When I skip a track of music on Spotify, I think “are they tracking me?”
In the age of automation, I don’t need to speak for my preferences to be known — my actions are captured and my desires assumed.
The tracking of actions has become like money — the system works. Knowing how it works is “uneasy,” as a friend of mine says. Your attention online is a currency. And everything is online, wifi lights, refrigerators with cameras, coffee makers, toilets, all is currency.
Finding an alternative economy to money is seen as an exit from the current world system. I’ve heard many people muse about this exit. In the cafes of Corvallis Oregon, I’ve overheard handfuls of conversations between hippie professors. They look like farmers but work at the university. I doubt they teach business courses. They exchange ideas about how trading could kill the evil dollar. They are sipping two dollar coffees.
Burning man appears as an extreme outworking of capitalism –a funded vacation — a temporary release valve opened, so the boiler capital ethos does not explode. I have never been but some of my friends have. I’ve heard about it while sipping three dollar coffees.
I wonder if the amount of coffee I drink is tracked? Any algorithm seems like it would be overkill if you seek to understand whether I like coffee or not. The goal of algorithms though is not to know I love coffee; it’s to sell me coffee.
Questions I’m Thinking On:
As a trackee, what power do you have in these tracked systems?
When are you observed how much does it change you?
When tracking others how much responsibility do you have?
What will the exit from tracking look like?
Photos by Tyler Nix & Patrik Michalicka
Also published on Medium.