Ministry of Intrigue

Coffee-stained Dispatches From An Undisclosed Location

♺ Doctorow on Talking to Children About Surveillance

 ♦  < 1 min read

Great article from Cory Doctorow on the conversations he’s had with his six year old daughter about mass surveillance. What’s particularly revealing is which concepts she intuitively grasps from her own experience with technology, and how that aligns with research done on the online habits of children.

Kids care intensely about privacy, because kids make a lot of mistakes. Making mistakes is how you learn not to make more mistakes in the future. Making mistakes while someone else watches is a qualitatively different experience from making them on your own. Kids know, intimately, why privacy matters.

So I’m not surprised that my kid wants to talk about surveillance with me, and that this subject has grown to eclipse all others during our talks: “Daddy, let’s talk about the spies some more.”

The whole article is well worth a read, and particularly of interest for parents. I know that I’ve begun to struggle with how I’ll discuss larger topics like this when my daughter is ready to have them.

Quote: Salman Rushdie

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Man is the animal that tells stories about himself to himself.

Salman Rushdie Lecture at the University of Iowa (March 2004)

It’s been years since I sat in that lecture hall, but Rushdie’s description of humans as storytelling creatures still gets me with it’s perfect simplicity. I think that was the first time I heard someone express this notion so clearly. I wrote this quote in my journal that night, and I revisit it often.

♺ Self-Branding vs Individulity

 ♦  < 1 min read

Interesting piece on how the modern world requires people to aggressively self-brand, which means they have to reduce their personality down to one interest. This is particularly apparent in the world of social media, which I suppose holds a certain irony; the medium that in theory prizes authenticity above all else actually only rewards those who only show the most shallow and artificial aspects of their personalities.

There are no conclusions or solutions to be found in this article, just a statement of the problem. Perhaps there is no solution, as so many of us who came from studying the humanties have discovered. Still a worthwhile read.

Quote: Umberto Eco on Heroes

 ♦  < 1 min read

The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.

Umberto Eco Travels in Hyperreality