposes?
I immediately uninstalled the app. F**k ‘em. Most of their magazines sucked anyway.