Radical Instrument

IT is changing the exercise of power. Radical Instrument is picking up the signals.

Infrastructure, Intent, and Power

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Ethan Zuckerman delivered a brilliant presentation at the Berkman Center last week on “Mapping Globalization” – for the summary version, see the related post on Ethan’s blog). His talk discusses the significance of mapping flow across infrastructure to better understand where nominal and real connections meet, and, more importantly, where they don’t. 

Also mentioned is the potential mapping of intent, something he’s so far been unable to find. This had me paying more attention to a blog post / Guardian op-ed this week by Bruce Schneier, who recapitulates his quite sensible position against government attempts to “ban, control, or disrupt” new communications infrastructure. The logic behind these attempts seems clear, when thinking through Zuckerman’s schema:  despite the best privacy-eroding efforts, no government has yet found a method for mapping intent, and distinguishing deviations that might pose a security challenge to infrastructure. 

One might even imagine a scale reflecting the balance between individual and government power in a society based on (a) the degree to which information regarding infrastructure is open and accessible, (b) the degree to which user access to information and communications infrastructure is private, and (c) the degree to which the availability or use of communications technologies are regulated, if not banned outright. Watching changes to such a scale over, say, the last decade – perhaps overlaid on a world map – could provide a fascinating glimpse into the impact of information technology on civil societies. 

P.S. …speaking of, Slashdot is featuring an article on the pressure exerted by Nokia to pass a law possibly in violation of the Finnish Constitution’s privacy guarantees.


Written by Mark

February 1, 2009 at 9:41 pm

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