Remarks on the BBC documentary “Virtual Revolution: The Cost of Free “

The BBC recently aired a documentary in its ”Virtual Revolution“ series that focused on ”The Cost of Free“. The overall topic were the risks and problems posed by Internet platforms that are operated by corporations such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, News Corporation, and others.
Critical political economist Dallas Smythe in his seminal paper “On the audience commodity and its work” suggested that advertising business models of the media are not primarily based on the commodification of content, but the commodification of the audience. In case of the Internet, one can speak of the Internet prosumer commodity.

Google Buzz: Economic Surveillance – Buzz Off! The Problem of Online Surveillance and the Need for an Alternative Internet

Google Buzz is part of Google’s empire of economic surveillance. It gathers information about user behaviour and user interests in order to store, assess, and sell this data to advertising clients. Google’s online product advertising for Buzz says: “The first thing we all do when we find something interesting is share it. More and more of this kind of sharing takes place online. Google Buzz is a new way to share updates, photos, videos, and more”.

Do people really want to share vast amounts of private data and location data not only with their friends, but also with Google? Can Google be considered as a friend of all humans, or doesn’t it rather accumulate power that can also cause great harm to humans? Do people really always want to tell others where they currently are? Are people really interested in sharing their location data not only with selected friends, but also with Google?

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Information, Communication & Society Journal: Special Issue on Sustainable Information Society

The journal Information, Communication & Society features a special issue on “Sustainable Development and ICTs” in its current issue (Volume 13, Number 1)

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Google Buzz and Economic Surveillance

I find interesting about the NY Times article and the reactions of some users to Google Buzz that they primarily stress the danger that China, Iran, etc could use Buzz for engaging in the (political) surveillance of political oppositionists and that they label such endeavaours totalitarian, while at the same time they do not provide a critique of the economic surveillance machine constituted by Google’s expanding services, its collection, storage, analysis, and commodification of personal data, and its market dominance.