“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Convenient, Fun, or Horrifying?

It was my birthday yesterday, and when I logged on to the internet in the morning, to my surprise and delight, the Google logo wished me Happy Birthday.

I posted about this on Facebook, and was surprised to get some mixed reactions. One comment read: "Quite nice, or very scary, depending on one's level of paranoia."

By coincidence, a couple of days earlier, I had shared another post which got similarly mixed reactions. The post read: "Place of birth! Play along, if you'd like. It will be fun to learn where all of our Facebook friends are from. Comment with your answer below on this post, then copy and paste this onto your own page. Be sure to put your birthplace at the end. -- Liverpool, England" And again, people were anxious; "D'you know what? I think I'll not put that on the internet." and, in response to that comment: "I was thinking the same given how often that's used as a security question!"

I went out for lunch with a friend, and mentioned this, and we got on to the subject of the wonderful clock in the Harry Potter books in the Weasley household, which could tell by magic where the members of the family were. There had been another post on Facebook recently, to say that somebody had succeeded in making one in real life. I was puzzled as to how that could be, and my friend told me about an app she had on her phone which could use GPS to track where her children were. Oh.

Then I got to thinking about how you can control your heating and oven and TV via an app on your smartphone, and about how, if I log on to Amazon, a list of recommendations come up, based on my browsing history, and  I began to wonder ...

Until now, I have found such things convenient and/or fun. But I am beginning to feel the stirrings of alarm in my soul, and to wonder just how much information there is squirrelled away about me deep in company computers owned by the likes of Google and Facebook and Amazon, to name three much-used websites. I read something on Facebook the other day about the new emoticons - that they are going to be used to tailor what I see in my Facebook feed. I'm not sure I like the sound of that at all.

I would be interested to hear other people's reactions to this - fun? convenient? or horrifying?

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