Sensors and analytics indicators measure everything in our life; keystrokes* and everything we search are recorded. Battery performance in my phone is measured and recorded – and many of us have devices to measure heart, breathing, sleeping, and calorie burn performance; it’s all measured and recorded.
Whether our data is on some company’s server or one of our own devices, it’s not a question of whether our breadcrumb trail will be captured by some virulent software hack – but only a question of when.
Prodigious volume – our data and activity habits are already in the clouds where our searching, shopping, and spending history deposited with browser services (i.e., Google, Bing, etc.), vendors (i.e., Amazon, and all online vendors), internet service providers and streaming services (i.e., Shaw, Telus, Rogers, Netflix, Prime, etc.), phone companies, app stores, banks, airlines, and every search for goods and services – think about how much of our data each of these companies have. Now, aggregate it. Yes, all of that in the hands of people ‘not acting for us’ but purporting to provide services to us …
Newton might want to rephrase and say: for each and every action or reaction, there is an algorithm somewhere tracking it …
On the other hand, many things still rely on the brain – if our sock or underwear drawer is low, we don’t seek scientific explanation; we pick up the laundry hamper and march to the washing machine. The indicator is not a flashing light on a dashboard but a calculation and memory capacity. I’m sure someone is programming a sock-counting laundry-robot right now …
We read about and understand key economic indicators.
In the workplace, we hear about key performance indicators.
As I’ve gotten less crisp in my vision, I keep magnifying glasses around for reading the fine print – and I’ve wondered if food companies think only young people with good vision read instructions … but that’s a rant for another day.
Are we misreading things? When a politician misreads the mood of the people, or when pollsters misread the will of the people – perhaps that is reason enough for us all to pause and wonder if we are reading ourselves accurately. I check the weather on my phone before I step outside. I check the indicators on my car’s dashboard – do I have enough gas, is there a warning light flashing?
But what about the indicators without an LED readout. What about the signs of physical or mental wear and tear? Are we looking for those? Is fatigue ‘just tired and in need of sleep,’ or is it a different brand of weary?
When we read something, we trust our eyes.
Or do we double-check with our brain to confirm what we think we are seeing makes sense?
Imagine if the thermostat was set for comfort, but it was cold in the room – do we trust the thermostat to control things, or do we question why we are feeling cold? Might be an open window problem, a furnace problem, the thermostat may have failed or need calibration – or we might be unwell. What do we think of first? What do we question last?
If I’m miss-reading myself, and if you are miss-reading yourself – how can we possibly read each other, right?
*I remember long ago seeing a TV who-done-it drama where the clue to prove someone’s guilt was the keystrokes on a new typewriter ribbon, which proved they’d typed the ransom note. Today, most people under 30 who know the word typewriter won’t understand that before toner was spritzed and fused to a page inside a printer, that a keystroke transferred ink to a page …
Thank you for that! Remembering that peace-signing and democracy-winning is possible is particularly relevant at the moment! Long live the poppies (which, despite lockdown, can still be found in Paris at M&S!)! Happy Remembrance day! Best regards, VJ, Paris, France
Thank you for a beautifully written piece on such an important day. I am a daughter of Polish immigrants who came to Canada after they escaped to West Berlin. My brother and I were never allowed to say anything negative about Canada. What a blessing that Canada accepted them! Keep up the great work! Hope you are well, EM, Calgary, AB
Beautiful, thank you, Mark, SF, Lethbridge, AB
Very well said Mark. Lest we forget, RT, White Rock, BC
A fabulous Musing today Mark. Lest we remember, BR, Calgary, AB